Can supplementing vitamin B12 improve mental health outcomes?: a literature review

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Low vitamin B12 has been associated with raised plasma homocysteines and the consumption of B vitamins has been shown to reduce homocysteines. Raised levels of homocysteines have been linked to causing symptoms of mental illness. B12 is also required in the synthesis of monoamines and is required to maintain neurological health. Aim: This study reviews research into the effects of the supplementation of B12 in the prevention and recovery of mental illness, and the potentiation of psychotropic medication. Methodology: This literature review follows a systematic approach to searching databases CINAHL, EMBASE, Medline, and PsycINFO where 287 non-duplicated articles results were received. Appropriate articles were identified through title and abstract screening and inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. Five articles were chosen to address the research question following critical appraisal. Thematic analysis was then conducted. Findings: This review identified five randomised controlled trials into the supplementation of various doses of B12 in conjunction with folic acid and B6. The supplement was measured against post-stroke depression prevention, the reduction of symptoms of depression in woman with cardiovascular disease, the effect on negative symptoms in schizophrenia, the reduction and prevention of depression in older adults, and the potentiation of psychotropic interventions. The papers reviewed showed inconclusive results, but evidence to support sub-groups and specific high-risk groups. Strong evidence showed supplementation of B12, folic acid and B6 has high rates of preventing post-stroke depression. Conclusion: The findings show that this area of research is still to be developed. The effects of B12 supplementation with other B vitamins on mental health have shown to be inconclusive. There is a case for its use to be considered within certain patient groups to aid recovery of mental health or in some high-risk patient groups. Recommendations are made for further research into high-risk groups of people that may have symptoms or symptoms that could be improved through the supplementation of B12.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-146
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Community Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2024


  • vitamin B12
  • Depression
  • older (adults/people)
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Supplementation
  • Mental Health
  • Geriatric
  • Gerontology


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