Best Supplements for Supporting Mental Health

Best Supplements for Supporting Mental Health

If you’re looking to improve your mental health while working in the medical field, the first step is to stick to a nutritional diet. But sometimes, even a healthy diet isn’t enough to combat the high stress and demanding work that’s common in the healthcare industry. That’s why we’ve created this evidence-back guide to supplements that best support mental health. Learn why and which supplements you should be taking now.

Understanding the Brain-Nutrient Connection

The brain, though only constituting about 2% of our body weight, consumes a substantial portion of the nutrients we ingest. This high metabolic demand underscores the importance of a nutrient-rich diet for optimal cognitive and emotional functioning. However, contemporary challenges like dietary limitations and reduced nutrient density in foods due to modern agricultural practices often lead to nutritional gaps. Supplements can bridge these gaps, offering a pathway to enhanced mental health.

The Role of Supplements in Mental Health

Our mental well-being is inextricably linked to the nutrients we consume, as they play a critical role in brain function and emotional balance. In fact, integrative psychiatrists and functional nutritionists emphasize the role of supplements as both a preventive and a therapeutic measure in mental healthcare. Supplements can complement traditional treatments, such as medications and therapy, by addressing nutritional deficiencies that might impede mental health recovery.

Key Supplements for Mental Health

There are eight common vitamins and supplements to be taking to support your mental health, including B vitamins, iron, magnesium, omega-3, probiotics, selenium, vitamin D, and zinc. Learn more about each below.

B Vitamins

B vitamins, including B6, B9 (folate), and B12, are a group of water-soluble vitamins that play vital roles in cellular metabolism.

  • Importance in Mental Health: They are crucial for the production and regulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which affect mood, anxiety, and depression. B vitamins also aid in managing the body’s response to stress and support brain function during periods of psychological strain.
  • How to Supplement: A comprehensive B-complex supplement is recommended for general mental health support. It should ideally contain all essential B vitamins.
  • B Vitamin Dosage Recommendations: Consider “activated” forms of B vitamins for better absorption, especially in cases of genetic polymorphisms affecting folate metabolism.
    • B6: 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams (mg) daily, higher for individuals over 50.
    • B9 (Folate): At least 400 micrograms (mcg) daily, increased to 600 mcg for pregnant individuals or those with higher alcohol consumption.
    • B12: Approximately 2.4 mcg daily.


Iron is a vital mineral necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

  • Importance in Mental Health: Iron is crucial for cognitive functions and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Iron deficiency can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, impaired cognitive function, and mood disorders.
  • How to Supplement: Available in pill form, but it’s advisable to get your levels checked before starting supplementation.
  • Dosage Recommendations: Adult men should aim for 8 mg daily, and women for 18 mg. Requirements may vary based on age, sex, diet, and health status. Excessive iron can be harmful, so monitoring and professional guidance are essential.


Magnesium is a mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium’s calming effects make it ideal for stress and sleeping better.

  • Importance in Mental Health: Magnesium contributes to relaxation and stress reduction. It is also involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters that regulate mood, such as serotonin. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
  • How to Supplement: Available in pill and powder forms. Powders can be mixed with water to create a drink.
  • Dosage Recommendations: Adult men need 400–420 mg daily, and women 310–320 mg. Adjust the dose if gastrointestinal issues arise.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, are essential fats that the body cannot make on its own. They are found in high concentrations in the brain and are integral to cell membrane health. Omega-3s are especially crucial for individuals with low seafood intake.

  • Importance in Mental Health: Omega-3s are crucial for brain function and development. They have anti-inflammatory properties and have been linked to lower rates of depression. Omega-3 supplements can also improve the efficacy of antidepressant medications.
  • How to Supplement: Fish oil supplements containing a balance of EPA and DHA are most effective. Vegetarians can opt for algal oil.
  • Dosage Recommendations: Adult men require around 1.6 grams daily, and women about 1.1 grams.


Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for digestive health. They are found in supplements and fermented foods.


Selenium is a trace mineral that plays a crucial role in metabolism and thyroid function and has antioxidant properties.

  • Importance in Mental Health: Selenium is involved in brain function and mood regulation. Deficiencies in selenium have been associated with increased risk of mood disorders, including depression. Selenium’s antioxidant properties can also mitigate oxidative stress linked to mental health issues.
  • How to Supplement: Usually taken in capsule form.
  • Dosage Recommendations: The general guideline is about 55 mcg daily for adults, with increased needs during pregnancy and lactation. Selenium is required in trace amounts, so it’s important to avoid excessive intake.

Vitamin D

Often synthesized in the skin upon exposure to sunlight, Vitamin D is also available in dietary and supplement forms. It is fat-soluble and plays a significant role in bone health, immune function, and cell growth.

  • Importance in Mental Health: Vitamin D receptors are present in many parts of the brain. It’s linked to mood regulation and reducing inflammation, which is increasingly seen as a contributor to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.
  • How to Supplement: Oral supplementation, preferably in the form of Vitamin D3.
  • Dosage Recommendations: Minimum of 2,000 International Units (IUs) daily for adults. Dosage may need adjustment based on individual blood level targets, typically between 50 to 80 mg/mL. Vitamin D metabolism varies, so it’s crucial to monitor blood levels and adjust the dosage accordingly.


Zinc is a trace mineral important for immune function, DNA synthesis, and cell division.

  • Importance in Mental Health: Zinc has a pivotal role in neuronal function and is linked to the regulation of mood and cognitive function. Zinc deficiency has been associated with mood disorders, and supplementation can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • How to Supplement: Available in pill form, best taken with food to avoid nausea.
  • Dosage Recommendations: Women should aim for 8 mg per day, and men for 11 mg. Excess zinc can interfere with other mineral absorption, so proper assessment and monitoring are crucial.

Personalizing Supplement Intake

It’s essential to tailor supplement intake to individual needs, factoring in health status, genetic makeup, and lifestyle. Collaborating with healthcare practitioners for lab testing can identify specific deficiencies, facilitating a more targeted and effective supplement regimen.

The Bottom Line: Vitamins & Supplements Make You a Better Caregiver

While a balanced diet remains the cornerstone of mental health, supplements play a critical role in filling nutritional gaps that many medical experts have due to their long working hours and peaked stress levels. Supplements act as a bridge to wellness, elevating you to a healthy baseline. And when you’re cared for, you can better care for others. As our understanding of the connection between nutrition and mental health evolves, the integration of supplements into mental health care regimens will undoubtedly become more nuanced and personalized, offering a holistic approach to mental wellness.

These tips are meant for informational purposes only. Before any use of vitamins or supplements, please check with your personal doctor.

Published on Jan 9, 2024

Written by The Influent Staff

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