Study Finds First-Episode Psychosis Patients Fare Better with Vitamin D

Researchers examine the relationship between vitamin D and clinical and cognitive symptoms in first-episode psychosis.

Bernalyn Ruiz
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A longitudinal study, recently published in Schizophrenia Research, measures the relationship between Vitamin D and clinical symptoms in persons experiencing a first episode of psychosis (FEP). After following persons diagnosed with FEP over 12 months, the researchers found that, at baseline, 80% of individuals with FEP had suboptimal levels of vitamin D. Moreover, a higher baseline level of vitamin D was associated with lower symptom scores at follow-up.

“Suboptimal vitamin D is highly prevalent in FEP, and remains so 12 months after first contact for psychosis,” they write. “We found that higher baseline vitamin D levels were associated with fewer total and negative psychotic symptoms at one year after first contact for psychosis, suggesting that vitamin D may have relevance to the course of psychotic disorders.”

Photo Credit: Flickr

Vitamin D can be neuroprotective and low levels are often seen in persons who develop schizophrenia. Additionally, research has established a relationship between positive and negative symptoms of psychosis. Deficiencies in vitamin D levels and are well established in people with depression. The present study aimed to provide clarity on the relationship between vitamin D levels and psychotic and depressive symptoms after FEP.

One-hundred sixty-eight adults with FEP were recruited and followed across 12-months. Data was collected on vitamin D levels, age, sex, ethnicity, diagnoses, positive and negative symptoms, functioning, and mood symptoms. Participants were administered a battery of cognitive assessments to measure cognitive functioning.

Results

  • At 12 months, 84% of participants had suboptimal vitamin D levels, 45% had vitamin D deficiency, and 36% were classified as vitamin D insufficient. Only 17% had optimal vitamin D levels
  • Only the cognitive domain of verbal memory had a significant relationship with higher baseline vitamin D levels.
  • Lower ratings on positive and negative symptom and higher levels of vitamin D at baseline were found
  • Higher baseline vitamin D was associated with reduced negative symptoms scores at 12 months

The few significant findings presented in this paper shed light on the existence of the relationship between vitamin D and symptoms of psychosis. However, the mixed results reveal the need for further clarity in our understanding of the role of nutrients play in the development of mental health difficulties (e.g., psychosis and depression). Despite the mixed findings, the relationship between baseline vitamin D levels and clinical state at 12 months as well as the improvement seen in negative symptoms in 12 months in those with higher levels of vitamin D are notable.

 

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Lally, J., Ajnakina, O., Singh, N., Gardner-Sood, P., Stubbs, B., Stringer, D., … & Howes, O. D. (2018). Vitamin D and clinical symptoms in First Episode Psychosis (FEP): A prospective cohort study. Schizophrenia research. (Link)

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Bernalyn Ruiz
MIA-UMB News Team: Bernalyn Ruiz is a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Boston and has a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Columbia University. She is engaged in research on psychosis and stigma from a social justice perspective. She is a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and hopes to play her small part in improving Latinx mental health.

14 COMMENTS

    • And so what? The problem is the attitude toward psyche, not the fact that people are psychologically beyond normalcy, sometimes. This group of people is being destroyed by normal, those simple egoic people, beyond psychological reality. And, still, people are not the owners of the psyche, so stop looking for the causes, because searching for the causes is a way to avoid psyche reality AND A CUNNING WAY TO AVOID THE NECESSITY OF THE STATE (false rhetorics.)

      Why are you writing this all the time? The causation bio soc psy. Who cares, about the causes? The problem is that psychosis is seen as something THEOLOGICALLY BAD, which is not supposed to be. PSYCHOSIS AND DEPRESSION ARE THE MAIN AIMS OF THE HUMAN PSYCHE AND MENTAL HEALTH THEORIES ARE THE HOSTILE FUNDAMETALISM OF THE “NORMAL” UTOPISTS. So change the attitude toward psyche, normal people, before hades will destroy your apollonian wooden heart and stony eyes.

