Nutrition and Psychiatric Illness

  • Seymour S. Kety
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 14)


In the early years of this century, as many as 10% of the patients in mental hospitals were there because of the mental disturbances associated with pellagra, a vitamin-deficiency syndrome. The recognition of this as a vitamin deficiency by Goldberger of the Public Health Service and its correction by dietary means produced rapid disappearance of its mental and physical symptoms. Eventually, it was shown that the important agent that was deficient was nicotinic acid. Here was an instance of an important mental illness where research eventually demonstrated a biochemical disturbance as its cause, leading to successful therapy. This remarkable discovery also set the stage for considerable speculation and less well supported claims for the operation of vitamin deficiencies in a variety of other mental illnesses whose etiologies were still obscure. Of such illnesses, the most important is undoubtedly schizophrenia.


Nicotinic Acid Schizophrenic Patient Mental Hospital Vitamin Deficiency Plasma Ascorbic Acid 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seymour S. Kety
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Psychiatric Research LaboratoriesMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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