Prevention and schizophrenia: the role of dietary factors

John McGrath, Alan Brown, David St Clair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Adequate prenatal nutrition is essential for optimal brain development. There is a growing body of evidence from epidemiology linking exposure to nutritional deprivation and increased risk of schizophrenia. Based on studies from the Netherlands and China, those exposed to macronutrient deficiencies during famine have an increased risk of schizophrenia. With respect to micronutrients, we focus on 3 candidates where there is biological plausibility for a role in this disorder and at least 1 study of an association with schizophrenia. These nutrients include vitamin D, folic acid, and iron. While the current evidence is incomplete, we discuss the potential implications of these findings for the prevention of schizophrenia. We argue that schizophrenia can draw inspiration from public health interventions related to prenatal nutrition and other outcomes and speculate on relevant factors that bear on the nature, risks, impact, and logistics of various nutritional strategies that may be employed to prevent this disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-283
Number of pages12
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number2
Early online date25 Oct 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • nutrition
  • epidemiology
  • prevention
  • schizophrenia


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