Schizophrenia is a long-term brain disorder that’s defined by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, difficulty with thoughts, and a lack of motivation. While there is no cure for schizophrenia, you can overcome symptoms with the proper treatment.
Still, many patients have found treatment to be either ineffective or simply not for them. With that, they’ve sought after all-natural alternatives as a means of curbing schizophrenia symptoms. The difficulty with this is there’s only so much research backing up these alternatives and much of the data we have comes from self-reports.
However, some data is finding that those with schizophrenia often lack important vitamins. For this reason, we’ve looked into some of the best vitamin supplements people with schizophrenia can take. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that’s defined by these common symptoms: ¹
- Break from reality
- Lack of ability to express emotions
While scientists still aren’t sure what causes schizophrenia, they believe it has something to do with genetics, environment, and brain structure.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for schizophrenia. Due to this, most patients are on some form of treatment for the entirety of their lives. Still, with the right treatment route, a person can go on to living a fulfilling life.
Traditionally, schizophrenia is treated with a combination of antipsychotic medication and a variety of therapeutic practices. While antipsychotic medication is usually effective, it can come with a number of unwanted side effects, including: ²
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
For some people, these side effects far outweigh the benefits of the medication while others find the medication is simply ineffective.
People of this category often look for “complementary” or “alternative” treatment options. Some have found that a variety of vitamin supplements can be effective in helping to curb symptoms. However, they usually work better when paired with specific therapies. ³
Furthermore, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all cure to schizophrenia. Most people have to experiment around with different treatment options before finding which one works best for them.
What Vitamins are Good for Schizophrenia?
In recent studies, it’s been found that those who struggle with schizophrenia often lack necessary vitamins. While it’s believed there are a number of other factors at play, some scientists think that supplementing these vitamins can help ease symptoms.
Before trying these vitamins, it’s important to talk to your mental health professional. They will have an understanding of your particular condition to help narrow down your search for what vitamins are good for schizophrenia.
We invite you to follow along as we take a deeper dive into the best vitamins for schizophrenia:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Unlike most fatty acids, we cannot intake omega-3 fatty acids without the consumption of fish. The importance of omega-3s is they have anti-inflammatory effects. Some research has found that inflammation (particularly, in the brain) may play a role in the development of mental illness.
In one study, 81 young people who were at high risk of schizophrenia were either given a fish oil supplement or a placebo. Those who took the fish oil were much less likely to develop symptoms associated with schizophrenia. ⁴
Unfortunately, there haven’t been any studies to indicate whether or not fish oil can help those who’ve already been diagnosed with schizophrenia. However, omega-3s can also be helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease. This is notable because people with schizophrenia are more at risk of heart-related conditions. ⁵ ⁶
A nonprofit organization called Food for the Brain claims that people with schizophrenia often suffer from low blood levels of folic acid (also known as vitamin B9). With that, it can be assumed that taking a folic acid supplement may help to curb symptoms of schizophrenia.
Furthermore, a 2014 research review found that other B vitamins, such as vitamins B12 and B6, were helpful. Most studies we overlooked suggest using a combination of these vitamins in order to get the best results. ⁷
In a 2018 study, it was discovered that babies with deficient vitamin D levels were at a 44% higher risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. ⁸ In a 2014 review, it was found that people with a lack of vitamin D were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia. ⁹
Unfortunately, both studies are somewhat inconclusive. Elaine Weiner, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland Medical System, mentions that people with schizophrenia are more likely to stay indoors. With that, they’re less likely to develop Vitamin D naturally and that’s where the correlation lies.
The Importance of Lifestyle Management
While you may find vitamin supplementation to be integral in your schizophrenia treatment, it’s likely you’ll want to incorporate other lifestyle changes. Our brains are highly responsive to what we take into our bodies. For this reason, research has found a diet plan to be effective in easing schizophrenia symptoms. ¹⁰
Some foods to consider incorporating into your diet include:
- Chicken marinara
- Nondairy yogurt
- Oysters and crab
- Salmon and other fatty fish
- Vegetables (lima beans, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, etc.)
Some foods you may want to avoid include:
- Refined sugars
Furthermore, certain lifestyle changes can be effective in reducing schizophrenia symptoms. One of the most notable is exercise. Studies have concluded that exercising helps increase hippocampal plasticity in patients with schizophrenia and can be beneficial in easing stresses associated with the condition. ¹¹
Other lifestyle choices you may want to consider include:
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Ensure regular quality sleep
- Stay connected with friends and family
- Stick to your treatment plan
While vitamin supplements can greatly help with schizophrenia, it’s important to ensure that you also incorporate other lifestyle changes. Furthermore, you should always speak with a mental health professional before diving into new treatment options. While self-reliance is important when it comes to mental health, a professional can help guide you in the right direction.
Still have questions concerning what vitamins are good for schizophrenia?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Schizophrenia
² World Psychiatry: Management of common adverse effects of antipsychotic medication
³ ClinicalTrials.gov: Treatment of Acute Schizophrenia With Vitamin Therapy
⁴ Open Access: Longer-term outcome in the prevention of psychotic disorders by Vienna omega-3 study
⁵ MedlinePlus: Omega-3 fats – Good for your heart
⁶ Journal of Psychiatry 4 Neuroscience: Cardiac risk and schizophrenia
⁷ HHS Public Access: Vitamin Supplementation in the Treatment of Schizophrenia
⁸ Scientific Reports: The association between neonatal vitamin D status and risk of schizophrenia
⁹ Psychopharmacology (SAGE): Correlation between total vitamin D levels and psychotic psychopathology in patients with schizophrenia: therapeutic implications for add-on vitamin D augmentation
¹⁰ Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment: Dietary patterns and schizophrenia: a comparison with healthy controls
¹¹ Psychopharmacology Bulletin: Exercise as a Treatment for Schizophrenia: A Review