Abstract Title:

The neuropsychiatric effects of vitamin C deficiency: a systematic review.

Abstract Source:

BMC Psychiatry. 2020 Jun 18 ;20(1):315. Epub 2020 Jun 18. PMID: 32552785

Abstract Author(s):

David Plevin, Cherrie Galletly

Article Affiliation:

David Plevin


BACKGROUND: Vitamin C deficiency may be more common than is generally assumed, and the association between vitamin C deficiency and adverse psychiatric effects has been known for centuries. This paper aims to systematically review the evidence base for the neuropsychiatric effects of vitamin C deficiency.

METHODS: Relevant studies were identified via systematic literature review.

RESULTS: Nine studies of vitamin C deficiency, including subjects both with and without the associated physical manifestations of scurvy, were included in this review. Vitamin C deficiency, including scurvy, has been linked to depression and cognitive impairment. No effect on affective or non-affective psychosis was identified.

CONCLUSIONS: Disparate measurement techniques for vitamin C, and differing definitions of vitamin C deficiency were apparent, complicating comparisons between studies. However, there is evidence suggesting that vitamin C deficiency is related to adverse mood and cognitive effects. The vitamin C blood levels associated with depression and cognitive impairment are higher than those implicated in clinical manifestations of scurvy. While laboratory testing for ascorbic acid can be practically difficult, these findings nonetheless suggest that mental health clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of vitamin C deficiency in patients with depression or cognitive impairment. Vitamin C replacement is inexpensive and easy to deliver, although as of yet there are no outcome studies investigating the neuropsychiatric impact of vitamin C replacement in those who are deficient.

Study Type : Review

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