Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition associated with low serotonin levels in the brain. A January 2008 "Nutrition Journal" article indicates that using nutrients to increase serotonin likely produces a reduction of symptoms associated with OCD. Symptoms include persistent thoughts of worry or anxiety, and the compulsion to engage in rituals to alleviate the anxious feelings. Eating a well-balanced diet and utilizing vitamins can improve some of the discomfort of OCD; however, seek consultation with a health care professional to explore all your options for comprehensive treatment of this disorder.
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Serotonin Boosting B Vitamins
The B vitamins are important for increasing your serotonin level, which aids in managing OCD symptoms. Vitamin B-3, or niacin, increases tryptophan, an amino acid, which is a precursor in producing serotonin, the Linus Pauling Institute notes. Vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, also aids in serotonin and norepinephrine production. These chemicals are significant in calming mood and obsessive thoughts. Additionally, vitamin B-6 aids in regulating your sleep cycle to maintain cortisol levels when you face stress during the day. A report in a 2011 issue of "Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine" explains that OCD may be one of the first signs of vitamin B-12 deficiency, noting that vitamin B-12 may play a role in the onset of the condition.
Vitamin C in high dosage provides a sedative effect to decrease anxiety. Vitamin C has an impact on adrenal gland functions, which plays a role in your stress response. The adrenal glands respond to stress by releasing corticoids, chemicals that trigger the fight-or-flight response. Taking vitamin C with bioflavonoids, which protect your body from free radical damage may also improve symptoms of OCD. Consult your physician prior to taking high doses vitamin C to ensure safety.
Vitamins and minerals are important for maintaining mental health. Minerals include calcium, potassium and magnesium. Calcium serves as a natural tranquilizer and relaxes the central nervous system. Magnesium reduces muscular tension and in combination with calcium can improve sleep. Potassium is important for maintaining adrenal functions. Consult your physician prior to use of these minerals to prevent drug interactions if you are currently taking other medications.
Vitamin Rich Foods
The B vitamins, as well as vitamin C and minerals, are abundant in foods. If you prefer to obtain your vitamin nutrients from foods, make a shopping list based on foods containing these vitamin sources. B vitamins are found in animal proteins such as chicken, salmon and beef. Vitamin C occurs in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits as well as broccoli and tomatoes. Calcium is rich in whole milk and bananas are a good source for potassium. Eating a well balanced diet with fresh fruits, vegetables and including a lean animal meat in each meal offers an alternative to taking vitamin supplements.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Niacin
- National Institute of Mental Health: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Nutrition Journal: Nutritional Therapies for Mental Disorders
- Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as Early Manifestation of B-12 Deficiency
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-6