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Vitamins and Supplements for Bipolar Disorder

With an increasing awareness of mental health, mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder management has gained much importance. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, with highs and lows, energy, and behavior, which usually appear in early adulthood but symptoms can begin at any time of life.1

While a healthy, balanced diet offers all the nutrients, certain vitamins and supplements for bipolar disorder can be helpful.

Vitamins and Supplements for Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder have a greater risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia, in addition to the mental symptoms, possibly due to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity.2 While the mainstay of management is medical treatment, given side effects and the increasing burden, nutrition, behavior, and wellness therapy are also considered.

Thus diet and nutrition play an important role in maintaining good health and lifestyle choices in people with bipolar disorders. Considering this, vitamins and supplements for bipolar disorder are aimed at offering support in the management of factors contributing to both mental and physical health problems.

Vitamins for Bipolar Disorder

Vitamins are considered important nutrients helpful in mood regulation. People deficient in vitamins can experience fatigue, anxiety and mood swings. Vitamins for bipolar disorder can help regulate mood but the combinations and dosage must be planned properly.

Several studies have shown that some nutritional supplements and vitamins can play an effective role in the management of mental disorders.3 In bipolar disorder the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) decreases while glutamate, homocysteine, and dopamine levels increase during manic episodes. This results in restlessness, irritability, and sleep disorders in these people. Regulation of serotonin is also impaired and inflammatory factors like CRP can rise.3

The role of vitamins in physiological processes is important, which may make them useful supplements for bipolar disorder.

Vitamin B – Vitamin B6 is one of the main cofactors that regulate cellular metabolism and is effective in many body processes. It is a water‐soluble vitamin and plays an important role in biochemical reactions, including protein metabolism and neurotransmitters. It helps in increasing the production of GABA and thus can control the related symptoms of restlessness and irritability. It may also help improve cognitive symptoms, can reduce homocysteine, dopamine, and inflammatory markers, and regulate serotonin levels. The symptoms of restlessness, aggression, mood swings, and psychosis may be better controlled with a prescription of vitamin B6 by adjusting these factors.3

Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid reduce homocysteine levels in people with bipolar disorder.3 Some studies have concluded that a higher dietary intake of B vitamins, especially biotin, was associated with a lower prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms.4

Vitamin C – Known for its role in healing, vitamin C offers protection against cell damage. It is believed to be one of the important vitamins for bipolar disorder. Some studies have shown that vitamin C helps protect the body from damage caused due to excess vanadium, which is often the case in bipolar disorder. A study involved in controlling elevated vanadium levels concluded that a single 3g dose of vitamin C decreased manic symptoms as compared to the placebo group.5

Omega-3-fatty acids – These are considered one of the effective supplements for bipolar disorder. It is believed that cells within the brain require omega-3 oils to effectively transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods, and emotions. These are often low in people with bipolar disorder and these supplements can help decrease manic or depressive symptoms better than a placebo.5

Taurine – This is an amino acid, known to play an important role by eliciting a calming effect in the brain. if these levels are low, it may increase manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder and may also have associated vitamin B deficiency. In such cases, essential vitamin supplementation with the body’s natural supply of lithium can help reduce depressive and manic symptoms of patients with bipolar disorder.5

5-HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter known for its calming effect and a better mood. Low serotonin levels are linked with irritability, impatience, depression, and anxiety. Considering this, 5-HTP can help improve serotonin levels thus regulating mood, relaxing the mind, reducing anxiety, and inducing better sleep. However, an increase in serotonin can help improve depressive disorder but can increase the risk of manic episodes in some.6 5-HTP may be helpful as supplements for bipolar disorders but the need to take them their dose, duration and must be evaluated.

DHEA – This hormone is naturally produced by the adrenal glands in the body and is believed to have a role in antiaging benefits, improving mood, depressive symptoms, and other health benefits. Some studies have concluded that the use of DHEA indicates promising results in the treatment of depression and depressive symptoms, especially for cases resistant to conventional therapy.7 In a study of patients with Addison’s disease, improvement in mood and fatigue after DHEA supplementation was reported.6

Other Supplements for Bipolar Disorder

While a lot is spoken about various supplements for bipolar disorder, only a few have strong evidence to support their role in bipolar disorder. For many other supplements, the doctors should consider the requirement of the patient, severity of the condition, associated health problems, and the need for such supplements.

What Do Studies Say?

Studies support the efficacy of vitamin C to some extent but that of folic acid and choline are not clear. Some studies supported a link between lower serum folate levels and patients with bipolar disorder but the effect on different mood states in bipolar disorder was not clear and further studies are needed.8

Some studies report that N-acetylcysteine was found to be effective in acute depressive episodes, particularly in the prophylactic role but some studies have not determined its efficacy.9

According to some studies, nutrients like cytidine were amongst the least supported treatment for bipolar disorder.9

Thus it can be concluded that although some vitamins and supplements for bipolar disorder may be effective, they should be considered depending on the condition of the patient. Moreover, some of these supplements also have side effects, in some cases, their dosage, duration of supplementation, and best combinations are not clear. Hence, these should be considered only after medical advice and with a proper understanding of various relevant parameters.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 16, 2022

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