      I do not want to be rude, but I see this kind of articles as a way to sabotage and avoidance of the psyche reality. Scientism and biology is not the psyche.
      James Hilllman, Re -visioning psychology.

      PSYCHOSIS AND DEPRESSION ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL NECESSITIES/AIMS. No matter what apolllonian ego or theologians have to say about it.

      • The psyche is not the problem, the problem is that egoic people are antipsychological egoic funamentalists, who creates their material egoic state at the expense of the life and the psyche of the PSYCHOLOGICAL minorities. They are the scapegoats of the normalcy. Egoic, apollonian people are to simple and too primitive to deal with mythical reality, with things which are beyond materialistic reality, brain, flesh . They are just too stupid for this. In psychological reality , apollonians are those poor ones, those who are seen as impaired. For the hades reality, apollonian ego is a joke, this kind od simple perception is sth barbaric for strict and harsh psychological reality. Apollonians/ normal are psychological barbarians.

  1. You do know how a human gets vitamin D don’t you? From the sun. If you are locked up in hospital/jail your levels will be lower , + the authority tells patient NOT to get into the sun for increased chance of sunburning when on psychiatric drugs.

    “Photosensitivity associated with antipsychotics, antidepressants and anxiolytics.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8713693

    “Vitamin D deficiency and inadequacy in a correctional population”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837209

    They got you coming and going.

  2. They don’t seem to say if the FEP people were on antipsychotics. I cannot see how they would not be. So there is the very real possibility that it is the antipsychotic causing vitamin D depletion. They don’t seem to consider this possibility, the way I read it they are basically attributing what they’ve found to the condition.

    They say that they have found an association between psychotic symptom severity and vitamin D levels but don’t postulate the mechanism – could it be the antipsychotics?

    Either way, vitamin D supplementation would seem to be no bad thing.

    • Yes good point. Did some research into this a while back.. also steroids, Anti-seizure drugs as well as others. Plus plenty of other prescription drugs affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Proton pump inhibitors affect the acidity of the stomach with the possibility of reducing Iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C. B12. The importance on Mg to MH is very clear in that it regulates the normal function of the NMDA receptor – a glutamate receptor responsible for the transmission of the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the CNS. Also both the NMDA and AMPA receptors set up Long Term Potentiation thought to be the biological basis for learning and memory. In terms of MH it would be the learning and memory of abuse.

      Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) :

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mHgPfXHzJE

  3. Sad fact: if it is “science” that supports psychiatry, it is pseudoscience. It is pseudoscience to claim that 80% (of a small sampling) of FEP subject participants were deficient in vitamin D without noting that 75% of the general population is considered deficient in vitamin D. My source is the top entry from my Google search for vitamin D deficiency from a Scientific American article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414878). The balance of the BS can be attributed to Confirmation Bias and/or Experimenter Bias.

    • Ah yes, good point, that is the other possibility – that having “suboptimal” vitamin D (<20) is typical of the population at large. I couldn't find your 75% stat, but I did find a paper that talked of an average of 41% have less than 20 ng/ml on the whole and 73% less than 20 ng/ml in winter (in northern latitudes). This paper talks of 80% less than 20 ng/ml in FEP so, yes, it does look like its elevated. This could be due to the antipsychotic or actually could be due even be partially due to anxiety and isolation.

