Vitamin B6 supplements were shown to reduce depression and anxiety in a recent study.
According to a recent study, using high-dose Vitamin B6 tablets could help with feelings of anxiety and depression.
Researchers from the University of Reading studied the effects of high dosages of Vitamin B6 on young adults and discovered that they felt less anxious and depressed after taking the supplements every day for a month.
The research, published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, adds to the body of evidence supporting the use of supplements believed to alter brain activity levels for the prevention or treatment of mood disorders.
Dr. David Field, the lead author of the study from the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, said: “The functioning of the brain relies on a delicate balance between the excitatory neurons that carry information around and inhibitory ones, which prevent runaway activity. Recent theories have connected mood disorders and some other neuropsychiatric conditions with a disturbance of this balance, often in the direction of raised levels of brain activity. Vitamin B6 helps the body produce a specific chemical messenger that inhibits impulses in the brain, and our study links this calming effect with reduced anxiety among the participants.”
While prior research has shown that multivitamins or marmite may lower stress levels, few studies have looked into which vitamins are responsible for this impact.
The current research focuses on the potential role of Vitamin B6, which is known to promote the body’s production of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), a molecule that blocks nerve cell impulses in the brain.
In the current study, over 300 people were randomly allocated to either Vitamin B6 or B12 supplements considerably beyond the recommended daily consumption (about 50 times the recommended daily allowance) or a placebo. Participants took one a day with meals for a month.
The study showed that Vitamin B12 had little effect compared to placebo over the trial period, but Vitamin B6 made a statistically reliable difference.
Raised levels of GABA among participants who had taken Vitamin B6 supplements were confirmed by visual tests carried out at the end of the trial, supporting the hypothesis that B6 was responsible for the reduction in anxiety. Subtle but harmless changes in visual performance were detected, consistent with controlled levels of brain activity.
Dr. