The Association Between Nutritional Deficiencies And Physical Illness

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Introduction The association between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness is one that is well established and easily understood.1 However, few are aware of the impact of such deficiencies on the state of one’s mental health, especially depression. A poll surveyed 1000 Americans regarding their attitudes towards natural aging. The vast majority of Americans (62%) fear losing their mental capacity over diminished physical capacity (29%).2 This is in part summed up best by the famous quip, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”3 Overwhelmed by many of life’s stresses, we constantly seek innovative sources for greater energy, vitality and mood stability. Proper nutritional balance in achieving homeostasis of key essentials vitamins can assist us to not only meet this demand but allow us to provide comprehensive care to those suffering from major depressive disorder. When looking at adults over the age of 18, the NIH estimates that nearly 20.9 million Americans (9.5% of the US population) are plagued with depression, with a median onset of 30 years of age for mood disorders.4 The basis for depression is a sustained period of depressed mood or markedly diminished interest or pleasure in activities previously found enjoyable. In addition, these patients often exhibit a strong preoccupation with or rumination over self-deprecating thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret and hopelessness.5 These are coupled with adjunct symptoms of sleep disturbance, low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, psychomotor agitation and recurring thoughts of suicide. Due to these symptoms, depressed people often have poor food patters, either from a reduced appetite, skipping meals or a general disin... ... middle of paper ... ...ptoms of depression and suicidal ideations to develop; well before many of the physiologic symptoms were apparent.13 One hypothesis proposed for these symptoms is because ascorbic acid is necessary for proper functioning of the dopamine beta-hydroxylase enzyme, which catalyzes dopamine into norepinephrine.9 The hormone within the brain is responsible for behavioral stimulation and excitement and therefore with decreased levels can lead to a state of depression.9 When these mental health symptoms are overlooked and not adequately managed, they can have grave consequences for recurrence. Furthermore, they provide a window of opportunity for earlier diagnosis as they are often present in the time preceding manifestation of clinical symptoms and with only slight deficiency. All symptoms of scurvy can be reversed by just a few days of oral high dose vitamin C repletion.

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