- Schizophrenia patients have lower serum concentrations of certain B vitamins compared to healthy individuals.
- Supplementing B vitamins including pyridoxine, cobalamine and inositol can help in lowering the symptoms of the disorder.
- Further studies are needed to study the cause-effect relationship of vitamins and it’s role in Schizophrenia.
High dose B-vitamins can reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatment alone. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin B8 (Inositol) and Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine) when used as an add-on treatment helps patients with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by breakdown of the thought process and the inability to act normally in social situations due to poor emotional responsiveness.
Schizophrenia is the most severe form of the mental illnesses and can affect all spheres of life; including perception, thought, judgment, mood, drive and ultimately, personality. Majority of people develop Schizophrenia between the ages of 15-25 years. People with schizophrenia may hear voices, see things that are not there or believe that others are reading or controlling their minds.
Current Treatment for Schizophrenia
In comparison with the general population, those with schizophrenia have a two-to three-fold higher mortality rate, which equates to a 10-25- year reduction in life span. There is a need to continually develop and evaluate novel treatments for this disorder, not only for the benefit of the patients but also for the wider society.
The treatment for schizophrenia is based around the administration of anti-psychotic drugs with or without psychotherapy.
Those who respond to anti-psychotic medication, experience side effects which can can be distressing and often intolerable. The common symptoms include involuntary movements such as tremor and rigidity, drug induced Parkinson's, Tardive dyskinesia, hyper-salivation, increased heart rate, metabolic syndrome and weight gain.
Approximately one-third of individuals with schizophrenia do not respond to anti-psychotic medication, either alone or in conjunction with psychodynamic counseling and other pharmacotherapy. And 80% of the patients face a relapse of symptoms within five months.
Firth said, "High-dose B-vitamins may be useful for reducing residual symptoms in people with schizophrenia, although there were significant differences among the findings of the studies we looked at."
"There is also some indication that these overall effects may be driven by larger benefits among subgroups of patients who have relevant genetic or dietary nutritional deficiencies."
Why Should B-Vitamins be Suggested?
- B-vitamin interventions which used higher dosages or combined several vitamins compared to lower doses were consistently effective for reducing psychiatric symptoms and the side effects of the drugs.
- Available evidence suggests that supplementing B-vitamins were most beneficial when implemented early on, as B-vitamins were most likely to reduce symptoms when used in studies of patients with shorter illness durations.
- Pyridoxine has shown to decrease movement disorders such as akathisia (extreme restlessness) and involuntary movements.
- Cobalamine along with folate improves the negative symptoms of Schizophrenia.
- In addition to regular anti-psychotic treatment, Levine and colleagues demonstrated symptom improvement in 42 schizophrenic patients. They were supplemented with folic acid (2 mg/day), vitamin B6 (25 mg/day) and vitamin B12 (400 mcg/day).
Review of Studies
The researchers reviewed all randomized clinical trials reporting effects of vitamin or mineral supplements on psychiatric symptoms in people with schizophrenia.
In what is the first meta-analysis carried out on this topic, they identified 18 clinical trials with a combined total of 832 patients receiving anti-psychotic treatment for schizophrenia.
When the antioxidant defence capacity of an organism is unable to balance the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), the cells are under oxidative stress. There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating the occurrence of oxidative stress in those with schizophrenia.
Co-author Jerome Sarris, Professor of Integrative Mental Health at Western Sydney University, added, "This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.
"These new findings also fit with our latest research examining how multi-nutrient treatments can reduce depression and other disorders."
The research team emphasize the need for more studies to discover how nutrients act on the brain to improve mental health, and to measure effects of nutrient-based treatments on other outcomes such as brain functioning and metabolic health.
- Nutritional interventions for the adjunctive treatment of schizophrenia: a brief review - (https://www.foodforthebrain.org/media/485129/nutritional_interventions_for_the_adjunctive_treatment_of_schizophrenia.pdf)
- Vitamin Supplementation in the Treatment of Schizophrenia - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4083629/)