How to Treat Mental Health States With Diet and Supplements

Delusions, disorganized speech, abnormal motor behavior, and hallucinations are some of the symptoms of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, narcissistic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

These mental health disorders are severely debilitating conditions with an estimated worldwide prevalence of approximately 4.6 people per 1000.

Antipsychotic medicines are usually recommended as the first line of treatment for psychotic states. 

They reduce hallucinations and delusions and help people think more clearly, but most importantly, such medications may improve long-term prognosis. Because untreated psychotic states can result in irreversible structural brain damage.

However, medications are not the only line of therapy useful for managing psychotic states, and the side effects of anti-psychotic medication may further lead to nutrient deficiencies.

To help support you or your loved ones manage mental health and psychotic states, here are some dietary and supplement considerations.

The human brain has a very high energy demand and consumes an immense amount of energy relative to the rest of the body. The brain needs a large amount of carbohydrates in order to function effectively. The choice of carbohydrates is critical for brain health.

Nutritional deficiencies critical to human health may result from insufficient intake or absorption are now a recognized risk factor for psychiatric disorders. [1,2]

High intake of nutritionally lacking foods is predictive of poor mental health, whereas a healthy diet reduces risk. [3-7]

Patients who experience psychotic states have been found to have ongoing inflammatory processes, higher levels of oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, decreased synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis, demyelination, and autoimmune diseases—all of which can contribute to disease progression. [8-10]

Disturbances in energy balance has also been linked to the pathobiology of several mental diseases, and so dietary management along with supplementation is becoming an important strategy for treating all psychiatric disorders. 

So which dietary interventions and supplements support the management of psychotic states?

1. Reduction of saturated fat consumption

Fats are vital components of both neurons and glial cells. The types of fats consumed, saturated or unsaturated fats, have been proposed to play a huge role in brain function. 

A 2019 study showed that relative to controls, patients with first-episode psychosis who were not taking antipsychotic medication consumed more saturated fat and had maladaptive eating patterns. [11]

To reduce the amount of saturated fats consumed I recommend reducing the consumption of animal products to a maximum of twice a week, and reducing processed foods rich in unhealthy fats to a bare minimum.

Choose healthy fats instead including olives, avocado, coconut, peanuts, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, tahini or sesame seed paste.

Instead of animal products, be sure to increase your consumption of all types of legumes to supply sufficient healthy protein.

2. Consumption of healthy carbohydrates

In a large study of patients with manic depression or schizophrenia, the rate of diabetes was found to be significantly higher than in the general population. [12-14]

Processed grains and refined sugar are the worst types of carbohydrates for human consumption, not only due to lack of nutrients, but also in the way they ate grown and processed as well as the effects they lead to in the body. 

When consumed with saturated fats on a regular basis, which is very common in the modern world, the likelihood of suffering from diabetes increases to 95%.

On the other hand, healthy carbohydrates are crucial for healthy functioning of the brain and lowered risk for suffering from mental illness. 

For maximum effectiveness, consume at least three small meals a day that include a portion of healthy carbohydrates including whole oats, whole grains in the form of pasta, bread, buckwheat, or couscous, different types of whole grain rice, quinoa, oven baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, and beets. 

3. Boost dietary antioxidant levels

Research shows that there is an association between deficits in antioxidant levels and increased psychotic episodes. Oxidative stress leads to grey matter loss and functional and cognitive impairment. [15]

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with demonstrated beneficial effects on human vascular function, on psychotic episodes and on improving memory and learning.

Foods richest phytochemicals called flavonoids include grapes, green tea (rich in the polyphenol EGCG – epigallocatechin-3-gallate), cocoa and wild blueberries.

Also higher plasma vitamin C in newly diagnosed schizophrenia patients receiving vitamin C supplementation (n = 40) were associated with greater symptomatic improvement over 8 weeks, so it is suggested to consume foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruit, brussels sprouts., potatoes, peppers, berries, blackcurrants and broccoli.

To avoid oxidative stress, you should also limit processed foods, exercise regularly, avoid pollutants, and quit smoking.  

