High doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, new research finds.
B vitamins, including B6, B8 and B12 were added to the normal treatment of people with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.
It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.
Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:
“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.
This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”
Schizophrenia — which affects around 1% of people — is normally treated with antipsychotic drugs.
These can be effective, but unfortunately around 80% of people relapse within five years.
The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials including 832 patients.
They found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.
The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.
Dr 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.”
Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:
“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 study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).