Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Farzin Irani, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sandra Kerr, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carol Armstrong, Ph.D.


INTRODUCTION: Nutrition plays a critical role in brain development subsequently affecting neurocognition and mental health in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies have deleterious effects on brain development potentially resulting in impaired neurocognition or psychiatric disorders. Conversely, adequate nutrition and micronutrient intake promotes optimal neurocognition and mental health by preventing, mitigating, and/or reversing negative effects. PURPOSE: Since neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders negatively impact individuals and society worldwide, it is imperative to consider nutritional aspects in their prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment. This report reviews and summarizes relevant research. APPROACH: A PubMed and Cochrane Library search using a combination of the following key terms: “prenatal,” “pregnancy,” “maternal,” “children,” “adolescents,” “adults,” “nutrition,” “diet,” “folate or folic acid,” “vitamin B12,” “vitamin D,” “iron,” “iodine,” “choline,” “zinc,” “multi-vitamins,” “omega-3 fatty acids,” “BMI” AND “cognition,” “neurocognition,” “neurodevelopment,” “depression,” “schizophrenia,” “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” “autism,” to identify relevant studies. The literature was reviewed to identify gaps and limitations in existing studies, with recommendations for enhancing future research. Findings and analysis are summarized in the following sections: I. Introduction; II. Approach; III. Background; IV. Micronutrients; V. Fats; VI. Other Dietary Considerations; VII. Limitations and Future Research; VIII. Summary; IX. Conclusion. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence of the role of nutritional factors in the prevention and treatment of neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders is promising. However, additional longitudinal studies and randomized controlled trials are still needed to validate current findings, before potential preventative and/or therapeutic interventions can be implemented in practice.