Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of many compounds important for normal mental health. Some of these are:
Vitamin C has been show in research to (Meister, 1994):
- reduce psychological stress
- decrease blood pressure
- lower cortisol levels
Functions of vitamin C in the brain (Smythies, 1996):
- Prevents oxidation of dopamine into toxic derivatives (Baez, Segura-Aguilar, Widerslen, Johansson, & Mannervik, 1997)
- Protects NMDA receptors from glutamate toxicity
- Counteracts the effects of amphetamines
- Enhances the effects of older antipsychotic medications like haloperidol
Vitamin C and schizophrenia
- Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation has a role in the onset and manifestation of schizophrenia (Fond et al., 2020).
- Vitamin C is an effective anti-stress nutrient that helps schizophrenic patients cope more effectively (Hoffer, 1977).
- Vitamin C preserves intracellular glutathione (Pauling et al., 1973). Glutathione is important for the detoxification of toxic metabolites associated with schizophrenia – adrenochrome, adrenolutin, dopaminochrome and noradrenochrome (Suboticanec, Folnegović-Smalc, Korbar, M., Mestrović, & Buzina, 1990; Smythies, 1996; Hoffer, 1999).
Vitamin C low in schizophrenics
- Vitamin C levels in schizophrenics have been shown to be low schizophrenics (Rv et al., 2010).
- Schizophrenics receiving an adequate amount of dietary vitamin C had lower blood levels of vitamin C than people in good health (Horwitt, 1942).
- In a study of 106 recently-hospitalized schizophrenic patients given a loading dose of vitamin C, 76% of the patients were deficient versus 30% of the controls and 22% of the patients had significant deficiency versus 1% of controls (Pauling, 1974).
Causes of vitamin C deficiency
- restrictive diets
- diet lacking in sources of vitamin C especially fresh fruit and vegetables
- digestive tract disorders, e.g. diarrhea, Crohn’s and colitis
- chronic inflammatory conditions
Signs of vitamin C deficiency
- bleeding or swollen gums
- frequent nosebleeds
- dry hair, split ends
- easy bruising
- slow wound healing
- depression and cognitive impairment (Plevin & Galletly, 2020)
Top sources of vitamin C based on serving size
- grapefruit and orange juice
- sweet pepper
Comprehensive food list:
Table 3. Some Food Sources of vitamin C (Vitamin C, 2014)
Referenced Dietary Intakes
RDAs for vitamin C (mg/day)
Adolescents (14-18 years): 75 (M) 65 (F)
Adults (19-50 years): 90 (M) 75 (F)
Smokers: 125 (M) 110 (F)
Tolerable Upper Intake: 2000 mg /day
(Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C, n.d.)
Vitamin C supplementation
- Amounts of vitamin C used in practice and research range from 500–6000 mg/day in divided doses.
- Studies have shown that schizophrenic patients require vitamin C supplementation in the high-gram range in order to saturate body tissue stores. (Pauling et al., 1973; Suboticanec, et al., 1990).”
Clinical improvement of schizophrenia patients resulted from
Doses of vitamin C ranging from 500–6,000 mg of vitamin C have resulted in clinical improvement in schizophrenic patients (Gaby, 2011).
SAFETY, SIDE EFFECTS
- Vitamin C has low toxicity and is not believed to cause serious adverse effects at high intakes (Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C, n.d.).
- Vitamin C at higher doses can, in some people, cause side effects such as nausea, abdominal cramps, and other digestive tract disturbances
Vitamin C and medications
- Vitamin C has been shown beneficial and safe when used in conjunction with schizophrenia medications.
- Adjunctive vitamin C has been shown to improve symptoms in schizophrenic patients (Beauclair, Vinogradov, Riney, Csernansky, & Hollister, 1987).
- “The absence of any substantial side effects, cheaper cost, improvement in BPRS score, and the fact that plasma ascorbic acid levels are decreased in schizophrenia and increases after oral supplementation make it a particularly attractive therapeutic adjuvant in the treatment of schizophrenia.” (Dakhale, Khanzode, Khanzode, & Saoji, 2005).
Baez, S., Segura-Aguilar, J., Widersten, M., Johansson, A. S., & Mannervik, B. (1997). Glutathione transferases catalyse the detoxication of oxidized metabolites (o-quinones) of catecholamines and may serve as an antioxidant system preventing degenerative cellular processes. Biochemical Journal, 324(Pt 1), 25–28.
Beauclair, L., Vinogradov, S., Riney, S. J., Csernansky, J. G., & Hollister, L. E. (1987). An adjunctive role for ascor- bic acid in the treatment of schizophrenia?. Journal Of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 7(4), 282-283.
Dakhale, G. N., Khanzode, S. D., Khanzode, S. S., & Saoji, A. (2005). Supplementation of vitamin C with atypical antipsychotics reduces oxidative stress and improves the outcome of schizophrenia. Psychopharmacology, 182(4), 494-498.
Fond, G., Lançon, C., Korchia, T., Auquier, P., & Boyer, L. (2020). The Role of Inflammation in the Treatment of Schizophrenia. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00160
Gaby, A. R. (2011). Nutritional Medicine. Alan R. Gaby, VitalBook file.
Hoffer, A. (1977). Treatment of schizophrenia. In R. Williams, D. Kalita (Eds.), A Physician’s Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine. Keats Publishing.
Hoffer A. (1999). The adrenochrome hypothesis and psychiatry. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 14, 49-62.
Horwitt, M.K. (1942). Ascorbic acid requirements of indi- viduals in a large institution. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 49, 248-250.
Meister, A. (1994). Glutathione, ascorbate, and cellular protection. Cancer Research, 54(7 Supplement), 1969s–1975s
Office of Dietary Supplements—Vitamin C. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
Pauling, L., Robinson, A., Oxley, S., Bergeson, M., Harris, A., Cary, P., … Keaveny, I. (1973). Vitamin C: New Biochemical and functional insights. In D. Hawkins & L. Pauling (Eds.), Orthomolecular Psychiatry (W.H. Freeman, San Francisco 1973).
Pauling, L. (1974). On the orthomolecular environment of the mind: Orthomolecular theory. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 131(11), 1251-1257.
Plevin, D., & Galletly, C. (2020). The neuropsychiatric effects of vitamin C deficiency: A systematic review. BMC Psychiatry, 20(1), 315. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02730-w
Rv, B., Np, R., & G, V. (2010). Biological investigations in Indian psychiatry. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 52(Suppl 1), S136-8. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.69225
Smythies, J. (1996). Oxidative reactions and schizophrenia: A review-discussion. Schizophrenia Research, 24(3), 357–364. https://www.academia.edu/24021570/Oxidative_reactions_and_schizophrenia_A_review_discussion
Suboticanec, K., Folnegović-Smalc, V., Korbar, M., Mestrović, B., & Buzina, R. (1990). Vitamin C status in chronic schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 28(11), 959-966
Vitamin C. (2014, April 22). Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C