September 14, 2005

Vitamin C helps with Schizophrenia?

A new study suggests that Vitamin C may help people who have schizophrenia and are on anti-psychotic medications. While the study was positive, the study was also short (only 8 weeks long), with a small sample size (only 20 people in the Vitamin C group - so it may not be statistically significant), and it was done in India (some Universities in India may not have the same standards of research that are in top western research facilities).

Overall - it looks interesting, but more studies need to be done before conclusions can be drawn. In the mean time - the recommended dose of vitamin C is a good idea for everyone. The best way to get vitamin C is from whole fruit and vegetables that are high in vitamin C - such as Oranges, Strawberries, etc. Check here for a full list of fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C.

The study reported:

"Several investigators implicated role of free radical-mediated pathology in schizophrenia."

"The aim of this study was to examine the effect of oral vitamin C with atypical antipsychotics on serum malondialdehyde (MDA), plasma ascorbic acid levels, and brief psychiatric rating scale (BPRS) score in schizophrenic patients."

METHOD: Forty schizophrenic patients participated in a prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, noncrossover, 8-week study. The patients with schizophrenia were divided randomly into placebo and vitamin C group of 20 each. Serum MDA and plasma ascorbic acid were estimated by methods of Nischal and Aye, respectively. RESULT: Increased serum MDA and decreased plasma ascorbic acid levels were found in schizophrenic patients. These levels were reversed significantly after treatment with vitamin C along with atypical antipsychotics compared to placebo with atypical antipsychotics. BPRS change scores at 8 weeks improved statistically significant with vitamin C as compared to placebo.

CONCLUSION: Oral supplementation of vitamin C with atypical antipsychotic reverses ascorbic acid levels, reduces oxidative stress, and improves BPRS score, hence both the drugs in combination can be used in the treatment of schizophrenia.

More information on Antioxidant Vitamins and Schizophrenia

Source: Supplementation of vitamin C with atypical antipsychotics reduces oxidative stress and improves the outcome of schizophrenia


Can I have an address of the writer of the relation of vitamin c and medication user schizophren?
Escuse me it is a question and not a comment ....

Posted by: Fereshteh Mozaffarian at September 16, 2005 11:34 PM

I am not sure that India's research requirements are so different from ours. However, such a small study for such a short time period can not possibly result in broad conclusions such as 'Vit C helps schizophrenia', especially since such treatments have been debunked many times over the past decades.

The short time period is rife for criticism that it falls within the 'golden period', in which people just feel good because someone is paying attention to them, a common problem in studies.

But it also depends on the structure of the study.

Were the groups blind, meaning neither patient nor evaluators knew which people were getting vitamin C?

How was the 'improvement' tested for? Formal tests, or informal observations? PET scans that show improved glutamate, NMDA, dopamine and serotonin function?

Was the difference statistically significant? This may not translate to clinically significant. It depends on how the improvement was calculated.

Who supervised the study? Was it juried, or reviewed? Who evaluated the study plan before it started?

And most of all, who did the study? Vitamin salesmen?

There are many other questions that can only be answered by more detailed evaluation of the study.


Posted by: slc at September 18, 2005 05:00 AM

SLC - good comments - absolutely correct. More information is needed - we'll have one of our PHD students evaluate the original research article and write a more in-depth report, because its obviously of interest to a lot of people.


Posted by: Sz Administrator at September 22, 2005 03:38 PM

Iam very interisting in such subject because I astudy on the chronic Iraqi schizophrenic with negative symptoms

Posted by: dr.amir at September 23, 2005 10:30 AM

Dear Brian, This small Vitamin C study is interesting--have you found a Ph D student to write a more in-depth report for site readers?

The reason some researchers are trying antioxidants in scz is that there is published evidence for oxidation in scz, and this oxidation may adversely affect brain function.

Importantly, it may be (correctable)fatty diet, not (untreatable) scz genes, that causes this oxidation and depletes Vitamin C levels in the body. Giving Vitamin C might help scz, and should be tested further, but a low-fat diet would treat the cause of the problem, not just the symptom. The best advice would be to eat a healthy low-fat diet that includes Vitamin C from fruit and vegetables. Another antioxidant, much stronger than Vitamin C, is Phytic Acid, found in grains, corn and beans.

Fatty diet is eaten by many people with scz (hence their diabetes risk), and the oxidation from this diet will partly destroy body stores of Vitamin C, folic acid and tetrahydrobiopterin (THB).

Low folate means increased homocysteine, a toxic aminoacid that is elevated in young male scz patients,that impairs brain glutamate function, and so increases scz symptoms. And THB, which is 34% lower than normal in scz (Nathan Kline Inst researchers) is a vital co-factor in the formation of serotonin and dopamine, and also stimulates brain glutamate activity.

Reversing low glutamate function in scz is an exciting new area of research, because both scz genes and faulty diet can impair glutamate activity. The exciting dietary supplement Glycine can help restore glutamate activity, but a more fundamental (and much cheaper)approach would be to eat a low-fat diet that includes folic acid, so avoiding oxidation and homocysteine problems, and preserving THB levels. Folate itself keeps BHT from oxidizing, and has been shown to cause progressive improvement in scz (P S Godfrey, Lancet, 1991).

Australian dietitian Sherryn Evans has shown that scz patients can learn healthy diet, which in her study (Aust N Z J Psychiatry, 2005) led to good weight control and clear mental benefits, in patients taking olanzapine.

Posted by: Dr Robert Peers at January 1, 2006 05:57 AM

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