NMU 117 – B-vits schizophrenia
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 117 (January 23, 2019)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: B-Vitamin Supplementation Shown to be Helpful in Select Cases of Schizophrenia
Source: Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics (January 19, 2019)
In a previous Lifestyle Medicine Update, I reviewed the research showing that the addition of the amino acid L-Taurine (3,000 mg per day) to the use of antipsychotic drugs, can improve the management of schizophrenia in young people who are unresponsive to drug treatment alone. L-Taurine is a naturally-occurring substance that is an over-the-counter product and relatively inexpensive. More good news about the positive effects of natural supplements in the management of schizophrenia in young persons was published in the January 2019 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics. Prompted by the fact that many patients with schizophrenia are known to have high blood levels of homocysteine, researchers decided to perform a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 120 patients with first-episode psychosis. Half of the patients received a B-vitamin supplement cocktail each day for 12-weeks, consisting of:
- Folic acid – 5 mg
- Vitamin B12- 400 mcg
- Vitamin B6 – 50 mg
- The other half of the patients were administered the placebo pill.
The researchers chose folic acid, B12, and B6 as the test agents because these vitamins are known to lower homocysteine blood levels when homocysteine values are high. There are no drugs that can lower homocysteine. The body relies on folic acid, B12 and B6 to recycle homocysteine back to the amino acids, methionine or cystathionine. It is well documented that some people have inborn genetic errors that hinder their ability to recycle homocysteine to methionine and/or cystathionine. Providing these individuals with specific doses of these B-vitamins, as supplements, can overcome the genetic impediment and lower homocysteine levels into the normal range. This is important for a number of reasons; high homocysteine causes blood vessel damage that increases risk of heart attack; it is also linked to increased risk of osteoporosis, and studies show that high homocysteine can also damage brain cells – hence the potential link between high homocysteine and schizophrenia.
The results of the study showed that after just 12-weeks homocysteine levels were reduced significantly in the group receiving the B-vitamin supplement cocktail. These patients also showed improve attention-vigilant scores, whereas the placebo group continued to show a decline in attention ability and vigilance. In females with affective psychosis, the B-Vitamin supplementation group also showed improved neurocognition in select areas of testing. The researchers conclude that this B-Vitamin cocktail showed neuroprotective properties in attention-vigilance, particularly in patients with elevated homocysteine levels, and in affective psychosis in females.
My thoughts on this are simply that everyone should ask their doctor to include a homocysteine blood test, as part of their annual physical exam and lab evaluation, as I do. High homocysteine levels can contribute to risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, dementia – Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia-psychosis, and in women it may detect a genetic defect that increases the risk of giving birth to a child with spinal bifida or other neural tube defects. The good news is that high homocysteine can be lowered with supplementation of targeted doses of certain B-vitamins, or certain forms of folic acid and/or another natural supplement called trimethylglycine (betaine). The ideal blood homocysteine to shoot for is below 8.0 micromoles per liter, or more ideally below 6.3 micromoles per liter. The 2019 study in the Journal Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics has brought to the forefront the benefit of adding a specific B-vitamin supplement cocktail to the standard treatment of first episode psychosis-schizophrenia, especially in cases where high blood levels of homocysteine are present, which is often the case in these patients.
I have included a link the research paper in the text below.
Allott K, McGorry P.D, Yuen HP et al. The vitamins in psychosis study: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the effects on vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid on symptoms and neurocognition in first-episode psychosis. Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics (January 19, 2019) Published online January 9, 2019. https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(19)30001-0/fulltext
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