May 13, 2021

Prospect Sconsultation

The health experts

Popular Vitamins to Supplement Bipolar Disorder Treatment

4 min read

Some people look to help lighten the load of bipolar disorder symptoms with vitamins and supplements. Here’s a look at what trends.

First things first

Psych Central stands for resilience; part of that is authenticity.

It’s so important to note that the following supplements are a complement to medication management, not a replacement.

We’ve provided what research intel is available on these vitamins’ and supplements’ effectiveness for bipolar disorder in particular.

Where there are counterproductive findings, we’ll let you know, so you can avoid natural remedies that do any harm. Where natural remedies are helpful, we’ll let you know that too.

We support holistic health and mindful medication management.

Prescribed medication for bipolar disorder is a cornerstone of treatment. But as more and more folks are learning to advocate for their own wellness, many are finding the addition of other resources may help alleviate symptoms.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood changes that can last from a few months to a few years. People often seek additional help managing the two main mood alterations:

  • Mania. An ever-elevating or irritable mood that may start euphoric but ends with exhaustion or impulsivity. It may lead to interpersonal, social, sexual, financial, work, or legal consequences.
  • Depression. A period hallmarked by feelings of hopelessness, despair, brain fog, slowed concentration, and possibly suicidal thoughts.

Much research has been done studying fish oil and its addition to our diet. We already know that cod, salmon, and other fish can help treat heart disease and arthritis.

For folks with bipolar disorder, we also have reports that fish oil may:

However, it’s important to note that the benefits of fish oil supplementation are really only effective in people who are deficient in these fatty acids, and specifically during depressive episodes, according to a 2015 research review.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Anxiety disorder often accompanies bipolar disorder. Vitamin B1 can help ease anxiety and irritability for some adults, according to a 2021 study.

Vitamin B12

Though some folks low in B12 report mood changes, depression, and mania, to date there’s no direct correlation between its deficiency and bipolar disorder symptoms.

However, the vitamin — known for its energy-boosting benefits to those deficient in it — might be helpful if bipolar disorder depression has you feeling fatigued.

It’s water soluble, which means when your body has had enough of it for the day, you’ll see that tell-tale neon yellow when you pee.

If you eat a balanced diet, you’re likely getting enough B12 and don’t need a supplement. But poor diets might make you low in B12.

Magnesium

Magnesium may help ease manic episode symptoms of irritability, anxiety, and insomnia for people already deficient in it.

It relaxes the nerves — both the neurotransmitters that communicate stress and distress to the brain, among other messages, when taken orally, and nerve endings within the sinews of your muscles, when taken orally or used topically.

Vitamin C

An older study found that people with bipolar disorder have too much of the mineral vanadium, which factors into mania and depression.

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, has been observed to protect the body from damage fueled by too much vanadium.

Oranges, kiwis, and red peppers all pack a vitamin C punch.

Vitamin D

There is a link between low vitamin D levels and bipolar disorder.

Simply and safely getting some sunshine can restore vitamin D in your system. If that’s not practical in your climate, you can ask your healthcare team about vitamin D supplements, or even invest in a light box.

Folic acid

So many studies suggest a relationship between low levels of dietary folic acid and subsequent depressive or manic episodes.

Researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the chicken-egg relationship — if a folate deficiency causes bipolar symptoms, or a folate boost alleviates symptoms — but if you can naturally add more of the nutrient to your diet, it may help enhance cognition.

Pass on these alternative remedies

  • SAM-e (S-Adenosyl-L-methionine) has antidepressant properties in some cases but is largely warned against for people with bipolar disorder depression because it may worsen mania.
  • Gingko biloba may nullify the effectiveness of the bipolar disorder medication sodium valproate (Depakote).
  • St. John’s wort can have conflicting reactions to prescription antidepressants. It can also increase the risk of mania occurring.

No.

Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition that’s best managed by a consistent collaboration of therapies including:

Vitamins may help provide some symptom relief, but none of these strategies can manage bipolar disorder alone.

Have any other candid questions about bipolar disorder? You can get answers from our tell-all FAQ.

Vitamins consumed in your diet and boosted by supplementation might help prevent bipolar disorder episodes or reduce their severity in some cases, but we need more research.

Folks with bipolar disorder should seriously avoid some supplements, like SAM-e or gingko biloba, since they can worsen mania or interfere with bipolar disorder medications like antidepressants.

If you’re still interested in keeping up your wellness with the help of vitamins and supplements, the smartest thing to do is take your wish list to your healthcare team. Ask them whether any potential vitamins or supplements on your list will counteract with your existing management plan and general condition.

The fact that you’re reading this means you’re doing a diligent job of looking to manage your condition well. Bravo. Keep at it and read on for more helpful intel.

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