Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group

Mental Health and Nutrition

The aim of our research group is to find nutritional interventions that are effective in treating psychiatric/psychological illness.

1. Trial of Micronutrients During Pregnancy

Participants needed

This exciting new study is looking to see whether a vitamin and mineral (micronutrient) supplement can improve low mood and anxiety in pregnant women. Participants enrolled in the study will be randomized to receive either capsules containing the recommended nutrients as per the New Zealand Ministry of Health guidelines or capsules containing a broad spectrum of micronutrients for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, all participants will have the opportunity to take the micronutrient formula for a further 12 weeks or until the birth of their child. Both capsules contain the New Zealand Ministry of Health recommendation for the daily intake of iodine during pregnancy. Women who participate in this study will be asked to meet with the researchers every four weeks and will receive mental health oversight throughout the duration of their pregnancy as part of participating in the trial.

We are looking for pregnant women:

  • 19 years of age or older
  • Between 12-24 weeks pregnant
  • Having one baby
  • Living in the Canterbury region

Interested in taking part? Please read the information sheet below and click on the following link to register your interest and complete an online screening to assess your eligibility:

For further information, please contact

Hayley Bradley
Phone: +64 (3) 364 2987 Ext. 7705

Hayley Photo


2. Infant Development and Maternal Mood during Pregnancy

The Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group are conducting a study looking into mood during pregnancy and infant outcomes in the first 6 months of life. This study will help us confirm any changes in mood that pregnant women may or may not experience throughout the prenatal and postnatal periods, and their possible effects on infant development.

We are looking for pregnant women who are:

  • 19 years of age or older
  • Between 12-24 weeks pregnant
  • Having one baby
  • Living in the Canterbury region

Interested in taking part? Please read the summary sheet below and click on the following link to register your interest and complete an online screening to assess eligibility:

For further information, please contact

Siobhan Campbell
Phone: +64 (3) 369 2386 

Siobhan Photo


Recently published

We have recently published our results for our double blind randomized controlled trial using micronutrients to treat ADHD as well as a one year follow up of the trial. We have also published a one year follow up of our randomized controlled trial we conducted after the earthquake showing the long-term benefits of using nutrients after a natural disaster. Please see our Publications.

The following studies are now closed to recruitment. We will be publishing our work on these studies over the next year. Please follow us on Facebook for news of our new research programmes.

  • Insomnia Study
  • Child ADHD Study
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Study
  • ADHD Control Study

The aim of our research group is to find nutritional interventions that are effective in treating psychiatric/psychological illness. At our lab, we independently test new, groundbreaking multinutrient formulae, probiotics and other natural, beneficial substances. We run studies on many different psychological disorders, including ADHD (in both adults and children), addictions, depression and stress. We use all kinds of different trial designs to test these products, including multiple baseline designs, open label, and the ‘gold standard’ of clinical testing, the randomised, placebo-controlled trial (RCT). We are not employed by the manufacturers of these products; we have no interest in getting a good result for them. All we’re interested in is finding real treatments that work, for the good of people affected by psychological illnesses.

Study participants

At the moment, our studies are only open to people who are not taking any psychiatric drugs. If you’d like to find out what trials we are running at the moment, or would like to take part, please visit the Studies page. If you’re not eligible for any of our trials, or you just feel as though you’d like a bit of support, please visit the Services page, where we have provided a list of counselling and other relevant services within Christchurch. For information about the products we study, please email Julia Rucklidge.

Response to micronutrients

The range of the response to micronutrients can vary from a small but noticeable improvement to a substantial and dramatic life changing improvement. Based on short-term trials, about 50% show a meaningful and clinically important change. Others show a more modest improvement. A minority (probably about 20%) do not respond at all. Our research shows that the number of people responding goes up the longer they stay on the micronutrients. One appealing aspect of the approach is that people report very few side effects and they tend to be mild and transient. This research has been done on many different psychiatric conditions, ranging from bipolar disorder to ADHD to anxiety to stress.

Ethical approval

All our studies have ethical approval from the University of Canterbury Human Ethics Committee and the Southern Regional Ethics Committee.

Funding sources

Our funding sources include: Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, Gravida, Vic Davis Memorial Trust, the GAMA Foundation, Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, the University of Canterbury and a number of private donations.

