This Mental Health Day, we look at the lifecycle through the lens of mental health

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors



  • October 10th marks World Mental Health Day, introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness of mental health issues and mobilize efforts in support of mental health globally.
  • The theme of this World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health is a universal right’, with the aim of driving actions that promote and protect mental health as an essential freedom.
  • Read on to learn more about how nutrition, as one important modifiable factor, can support mental wellness at all stages of the lifecycle and discover cutting-edge nutritional solutions that aim to improve outcomes for people worldwide.

World Mental Health Day – celebrated on the 10th of October each year – aims to raise awareness of psychiatric conditions and to mobilize efforts in support of mental wellness globally. As a purpose-led company, dsm-firmenich is passionate about advancing mental health and wellbeing to help create a brighter tomorrow. This World Mental Health Day, we explore how cutting edge-nutritional solutions can support optimal mental wellness outcomes for people worldwide at all stages of the lifecycle.

Mental health across the lifecycle

As many as one in eight people globally live with a mental health condition that can negatively impact their physical health, relationships, livelihoods and wellbeing. Adolescents and young people are increasingly affected, with serious conditions such as major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders – including schizophrenia – frequently diagnosed during adolescence, whereas attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically diagnosed even earlier, with most receiving a diagnosis before 7 years old. As mental disorder in adolescence increase the risk of later adult disorder, interventions in early life have the potential to be highly impactful by preventing present and long-term impairment.

The idea of ‘prevention’ is relatively new to mental health care and remains somewhat controversial. However, emerging research indicates that nutritional interventions with essential minerals, vitamins, and specific fatty acids, such as omega 3s, may mitigate related risk factors for mental illness and promote optimal brain health, although additional research is required.

Tackling mental health challenges as a mom

Bringing a new life into the world is one of the most momentous and joyous experiences imaginable. However, it also comes with significant challenges as new parents strive to meet the little one’s needs. A sudden lack of sleep and loss of ‘me time’ can exacerbate feelings of stress and fatigue for all new mothers, whether they are lactating or otherwise.7 Research has shown that balancing fatigue with post-natal recovery in the postpartum period can cause mood fluctuations, anxiety and stress.

In pregnant women experiencing depression or in those who have recently given birth and are dealing with depressive symptoms, lower levels of EPA and DHA have also been observed. This omega-3 deficiency may potentially link to ongoing low-level inflammation and underlying physiological processes associated with depressive disorders. Multiple studies have demonstrated that supplementing with omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), particularly those high in EPA, can have a positive impact on the mood of adults and help alleviate symptoms of depression, including those commonly experienced during perinatal depression.

Not only can omega-3 supplementation potentially support mothers with mood volatility typical of the postpartum period, it can also have a positive impact on a baby’s long-term health. Nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life is critical for human development and lays the foundation for a healthy future. During this period, omega-3 and omega-6 LCPUFAs – namely DHA and ARA – support neurocognitive development, which is implicated with mental health and life quality in later life.

Self-care: a proactive approach to mental wellbeing

As many as 63% of adults worldwide are concerned about their mental and emotional health, considering it their second biggest health priority after energy. Adults are increasingly taking a proactive and preventative approach to their mental wellbeing, aiming to improve their quality of life through self-care endeavors such as an improved diet and supplement regimes.

Against this backdrop of rising awareness in self-care, whether products are “natural” or “clean” remains a major driver of consumer adoption. Happily, there are many diverse natural ingredients that are available for innovation in the cognitive health and mental wellness space. As well as omega-3s, cannabidiol (CBD), magnesium, ashwagandha, B vitamins and ginkgo are gaining relevance as neuroprotectives. While CBD, ashwagandha and magnesium are linked to stress management, anxiety and sleep, B vitamins can play a role in supporting energy and general health. dsm-firmenich is bringing progress to life in the mental health arena by championing nootropic innovation with natural ingredients to support healthy sleep, mood and stress reduction.

Active minds: changing the conversation about mental health in the elderly

As the global population ages, declining brain health is a major issue, with memory, learning and other cognitive functions all negatively impacted by the ageing process. Approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder. Poor cognition can result from inadequate nutrition, and at the same time affect a person's nutritional status, as well as their mobility, independence and quality of life. However, there are ways to support mental health in later life; among several modifiable factors - such as physical activity and social interactions - also through nutritional care . While there is currently no cure for dementia, research suggests omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, B-vitamins and vitamins D and E can support cognitive function and reduce the risk of developing the disorder. Let’s take a closer look at omega-3 fatty acids. A recent study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, may be effective at mitigating the most damaging effects of aging on the brain. As the brain ages, myelin sheaths – the neuroprotective insulation that forms around nerve cells to facilitate rapid communication as well as normal motor and sensory function and cognition – degenerate. Consequently, the elderly experience a decline in mental and physical abilities. But new research suggests that omega-3s may support myelin retention in the aging brain, creating new supplementation opportunities for nutrition brands. We’re committed to developing solutions that support the health of the aging population, and are the only provider of  life’s®OMEGA, a plant-based omega-3 that delivers the benefits of EPA and DHA in a single, quality source.

dsm-firmenich: committed to advancing mental health and well-being worldwide

dsm-firmenich understands that nutritional solutions can have a positive impact on mental wellness at all stages of a person’s life. We are committed to bringing progress to life in the mental health space by championing innovation in novel health benefit solutions, from advancing research into compounds to developing unique ingredients supported by diverse formats to empower minds worldwide, young and old.

But supporting mental health across the globe takes more than ingredients. It takes a partner. We’re inspired to create a brighter future tomorrow via our portfolio of high-quality products, customized solutions and expert services that help you bring life-enhancing products to market faster.

Discover how to co-create exciting nutritional health solutions for mental wellbeing at all stages of life.


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Published on

06 October 2023


5 min read

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