Nine Essential Nutrients You Need for a Healthy Mind

Dr. Robert Hedaya of Whole Psychiatry says you can treat mood disorders, anxiety, and ADD without medication

By: Melissa Romero

Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Martin Cathrae

Medications aren’t the only way to treat those suffering from mood disorders, anxiety, and Attention Deficit Disorder, according to Dr. Robert Hedaya, a Chevy Chase-based psychiatrist.

A change in one’s diet to include various vitamins, minerals, and amino acids can help in the production of certain neurotransmitters that are vital for mental health, Hedaya said at a recent BB&R Consulting health conference held at Georgetown University. But these days, he said, the go-to solution for mental health problems is to medicate with antidepressants.

In fact, 40 to 60 percent of people treated for depression don’t respond to prescribed antidepressants, according to a 2007 study. That was the case for a 10-year-old girl suffering from bipolar disorder. When she first met with Hedaya, she was already on four different medications. Hedaya and his team at Whole Psychiatry changed her diet and increased her vitamin intake. Twelve years since their first meeting, the girl no longer relies on medicine to control her disorder.

In another case study, a 50-year-old woman came to Hedaya complaining of regular panic attacks. Her test results showed that she was deficient in vitamin B12. Hedaya upped her B12 vitamin intake, and her panic attacks soon faded away.

“What happens in your gut affects your brain,” Hedaya said. “Your meal can affect your body’s systems.”

While these patients’ treatments were successful, every person’s case is unique. Hedaya’s treatment methods at Whole Psychiatry involve a healthy dose of both supplements, vitamins, diet and lifestyle changes, and medication—when deemed necessary.

Here are nine amino acids, vitamins, and minerals needed in one’s diet to ensure the production of neurotransmitters—chemicals that send messages between different brain cells. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, melatonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine play roles in one’s mood, appetite, anxiety, sleep, and other psychological and physical reactions in the body. To learn more about neurotransmitters and how they work, click here.


1. TRYPTOPHAN


2. TYROSINE


3. ZINC


4. MAGNESIUM


5. COPPER


6. IRON


7. B6


8. B12


9. FOLIC ACID