  4. This not so clever fraud is being pushed heavily under the newly minted guise called ‘Nutritional Psychiatry”. Orthomolecular medicine, aside, its a nifty little con that the industry cooked up to ensure it’s cut of the billion dollar supplement industry and anything else they can appropriate from alternative medicine and call “integrative medicine.”
    The lie is simply that vitamin deficiencies are or cause “mental illness’. The truth that EVERYONE is reluctant to state is that the SYMPTOMS caused by lack of proper nutrition causes symptoms that are labeled (misdiagnosed) as if they were “mental illness’s”.
    The con not only allows quacks to continuing “treating” imaginary brain diseases, it keeps them in control of the discourse (propaganda) thus allowing them to maintain control over the brain diseased MI gullible enough to buy the notion that a vitamin deficiencies are anything more than – vitamin deficiencies. It is beyond underhanded and deceitful and so blatantly ridiculously transparent, that one would think people would be pissing themselves laughing. Sadly, the number of otherwise intelligent people supporting this bullshit- including people who understand that psychiatry is a pseudo-science even in anti and critical psych groups, is beyond disturbing.
    Make no mistake about it, this is the new and much easier to swallow “chemical imbalance myth” that I have coined the “nutrient imbalance myth” in the hopes of triggering people to start using their own ability to discern simple fact from obvious fiction. A lie is a lie is a lie, no matter whose spinning it and a whole lot of spin dr’s are banking on this slight of hand to help them retire early. JMG

  5. Its a complex web we weave…

    If you saw that the Sun is falsely demonised – as vitamins are falsely invalidated or smeared as is so much else that supports balance and communication in wholeness of being the you that you are either aligned in or mis-aligned and mis-identified in – then you might be curious as to why.

    The asserting and maintaining of the false MUST deny and misperceive the true in order to ‘survive’ in its own terms.

    The act of denying IS the experience of being denied – but the association of denial with a sense of power and protection (law and order over feared chaos) projects or assigns the denying ’cause’ away from self and onto ‘others’ and to external conditions or subjections.

    Pharma (Big Oil to transnational cartel power) captured medical practice such as it was and the regulatory bodies that protect it instead of us. There are many levels and facets to this and I sense we will have to undo error from the ground up rather than from the top down.

    Vitamins and other essential nutrients are part of the functional vehicle of an expression of consciousness as the physical experience. Deprivation and lack are the conditions in which toxicity and a sense of loss of support, loss of connection, loss of function all generate ‘crisis’ of opportunity to re-evaluate or persist in the patterns of self-deprivations that may seem to be an attempt to get power, get support, get rid of toxic situations – in purely externalised terms.

    Most rec daily allowances of vits are ignorantly or arrogantly set too low BY A CAPTURED MEDICAL INSTITUTION to do more than prevent rickets, scurvy, pellagra etc as the obvious signs of life threatening malnutrition. Much malnutrition and toxicity has and is being masked by ‘medical diagnosis’ of the pharming-model of sickness management.

    A principle of health is a balance of diversity within wholeness or unified purpose – aka joy in life – in being the embrace and engagement in living this day well – rather than the sacrifice of life to the fear and evasion of sickness given power over the true relational being – of being now.

    There may be ways of aligning in health at a deeper level or a higher order that effect spontaneous remissions – and there are many witnesses for such ‘anomalies’. But there is also the willingness to recognize and align in the helpful that is available now rather than set terms that effectively keep life out.

    Looking at vit D,
    ie
    https://vitamindwiki.com/VitaminDWiki
    re-evaluating our relationship with sunlight – and artificial lighting, nature and participation in its ‘field’ may be a valid step in a self-education that then opens other perspectives and channels of communication.

    However anyone else frames their reality is not a dictate upon your unless you give it power to do so. But emotionally reactive invalidations of other ways of seeing and being give power to being subjected while seeming to be getting free of it.

    Vit D – the units were changed to IUs as a way of making a micro-dose seem astronomical.

    The belief that other people (ie psychiatrists) make us mad is an incomplete perception. The way of a world of free will ‘gone mad’ is the inducement by deceit to do unto ourselves and yet suffer at the hand of another. This is not obvious or superficially available because a surface mind or ‘reality’ is made to hide it.
    So I am not assigning BLAME to the already afflicted – but inviting curiosity to awakening self-responsibility where ye thinketh not!