4. Increase foods and lifestyle habits that increase BDNF 

In high levels of oxidative stress, above the cells buffering capacity, brain plasticity and cognitive function are impaired, probably due to a reduction in BDNF activity. 

BDNF has been a relatively new focus of research of schizophrenia and depression. Low levels of BDNF in the plasma are also associated with impaired glucose metabolism and type II diabetes. BDNF is found to be reduced in the brain of patients with schizophrenia. [16-22]

Watch my video on how to increase BDNF levels naturally here:

5. Consume foods that prevent leptin resistance. 

Like BDNF, leptin facilitates synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus [23] Watch my video on how to prevent leptin resistance here.

6. Avoid stimulants

A case study investigated stimulant-induced psychosis. The research concluded that people with a history of psychotic episodes should avoid synthetic and natural stimulants. [24]

Amphetamine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants inhibit dopamine uptake. In high and excessive doses, stimulants cause insomnia, irregular heartbeat, erratic behavior, and psychotic states. 

Also natural stimulants like coffee, and foods high in sugar should be avoided. Sugar stimulates the brain, producing addiction-like effects and impaired cognitive function.

7. Increase essential fats

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are thought to play a large role in supporting optimum brain function. PUFA’s are capable of maintaining the optimal function of cholinergic neurons [25]

A recent study on the benefits of essential fats on psychotic disorders found that omega-3 supplementation effectively reduces symptoms. Patients with psychotic states such as those with schizophrenia have been found to have a lower level of polyunsaturated fatty acids in their brain’s frontal cortex. [26]

Omega 3 PUFS’s are very supportive for patients with mood disorders and should be consumed as a supplement regularly. I recommend a plant based omega 3 fatty acid source to prevent any contamination with toxic metals and other pollutants found in almost all fish currently available. [27]

You may also increase your levels of omega 3 PUFSa’s by consuming walnuts, flax or chia seeds daily added to oats, soups or sprinkled on salads. 

8. Supplement with B vitamins

Blood levels of B vitamins are significantly reduced in psychiatric disorders. Folate (B9) and B12 are often deficient in schizophrenia, and are associated with symptom severity. Furthermore, B-vitamin supplementation can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia and reverse some neurological deficits associated with the disorder. This is perhaps due to the neuroprotective properties of these nutrients, or the ability of B vitamins to lower homocysteine levels, which adversely affects mental health. [28-34]

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is also essential in alleviating psychotic episodes. [35]

A study on the relation between niacin and psychiatric manifestations concluded that niacin deficiency is a contributing factor in schizophrenic patients. Therefore, adequate niacin / Vitamin B3 supplements should be taken with food to prevent an upset stomach. Niacin can be toxic to the liver at high doses and should not be taken by people with existing liver issues. It is best taken in low doses as part of a B complex supplement.

9. Supplement with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is implicated in schizophrenia onset and is associated with worsened physical and mental health outcomes.

A few studies examined correlations between vitamin D and psychiatric symptoms all of them finding some link between low vitamin D levels and worse mental health state. [36-48]


Research shows there is an association between symptoms of psychotic disorders and diet and nutrient levels. Therefore, patients with mental illnesses and psychotic episodes should be proactive about choosing foods and supplements that can help manage psychotic states which can improve not only immediate functioning, but also long-term prognosis. Any supplement treatment should aim to be low dosage and ongoing.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d be honored if you would share it with your family, friends, and followers by clicking the Like, Tweet, and Share buttons. If you are serious about improving your health no matter what your age or circumstances, and are ready to finally achieve optimal health and lose the weight you’ve been struggling with, then click HERE to check out my online Guerrilla Diet Wholistic Lifestyle Bootcamp for Healthy and Lasting Weight Loss.

If you are not already on my mailing list where you will receive my weekly articles packed with scientifically based health, and nutrition content, as well as many FREE bonuses and special offers, and much more, then  click HEREto subscribe.

