Ask an expert

21 Nov 2004

Vitamin B supplementation with bipolar mood disorder
Please advise whether Vitamin B supplementation is a good idea with bipolar mood disorder.

There is an article on health 24 which indicates that anti-convulsants tend to lead to lower levels of B vitamins in the body and it is therefore a good idea to supplement with them.

However, a patient attending the Tara outpatients clinic was recently advised by a psychiatric sister NOT to supplement with B vitamins if she was bipolar.

My own psychiatrists advises taking at least 400 mcg of folic acid per day, but has made no comment about the other B vitamins. This is getting confusing. Please cast some light on the subject.

Answer 602 views

01 Jan 0001

Well LInda,
This does sound like a confusing mix of pieces of advice. Part of the priblem, I think, is a lack of good research to answer this sort of question ( although the big drug companies make a fortune out of the gross over-pricing of vitamin products, they don't feel the need to sponsor needed research on this sort of issue ). My policy tends to be as follows --- as long as someone is eating a good normal and balanced diet, I'm not in a hurry to recommend taking vitamin supplements. Where there is evidence ( of various sorts ) of a potential vitamin deficiency, its worth adding a suitable supplement, and then I'd use the cheapest variety available, as there is no added benefit for the more expensive versions of the same basic chemical vitamins.
One must also be cautious about some supplements which either contain untested and unproven extra ingredients, or unusually high doses of vitamins. Very high doses of some vitamins can be harmful, and higher dises than the normal recommended daily allowances are unnecessary and of no added benefit.
The study the article referred to, I think, pointed out that SOME antuconvulsants ( there are some very different varieties in use ) may reduce one's absorption or availability of some Vitamin B's, and thus a supplement might help ; but this would be best discussed with your neurologist / psychiatrist, who i9s familiar with the details of your own specific case.
MY Health24 neighbour, Dietdoc, may have some useful views on the purely nutritional aspects of this question, too.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
33% - 9370 votes
67% - 19371 votes