Mental health is a very widespread topic these days, with people speaking out more about challenges they face and looking to improve it. It can be defined as a state of mental well-being that allows a person to realize their ambitions, cope with stress, and contribute positively to society1.
One of the most popular ways to support your mental health is through exercise. It can boost self esteem, mood, and improve quality of life2. Great physical health is directly related to you feeling good. Making sure you’re eating healthy, exercising, sleeping enough are the basic requirements for great mental health3.
There is a group of vitamins that’s especially important for mental health and our ability to cope with anxiety and stress. We are talking about the B-group vitamins, and, therefore, we need to ensure we are taking in adequate amounts of them.
The brain and the B-group vitamins
There are eight B vitamins, and together, they play an essential role in a lot of processes inside our body. They act as coenzymes, which means that they help enzymes in the body carry out their jobs correctly. Some B vitamins can also be made into substances that the cell uses directly. Our brains tightly regulate the amount of each B vitamin to ensure correct function4.
Some of the B vitamins are involved in the metabolism of our brain cells as they support the production of amino acids and fats. Others help use glucose. These are vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B7, or biotin5. Vitamin B2 has an additional role that involves helping brain recycle vitamins B3, B9, B66.
Other vitamins from this group are involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, meaning they directly influence the communication in our brains. These are vitamins B1, B5, B6, B9, B12.
Vitamins B9 and B12 play a role in the “folate” and “methionine” cycles7. These are a series of different reactions that happen in a circle, meaning that the starting compound is remade by the end of the reactions. Both cycles are important for growth and making parts that are required to make our genetic material. The folate cycle is also closely related to the production of neurotransmitters and nitric oxide8.
What’s the connection to mental health?
It is therefore not surprising that getting adequate amounts of nutrients are key for our mental health. They can also benefit our mood and help us better respond to stress9.
Vitamin B6 may benefit those that experience symptoms of anxiety. Vitamin B6 helps our brain produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and is also necessary to produce GABA. It is a neurotransmitter that “turns off” chemical signals, so when the brain is very active due to anxiety responses, GABA can help it calm down10.
Vitamin B9 is closely linked to changes in mood. Getting a sufficient amount of it ensures that the folate cycle is working properly. This decreases the amount of homocysteine, an amino acid11. Homocysteine prevents neurotransmitter synthesis and is a marker for inflammation12,13. Supplementing with vitamin B9 and B12 can help mitigate this change in brain chemistry.
Getting enough vitamin B12 allows for our neurotransmitters to be synthesized in sufficient amounts, supporting normal brain function14. It’s important to ensure that your levels of this vitamin are sufficient, as low levels of it can be correlated to depressive or anxious symptoms15.
If you’d like to increase your intake of the B-vitamins, check out Maxler B-Complex. These vegan tabs help support your brain in times of stress and contain additional beneficial ingredients like choline and inositol. Inositol helps to regulate activity of neurons in the brain16. Dietary choline helps keep your brain healthy and your cognition strong17.
To support your brain, you may also benefit from Maxler GABA 500 mg, which contains both GABA and vitamin B6. This vegan combination supports the brain and promotes relaxation and calmness.
Tips on keeping your mental health in check18
Nutrition is a very important aspect of mental health; however, it is not the only thing we need to pay attention to. Here are other tips on how to boost your mental health, especially if you are already leading a healthy and active lifestyle:
- Positivity. Positive thoughts can be a great asset to you when things get rough, so learn to hold on to positive emotions and distance yourself from negativity when you need to. However, don’t feel like you can’t process your negative emotions – they are valid and can help you get through things. Ruminating on them or reliving them too often though won’t help.
- Stay grateful. Gratitude helps us remember the positive and makes it easier to cope with stress19. So, take a few minutes each day to write down things or people you are grateful for.
- Stay social. Unsurprisingly, staying in touch with friends, family, loved ones, or even interacting with pets has positive effects on our mental health20. It can help us feel less lonely21 or even boost our self-esteem – for example, pet owners tend to feel a greater sense of purpose due to their companions22.
- Learn to cope. Coping skills can help us overcome challenges, so it’s good to try a few techniques and become more resilient.
- Find a purpose. Having a meaning in life is important for emotional well-being and can help us have a positive outlook23.
- Relax and meditate. It’s important to distance yourself from stress, or to learn how to find peace and become aware of your body. Meditation can be a useful tool in mitigating stress as it increases empathy, awareness, and wellbeing24.
Mental health is an important aspect of our overall wellbeing. Plenty of exercise and sleep help keep your mental health in check. Don’t forget about diet though – ensuring we get adequate vitamins, including vitamin B is always a priority. This will make things run smoothly and allow you to support your body to the best of your ability.