Revolutionising the Treatment of Mental Health with Nutrition
This podcast features Prof Julia Rucklidge, a Clinical Psychiatrist and Director of Mental Health and Nutrition at the University of Calgary in New Zealand. She is one of the leading voices in the field of Nutritional Psychiatry and she has researched a diverse array of mental health disorders and their link with nutrition including areas such as ADHD, anxiety and stress in children and adults plus following natural disasters and more. In this podcast Dr Rucklidge discusses micronutrient deficiency in the global population and dives into her research using broad spectrum micronutrient therapy for ADHD and also PTSD after natural disasters. It is a fascinating insight into the management of mental health issues today and how it could be improved, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The effect of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation on the mental health status of attention-deficit hyperactive children: a randomized controlled trial.
BMC pediatrics. 2021;21(1):178
Plain language summary
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder and studies have found it to be associated with nutrient deficiencies, namely magnesium and vitamin D. The aim of this randomized, controlled study is to assess the effect of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation on mental health and behavioral outcomes in children with ADHD. Sixty-six children with ADHD were randomly allocated to receive both vitamin D plus magnesium or placebo for eight weeks, and a validated children’s mental health questionnaire was assessed. After eight weeks, serum vitamin D and magnesium, as well as various behavioural outcomes (emotional problem, peer problem, total difficulties and internalising), were all significantly improved among the treatment group compared to placebo. Based on these results, the authors conclude co-supplementing vitamin D and magnesium can improve the behavioral function and mental health of children with ADHD. They suggest larger, well-designed studies are needed to both validate these findings and further explore whether micronutrient deficiencies in ADHD are a cause or effect of the disorder.
BACKGROUND Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by varying severity in attention deficit and hyperactivity. Studies have shown deficiencies in the serum level of magnesium and vitamin D in people with ADHD. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation on mental health in children with ADHD. METHODS We conducted a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 66 children with ADHD. Participants were randomly allocated to receive both vitamin D (50,000 IU/week) plus magnesium (6 mg/kg/day) supplements (n = 33) or placebos (n = 33) for 8-weeks. Strengths and difficulties questionnaire was used to evaluate children's mental health at baseline and the end of the study. RESULTS After eight weeks of intervention, the serum levels of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D3 and magnesium increased significantly in the intervention group compared with the control group. Also, children receiving vitamin D plus magnesium showed a significant reduction in emotional problems (p = 0.001), conduct problems (p = 0.002), peer problems (p = 0.001), prosocial score (p = 0.007), total difficulties (p = 0.001), externalizing score (p = 0.001), and internalizing score (p = 0.001) compared with children treated with the placebo. CONCLUSION Vitamin D (50,000 IU/week) and magnesium (6 mg/kg/day) co-supplementation for a duration of 8-weeks could improve the behavioral function and mental health of children with ADHD. However, further well-designed studies with a larger sample size are needed. TRIAL REGISTRATION IRCT2016030326886N1 .
The Influence of Prenatal DHA Supplementation on Individual Domains of Behavioral Functioning in School-Aged Children: Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial.
