A new study has shown that B-vitamins are beneficial for maintaining concentration skills among people experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

The study was performed by researchers from Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia.

The study was led by Dr Colin O’Donnell and Dr Kelly Allott and was designed to explore the impact of increasing a person’s intake of vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid (vitamin B9).


B-vitamins key to homocysteine balance

Earlier studies had appeared to show a link whereby an increase of B-vitamins decreased patients’ levels of an amino acid called homocysteine—thus improving their schizophrenia symptoms.

A high level of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia) makes a person more prone to endothelial cell injury, which leads to inflammation in the blood vessels.

This, in turn, may lead to a number of health conditions. 

The researchers noted that elevated levels of homocysteine in people living with schizophrenia had been associated with more severe symptoms.

Dr Allott noted: “Given previous studies have shown that increasing the intake of vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid decreases homocysteine levels and improves symptoms among people with schizophrenia, we wanted to find out whether giving these vitamins to people experiencing first episode psychosis would achieve similar results.”

A first episode of psychosis may be an indication of later developing full schizophrenia; however, psychotic symptoms may also be associated with bipolar disorder or severe depression.

The study participants included 100 young people attending Orygen Youth Health’s Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC). Each participant was randomly assigned to receive either B-vitamin supplements or a placebo tablet once per day.

The study was conducted for 12 weeks.

During the study period, patients’ homocysteine levels, psychosis symptoms and cognitive functioning were assessed.

The results were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.


B-vitamins for better brain function

Dr Allott said the results showed that participants who received the B-vitamin supplements performed better in completing concentration and attention tasks over the 12 weeks compared to participants who received only a placebo.

“This indicates the B-vitamins could have a neuroprotective effect; although they are not improving a patient’s concentration skills, they may be protecting these skills from declining,” said Allott.

“What was particularly interesting was that the participants who had abnormally high homocysteine levels at baseline were most responsive to the B-vitamin supplements, in terms of improvement in attention.

“The results of this study support a more personalised approach to vitamin supplementation in first episode psychosis, suggesting those with elevated homocysteine are likely to benefit most.”

When considering vitamin B supplements, choose a proven product utilizing whole foods, as opposed to synthetically created B-vitamins.

Opti-Methyl-B from Optimal Health Systems provides a high-potency complex of B vitamins from whole food sources. Additionally, Essential B-12 provides therapeutic doses of critical vitamin B-12 in a liquid formula.

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Article Source: Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health