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Nutritional Supplements for Child and Adolescent Mental Health by Noshene Ranjbar, MD & Amelia Villagomez, MD

Survey done to youth between the age of 7-17 shows that many people are looking for nutraceuticals. Dr. Amelia Villagomez expresses that during monitoring having an abnormal elevated calcium concentration with a Vitamin D deficiency could be because of hypercalcemic disorder that results in hyperparathyroidism which you would want to address instead of giving additional doses of Vitamin D.

Studies have shown that adults who take anti-depressants have a negative association between SSRI use and bone mineral density. It has been known that there is greater rate bone loss and increase risk of fractures with the use of SSRI. Which is why Vitamin D intake in kids are thoroughly checked in children.

In cases of Vitamin B12 Dr. Ranjbar discusses that there has been no recorded/proven study that shows the effects of B12 on adolescent depression. It is more convenient to prescribe broad spectrum micronutrient instead of looking and replacing deficiency on one thing at a time.

Most kids who go through fad diets to lose weight have been identified to become more likely to visit a clinic and admit to having some type of mental health condition which is in part due to reduced nutritional intake efficacy.


Many youth use nutraceuticals. The statistics having 28.9% used one or more types of cam therapies. And this figure is twice that of those without mental health concerns. So many people are looking for nutraceuticals and this was a survey done for youth between the ages of seven and 17.

When we’re looking at vitamin D in children, only in data that we have when looking at depression. As far as monitoring, anytime we check a vitamin D level, we also want to check a calcium level because an abnormally elevated calcium concentration and a patient with vitamin D deficiency could be because of hypercalcemic disorder with primary hyperparathyroidism being the most common so you don’t want to give somebody with hyperthyroidism, more vitamin D. Rather, you would want to address that. Kids who are taking antidepressants we’d like to know their vitamin D level, because studies in adults suggest a negative association between SSRI use and bone mineral density and during adolescence is when a huge amount of bone is being placed in consolidated so there’s a greater rate of bone loss with SSRI use and increased risk of fractures in adults studies.

We want to make sure that if a kid is on antidepressants that we’re maximizing, and making sure that the bone mineral is ideal. Those with psychotic disorders give them the correlation between low vitamin D and psychosis, as well as ADHD and depression. Now, many other kids, if I suspect that they don’t have much access to sunlight, or that their diet might be deficient, then I can also check it It also depends on the family has insurance or doesn’t have insurance. Sometimes we’ll empirically treat as well.

We really don’t have a lot of studies looking at adolescent depression using Vitamin B12. We do check it and it’s rarely low. But I do supplement and again with the broad spectrum of micronutrients, it’s an easy, easier way to get a lot of this addressed without having to look at each little thing and trying to replace it. So, in children with healthy GI systems and a diet that’s adequate and richness of the meats and dairy and eggs, and all of that most of our kids that we’re seeing in the clinic do not have an insufficiency or deficiency. However, like many of you, I have lots of kids who are vegan or going through all kinds of fad diets to lose weight, etc. and so unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more likely that someone might come to your office who’s having mental health conditions that in part are from reduced nutritional efficacy in their intake. And so, it’s good to look into this and at least have a sense of what’s happening in the system.

Essentially, L-theanine is a great one. The only study that’s really been done in kids is looking for at boys with ADHD, showing that their sleep efficiency improved. L-theanine is one of those easy things to use when you see someone with anxiety and you don’t have time to figure out exactly what’s going to be the best thing and they have a little bit of sleep trouble. It is something pretty safe to start while you’re doing your workup and getting labs etc.  A lot of times they come back in two or three weeks and they’re like, Oh, he’s already you know, a little bit better with anxiety sleeping a little better, so it tends to be an easy thing to add on early on.