Can Vitamin D and B12 Supplementation Help With OCD Symptoms?

If you ever played voyeur to Patrizio Sr’s (Robert De Niro’s) rituals surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles in Silver Linings’ Playbook, or witnessed Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) struggle walking away from his front door in As Good as it Gets, you may have an idea of what those with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) experience.

 

In reality, sans the big screen and the comic relief, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic illness that can cause marked distress. Patients with OCD have obsessive and recurrent intrusive thoughts that are troubling and inconsistent with their sense of self. These thoughts are “egodystonic”.

 

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that are meant to “cancel” the thoughts. Compulsions include behaviors like counting, seeking reassurance, handwashing, praying, and repeating simple actions multiple times to “make up” for these obsessions.

 

A sub-optimally regulated neurotransmitter system in the brain is thought to be one of the main factors in OCD pathogenesis. Coordinated neurotransmitter transmission, including the shooting of dopamine and serotonin between synapses or the spaces between brain cells, is necessary for balanced mood, behavior and emotion.  A genetic vulnerability to environmental stressors may modify gene expression within the neurotransmitter pathways and this can result in changes within the brain circuitry, altering neurotransmitter signaling.

 

First line therapy for OCD includes cognitive behavioral therapy or therapy with medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Yet some studies have indicated that ensuring appropriate nutrition and elemental supplementation with Vitamin D and B12 especially, can also help augment treatment, and minimize symptoms.

 

Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and is one of the more important vitamins for overall wellness. It plays a role in the immune system, bone formation, and helps regulate the function of enzymes, including those enzymes that are involved in the manufacturing of brain signaling molecules called neurotransmitters.

 

Vitamin D regulates the level of enzymes, tyrosine and tryptophan hydroxylase, that activate neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine and serotonin.

 

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with numerous neuropsychiatric diseases that include autism, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and OCD.

 

Vitamin B12 and folate are also key in the prevention of worsening symptoms in many neuropsychiatric disorders, one of which is likely OCD. Folic acid and Vitamin B12 act as cofactors in synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine.

 

B12 and folate levels should be checked in those suffering with OCD as a B12 and folate deficiency may worsen symptoms.

 

Vitamin D and B 12 supplements are easily available over the counter and levels can be easily checked with a doctor’s order.

 

References:

High Prevelance of Hypovitaminosis D Status in Patients with Early Parkinsons Disease

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Diagnosis and Management

Glutamate Abnormalities In OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as Early Manifestation of B12 Deficiency

Nutritional and Herbal Supplements in the Treatment of OCD

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Dr. Sabina Rebis, MD, FAAFP

Dr. Sabina Rebis, MD, FAAFP

Dr. Sabina Rebis, MD, is a family medicine physician with Yale New Haven Health and has a passion for preventative health. She is the founder of The Model of Health, a resource for timely health news, tips, and trends to help everyone achieve optimal health. Dr. Sabina Rebis believes motivation starts with inspiration and is committed to inspiring everyone to choose a healthy lifestyle by providing researched-based information, products, and recipes.

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