Home Stories 8 Nutritional Deficiencies That Are Likely To Cause Mood Disorders And Mental Illnesses

8 Nutritional Deficiencies That Are Likely To Cause Mood Disorders And Mental Illnesses


Mood disorders and mental illnesses are something that concern us the most. We all have at least one friend who suffers from depression or anxiety.

And while some are quick to judge them, it is essential to understand that a mood disorder is not just another bad day. It is the starting point. The phase one of the mental illnesses.

Mood disorders consist of various other mental illnesses that have the power to make a person’s mood change in the blink of an eye. They are known to us as anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder.

And while we’re always first to blame the society and the system we live in for the general mental health epidemic, (which in some cases is probably true), most of the people tend to overlook the lack of nutrition for their disturbed mental conditions.

A proper and nutritious diet can provide the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies desperately need in order to function properly. The systems that make us alive and well-functioning throughout our life need fuel, otherwise, they’ll eventually start decomposing and in the long run, affect our minds.

And since our brains need energy in order to function, the lack of nutrition is likely to cause severe consequences, such as mood disorders or worse, mental illnesses.

“Eating an American/Western diet almost doubles the risk of depression in large research trials, while a more traditional or Mediterranean pattern cuts the risk of clinical depression by 40-50 percent,” says clinical psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD.

Here are 8 nutrient deficiencies that might be a potential cause of mood disorders:

 1. ZINC

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a huge part in regulating our brain’s response as well as our body’s response to stress. The highest amount of zinc is found in the brain, in the part called hippocampus.

That is why, a zinc deficiency eventually leads to a potential development of ADHD, depression, difficulties with memory and learning or aggression.

Several studies have shown the effect zinc has on our bodies. The findings indicated that women and men with the highest zinc intake had a 30 to 50 percent lower chance of developing depression than those with the lowest zinc levels.

The best sources of zinc are foods such as red meat, oysters, beans, poultry, or whole grains. A daily zinc intake is strongly recommended, more specifically 9mg for women and 11mg for men.


When it comes to fats and their harmful effects on our bodies, there’s one type of fat that you shouldn’t cut back on. The omega-3 fatty acids.

People with depression usually have low blood levels of brain chemicals also known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Luckily for us, these two chemicals are types of omega-3 acids which can be primarily found in fish oil.

Studies have shown that omega-3 acids are extremely beneficial in treatments of mild to moderate depression.

It is highly recommended that women should take 1.1 grams per day, while men should go for 1.6 grams. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in salmon, tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.


As you we all know, vitamin D is something our bodies absorb from Its Highness- The Sun. That’s why, just like flowers, we feel alive and energetic when the weather outside is sunshiny and bright.

Vitamin D plays a huge role in the change of our moods. As a result, a severe deficiency can be the major cause of a full-blown depression or a mood disorder of any other kind.

But, while the sun is the primary source for our much-needed Vitamin D, you could also take this supplement by eating fatty fish, egg yolks, beef livers, soy milk, cheese and other dairy products.


Also known as the vitamin B-9, this nutrient is responsible for the formation of red blood cells, prevention of the neural tube defects and cell growth and division.

So, in addition to anemia and other health problems, folate deficiency can lead to a potential development of the major depressive disorder (MDD).

It is highly recommended that children and infants get 65mcg a day, while adults aged from 19-70 should try 400. Folate can be found in asparagus, Brussel sprouts, dark-leaf vegetables, oranges, peanuts, black-eyed peas, whole grains or kidney beans.


Iodine is a chemical that helps our thyroid gland function properly. According to NCBI, when iodine requirements aren’t met, the thyroid will fail to synthesize sufficient amount of the thyroid hormone.

As a result, a low level of thyroid hormones in the blood can be the main factor responsible for the series of functional and developmental abnormalities, referred to as IDD.

Iodine deficiency can be an important cause of mental conditions in children, such as implications on reproductive functions and lowering of the IQ of school-aged children.

Some of the foods that are rich in iodine are seaweed/ dried kelp, yogurt, raw milk, eggs, tuna, lima beans, corn, prunes, etc.


This macronutrient consists essential amino acids which are crucial for the brain’s health. Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissues. We also use proteins to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.

Considering that protein is an essential nutrition for our bodily functions, a protein deficiency can result in low metabolism, low energy levels and signs of fatigue, mood swings, poor concentration, and blood sugar changes which can easily lead to diabetes.

Therefore, it is essential for us to include this nutrition in our everyday diet. Protein-rich foods include poultry, beef, dairy, and nuts and seeds.


A lack of iron in a day-to-day nourishment can play a huge role in developing ADHD in some children. Since our body uses iron to make hemoglobin, which is a part of the red blood cells, an iron deficiency can also be the cause of Anemia.

The best way to include iron in your diet is by consuming lean meats, poultry, seafood, dried fruits, eggs, nuts, and seeds, or fish. Men aged 19-50 are recommended to take 8mg daily, while women 19-50 need 18 mg of iron.


Selenium is an extremely crucial mineral for the human body, since it takes part in the antioxidant activity that defends our body from inflammation, radical damage and maintains our metabolism healthy.

It basically benefits our body by preventing cancer, fighting off viruses and defending our bodies from heart diseases. Therefore, a selenium deficiency can cause cognitive failures and poor mental function.

The best way to enrich your body with selenium is by incorporating brazil nuts, seaweed, eggs, poultry, eggs, turkey, grass-fed beef or yellowfin tuna in your daily nourishment.

Image: Enrico Cavallarin

Stephanie Reeds


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