This research is hard to fund with public funds. Anyone interested in financially supporting this line of research can make donations to the University Foundation (with tax benefits). Simply go to In the Designation section, click choose Nutrition and Mental Health Research Group. Or you can choose “other” and then in the box provided indicate that you would like to support Dr Julia Rucklidge's research programme on nutrition and mental health.

UC 'What if' seminars

Prof Rucklidge has delivered two one-hour long talks at the University of Canterbury on the field and the rationale behind using nutrients to treat mental illness:

TEDx talk

To learn more about the research on micronutrients, please watch a TEDx talk Prof Rucklidge delivered on November 1st 2014 in Christchurch (only 18 minutes):

TV documentary

Or this documentary that featured on Sunday Report TVNZ1 gives some good insights into our work:

Educational series

Prof Kaplan and Rucklidge recently put together a three hour educational series (free unless you want continuing education credits):


Alternatively, follow a blog that Prof Rucklidge and Kaplan write together:

Print media

This cover story in the NZ Listener by Sally Blundell is a great piece encouraging us all to think differently about mental illness:


We also have a Facebook page where we post information about new studies. Please like our page and you will receive updates on our research:


Please follow Prof Rucklidge on twitter and you can find out more about upcoming research: @JuliaRucklidge

Relevant Publications to Mental Health and Nutrition


Rucklidge, J. J., Frampton, C., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (2017). Vitamin-mineral treatment of ADHD in adults: A one year follow up of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Attention Disorders, 21(6), 522-532.

Sole, E. J., Rucklidge, J. J., & Blampied, N. M. (2017). Anxiety and Stress in Children Following an Earthquake: Clinically Beneficial Effects of Treatment with Micronutrients. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-10. doi: 10.1007/s10826-016-0607-2

Romijn, A. R. & Rucklidge, J. J. Kuijer, R. G., & Frampton, C. M. (2017). A double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of a probiotic formulation for the symptoms of depression. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.


Rucklidge, J. J., & Mulder, R. T. (2016). Could nutrition help behaviours associated with personality disorders? A narrative review. Personality and Mental Health, 10(1): 3-11. doi: 10.1002/pmh.1325

Lothian, J. A, Blampied, N., & Rucklidge, J. J. (2016). Effect of Micronutrients on Insomnia in Adults: A Multiple-Baseline Design. Clinical Psychological Science,4(6), 1112-1124.

Rucklidge, J. J. & Kaplan, B. J. (2016). Nutrition and mental health (editorial). Clinical Psychological Science, 4(6), 1082-1084.

Arnold, L. E., Fristad, M. A., Gracious, B. L., Johnstone, J. M., Kaplan, B. J., Popper, C. W., & Rucklidge, J. J. (2016). Psychosis resulting from herbs rather than nutrients. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 18(2), e1.

Retallick-Brown, H., Rucklidge, J. J., & Blampied, N. (2016). Study protocol for a randomised double blind, treatment control trial comparing the efficacy of a micronutrient formula to a single vitamin supplement in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Medicines, 3, 32.


Kaplan, B. J., Rucklidge, J.J., McLeod, K., & Romijn, A. (2015). The Emerging Field of Nutritional Mental Health: Inflammation, the Microbiome, Oxidative Stress, and Mitochondrial Function. Clinical Psychological Science 3(6), 964-980. DOI: 10.1177/2167702614555413

Rucklidge, J.J., Kaplan, B. J., & Mulder, R. (2015). What if nutrients could treat mental illness? (Debate). Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(5), 407-408. DOI: 10.1177/0004867414565482

Sarris, J., Logan, A.C., Amminger, G.P., Balanzá-Martínez, V., Freeman, M.P., Hibbeln, J., Matsuoka, Y., Mischoulon, D., Mizoue, T., Nanri, A., Nishi, D., Ramsey, D. Rucklidge, J.J., Sanchez-Villegas, A., Scholey, A., Su, K. P., Jacka, F.N. (2015). Nutritional Medicine as Mainstream in Psychiatry: A Consensus Position Statement from The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR). Lancet Psychiatry, 2, 271-274.

Rucklidge, J.J., Kaplan, B. J., & Mulder, R. (2015). What if nutrients could treat mental illness? (Debate). Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(5), 407-408. DOI: 10.1177/0004867414565482

Sarris. J., Logan, A. C., Akbaraly, T.N., Amminger, G.P., Balanzá-Martínez, V., Freeman, M.P., Hibbeln, J., Matsuoka, Y., Mischoulon, D., Mizoue, T., Nanri, A., Nishi, D., Parletta, N., Ramsey, D., Rucklidge, J.J., Sanchez-Villegas, A., Scholey, A., Su, C., Jacka, F.N. (2015). The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) Consensus Position Statement: Nutritional Medicine in Modern Psychiatry (letter to editor). World Psychiatry 14(3), 370-371.

