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Fatty Acids and Mental Health

Updated: Apr 2

By Deryck Persaud, Ph.D.

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In Canada, mental health is defined as the state of your psychological and emotional well-being [1]. A more thorough definition proposed by Galderisi et al. defines mental health as "a dynamic state of internal equilibrium which enables individuals to use their abilities in harmony with universal values of society. Basic cognitive and social skills; ability to recognize, express and modulate one's own emotions, as well as empathize with others; flexibility and ability to cope with adverse life events and function in social roles; and harmonious relationship between body and mind represent important components of mental health which contribute, to varying degrees, to the state of internal equilibrium." [2]


By being able to deal with the day-to-day challenges, the individual can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community [3]. Poor mental health must not be confused with mental illness. Mental illnesses are described as disturbances in thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that are severe enough to affect the day-to-day functioning of an individual [4]. However, poor mental health can lead to mental and/or physical illness. Mental illness results in the reduced ability for a person to function effectively over a prolonged period of time because of stress, mood swings, and/or isolation. Usually, in such cases, a person suffering from mental illness is disconnected from others [5].


Good mental health allows one to feel good. A person can think and act in ways that can help them enjoy life and cope with challenges. Bad mental health, however, can lead to states of depression and suicide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people classified with severe mental health conditions can die prematurely-as much as two decades earlier [6]. Many factors can affect the state of a person's mental health. One of these is nutrition. Nutrition has been known to affect behaviour, mood, and the pathology and treatment of mental health and illness [7]


With the development of the newly emerging field of Nutritional Psychiatry, the role of nutrition is being explored as a preventative measure in mental health. It has been shown from numerous studies that in a Western pattern diet or highly processed diet there is an increased risk for developing psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety. In contrast, the more one consumes a diet that has higher proportions of unprocessed fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, white meat, fish, and whole-grain foods, such as a Mediterranean diet, for example, the more one is protected from developing a mental disorder [8], in addition to preventing obesity and cardiovascular disorders, and improving overall health.[9,10]. Good nutrition involves the usage of adequate amounts of amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. At Infogenetica Solutions Ltd, our focus has been on providing nutritional supplements that are rich in a full spectrum of important fatty acids.


Fatty Acids have been documented in numerous scientific and medical literature to be a crucial nutrient for the maintenance of general health and well-being. They are very crucial in proper brain functioning. This comes as no surprise considering the fact that many cells and tissues of the brain have fatty acids as critical components; the human brain is nearly 60% fat [8]. Of all the fatty acids, omega fatty acids are most widely mentioned in scientific and medical journals. Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid ( EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) have been shown, through animal and clinical studies, to be important in learning and other cognitive processes. It is important to realize that the membranes in neurons and brain matter are made up of other fatty acids that are non-omegas and their roles in cell membrane integrity cannot be undermined. If for some scientific or medical reason, the body is not able to acquire adequate amounts of important fatty acids through a normal diet, they must be provided by supplements. It is important to note that omega fatty acids such as EPA and DHA can only be obtained from marine sources (fish and krill). However, DHA can also be resourced from algae (vegetarian) sources. NeuroActiv™ Oil is an approved health supplement for general health and well-being. It contains all these fatty acids and more in a patented formulation to ensure better digestion and adsorption.


Mental health is being pushed to the forefront in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. This was made evident by the actions of world-renowned gymnast Simone Biles who withdrew from a few of the events because of mental health issues [11,12]. Protect your mental health by seeking good advice from the many health agencies and getting adequate amounts of important nutrients such as fatty acids.


 

References:

  1. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2020-06-22) "About Mental Health" Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada website, (accessed June, 5th, 2021).

  2. Galderisi, Silvana et al. (2015) “Toward a new definition of mental health.” World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA); 14 (2): 231-3. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20231

  3. World Health Organization. (2018-03-30) “Mental Health: Strengthening Our Response.” World Health Organization website (accessed June, 5th, 2021.)

  4. Canadian Mental Health Association. (2020-01-13) "Mental health: What is it, really?"; Canadian Mental Health Association website (accessed June, 5th, 2021.)

  5. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2017-09-15) "About mental illness"; Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada website Canada.ca , (accessed June, 5th, 2021).

  6. World Health Organization. " Mental Health"; World Health Organization website https://www.who.int (accessed June, 5th, 2021).

  7. Owen L, Corfe B. (2017 Nov) "The role of diet and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing." Proc Nutr Soc. ;76 (4): 425-426. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665117001057. Epub 2017 Jul 14. PMID: 28707609.

  8. Chia-Yu Chang ;Der-Shin Ke ;Jen-Yin Chen. (2009-12-01) "Essential Fatty Acids and Human Brain. " Acta Neurologica Taiwanica;18 (4): 231 – 241.

  9. Hu, Frank B (February 2002). "Dietary pattern analysis: a new direction in nutritional epidemiology". Curr Opin Lipidol. 13 (1): 3–9. doi:10.1097/00041433-200202000-00002. PMID 11790957. S2CID 6369375.

  10. Fung, Teresa T; Rimm, Eric B; Spiegelman, Donna; Rifai, Nader; Tofler, Geoffrey H; Willett, Walter C; Hu, Frank B (2001-01-01). "Association between dietary patterns and plasma biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 73 (1): 61–7. doi:10.1093/ajcn/73.1.61. PMID 11124751.

  11. Strashin, Jamie; (2021-07-29) "Simone Biles' candid talk about mental health resonates with Canadian Olympians" ; CBC Sports (accessed July, 29th, 2021).

  12. Ellen Reeve (2021-07-29) "Simone Biles and 'the twisties': How fear affects the mental health and physical safety of gymnasts" CNN (accessed August 5th, 2021).

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