Posted on Mon, 27 Feb 17
The first meta-analysis of vitamin and mineral supplementation in the treatment of schizophrenia suggests B vitamins can help.
Nutritional therapy for schizophrenia was pioneered by Dr Abram Hoffer and colleagues in the 1950’s when they were amongst the first to propose that there is a biological basis to mental health disorders, and the first to show that improving metabolism with nutrition may help.
Since this pioneering work vitamin and mineral supplementation has been used to help people with schizophrenia in nutritional medicine-focused clinical practices around the world as well as inspiring an increasing amount of scientific research.
For the first time a meta-analysis, a type of review used to pool data and get an overall picture of evidence from multiple studies, was applied to vitamin and mineral supplementation for schizophrenia .
After analyzing 18 eligible randomized controlled trials the pooled data demonstrated that vitamin B supplementation reduced psychiatric symptoms significantly when compared to controls.
They also found that shorter illness duration was associated with greater vitamin B effectiveness, and that there were no overall effects from antioxidant vitamins, inositol or dietary minerals on psychiatric symptoms.
“… high-dose B vitamins may be useful for reducing residual symptoms in people with schizophrenia, although there was significant heterogeneity among study findings, and some indication that these overall effects may be driven by larger benefits among subgroups of patients who have relevant genetic or dietary nutritional deficiencies,” commented the authors.
‘Vitamin C and zinc have also been found to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, although both effects have only been observed in single studies to date, which have yet to be replicated.”
This finding adds to a 70-year legacy of nutritional therapy for schizophrenia. It is worth noting that Dr Hoffer, the first to ever conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in the field of psychiatry (on vitamin B3), was mindful of the limitations of RCTs as a method for investigating nutritional interventions. In contrast to RCTs, his well documented personalized clinical approach would perhaps give us a clearer picture of the full potential of nutritional therapy .
- Firth J, et al. The effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on symptoms of schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychol Med. 2017 Feb 16:1-13.
- Hoffer JL. Orthomolecular Psychiatry: What Would Abram Hoffer Do? JOM. Volume 29, Number 2, 2014.