Romijn, A. R., & Rucklidge, J. J. (2015). Systematic review of evidence to support the theory of psychobiotics. Nutrition Reviews, 73(10):675-93. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv025

Kaplan, B. J., Rucklidge, J. J., Romijn, A. R., & Dolph, M. (2015). A randomized trial of nutrient supplements to minimize psychological stress after a natural disaster. Psychiatry Research, 228, 373-379.

Gordon, H. A., Rucklidge, J. J., Blampied, N. M., & Johnstone, J. M. (2015). Clinically Significant Symptom Reduction in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Treated with Micronutrients: An Open-Label Reversal Design Study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 25(10), 783-798. doi: 10.1089/cap.2015.0105

Rucklidge, J. J., Frampton, C., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (Letter to the editor) (2015). Reply to Tondo: Do micronutrients help in ADHD? British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 460.

Rucklidge, J. J., & Mulder, R. T. (2015). Could nutrition help behaviours associated with personality disorders? A narrative review. Personality and Mental Health. doi: 10.1002/pmh.1325


Rucklidge, J.J., Blampied, N., Gorman, B., Gordon, H., & Sole, E. (2014). Psychological functioning one year after a brief intervention using micronutrients to treat stress and anxiety related to the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes: A naturalistic follow-up. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 29(3), 230-243.

Rucklidge, J.J., Downs-Woolley, M., Taylor, M., Brown, J.A., & Harrow, S.E. (2014). Psychiatric comorbidities in a New Zealand sample of adults with ADHD. Journal of attention disorders, 1087054714529457.

Rucklidge, J.J., Frampton, C., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (2014). Vitamin-mineral treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry,204(4), 306-315

Rucklidge, J.J., Harris, A., & Shaw, I. (2014). Are the amounts of vitamins in commercially available dietary supplement formulations relevant for the management of psychiatric disorders in children? New Zealand Journal of Medicine, 127, 73-85.

Rucklidge, J.J., Johnstone, J., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A., & Frampton, C. (2014). Moderators of treatment response in adults with ADHD to micronutrients: demographics and biomarkers. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 50, 163–171.

Rucklidge, J.J., & Kaplan, B.J. (2014). Broad-spectrum micronutrient treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: rationale and evidence to date. CNS drugs, 28(9), 775-785.
Taylor, M.R., Boden, J.M., & Rucklidge, J.J. (2014). The relationship between ADHD symptomatology and self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behaviours in adults: a pilot study. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, 6(4), 303-312.


Harrison, R., Rucklidge, J.J., & Blampied, N. (2013). Use of micronutrients attenuates cannabis and nicotine abuse as evidenced from a reversal design: A case study. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 45(2), 1-11.

Kaplan, B.J., Nikkel, G., Nikkel, B., Rucklidge, J.J. (Jan 9, 2013). Keeping Academic Psychiatry Relevant. British Journal of Psychiatry (letter).

Rucklidge, J.J. (2013). Could yeast infections impair recovery from mental illness? A case study using micronutrients and olive leaf extract for the treatment of ADHD and depression. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, 27(3), 14-18.

Rucklidge, J.J., Johnstone, J., & Kaplan, B.J. (2013). Single bullet madness - why do we continue to perpetuate this fallacy? (letter). British Journal of Psychiatry, 203, 154-155.

Rucklidge, J.J., & Kaplan, B.J. (2013). Broad-spectrum micronutrient formulas for the treatment psychiatric symptoms: A systematic review. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 13(1), 49-73.


Rucklidge, J.J., Andridge, R., Gorman, B., Blampied, N., Gordon, H. & Boggis, A. (2012). Shaken but unstirred? Effects of micronutrients on stress and trauma after an earthquake: RCT evidence comparing formulas and doses. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 27(5), 440-454.


Rucklidge, J.J., & Blampied, N.M. (2011). Post earthquake functioning in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Positive effects of micronutrients on resilience. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 40(4), 51-57.

