Nature’s Prozac: nutrition for psychical health

In a pill-popping world, the idea of simply providing your brain and body with what it needs for psychical health is nothing short of revolutionary. One in five Americans currently takes one or more psychiatric drugs on a daily basis.

Psychiatric medications are among the most widely prescribed and biggest-selling class of drugs in the US. In 2010, Americans spent $16.1 billion on anti-psychotics to treat depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, $11.6 billion on antidepressants and $7.2 billion on treatment for ADHD, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription drug sales.

Psychiatric drugs can cause many horrible side effects, some of which are worse than the original condition they were intended to treat. In fact, there is a very clear link between psychiatric medications and the violent actions of the “mass shooters” over the past few years. In many cases, these drugs are harmful and unnecessary.

Note: The contents of this article are not meant to replace medical advice. The data presented is for informational purposes only.

There is a theory that most (and some say all) mental illnesses are caused by nutritional deficiencies. The brain is a miraculous creation that is necessary to be properly fueled in order to function correctly. Feeding your brain (and body) empty chemically created calories is akin to putting diesel fuel into a gasoline engine. It sputters and grinds to a halt, and the contamination needs to be thoroughly flushed out of the system for it to work properly again. Vehicles come with differently shaped fuel-filler openings, to make it difficult to put in the wrong fuel. Human beings, unfortunately, are not equipped with this type of mechanism and can therefore stuff anything and everything into their mouths and hope their body recognizes it as fuel.

Back to the brain…

The brain uses 20-30% of a person’s daily caloric intake for the day. If you don’t consume enough calories, verbal fluency, problem solving ability and motivation are affected first. Then bodily functions are decreased in reverse order of necessity for life.

Your brain requires essential fatty acids (EFA) to maintain proper function. This is one of the many reasons that extreme low-fat diets are not healthy. Fatty acids are required to maintain connections between neurons. A lack of N3 (aka Omega-3) fatty acids may cause learning and motor disabilities, and may damage the passage of dopamine and serotonin in the frontal cortex. The most vital EFAs are 3, 6, and 9.

Dopamine and serotonin are both crucial to psychical health. Dopamine affects the brain processes that control voluntary movements, emotional responses, and the ability to register pleasure and pain. Serotonin is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. This chemical is related to the ability to resist impulses. Serotonin (or lack thereof) plays a major role in issues like depression, suicide, impulsive behavior, mood control, and aggression. The basic premise is that if these chemicals are not being properly transported in your brain, your mental health could suffer.

A lack of Vitamin D has been linked to depression, schizophrenia, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Research has suggested that Vitamin D is in actuality a neuroactive steroid, a chemical that is targeted by certain SSRI antidepressants. A lack of Vitamin D can badly affect the transport of Dopamine. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight absorbed through the skin. This may explain the prevalence of depression in the winter, particularly in regions that receive less direct sunlight.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) is an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and insomnia. In the textbook Orthomolecular Psychiatry, David Hawkins, M.D. and Linus Pauling, Ph.D. outline the protocol for a niacin regimen for mental health. Although this particular book targets the treatment of schizophrenia, the niacin treatment is the same for other mental health issues. The body cannot store Niacin, so it’s important to take this supplement every day.

In the brain, low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are associated with depression. One of the building blocks of serotonin is the amino acid tryptophan, and one of the building blocks of tryptophan is niacin. Tryptophan also helps the body supply itself with niacin. If tryptophan is divided between serotonin production and niacin production, serotonin production is likely to be inadequate. Supplemental niacin and tryptophan can improve symptoms of depression.

What are some other psychical aids?

There are loads of psychical health remedies out there. Some natural ones include HTTP-5, St. John’s Wort, Valerian root, Clarocet, rodiola and passionflower. Many people swear by the efficacy of these medicinal plants but few studies have been funded to confirm the validity of these claims. Supplements containing tyrosine and phenylalanine are said to help with the transport of serotonin and dopamine, as well.

Other vitamins and minerals that are important to psychical health are: vitamin E, folate, magnesium, calcium, zinc, chromium, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6.

Eating for good psychical health

With any health issue, you should always consider the effect of your nutritional choices. Take a good look at your diet and contemplate the fuel you are putting into your body. Clean out the toxins, ditch the chemical “food-like substances” lurking in your home, and start with good solid nutrition from REAL sources.

Once you’ve made the required adjustments to your diet, start a food/mood journal. It’s very likely you will begin to see a link between certain foods and your state of conscience. Around the holidays or during vacation, sometimes we found ourselves eating foods we don’t normally consume. Certain foods seem to trigger this, particularly commercial bread products. You may discover that the issue is as much about what don’t eat as it is about what you do eat.

Following are some sources of the most important nutrients for good psychical health. It is good to pursue to meet our nutritional needs with food first and foremost. The human body is a marvelous creation, and it works better when fueled with food and just “topped up” with vitamins.

This list is not meant to be comprehensive – it’s just a starting point for your pantry and garden planning.


  • spelt;
  • bran (wheat and rice);
  • peanuts;
  • marmite;
  • beans.

Vitamin D (there are few food sources of this – the #1 way to get it is synthesized from sunshine)

  • egg yolk;
  • swiss cheese;
  • mushrooms;
  • dairy.


  • nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachio, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia);
  • pumpkin and squash seeds;
  • hemp seeds and hemp seed oil;
  • avocados;
  • olives and olive oil;
  • flax seeds.


  • soy products (make sure they are organic!);
  • dairy;
  • seaweed;
  • egg whites.

Vitamin E

  • sunflower seeds;
  • greens (turnip greens, chard, mustard greens, collards, spinach);
  • bell peppers;
  • papaya;
  • asaparagus;
  • almonds.


  • potatoes;
  • spinach;
  • bananas;
  • sunflower seeds.


  • molasses;
  • dark chocolate;
  • edamame (be sure it’s organic – high risk of GMOs, otherwise!);
  • bran (wheat, rice and oat);
  • squash and pumpkin seeds;
  • flax seeds;
  • sesame seeds;
  • sunflower seeds;
  • almonds;
  • cashews.


  • dairy products (especially yogurt);
  • tofu (organic!);
  • collard greens;
  • spinach;
  • molasses.

Vitamin B12

  • dairy products;
  • eggs;
  • nutritional yeast;
  • nori;
  • shiitake mushrooms;
  • natural supplements.


  • dark chocolate;
  • yogurt;
  • shiitake mushrooms;
  • peanuts;
  • pumpkin and squash seeds;
  • wheat germ;
  • kidney beans.


  • onions;
  • tomatoes;
  • nutritional yeast;
  • whole grains;
  • potatoes.

Vitamin B6

  • greens (turnip greens, chard, mustard greens, collards, spinach);
  • bell peppers;
  • mushrooms;
  • cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts);
  • tomatoes;
  • cantaloupe;
  • pineapple.


May 21, 2022

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