B12 and folate may help schizophrenia symptoms

A trial of more than 100 schizophrenia patients found that certain vitamins may help to reduce the negative symptoms of the disease.

Apathy, social withdrawal and a lack of emotional responsiveness improved by giving patients supplements of vitamin B12 and folate.

Genetic makeup determined responsiveness

The research team, from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), found that depending on the genetic makeup of patients, some responded to the vitamins better than others.

"Our finding that folate plus vitamin B12 supplementation can improve negative symptoms opens a new potential avenue for treatment of schizophrenia," said Joshua Roffman, M.D., a psychiatry specialist at MGH who helped conduct the research.

Folate, or folic acid, is essential for the synthesis of brain chemicals, while vitamin B12 helps to regulate proper nerve and brain function. Previous studies on folate have shown that deficiencies during pregnancy can increase a mother's risk of having a baby who later develops schizophrenia.

Gene expression could be key

Researchers said that the benefits shown in the trial took about 16 weeks of supplementation to be seen. And while they aren't sure why this is the case, they speculate that gene expression is key.

"Changes in gene expression — which take time — are a likely explanation," said Roffman.

The study is published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Source: News Max Health

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