18 November 2019

Knowledge Synthesis Nutrition and Mental Health

A consortium of researchers from Maastricht University (NUTRIM, MHeNs, EPP) and the Open University in Heerlen reviewed and synthesized the scientific knowledge on the relation between nutrition and mental disorders across the life span. The aim of this synthesis was to provide an overview of the scientific evidence on the relation between nutrition (dietary patterns and nutrients) and mental disorders, to identify knowledge gaps and to provide recommendations for practice and further research. The Dutch language report of this knowledge synthesis is now available.

NUTRIM, DIV1, DIV2, DIV3, Anke Oenema

Healthy dietary patterns and omega-3 fatty acids

The results of the systematic literature review showed that healthy dietary patterns are associated with a lower risk for depressive symptoms and depression among adults. Among children and adolescents there is a lack of good quality studies on these associations. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can have a beneficial effect in the treatment of depressive disorders among adults as an adjunct to treatment with anti-depressants. Omega-3 supplementation can also be effective in reducing ADHD-symptoms in children with ADHD.

Knowledge gaps

The knowledge synthesis also showed that there are many gaps in the scientific knowledge for all three life phases. This indicates that further research on the role of dietary patterns/nutrients in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders is urgently needed. Recommendations for further research are provided in the report.