diet and mental health linked

Recent research supports an association between specific components of the diet and mental health.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians experiences mental health condition or illness in a given year. Approximately 50% of the population will have or have already had a mental illness by the age of forty. Mental illness significantly impacts on individuals as well as society as a whole and is indiscriminate of culture, education, income level, or age.

In a recent study, published in Nutrition Journal, researchers reported a relationship between diet and mental health using a 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) among a Japanese population. An analysis of 4,701 participants was conducted for around five years based on the general health and food frequency questionnaire to analyze the mental health status and the dietary intake of various foods, including fish, dairy products, chicken, and meat along with the specific nutrients including vitamins, calcium, and fatty acids.

The researchers reported that proteins, calcium, vegetables, vitamin D, vitamin B12, saturated fatty acids, and carotene intake were associated with good mental health, however, consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids was linked to poor mental health.

The results of the study, therefore, suggest that consuming adequate amounts of food and specific nutrients might have a significant impact on mental health.

Although the research did find an association between dietary intake and mental health, it was limited to a single population (Japanese). In addition, other variables such as genetics may play a role in mental health, which were not considered in the study. Further studies need to be conducted to validate and expand on these results.


Written by Sakina Bano Mendha


Choda, N., Wakai, K., Naito, M., Imaeda, N., Goto, C., Maruyama, K., … Hamajima, N. (2020). Associations between diet and mental health using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire: cross-sectional and prospective analyses from the Japan Multi-Institutional Collaborative Cohort Study. Nutrition Journal, 19(1). doi: 10.1186/s12937-019-0515-6

Fast Facts about Mental Illness. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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