Thank You, 🙂

Dr. Galit Goldfarb


  1. Sarris J, Logan AC, Akbaraly TNet al. ; International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015;2:271–274.
  2. Sarris J, Logan AC, Akbaraly TNet al. International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research consensus position statement: nutritional medicine in modern psychiatry. World Psychiatry. 2015;14:370–371.
  3. Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Mykletun Aet al. Association of Western and traditional diets with depression and anxiety in women. Am J Psychiatry. 2010;167:305–311.
  4. O’Neil A, Quirk SE, Housden Set al. Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Am J Public Health. 2014;104:e31–e42.
  5. Heald A, Sein K, Anderson Set al. Diet, exercise and the metabolic syndrome in schizophrenia: A cross-sectional study. Schizophr Res. 2015;169:494–495.
  6. Dipasquale S, Pariante CM, Dazzan P, Aguglia E, McGuire P, Mondelli V. The dietary pattern of patients with schizophrenia: a systematic review. J Psychiatr Res. 2013;47:197–207.
  7. Laursen TM. Life expectancy among persons with schizophrenia or bipolar affective disorder. Schizophr Res. 2011;131:101–104.
  8. Salisbury DF, Kuroki N, Kasai K, et al. Progressive and interrelated functional and structural evidence of post-onset brain reduction in schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64(5):521-529.
  9. van Haren NE, Hulshoff HE, Shnack HG, et al. Progressive brain volume loss in schizophrenia over the course of the illness: evidence of maturational abnormalities in early adulthood. Biol Psychiatry. 2008;63(1):106-113.
  10. Cahn W, Hulshoff Pol HE, Lems EB, et al. Brain volume changes in first-episode schizophrenia: a 1-year follow- up study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59(11):1002-1010.
  11. Faith Borgan, Owen O’Daly, Karen Hoang, Mattia Veronese, Dominic Withers, Rachel Batterham, Oliver Howes. Neural Responsivity to Food Cues in Patients With Unmedicated First-Episode Psychosis. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Jan; 2(1): e186893. Published online 2019 Jan 11. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.6893
  12.   60. Lilliker SL. Prevalence of diabetes in a manic-depressive population. Compr Psychiatry. 1980;21:270–275.
  13. Mukherjee S, Decina P, Bocola V, Saraceni F, Scapicchio PL. Diabetes mellitus in schizophrenic patients. Compr Psychiatry. 1996;37:68–73. 
  14. Dixon L, et al. Prevalence and correlates of diabetes in national schizophrenia samples. Schizophr Bull. 2000;26:903–912.
  15. Magalhães PV, Dean O, Andreazza AC, Berk M, Kapczinski F. Antioxidant treatments for schizophrenia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Feb 5;2:CD008919. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008919.pub2. PMID: 26848926.
  16. Angelucci F, Brene S, Mathe AA. BDNF in schizophrenia, depression and corresponding animal models. Mol Psychiatry. 2005;10:345–352.
  17. Nestler EJ, et al. Neurobiology of depression. Neuron. 2002;34:13–25.
  18. Martinowich K, Manji H, Lu B. New insights into BDNF function in depression and anxiety. Nature Neurosci. 2007;10:1089–1093. 
  19. Duman RS. Synaptic plasticity and mood disorders. Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7 (Suppl 1):S29–S34. 
  20. Krabbe KS, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2007;50:431–438. 
  21. Durany N, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin 3 in schizophrenic psychoses. Schizophr Res. 2001;52:79–86. 
  22. Toyooka K, et al. Decreased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in serum of chronic schizophrenic patients. Psychiatry Res. 2002;110:249–257.
  23. Shanley LJ, Irving AJ, Harvey J. Leptin enhances NMDA receptor function and modulates hippocampal synaptic plasticity.J Neurosci. 2001 Dec 15; 21(24):RC186.
  24. Henning A, Kurtom M, Espiridion ED. A Case Study of Acute Stimulant-induced Psychosis. Cureus. 2019;11(2):e4126. Published 2019 Feb 23. doi:10.7759/cureus.4126
  25. Willis LM, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids improve cholinergic transmission in the aged brain.Genes Nutr. 2009 Dec; 4(4):309-14.
