When it comes to mental health, can supplements play a therapeutic role, or are they just "expensive urine?" Well, thanks in large part to Dr. Julia Rucklidge from University of Canterbury, we have some answers. Dr. Rucklidge's research over the past 10+ years has been able to show that clinical levels of broad-spectrum micronutrients can have beneficial effects on both mood and cognition, even helping to lessen the need for anti-depressants in children with behavioral disorders.
In the podcast below, Dr. Rucklidge joins FX Medicine host Andrew Whitfield-Cook and shares her insights into how, with a few simple interventions, we might alleviate a considerable amount of the mental illness burden plaguing our communities.
Dr. Julia Rucklidge is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in Christchurch, New Zealand. She did her undergraduate training in neurobiology and has a Master's and PhD from the University of Calgary in clinical psychology.
Supplements Benefit Mental Health with Jullia Rucklidge from FX Medicine on Vimeo.
Dr. Rucklidge began researching broad-spectrum micronutrient supplements including Hardy's Daily Essential Nutrients almost two decades ago. She says "In the long term...the number of people with psychiatric illness is going up, not down", and she wanted to study the impact of nutrition on mental health.
Her first published case study was on a young man with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). She had worked with him to improve his symptoms using psychotherapy, but he only experienced a modest improvement. At the time, Dr. Rucklidge was considering trying the micronutrients, but she was skeptical. She made no promises to the patient, and he took the micronutrients. Two weeks later, he and his mother reported a complete remission of the OCD symptoms. To ensure that the micronutrients were helping, the patient discontinued them; and his symptoms returned. The picture was pretty clear. The A/B testing left little doubt that the micronutrients were alleviating this patient's OCD.
Dr. Rucklidge began paying attention to micronutrients
"Every single biochemical process that happens in our bodies requires co-factors. Co-factors are vitamins and minerals...to suggest that they are meaningless is really doing a disservice to the understanding of basic physiology," she says in the podcast.
Over the years, Dr. Rucklidge and her team have published multiple larger studies, including randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, investigating the safety and effectiveness of micronutrient formulations, including Hardy's Daily Essential Nutrients.
"If you've done a properly designed randomized, controlled trial using a placebo, it's hard for people to ignore you," shares Dr. Rucklidge. Her first blinded RCT was carried out exactly like a drug trial. Results showed overwhelming improvement in mental health symptoms using the micronutrients. The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Since her initial study, she and her colleagues have published many more.
When it comes to nutrition, providing a single ingredient (such as one vitamin) is not enough to incite a clinical response. Dr. Rucklidge's research has found that micronutrient formulations should consist of:
-At least 10, preferably more (25 or so), minerals and vitamins
-Individual ingredient doses exceeding the RDA
-High quality control
-Absence of botanicals that interfere with drugs (such as citrus bioflavonoids)
-Availability of peer-review studies on safety and efficacy
The levels of nutrients provided in Daily Essential Nutrients are far higher than those that would be provided in even the healthiest of diets, but are still well within the safe upper limits established by the Food and Nutrition Board.
Unlike typical multivitamins, Hardy's micronutrients are also provided in a highly absorbable format and backed by a growing body of independent university research.
"My role at the moment is getting nutrition on the map. We've looked at it across the board with sleep...ADHD...PTSD," shares Dr. Rucklidge.
The big difference between using Hardy's micronutrients and pharmaceutical medications to treat mental health is that, rather than providing a pill designed to block a biochemical process, nourishment is provided to the body, targeting the root cause of the symptoms. Follow-up blood work confirms that the patients' nutrient levels do increase, and higher nutrient levels bring the body back into homeostasis.
The studies that Dr. Rucklidge and her colleagues have completed on Hardy's Daily Essential Nutrients were not funded by Hardy Nutritionals®.
"When we observe people over a long period of time, not only do we see changes in the symptoms that we are targeting, but we also see wonderful changes in other areas as well. We hear about sleep,...stabilization of mood, they're a lot better regulated. Parents will tell us that their kids can be reasoned with now. That's what the micronutrients seem to do...they are less anxious, their mood is more stable."