Research finds that supplementing with B vitamins can help treat bipolar disorder

Antipsychotic medications have a lot of very serious drawbacks, yet many bipolar disorder sufferers continue to take them because they feel they have no choice. All that could be about to change, however, as research shows that there could be a very safe alternative in the form of vitamin B supplements.

It is one naturally-occurring B vitamin in particular that is responsible for this benefit. Choline is needed by the body to biosynthesize the neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine; low levels of acetylcholine are believed to be behind some cases of mania. The brain needs choline for processes that are related to learning, mental alertness, and memory.

There have been case reports that point to choline’s ability to reduce mania. In one small case study that involved patients with the rapid-cycling and treatment-refractory type of bipolar disorder who were taking lithium, four of the six people studied responded to the addition of free choline in doses of 2,000 to 7,200 milligrams per day. The two patients who did not respond to it were also being given high doses of thyroid meds, and this could explain why it didn’t help them. Although it was a small study, MRIs showed that the clinical improvement was correlated with higher choline levels in the basal ganglia of the brain.

One placebo-controlled study has shown that supplementing with 15 to 30 grams a day of phosphatidylcholine can help lessen the severity of both mania and depression in people with bipolar disorder. Moreover, the patients’ symptoms recurred when the they stopped taking the supplement.

Also known as lecithin, phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid that’s mostly found in foods that are naturally high in fat. Necessary for a brain development, it is believed to help improve brain processes and memory. Incidentally, the high amount of lecithin in the ketogenic diet could be one of the reasons it can be helpful in epilepsy.

This is good news for bipolar sufferers, especially when you consider the fact that both choline and phosphatidylcholine are considered safe and that patients generally tolerate them well.

Don’t underestimate the influence of good nutrition on mental health

Another vitamin that could help manage bipolar symptoms is Vitamin C, which research has shown to control the effects of the elevated vanadium levels that are associated with mania, depression, and melancholy is bipolar patients. In addition, the amino acid taurine can help manage bipolar disorder. After all, it’s an amino acid derivative of the lithium drugs that many patients are given by their doctors. Taurine blocks the effects caused by excessive amounts of acetylcholine.

The effects of proper nutrition on mood are well-documented. Studies have shown that those who take probiotics noted improvement in anxiety and stress, and people who have mental illness typically have deficiencies in nutrients like B vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

If you would like to get some of the mood-related benefits of choline for yourself – whether you’re bipolar or not – there are several great foods you can turn to. Peanuts, eggs, and liver are particularly high in choline, while other good sources include wheat germ, salmon, scallops, and shrimp. The main form of choline found in most dietary products is phosphatidylcholine.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness, and those who suffer from it are advised not to suddenly stop taking their medication. However, you can start adding choline-rich foods to your diet right away to see if it helps and then consider adapting your treatment with the help of professionals.

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