Micronutrients in Mental Health

From The Carlat Psychiatry Report, interview with Julia Rucklidge, PhD


Micronutrients are small nutrients-vitamins minerals, and amino acids-that are essential for your brain to function optimally.  They include cofactors like B6, zinc, and magnesium that are involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones.  They are taken in pills that contain a broad spectrum of these nutrients.  Some are available by prescription and others are over the counter.  Micronutrients are different than multivitamins in much more substantial dosing and breadth of ingredients.  Two randomized, placebo-controlled trials in ADHD, one in children and one in adults taking no other medications for ADHD showed improvement in children in emotional regulation, aggression, inattention and general functioning after 10 weeks by patient, parent, teacher and clinician report.  In adults while there were patient-rated and oberserver-rated improvements the clinician-rated measures were only positive on the Global Assessment of Functioning.  They have a broad effect on mental health, the symptom most cited for improvement is emotional dysregulation-volatile, irritable anxious, reactive people.  In depression, there has been one positive study with large effect size for people that had abnormalities at the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene.  Research shows that people who have a deficiency in those nutrients are just as likely to respond as those who have normal levels because average lab levels do not predict whether an individual’s levels compare to the population as a whole are meeting that individual’s needs.  

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