Plain language summary
Omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are thought to be beneficial for the development of the fetal brain. Women with a singleton pregnancy at <21 weeks’ gestation enrolled in this multicentre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial to assess the fetal neurodevelopment effects of 800 mg/day, which they took until the birth of their children. A follow-up assessment was arranged when the children reached age seven to evaluate their neurodevelopment. Children of women who took DHA supplements showed increased risk scores on hyperactivity, behavioural problems that may impact daily activities, ADHD, peer relationships, Metacognition Indexes, Shift, Inhibit, Monitor, Working Memory, and Organization of Materials scales. Supplementing with high doses of DHA during pregnancy might not have any protective effects on neurodevelopment in women with high baseline DHA levels. However, further robust studies are required to confirm the results to determine the clinical applicability of DHA supplementation in pregnant women. Healthcare professionals can use the results of this study to understand the dose-dependent therapeutic application of DHA and its impact on fetal neurodevelopment.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) accumulates in the fetal brain during pregnancy and is thought to have a role in supporting neurodevelopment. We conducted a multicenter, double-blind, randomized controlled trial in women with a singleton pregnancy who were <21 weeks' gestation at trial entry. Women were provided with 800 mg DHA/day or a placebo supplement from trial entry until birth. When children reached seven years of age, we invited parents to complete the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), and the Conners 3rd Edition Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Index to assess child behavior and behavioral manifestations of executive dysfunction. There were 543 parent-child pairs (85% of those eligible) that participated in the follow-up. Scores were worse in the DHA group than the placebo group for the BRIEF Global Executive, Behavioral Regulation and Metacognition Indexes, and the Shift, Inhibit, Monitor, Working Memory, and Organization of Materials scales, as well as for the Conners 3 ADHD index, and the SDQ Total Difficulties score, Hyperactivity/Inattention score, and Peer Relationship Problems score. In this healthy, largely term-born sample of children, prenatal DHA supplementation conferred no advantage to childhood behavior, and instead appeared to have an adverse effect on behavioral functioning, as assessed by standardized parental report scales.
Towards Tailored Gut Microbiome-Based and Dietary Interventions for Promoting the Development and Maintenance of a Healthy Brain.
Frontiers in pediatrics. 2021;9:705859
Plain language summary
The cause of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) is complex and multifactorial. Recent studies have indicated that early life disturbances of the gut microbiome can impact neurodevelopment, suggesting this critical window may play a key role in the prevention or progression of neurological disease. The growing field of personalized nutrition works on the basis of tailored dietary intervention strategies that consider individual variability based on genetics, diet, and the environment. The aim of this paper is to review the current evidence on the neurodevelopmental interaction between the gut microbiota, environment and host, and assess the efficacy of tailored, personalized nutrition interventions aimed at preventing or treating NDDs. The literature provides evidence that the gut microbiota is susceptible to influence by various factors early in life, and the health of the microbiome may modulate mental health consequences later in life. Additionally, key nutritional deficiencies and microbiome alterations have been linked to NDDs, suggesting potential markers that may lead to improved prevention and treatment. Based on the current literature, the authors emphasize the need for further research during the critical window of microbiome development in order to target the cause of neurodevelopmental impairments. They suggest these findings could help progress the field of Nutritional Psychiatry towards effective tailored nutrition and personalized medicine.
Mental health is determined by a complex interplay between the Neurological Exposome and the Human Genome. Multiple genetic and non-genetic (exposome) factors interact early in life, modulating the risk of developing the most common complex neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), with potential long-term consequences on health. To date, the understating of the precise etiology underpinning these neurological alterations, and their clinical management pose a challenge. The crucial role played by diet and gut microbiota in brain development and functioning would indicate that modulating the gut-brain axis may help protect against the onset and progression of mental-health disorders. Some nutritional deficiencies and gut microbiota alterations have been linked to NDDs, suggesting their potential pathogenic implications. In addition, certain dietary interventions have emerged as promising alternatives or adjuvant strategies for improving the management of particular NDDs, at least in particular subsets of subjects. The gut microbiota can be a key to mediating the effects of other exposome factors such as diet on mental health, and ongoing research in Psychiatry and Neuropediatrics is developing Precision Nutrition Models to classify subjects according to a diet response prediction based on specific individual features, including microbiome signatures. Here, we review current scientific evidence for the impact of early life environmental factors, including diet, on gut microbiota and neuro-development, emphasizing the potential long-term consequences on health; and also summarize the state of the art regarding the mechanisms underlying diet and gut microbiota influence on the brain-gut axis. Furthermore, we describe the evidence supporting the key role played by gut microbiota, diet and nutrition in neurodevelopment, as well as the effectiveness of certain dietary and microbiome-based interventions aimed at preventing or treating NDDs. Finally, we emphasize the need for further research to gain greater insight into the complex interplay between diet, gut microbiome and brain development. Such knowledge would help towards achieving tailored integrative treatments, including personalized nutrition.