A person’s food intake affects mood, behavior, and brain function. (Nutrition in Clinical Practice). Mood, behavior, and all other human functions are controlled by the brain. Although the nature in which the brain alters cannot be altered by nutrition, the balance of functions within the brain are altered by nutritional levels, thus altering ones own mood and behavior. One cannot go crazy by eating a certain vitamin or mineral, or consume too many carbohydrates or protein. However your mood and behavior are directly affected by your nutritional intake.
Changes in energy or nutrient intake can alter both brain chemistry and the functioning of the nerves in the brain. (Medical Nutritional Therapy for Neurologic Disorders). This means that (especially in both infant and fetal development) the brains actual chemical composition is determined party by what you eat. It also means that what you eat has an affect on your behavior in day to day life. This is very important because not only would this aberrant brain development be irreversible, but it could predispose you to conditions such as mental illness.
The intake of energy and several different nutrients affect levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters transmit nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another, and the influence mood, sleep patters, and thinking. (Human Nutrition and Dietetics). A severe decrease or increase in the amount of a combination or any specific vitamins or minerals can damage nerves in the brain and cause memory changes, limiting problem-solving ability, and impairing brain function.
This means that the level of vitamins or minerals you eat does have an affect on many skills and functions you would use daily, such as driving, solving a math problem, or your ability to remember something.
Specifically, these variations that can influence mental health include your overall energy intake, the intake of energy-containing nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, your alcohol intake, and lastly your intake of minerals and vitamins.
Given the brains enormous consumption of energy even at rest (20%-30%), if one was not consuming enough calories, the amount of brain function would decrease to allow the body to preform everyday tasks. This can lead to an inability to reason rationally which may lead to actions that may be labeled “crazy.” However it is important to note that the mental state of mind never changed, the insufficiency of specific nutrients or vitamins or specific combinations simply inhibited functions of the brain.
Vitamins that have the potential to affect mental health include Thiamin, Vitamin B-12, Folic Acid, and Niacin. (Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy). A deficiency of any of the previously mentioned vitamins can lead to serious long term disorders. Most radically would be Niacin. It is involved in releasing energy in the body from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. And therefore is very important. However a deficiency of niacin may cause but are not limited to irritability, headaches, loss of memory, inability to sleep and emotional instability. A severe deficiency can even lead to death. (Nutrition and Diseases of the Nervous System).
Whether ones nutritional intake can make them crazy or not does not matter. It is always important to follow the suggested balance of vitamins, minerals, carbs, fat, and protein. Not only will this provide your body with what it needs to proper appropriately, but it will provide a balanced amount of vitamins and minerals that have an affect on mental health.
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Katz, David L., M.D., M.P.H. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. New York: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, 2001.
Shiveley, LeeAnn R., M.P.H, R.D. and Patrick J. Connolly, M.D. "Medical Nutrition Therapy for Neurologic Disorders." In Krause's Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. 10th edition. Edited by L. Kathleen Mahan, M.S., R.D.,C.D.E., and Sylvia Escott-Stump, M.A., R.D., L.D.N. New York: W. B. Saunders Company, 2000.
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