Rucklidge, J.J., Johnstone, J., Harrison, R. (2011). Effect of micronutrients on neurocognitive functioning in adults with ADHD and Severe Mood Dysregulation: A pilot study. Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17(12), 1-7.

Rucklidge, J.J., Johnstone, J., Harrison, R., & Boggis, A. (2011). Micronutrients reduce stress and anxiety following a 7.1 earthquake in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Psychiatry Research, 189, 281-287. . doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2011.06.016.

Rucklidge, J.J., Taylor, M.R., Whitehead, K.A. (2011). Effect of micronutrients on behaviour and mood in adults with ADHD: Evidence from an 8-week open label trial with natural extension. Journal of Attention Disorders, 15(1), 79-91.


Rucklidge, J.J., Gately, D., & Kaplan, B.J. (2010). Database Analysis of Children and Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder Consuming a Micronutrient Formula. BMC Psychiatry, 10, 17.

Rucklidge, J.J., & Harrison, R. (2010). Successful treatment of Bipolar Disorder II and ADHD with a micronutrient formula: A case study. CNS Spectrums, 15(5): 289-295.

Gardner, A., Kaplan, B.J., Rucklidge, J.J., Jonsson, B.H., & Humble, M.B. (2010). The potential of nutritional therapy. Science (letter), 327, 268.


Rucklidge, J.J. (2009). Successful treatment of OCD with a micronutrient formula following partial response to CBT: A case study. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23: 836–840.

Rucklidge, J.J., Johnstone, J., & Kaplan, B.J. (2009). Nutrient supplementation approaches in the treatment of ADHD. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 9(4), 461-476.


Lifeline Aotearoa

A free and confidential crisis helpline service, providing brief intervention counselling support for all areas of concern, for example: relationships, employment, finances, abuse, suicide, parenting, sexual identity, substance abuse, mental illnesses, loneliness.

Phone: 03 366 6742

Depression Helpline

A free 24/7 helpline for those feeling low in mood or anxious.

Phone: 0800 111 757
Text: 4202


24/7 confidential and non-judgemental support to anyone who is lonely or in emotional distress.
Phone: 0800 726 666.

Crisis Resolution (previously Psychiatric Emergency Services)

Crisis Resolution (CR) offers after hours and urgent psychiatric assistance. CR is an integral part of each Adult Community Mental Health Team providing 24 hour advice and assessment for people presenting in crisis which is associated with a known or suspected mental health problem.
Address: Hillmorton Hospital, Fergusson Building or Christchurch Hospital (after hours), Christchurch

Phone: 03 364 0482

Warmline Canterbury

Mental health peer support telephone service available throughout the Canterbury District Health Board areas. Our telephone peer supporters have all had personal experience of mental illness and provide non-crisis confidential support.

Phone: 03 379 8415

Counselling Services

Petersgate Counselling Centre

Provides low-cost professional supervision and counselling, especially to those who can least afford these services.

Address: 29 Yaldhurst Road, Christchurch, 8041
Phone: 03 343 3391

Catholic Social Services

Free services including professional counselling for individuals, couples, families and young persons; family work; group courses for children and adults; budgeting/advocacy and food bank services; also free counselling for earthquake trauma.

Address: 336 Cashel Street, Christchurch, 8140
Phone: 03 379 0012

Home and Family Counselling

Offers professional counselling and psychotherapy, creating environments for positive change and enabling people to overcome difficulties and achieve emotional well-being.

Address: 76 Thackeray Street, Waltham, Christchurch, 8023
Phone: 03 944 0635

Women's Centre

Free counselling service - up to 20 sessions per client. Counsellors (some are fully qualified and some are students on placement) deal with a wide range of issues. Appointments are essential. The women’s centre also provides a wide range of other services.

Address: Unit3/242 Ferry Road, Waltham, Christchurch, 8011
Phone: 03 371 7414

Canterbury Men's Centre

Give men time to talk about what they are dealing with and come up with a plan. That plan could involve anything from seeing a counsellor, rushing you to some emergency support, or planning a fishing trip with a friend.

Address: 357 Gloucester Street, Linwood, Christchurch, 8011
Phone: 03 365 9000

Father and Child Trust

We offer information and support for all dads. Special programmes available for teen dads or new fathers including ‘Discovering Fatherhood’, ‘Father and Child’ magazine and ‘Why Dads?’ booklets.

