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B vitamins could help individuals experiencing initial psychosis episode


January 16 2019. The outcome of trial reported on January 9, 2019 in Biological Psychiatry suggests a benefit for supplementation with B vitamins among individuals experiencing a first episode of psychosis, which can be a precursor to the development of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Acting on previous research that revealed improvement in symptoms and lower levels of homocysteine in schizophrenics who supplemented with B vitamins, researchers led by Colin O’Donnell, MD, and Kelly Allott, DPsych, investigated the vitamins’ effect in 120 young men and women with first-episode psychosis who attended Orygen Youth Health’s Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre. Participants received a placebo or a supplement containing 5 milligrams folic acid, 50 milligrams vitamin B6 and 0.4 milligrams vitamin B12 once daily for 12 weeks.

Symptom and cognitive function assessment conducted before and after the treatment period found that attention/vigilance remained stable among those who received B complex while deteriorating in the placebo group. One measure of attention/vigilance was found to more improved after B vitamin therapy among those who had high homocysteine levels at the beginning of the trial. Aspects of neurocognition improved among females and participants with affective psychosis who received B vitamins.

“This indicates the B vitamins could have a neuroprotective effect; although they are not improving a patient’s concentration skills, they may be protecting these skills from declining,” Dr Allott commented. “Psychosis is a diverse condition where everybody presents with different symptoms and a different biological profile. What was particularly interesting was that the participants who had abnormally high homocysteine levels at baseline were most responsive to the B vitamin supplements, in terms of improvement in attention. The results of this study support a more personalized approach to vitamin supplementation in first episode psychosis, suggesting those with elevated homocysteine are likely to benefit most.”

—D Dye




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