  26. Hsu MC, Huang YS, Ouyang WC. Beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in schizophrenia: possible mechanisms. Lipids Health Dis. 2020;19(1):159. Published 2020 Jul 3. doi:10.1186/s12944-020-01337-0
  27. Freeman MP, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;67:1954–1967.
  28. García-Miss Mdel R, Pérez-Mutul J, López-Canul Bet al. Folate, homocysteine, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alfa levels, but not the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T polymorphism, are risk factors for schizophrenia. J Psychiatr Res. 2010;44:441–446.
  29. Bouaziz N, Ayedi I, Sidhom Oet al. Plasma homocysteine in schizophrenia: determinants and clinical correlations in Tunisian patients free from antipsychotics. Psychiatry Res. 2010;179:24–29.
  30. Goff DC, Bottiglieri T, Arning Eet al. Folate, homocysteine, and negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2004;161:1705–1708.
  31. Firth J, Stubbs B, Sarris Jet al. The effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on symptoms of schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychol Med. 2017;47:1515–1527.
  32. Roffman J, Petruzzi L, Tanner Aet al.  Biochemical, physiological and clinical effects of l-methylfolate in schizophrenia: a randomized controlled trial. Mol Psychiatry. 2017. doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.41
  33. Mattson MP, Haberman F. Folate and homocysteine metabolism: therapeutic targets in cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders. Curr Med Chem. 2003;10:1923–1929.
  34. Muntjewerff JW, Kahn RS, Blom HJ, den Heijer M. Homocysteine, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and risk of schizophrenia: a meta-analysis. Mol Psychiatry. 2006;11:143–149.
  35. Xu XJ, Jiang GS. Niacin-respondent subset of schizophrenia – a therapeutic review. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015;19(6):988-97. PMID: 25855923.
  36. McGrath J. Is it time to trial vitamin D supplements for the prevention of schizophrenia?Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2010;121:321–324.
  37. McGrath J, Eyles D, Burne T. Environmental risk factors for schizophrenia: does developmental vitamin D deficiency play a role?Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010;44:A4.
  38. McGrath J, Eyles D, Mowry B, Yolken R, Buka S. Low maternal vitamin D as a risk factor for schizophrenia: a pilot study using banked sera. Schizophr Res. 2003;63:73–78.
  39.   McGrath J, Saari K, Hakko Het al. Vitamin D supplementation during the first year of life and risk of schizophrenia: a Finnish birth cohort study. Schizophr Res. 2004;67:237–245.
  40. Lally J, Gardner-Sood P, Firdosi Met al. Clinical correlates of vitamin D deficiency in established psychosis. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16:76.
  41. Adamson J, Lally J, Gaughran F, Krivoy A, Allen L, Stubbs B. Correlates of vitamin D in psychotic disorders: a comprehensive systematic review. Psychiatry Res. 2017;249:78–85.
  42. Cai L, Chen T, Yang Jet al.  Serum trace element differences between Schizophrenia patients and controls in the Han Chinese population. Sci Rep. 2015;5. doi:10.1038/srep15013
  43. Sharma SK, Sharma A, Sood S, Gupta I. Study of serum selenium levels in schizophrenic patients. Indian Medical Gazette. 2014;148:403–407.
  44. Liu T, Lu QB, Yan Let al. Comparative study on serum levels of 10 trace elements in schizophrenia. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0133622.
  45. Swardfager W, Herrmann N, Mazereeuw G, Goldberger K, Harimoto T, Lanctôt KL. Zinc in depression: a meta-analysis. Biol Psychiatry. 2013;74:872–878.
  46. Pasco JA, Jacka FN, Williams LJet al. Dietary selenium and major depression: a nested case–control study. Complement Ther Med. 2012;20:119–123.
  47. Valipour G, Saneei P, Esmaillzadeh A. Serum vitamin D levels in relation to schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014;99:3863–3872.
  48. McGrath JJ, Burne TH, Féron F, Mackay-Sim A, Eyles DW. Developmental vitamin D deficiency and risk of schizophrenia: a 10-year update. Schizophr Bull. 2010;36:1073–1078.


Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field