Evidence-Based Reviews

Vitamin deficiencies and mental health: How are they linked?

Author and Disclosure Information



On initial assessment, test or obtain from other health care providers your patient’s blood levels of folate and vitamins D and B12. In some patients, assessing B2 and B6 levels may provide etiological guidance regarding onset of psychiatric symptoms or failure to respond to pharmacologic treatment. Because treating vitamin deficiencies often includes using supplements, evaluate recent reviews of specific deficiencies and consider consulting with the patient’s primary care provider.

Conduct a simple assessment of dietary patterns by asking patients about a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their favorite snacks and foods, and specific dietary habits or restrictions (eg, not consuming seafood, dairy, meat, etc.). Rudimentary nutritional recommendations can be effective in changing a patient’s eating habits, particularly when provided by a physician. Encourage patients to eat nutrient-dense foods such as leafy greens, beans and legumes, seafood, whole grains, and a variety of vegetables and fruits. For more complex patients, consult with a clinical nutritionist.

Related Resources

Drug Brand Names

  • Isotretinoin • Accutane
  • L-methylfolate • Deplin
  • Omeprazole • Prilosec


The authors report no financial relationship with any company whose products are mentioned in this article or with manufacturers of competing products.


Recommended Reading

Depressed RA patients more likely to die, especially men
MDedge Psychiatry
Using SSRIs in pregnancy
MDedge Psychiatry
DSM-5 Cleared for Takeoff
MDedge Psychiatry
SSRI antidepressants safe for depressed epilepsy patients
MDedge Psychiatry
Snapshot after diagnosis: prevalence of distress varies by cancer, gender, and age
MDedge Psychiatry
Links found between episodes of mood disorders, childbirth
MDedge Psychiatry
Preventing suicide preceded by mass murder
MDedge Psychiatry
Deficits in empathic abilities appear to be disorder specific
MDedge Psychiatry
Poverty's Effect on Mental Health
MDedge Psychiatry
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors: Forgotten treatment for depression
MDedge Psychiatry