Study: Probiotic with Vitamin D Supplements Could Aid Individuals with Schizophrenia


Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is an important factor in the pathogens of schizophrenia.

New study findings published in Neuropsychopharmacology Reports announced that taking probiotics with vitamin D supplements could improve cognitive function among individuals with schizophrenia.1

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Image credit: Siphosethu Fanti/ |

Schizophrenia is reported to be the most common severe mental disorder that impacts the cause of disability worldwide. The study authors noted that symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into 3 groups—positive, negative, and cognitive.2

Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is an important factor in the pathogens of schizophrenia, according to study authors. If VDD is corrected among individuals with schizophrenia using a vitamin D supplement, therapy effectiveness and treatment regimens could increase.2

In a previous study, researchers found that chronic exposure to active vitamin D hormones could increase the ability of developing dopamine neurons. This finding could help researchers better understand the mechanisms of developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficiency and schizophrenia.3

In the current study, researchers included 70 individuals with schizophrenia that were randomly assigned to receive a probiotic supplement with 400 IU vitamin D, daily for 12 weeks, or a placebo. The study authors noted that they used the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the 30-point Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) to evaluate the severity of schizophrenia and the cognitive function of participants. This was evaluated at baseline, the end of the trial, and every 2 weeks during the study period, according to study authors.1,2

The individuals were enrolled from the long stay ward of the Razi Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences from December 2021 to April 2022. The study authors noted that the individuals needed to be 18 to 65 years of age, could provide written informed consent, have up to a fifth-grade education, and have no gastrointestinal problems at the start of the study. Among the 70 recruited individuals, 69 completed the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.2

After being divided into 2 treatment groups, 35 individuals in group A received the probiotic, and 35 individuals in group B received the placebo.2

The results displayed that the MoCA score increased by 1.96 units among individuals in the probiotic-containing supplement group, compared to individuals in the placebo group. Additionally, the percentage of individuals with MoCA scores of 26 or higher increased greatly in the intervention group, according to study authors. However, the PANSS scores were not impacted in either the A or B group.1,2

Limitations in the study included first time use of the probiotic with vitamin D, along with the first-time use of assessing effects of a probiotic supplement on the MoCA score among individuals with schizophrenia. Additionally, there was a lack of consideration of vitamin D status in the study population and information about administrated medications.2

The findings suggest that probiotic supplements with vitamin D could improve cognitive function among individuals with schizophrenia, but the study limitations should be considered.2

“Probiotics may be a novel way to treat mental disorders by regulating gut microbiota,” said Gita Sadighi, MD, of the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, in Iran and corresponding author, in a press release.1

1. Can probiotics plus vitamin D supplements benefit people with schizophrenia?. Eurek Alert!. News release. April 10, 2024. Accessed April 30, 2024.
2. Co-administration of probiotic and vitamin D significantly improves cognitive function in schizophrenic patients: A double-blinded randomized controlled trial. Wiley. News release. April 10, 2024. Accessed April 30, 2024.
3. Study: Vitamin D Exposure May Increase Development of Dopamine Neurons, Indicating Mechanism of Schizophrenia. Pharmacy Times. News release. June 28, 2023. Accessed April 30, 2024.
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