B Vitamins Help with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also called bipolar affective disorder and manic depression, is a serious mood disorder affecting about one in every 100 people[ 1]. The mood can be excessively high (mania) or very low (depression).

This is different from the mood changes you may have say when feeling very happy or excited when something good happens or sad or stressed related to upsetting events. [ 1]

With bipolar disorder the feelings continue and effect relationships, daily activities and can at an extreme cause the person to lose touch with reality (psychosis).[ 1]

Naturopathic interventions

There are a number of naturopathic interventions that can help including, changes in diets, lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements and herbal medicine. However it is very important that if you are currently taking medication you do not stop the medication without consultation with your doctor. Some people with bipolar disorder are able in time to manage without pharmaceutical medication but this normally takes a long time, and some find that continuing medication and natural supports is the best way to health.

Supplements and medication

 You dont have to stop medication for nutritional supplements or dietary changes to help. A study was carried out in 2009 of nearly 90 people in the mania or high phase of bipolar disorder. Half of the people were given folic acid supplements alongside their medication (sodium valproate), the other half continued taking the same without folic acid. The symptoms of mania decreased significantly more in the people taking folic acid [2].

High homocysteine and bipolar disorder

High levels of homocysteine have been found to be present in a number of chronic disease states such as the metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. People with bipolar disorder are more likely than most to have both of these physical conditions. So it comes as no surprise that people with bipolar disorder and the metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease often have high homocysteine levels, however, people who have bipolar disorder without these physical problems have high homocysteine levels too[ 3]. An investigation into problems that occur when homocysteine levels are high in people who have bipolar disorder was undertaken on over 100 people. The people with bipolar disorder, who were older, or had a later onset of the condition, and those taking more medication had higher homocysteine levels. [3]

B Vitamins Reduce Homocysteine

Homocysteine can be reduced with B vitamins it is possible this could improve thought processes and the way the brain functions[ 4]. The B vitamins that have shown by numerous studies to reduce homocysteine levels are vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid (also a B vitamin).

More reasons that B Vitamins are Important in Bipolar Disorder

The B vitamins can also help bipolar disorder symptoms even when the homocysteine levels are not high. Research recently has shown the importance of folates commonly known as folic acid, and vitamin B12 [ 2, 5, 6]. Part of the problem may be that people who have bipolar disorder also have an inbuilt problem with the way the body take in folates (folic acid);  they may have a genetic problem which makes it hard for their bodies use folic acid. [7]


Vitamin B complex

By taking a number of B vitamins together, each individual B vitamin works better; so take B vitamins as a Vitamin B complex. When I use supplements I recommend the Entire Katoa Food State range for the optimum absorption, low dose and low toxicity.

Other nutrients also help people suffering from bipolar disorder. Many studies have shown how important the omega 3 fats are especially during the depressive phases, and can help the reoccurrence of illness[ 8-13]. Fish as an excellent source of omega 3 fats, in areas where a lot of seafood is eaten less people have bipolar disorders [14]. Magnesium [15, 16]  and zinc[17, 18] may also be helpful. Depending on the individuals needs, there may be a number of nutrients that are low these could increase the likelihood of episodes of bipolar disorder in those affected [15, 16].


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1.       Bipolar Affective Disorder []

2.       Behzadi AH, Omrani Z, Chalian M, Asadi S, Ghadiri M: Folic acid efficacy as an alternative drug added to sodium valproate in the treatment of acute phase of mania in bipolar disorder: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2009, 120(6):441-445.

3.       Dias VV, Brissos S, Cardoso C, Andreazza AC, Kapczinski F: Serum homocysteine levels and cognitive functioning in euthymic bipolar patients. J Affect Disord 2009, 113(3):285-290.

4.       Osher Y, Bersudsky Y, Silver H, Sela B-A, Belmaker RH: Neuropsychological correlates of homocysteine levels in euthymic bipolar patients. Journal of affective disorders 2008, 105(1):229-233.

5.       Goggans F: A case of mania secondary to vitamin B12 deficiency. Am J Psychiatry 1984, 141(2):300-301.

6.       Fafouti M, Paparrigopoulos T, Liappas J, Mantouvalos V, Typaldou R, Christodoulou G: Mood disorder with mixed features due to vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. General hospital psychiatry 2002, 24(2):106-109.

7.       Demirhan O, Tastemir D, Sertdemir Y: The expression of folate sensitive fragile sites in patients with bipolar disorder. Yonsei Med J 2009, 50(1):137-141.

8.       McNamara RK: DHA Deficiency and Prefrontal Cortex Neuropathology in Recurrent Affective Disorders. The Journal of Nutrition 2010, 140(4):864-868.

9.       Hamazaki K, Choi KH, Kim H-Y: Phospholipid profile in the postmortem hippocampus of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: No changes in docosahexaenoic acid species. Journal of Psychiatric Research 2010, 44(11):688-693.

10.     Prabhakar KR, Ashwini H, Mahabaleshwar VH, Madhav G, Anvita K, Sandhya S, Ulhas VW, Vijay BD, Sahebarao PM: Decreased antioxidant enzymes and membrane essential polyunsaturated fatty acids in schizophrenic and bipolar mood disorder patients. Psychiatry research 2003, 121(2):109-122.

11.     Clayton EH, Hanstock TL, Hirneth SJ, Kable CJ, Garg ML, Hazell PL: Reduced mania and depression in juvenile bipolar disorder associated with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009, 63(8):1037-1040.

12.     Ross BM, Maxwell R, Glen I: Increased breath ethane levels in medicated patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are unrelated to erythrocyte omega-3 fatty acid abundance. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2010.

13.     Osher Y, Bersudsky Y, Belmaker RH: Omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid in bipolar depression: report of a small open-label study. J Clin Psychiatry 2005, 66(6):726-729.

14.     Noaghiul S, Hibbeln JR: Cross-National Comparisons of Seafood Consumption and Rates of Bipolar Disorders. Am J Psychiatry 2003, 160(12):2222-2227.

15.     Chouinard G, Beauclair L, Geiser R, Etienne P: A pilot study of magnesium aspartate hydrochloride (Magnesiocard®) as a mood stabilizer for rapid cycling bipolar affective disorder patients. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 1990, 14(2):171-180.

16.     Heiden A, Frey R, Presslich O, Blasbichler T, Smetana R, Kasper S: Treatment of severe mania with intravenous magnesium sulphate as a supplementary therapy. Psychiatry research 1999, 89(3):239-246.

17.     Szewczyk B, Poleszak E, Sowa-Kuma M, Wróbel A, SBotwiDski S, Listos J, Wlaz P, Cichy A, Siwek A, DybaBa M et al: The involvement of NMDA and AMPA receptors in the mechanism of antidepressant-like action of zinc in the forced swim test. Amino Acids 2010, 39(1):205-217.

18.     Cope EC, Levenson CW: Role of zinc in the development and treatment of mood disorders. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 2010, 13(6):685-689 610.1097/MCO.1090b1013e32833df32861a.


See also Mental Health articles

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