Antioxidant and Amino Acid Supplementation Has Potential in Treating Early Psychosis

Eleven studies (from eight independent randomized controlled trials) with a total of 451 participants in the early stages of psychosis or VET were included in the systematic review conducted by researchers at the NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University.

Researchers found that certain nutritional supplements given in combination with standard treatment for psychosis improved participants’ mental health more than standard treatment alone.

Nutritional deficiencies are recognized as a risk factor for various psychiatric disorders, as people with schizophrenia tend to eat poor-quality diets, according to the study.

“Nutrient supplementation in the treatment of mental illness is something that can be surrounded by both cynicism and ‘hype’,”Principal investigator Dr Firth, a researcher at the NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, said.

“We conducted this review just to see if there is ‘real evidence’ that these nutrients can actually help young people with psychosis.”

Results of previous research on psychosis

There has been research on certain food-borne nutrients and their effects on psychotic disorders in the past. For example, a randomized, double-blind controlled trial in 2008 showed that 2000 mg per day of the amino acid “N-acetylcysteine” (NAC) significantly reduced negative symptoms in patients with established disease.

Another clinical trialfound that four grams of taurine, an amino acid per day, reduced psychotic symptoms within 12 weeks.

The potential benefits of B vitamins (15 mg of vitamin B9) in the treatment of schizophrenia have also been reported to reduce negative symptom scores as well as improvement in brain structure and connectivity after 12 weeks of treatment, according to a 2017 randomized trial published in Molecular Psychiatry.

“The effects of nutrient-based treatments, including vitamin or antioxidant supplementation, have been widely explored in long-term schizophrenia,”the researchers wrote in the study.

“However, no systematic evaluation of VET trials has been conducted, despite the potential benefits of using these treatments during the early stages of the disease.”

Review of findings

“Of the 11 studies that were identified, there are encouraging results for some nutrient-based adjuncts in VET”,the researchers said.

The evidence supporting nutritional supplementation with omega-3 – the most widely used nutrient to treat VET, researchers said – was conflicting after reviewing six studies examining the link between PUFA consumption and brain health.

Researchers determined that two other trials citing dietary antioxidants NAC and vitamin C required further large-scale studies, but this is a “Promising avenue for future research” that my is found to be effective for people with high levels of oxidative stress.

Taurine was found “Significantly improve”Psychotic symptoms and depression but had no significant effect on cognition. Likewise, adjunctive therapy with antioxidant vitamins (C and E) did not result in any adverse events or side effects.

What happens next?

The research team said it will launch a new clinical trial in Sydney, Australia later this year in which all potentially beneficial nutrients are combined into a single supplement and provided to young people with psychosis.

“Individual nutrients appear to have moderate effects on mental health at best,”said Firth.

“A combined nutritional intervention, explicitly designed using evidence for psychosis, may therefore confer greater and more beneficial effects on young people with this disease.”

Source: Early intervention in psychiatry

“Supplementary nutrients in the first episode of psychosis: a systematic review of efficacy, tolerability and neurobiological mechanism”

Authors: Joseph Firth, Simon Rosenbaum, Philip B. Ward, Jackie Curtis, Scott B. Teasdale, Alison R. Yung, Jerome Sarris

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