The neuroprotective efficacy of vitamins

Chanoch Miodownik, Vladimir Lerner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


It has been known for a long time that vitamins are essential nutrients for humans and animals. These substances are important for regular cell function, growth and development. Relatively small amounts of vitamins are needed to perform vital functions. As a rule vitamins promote the actions of enzymes in order to improve its efficiency and in this role they are called coenzymes. There are 13 essential vitamins vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate (folic acid, vitamin B9), vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K, which are needed for normal functioning of mammalians' life. Normal neurosystem functioning depends on its structural and functional perfection. During life, the human body is exposed to many elements, which create free radicals. These free radicals are known to date as distractive agents for many biological systems include the neurosystem. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with unpaired number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once these highly reactive radicals are formed, they can start a chain reaction - domino effect, which produces membranes damage. To prevent this damage, the body has an antioxidation defense system. Antioxidants are molecules, which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Antioxidative agents are intimately involved in the prevention of cellular damage - the common pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases. The antioxidant defense system is important in maintaining cellular homeostasis and preventing oxidative stress. According to the present invention, antioxidants like vitamins and other antioxidative agents may be considered as further active components because antioxidants inhibit free radical distractive activities. Antioxidants, especially lipid-soluble antioxidants, can be absorbed into the cell membrane to neutralize oxygen radicals and thereby protect the membrane. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle vitamin antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamins from the B group. Vitamins C, E and K are known to protect neurons from oxidative damage in stroke and in other neurodegenerative conditions. B vitamins are critically important in maintaining the normal functions of the brain. Deficiency in B vitamins results in a predictable sequence of different neurological and psychiatric disturbances. This chapter is focused on evidence from clinical and basic science studies supporting a role of several vitamins as potential neuroprotective compounds. Neuroprotective effects of them as add-on therapies merit further investigations in schizophrenia and mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrain Protection in Schizophrenia, Mood and Cognitive Disorders
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages49
ISBN (Electronic)9789048185535
ISBN (Print)9789048185528
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Antioxidants
  • Folic acid
  • Free radicals
  • Mental disorders
  • Neuroprotection
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)
  • Neuroscience (all)


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