The Nutrition and Mental Health Research Fund supports research on the ability of multi-nutrient treatments to reverse and prevent the onset of psychiatric symptoms and is well on its way to raising an initial $1,000,000 for its first round of research grants.
Where the problem lies
Scientific reports accumulating for the past 20 years have shown dramatic restoration of good mental health in people consuming broad-spectrum formulas of micronutrients (mostly minerals and vitamins). Initially, these results were surprising, because the prior century of research had shown very modest improvements with nutrient treatments. But there was a key difference: the older research consisted of studies of single nutrients, and the modern research is studying formulas with multiple nutrients. The tremendous advantage of broad-spectrum formulas is that they represent what the brain actually needs: all dietary minerals and vitamins, on a daily basis, and in proper balance.
Unfortunately, it is primarily the single nutrient treatment studies that receive government funding, in part because they appeal to our Western way of thinking that there is a silver bullet for every problem (e.g., penicillin for a specific infection, so why not vitamin D for depression?). But humans need many (perhaps at least 50) micronutrients for optimal brain function. Why would anyone expect a single nutrient to have a significant impact on complex brain function? At best, single nutrients appear to boost the impact of medications, but our goal is to restore normal brain function: this achievement requires a broad spectrum of nutrients.
We need to build our scientific knowledge about the treatment of mental health problems with formulas containing multiple micronutrients. There have been two significant obstacles up to this point: the excessive influence of pharmaceutical companies which spend billions of dollars on clinical trials but will not support nutrient treatment trials because they will not benefit financially, and the bias of conventional funding sources (mostly government agencies) toward supporting clinical trials of single nutrients. These two obstacles have prevented the flow of funds to support research on multi-nutrient treatments, even though those are the treatments that have been shown to have the greatest benefit for mental health.
Help is on the way
Fund donations are now supporting additional research on these multi-nutrient treatments. Although the the evidence is strong that dietary habits are associated with psychiatric symptoms, there are two areas in particular needing additional research: 1) the ability of multi-nutrient treatments to reverse psychiatric symptoms, and 2) evaluation of the use of nutritional interventions to prevent psychiatric symptoms. The first goal of this fund is to enhance our scientific knowledge of the potential uses of broad-spectrum nutrients for both treatment and prevention.
Once further research data has accumulated, the fund will support knowledge translation and dissemination to professionals and the public.
The latest Fund-sponsored published research: Development of a Composite Primary Outcome Score for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Emotional Dysregulation, JOURNAL OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY,
Vol 30, No. 3, 2020
Dr. Kaplan’s latest published research: A randomised trial of nutrient supplements to minimise psychological stress after a natural disaster. Psychiatry Research (2015).
Fund advisor Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, PhD is a member of the new International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR). For many years, she studied developmental disorders in children, especially ADHD and reading disabilities (dyslexia). Dr. Kaplan was part of a team from University of Calgary and University of British Columbia which helped in the search for genes that predispose children to dyslexia. Also, with her students, she investigated the characteristics of adults with ADHD. Such work led her to further investigations of the role of nutrition. Another interest has been the mood symptoms that accompany ADHD and learning difficulties, and the role of micronutrient treatment of mood, aggression and explosive rage. This progression of topics has resulted in a research program focused on the role of nutrition in brain development and in brain function, especially the use of broad spectrum micronutrient treatment for mental disorders.