Treating schizophrenia patients with high-dose B-vitamins -- including B6, B8 and B12 -- supplements may significantly reduce symptoms of the mental disorder that affects nearly one per cent of the population more than standard treatments alone, researchers suggest.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
The findings showed that B-vitamin interventions which used higher dosages or combined several vitamins were consistently effective for reducing psychiatric symptoms, whereas those which used lower doses were ineffective.
"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," said lead author Joseph Firth from University of Manchester in Britain.
Currently, treatments are based around the administration of antipsychotic drugs.
Although patients typically experience remission of symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions within the first few months of treatment, long-term outcomes are poor and 80 per cent of patients relapse within five years.
B-vitamin supplements were also found most beneficial when implemented early on, as B-vitamins were most likely to reduce symptoms when used in patients with shorter illness durations.
"High-dose B-vitamins may be useful for reducing residual symptoms in people with schizophrenia," Firth added.
For the study, published in Psychological Medicine, the team carried out a meta-analysis that identified 18 clinical trials with a combined total of 832 patients receiving antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia.
"The study builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia," noted co-author Jerome Sarris, Professor at Western Sydney University in Australia.
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