Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient status, supplementation, and mechanisms in patients with schizophrenia

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Over 50 million people around the world suffer from schizophrenia, a severe mental illness characterized by misinterpretation of reality. Although the exact causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, studies have indicated that inflammation and oxidative stress may play an important role in the etiology of the disease. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are crucial for normal central nervous development and proper functioning of neural networks and neurotransmitters. Patients with schizophrenia tend to have abnormal immune activation resulting in elevated pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, ultimately leading to functional brain impairments. Patients with schizophrenia have also been found to suffer from oxidative stress, a result of an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability to detoxify their harmful effects. Furthermore, inflammation and oxidative stress are implicated to be related to the severity of psychotic symptoms. Several nutrients are known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant functions through various mechanisms in our body. The present review evaluates studies and literature that address the status and supplementation of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin D, B vitamins (B6, folate, B12), vitamin E, and carotenoids in different stages of schizophrenia. The possible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant mechanisms of action of each nutrient are discussed.

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