Schizophrenia, a brain disease, is an extreme burden to the patient as well as to the patient’s family. However, a large meta-analysis published in Psychological Medicine documents that adjuvant therapy with large doses of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and biotin (vitamin B8) in combination with standard therapy can reduce the symptoms more effectively than standard therapy alone. It is an advantage to start taking high-dosed B vitamin supplements as early as possible in the disease course. There are several reasons why B vitamins have such a great impact on the brain and our mental health
Schizophrenia typically starts at the age of 15 to 30 years, and the disease affects around one percent of the population. The disease may be caused by genetic factors or by the surrounding environment. It is possible that lacking vital nutrients, which the brain depends on, may also trigger the disease.
Schizophrenia is usually a long-lasting or lifelong condition. Because of the serious symptoms and accompanying social problems, around 10 percent of schizophrenia sufferers commit suicide. From time to time, people are cured of their schizophrenia, even after many years of suffering. Standard medication does not cure the disease, it merely mitigates the symptoms. With the new insight in B vitamins, it appears that strong B vitamin supplements may offer additional help.
No schizophrenia sufferer has all symptoms, and the profile normally changes during the course of the disease
Productive symptoms: Hallucinations, delusions, abnormal thinking, motor system disorders
Negative symptoms: Apathy, self-isolation, self-neglect, and autism where the person feels misunderstood and is predominantly preoccupied by his own inner world
High doses and early intervention work best
Joseph Firth from the University of Manchester, Great Britain, headed the meta-analysis. His team of scientists selected from an electronic database a number of clinical, placebo-controlled, randomized studies that looked into the effect of vitamins and minerals given to patients with schizophrenia. 18 studies were selected, including a total of 832 patients who received therapy with anti-psychotic medication.
The researchers observed that high doses of B vitamins such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and biotin (also called vitamin B8) had the potential to reduce schizophrenia symptoms significantly. Lower doses had no effect.
It turned out that the B vitamins had the greatest effect on schizophrenia when they were given to patients who had not been ill all that long.
According to Joseph Firth, the additional use of high-dose vitamin B supplements is an important step forward in the treatment of a disease where improved therapies are desperately needed.
Professor Jerome Sarris from Western Sydney University, Australia, says that the findings of this study support earlier studies that have shown how certain amino acids may benefit patients with schizophrenia and that supplementing with essential nutrients helps reduce depression.
However, the scientists underline the importance of further studies to help clarify exactly how the nutrients are able to improve mental health and cognitive functions.
Vitamin B deficiencies typically occur as a result of modern living with too much refined food, sugar, stimulants, medicine, and stress.
Why B vitamins are so vital for mental health
B vitamins are generally important for our energy turnover, nervous system, and our mental balance. B vitamin are involved in the production and breakdown of neurotransmitters that are important signaling substances in our nervous system. Dopamine is a well-known neurotransmitter. People with schizophrenia have disturbed dopamine activity in different parts of the brain, and the anti-psychotic drugs block this activity. It appears that B vitamin also have an effect, and the good thing about it is that the effect is natural.
The B vitamins are also important for the building of the myelin sheaths that protect the nerve cells in the same way as a plastic coating protects an electrical wire. Without this protective sheath, the nerve signals may be disturbed, slow down, or even go astray with the possibility of physical and mental malfunction.
In earlier studies, Doctor Abraham Hoffer has linked psychological illnesses such as schizophrenia to vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiencies. Hoffer claims that schizophrenia may be caused by oxidized adrenalin derivates, better known as a type of toxin called adrenochrome. According to Hoffer, vitamin B3 can reduce adrenochrome, and the vitamin is also able to regular dopamine and other neurotransmitters.
Other studies reveal that vitamin B3 can repair damaged nerve cell DNA.
Supplementing with B vitamins
All B vitamins are water-soluble, and because they are not stored in the body we need to ingest them on a regular basis. The different B vitamins work together in synergy. It is generally best to take them together in a complex, and it is even possible to take extra doses of selected B vitamins. It is also a good idea to take the B vitamins several times daily between the main meals in order to get the optimal effect. When taking high-dosed B vitamins for schizophrenia it should always be done in close dialogue with a physician.
Ana Sandoiu. B vitamins may improve schizophrenia symptoms. Medical news Today. February 2017
University of Leicester. People with forms of early-onset Parkinson’s disease may benefit from boosting niacin in diet, research suggest. ScienceDaily. 2017
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