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Does Vitamin B-12 Cause OCD to Be Worse?

By Rhiannon Clouse

Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that serves many important purposes in your body. Vitamin B-12 contains the mineral cobalt and may be referred to as a cobalamin. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable thoughts -- obsessions -- and repetitive, ritualistic behaviors -- compulsions. Vitamin B-12 does not worsen symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is closely related to another B vitamin, folate, and is required for the proper functioning of folate-dependent enzymes. Vitamin B-12 is required for enzymes that assist in the synthesis of new DNA and is therefore required for cellular growth and renewal. The myelin sheath that insulates the axons of nerve fibers in the nervous system is maintained in part by B-12. Vitamin B-12 is also important for bone cell activity and metabolism.

Sources of B-12

Vitamin B-12 is found almost exclusively in animal meat or animal-derived products. Milk and cheese are good sources of B-12, as are eggs. Vegans or people who limit their intake of animal-derived foods should consume soy milk fortified with vitamin B-12 or take vitamin B-12 supplements to ensure adequate intake.

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The unwanted thoughts that are characteristic of OCD cause anxiety, and the ritualistic behaviors are meant to relieve the stressful feelings. People who have OCD may recognize that their thoughts and behavior are unreasonable and try to ignore or hide them. Doctors typically treat OCD with a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.

B-12 and OCD

A study published in the July 1988 journal "Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica" examined vitamin B-12 and its role in the pathophysiology of OCD. This study showed that patients with OCD were more likely to have a vitamin B-12 deficiency than patients in the control group who did not have OCD. An October 2005 study published in the journal "Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences" found that levels of folate, a vitamin closely related to B-12, were depressed in patients with OCD. Talk to your health care professional before beginning any vitamin supplement.

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