Address: 357 Gloucester St, Christchurch, 8148
Phone: 03 982 2440

Oxford Community Trust

Provides local information and resources for the people of the Oxford District including counselling services.
Address: 37 Main Street, Oxford, North Canterbury, 7430
Phone: 03 312 3006

Te Whare Awhero (Hope House)

Te Whare Awhero Hope House is a faith based organisation, a division of the Hope Presbyterian Church in Hornby, providing community based services at the grassroots to bring hope. The activities we undertake include, community development projects, counselling, practical support, mentoring, community based research and spiritual direction.

Address: 36 Amyes Road, Christchurch, 8042
Phone: 03 967 4673

Community Youth Mental Health Service

Brief intervention of up to six sessions for youth aged 13-18 years with mild-moderate mental health and/or alcohol and drug issues.

Address: 98 Greers Rd, Burnside, Christchurch 8053.
Phone: 03 281 7618

Child, Adolescent and Family Outpatient Mental Health Services - CAFLINK

Address: The Princess Margaret Hospital, PO Box 800, Christchurch
Phone: 0800 218 219 or 03 337 7758

Peer Support Services

PND Canterbury - Postnatal Depression Family/Whanau NZ Trust

Support group for Canterbury mums and children under five years of age, experiencing Postnatal Depression (PND) or related anxiety disorders. The group is facilitated by a Mum who has “been there” and has a passion for PND and a team of volunteers to look after babies and pre-schoolers. We provide a safe environment for Mums to meet other mums, to learn about what tools they might find helpful on their journey and encourage friendship. We meet Thursdays (except school holidays) 12.30pm to 2.00pm. Registration is important as we have a set number per group and often have a waiting list. Cost: Gold coin donation.

Phone: 021 131 4352

Pregnancy Help Inc Canterbury

We run a weekly Depression Support Drop In on Thursdays, with lunch provided, during term time from 10am – 12 midday. We have a comprehensive range of information about services in Christchurch and a small library of pregnancy and parenting books.

Address: 349 Woodham Road, Christchurch, 8642
Phone: 03 385 0556

Mothers Supporting Mothers

To contribute to the well-being and self-sufficiency of mothers and consequently their families in North Canterbury, by providing support for women with postnatal depression; help with and prevention of postnatal depression; increase awareness of issues involved in adjusting to parenthood; skilled facilitators for group meetings and individual counselling; facilities for women to meet with freedom from childcare

Address: Rangiora & Kaiapoi
Phone: 03 312 9787 (Chris) 027 651 4854 (Frances)

Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support Services (MHAPS)

Peer support: For people who are experiencing mental distress, substance addiction and/or mental illness, including anxiety, bipolar disorder and/or depression. Peer support groups: For people who would like to meet others for support with recovery strategies.

Address: 826 Colombo Street (cnr Peterborough), Christchurch, 8244
Phone: 03 365 9479

Depression Support Network

Providing community support services for the people of Canterbury whose lives are adversely affected by depression, including group support, one to one support, resource information and education courses.

Address: Community House, 301 Tuam Street, Christchurch, 8011
Phone: 03 366 8083

Sleep Services

Christchurch Public Hospital Sleep Disorders Services

Phone: 03 364 1089

Sleep Apnoea Association of NZ Inc.

Address: PO Box 88, Hamilton 3240.
Phone: 07 858-4378

Sleep Well Clinic

Dr Alex Bartle and his team of health professionals at the Sleep Well Clinic provide comprehensive assessment and treatment services throughout New Zealand for children and adults suffering sleep disorders such as snoring, sleep Apnoea, Insomnia, and Parasomnias.

Address: Unit 6/10 Acheron drive, Middleton, Christchurch.
Phone: 03 341 8903


Cansleep is a Christchurch-based provider of Sleep Medicine diagnostics and therapeutics. They offer a comprehensive service of the highest quality, which incorporates specialist clinical assessment and state-of-the-art sleep studies through to provision of therapy and long-term follow-up.

Address: First floor, 9 Caledonian road, Christchurch.
Phone: (03) 3795060

Contact us for more information

Products/research programme contact

For further information about the products we use, or for information about our research programme, please contact:

Julia Rucklidge

Professor of Clinical Psychology
Leader of the Nutrition and Physical Well-being Theme
Psychology 465
Internal Phone: 94398

Researchers in the lab

To contact any of the researchers in the lab who are currently running studies:
Phone: +64 (0)3 364 2987 ext. 7705

Need more information?