Answer: D. All of the above.
Micronutrient deficiencies can bring about a range of mental health complications, including impairments in cognitive function and neuromotor performance, effects on brain morphology, and disruption of neurochemical pathways. Micronutrients are vital in enzymatic reactions responsible for neurotransmitter synthesis and preservation, and mineral deficits have been identified in the pathophysiology of depressive symptoms.1
Minerals are essential in the enzymatic activation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that regulates neuronal plasticity and promotes the maturation and differentiation of new neurons within the CNS and the peripheral nervous system.
Animal studies have shown that stress can reduce BDNF expression and activity in the hippocampus, and clinical studies have echoed similar findings in which serum BDNF levels are reported to be lower in depressed patients than in controls.2,3 Augmentation strategies that can facilitate BDNF expression have been emerging as an area of interest among researchers.
For more on this topic, see Evidence-Based Research on the Role of Zinc and Magnesium Deficiencies in Depression, on which this quiz is based.
1. Rao TS, Asha R, Ramesh BN, Jagannatha KS. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008;50:77-82.
2. Brunoni AR, Lopes M, Fregni F. A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical studies on major depression and BDNF levels: implications for the role of neuroplasticity in depression. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2008;11:1169-1180.
3. Swardfager W, Herrmann N, McIntyre RS, et al. Potential roles of zinc in the pathophysiology and treatment of major depressive disorder. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013;37:911-929.