Nutritional deficiencies in the brain: part 2 in a 2-part series

In our last post, we discussed how nutrition plays a fundamental role in body functions. Today, we discuss what causes nutritional deficiencies and how to get enough nutrients to avoid deficiencies.

What causes deficiencies in the brain?

Deficiencies are caused by malnutrition, which is a diet missing one or more essential nutrients. These deficiencies develop in stages over time. The first stage occurs when the essential nutrients don’t get into the body’s cells.

There are 3 ways that this happens.

First, we don’t get enough vitamins and minerals in our diet. We often eat on the run, making poor diet choices. There is also some evidence that what we generally consider good foods don‘t have as many nutrients as they used to.

Second, sometimes our bodies don’t absorb nutrients very well. The lining of the intestines can become irritated, which reduces how well they can absorb nutrients. Conditions like this are known as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.

Third, some conditions can cause nutrient loss. Women, for example, can experience nutrient loss during menstruation, but pregnancy is the most significant condition that takes nutrients away from the mother’s body for the developing baby.

How this affects us

When one or more of these things happen, nutrient levels drop in the cells. Cell functions based on a given nutrient are decreased. Certain enzymes will have fewer molecules to act on. Some enzymes cannot function at all because they will be missing vital components.

When enzymes don’t function properly, cells can’t perform their roles. Whole tissues have impaired function. The normal operation of structure and function, messages and signals, is impaired. This can lead to observable or measurable symptoms.1 This pattern can happen in all parts of the body, including the brain.

Evidence of deficiencies

The largest factor contributing to deficiencies is poor diet choices. The US Department of Agriculture has documented the percentage of people who don’t meet even the minimum intakes for important nutrients.2

A second factor contributing to deficiency is that foods contain fewer vitamins and minerals today than they used to. Evidence from several sources shows that nutrient density has dropped in foods in the last 30-50 years.3,4,5

Health conditions that reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS have a huge overlap of mental illness symptoms.6,7,8

Additional evidence indicates that those who suffer from mental illnesses have much lower levels of micro and macro elements in hair, plasma, cell, urine, and tissue.9,10,11,12

Getting enough nutrients

We mentioned earlier that one purpose of the diet was to supply essential nutrients that the body cannot make for itself from any raw material. If these essential components are missing or are too low in the diet, many cellular functions slow down or don’t work right, including those in brain cells.

Even if we made better diet choices, there is evidence that our foods have less of these essential nutrients than they once did. This makes the need for a nutritional supplement obvious.

Plus, like recent studies have established, supplementing with something like EMPowerplus can reverse the symptoms of deficiency syndromes and improve our bodies function, including the brain.


  1. Modified from Olson RE: “Pharmacology of nutrients and nutritional disease,” in Principles of Pharmacology, edited by PL Munson. New York, Munson, Chapman, and Hall, 1995.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Community Nutrition Mapping Project.
  3. Mayer, A B. “Historical Changes in the Mineral Content of Fruit and Vegetables”. British Food Journal. 99(6). 1997. 207–211.
  4. Lyne, J.W. and Barak, P., “Are Depleted Soils Causing a Reduction in the Mineral Content of Food Crops?” University of Wisconsin – Madison. 2000.
  5. Davis DR, Epp MD, Riordan HD. “Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999”. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004 Dec;23(6):669–82.
  6. Bass C., “Frequent Digestion Complaints May Point to Psychiatric Disorders.” General Hospital Psychiatry Jan 1999.
  7. Lydiard RB, Fossey MD, Marsh W, Ballenger JC (1993). “Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.” Psychosomatics 34, 229–34.
  8. Garakani A, Win T, Virk S, Gupta S, Kaplan D, Masand PS. “Comorbidity of irritable bowel syndrome in psychiatric patients: a review.” American Journal of Therapeutics 2003 Jan–Feb; 10(1):61-7.
  9. Kozielec T, Starobrat-Hermelin B, Kotkowiak L. “Deficiency of certain trace elements in children with hyperactivity.” Psychiatria Polska 1994 May–Jun;28(3):345–53.
  10. Zhai ST. “23 hair trace elements measurement in patients with schizophrenia.” Zhonghua Shen Jing Jing Shen Ke Za Zhi. 1990 Dec; 23(6):332–8, 383.
  11. Maes M, D’Haese PC, Scharpe S, D’Hondt P, Cosyns P, De Broe ME. “Hypozincemia in depression.” Journal of Affective Disorders. 1994 Jun; 31(2):135–40.
  12. Subhash MN, Padmashree TS, Srinivas KN, Subbakrishna DK, Shankar SK. “Calcium and phosphorus levels in serum and CSF in dementia.” Neurobiology of Aging. 1991 Jul–Aug; 12(4):267–9.

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