Data on Mood and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

According to clinical nutritionist Blake Graham, all vitamins and minerals are involved in one or more biochemical pathways and/or physiological actions which influence the function of the human brain. Most vitamin and mineral deficiencies result in psychiatric symptoms in a significant number of people, and in people with psychiatric diagnoses these deficiencies are often associated with more severe symptoms and poorer outcome from conventional treatment. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies may act as an exacerbating factor secondary to malnutrition, alcoholism, etc. or may be a primary causative factor. Either way, optimisation of nutrient levels is in each patients best interest.

 Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

Depression is a classic early symptom of vitamin C deficiency. (Robert E. 1971) In a vitamin C deprivation study, symptoms of depression, hypochondriasis, hysteria, reduced arousal and reduced motivation were documented. (Robert A. 1971) In a study of 1081 young men, those who were vitamin C deficient were significantly more anxious and people deficient in vitamin C were also significantly more depressed based on ratings from the Adjective checklist, although not more depressed based on the Frieburg personality inventory scale. (Heseker H. 1992)

Vitamin C is a cofactor for dopamine beta-hydroxylase (Kaufman S. 1966), which is involved in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine, and a cofactor for tryptophan-5-hydroxylase required for the conversion of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan (Cooper JR. 1961) in serotonin production. Vitamin C also has broad-spectrum antioxidant properties and is essential for the mitochondrial metabolism of fats. (Mann. 2000)

A group of patients depressed for 2-5 months had significantly reduced levels of vitamin C as compared to the non-depressed control group. (Singh RB. 1995) Another group of 885 patients in a psychiatric hospital had significantly lower vitamin C levels than controls, reporting 32% had readings below the range in which negative health effects have been clearly documented. (Schorah CJ. 1983) A group of chronic mixed psychiatric patients required a longer time period to achieve vitamin C saturation upon supplementation, suggesting lower vitamin C status. (G Milner. 1963) Another study reported over 10% of 465 psychiatric inpatients had markedly delayed vitamin C saturation indicating some degree of vitamin C insufficiency. (Leitner ZA. 1956)



Cooper JR. The role of ascorbic acid in the oxidation of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan. Ann NY Acad Sci 1961;92:208-11.

Heseker H, Kubler W, Pudel V, Westenhoffer J. Psychological disorders as early symptoms of a mild-to-moderate vitamin deficiency. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1992 Sep 30;669:352-7.

Kaufman S. Coenzymes and hydroxylases: ascorbate and dopamine-beta-hydroxylase; tetrahydropteridines and phenylalanine and tyrosine hydroxylases. Pharmacol Rev. 1966 Mar;18(1):61-9.

Leitner ZA, Church IC. Nutritional studies in a mental hospital. Lancet. 1956 Apr 28;270(6922):565-7.

Mann J & Truswell AS. Essentials of Human Nutrition. 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2002.

G Milner. Ascorbic acid in chronic psychiatric patients: a controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry 1963;109:294-9.

Robert E. Hodges, James Hood, John E. Canham, Howerde E. Sauberlich, and Eugene M. Baker. Clinical manifestations of ascorbic acid deficiency in man. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 24, 432-443, 1971.

Schorah CJ, Morgan DB, Hullin RP. Plasma vitamin C concentrations in patients in a psychiatric hospital. Hum Nutr Clin Nutr. 1983 Dec;37(6):447-52.

Singh RB, Ghosh S, Niaz MA, Singh R, Beegum R, Chibo H, Shoumin Z, Postiglione A. Dietary intake, plasma levels of antioxidant vitamins, and oxidative stress in relation to coronary artery disease in elderly subjects. Am J Cardiol. 1995 Dec 15;76(17):1233-8.




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