The Role of Dietary Patterns and Nutritional Supplements in the Management of Mental Disorders in Children and Adolescents: An Umbrella Review of Meta-Analyses

The Role of Dietary Patterns and Nutritional Supplements in the Management of Mental Disorders in Children and Adolescents: An Umbrella Review of Meta-Analyses

Talib, M. Rachdi, M. Papazova, A. Nicolis, H.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry-Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie
Objective: In recent years, the relationship between nutrition and mental health has gained considerable interest. We identified, synthesized, and appraised all meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies reporting on the efficacy of dietary patterns and nutrient supplements in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Methods: Systematic research in MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was completed on 8 January 2024. Results: Our research found 24 meta-analyses: 14 on RCTs, 8 on observational studies, and 2 combining both. Emerging evidence suggests that omega-3, in particular eicosapentaenoic acid, and Vitamin D may have adjunctive benefits in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), while no evidence was found for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Observational data also indicated that prenatal folic acid supplementation (>400 mu g daily) was associated with a reduced risk of ASD in offspring. In terms of dietary habits, several meta-analyses of observational data revealed that healthy dietary patterns (rich in fruits, vegetables, and fibre, low in saturated fats) during the prenatal period, childhood, and adolescence were linked to a significantly reduced risk of internalizing disorders and externalizing disorders. Conversely, unhealthy dietary habits (high in sugars, saturated animal fats, and industrial foods, low in fruits, vegetables, and fibre) are associated with an elevated risk of these mental health issues. However, the number of available studies on dietary interventions for the treatment of depression, ASD, and ADHD was limited, and the results obtained were either nonsignificant or contradictory. Conclusion: Our findings emphasize the need to establish clear causal relationships between dietary habits and the risk of mental illness in children and adolescents. Moreover, further investigation of the benefits observed with some nutrient supplements (such as omega-3 and vitamin D for ADHD) through larger-scale RCTs is imperative to establish more robust conclusions.

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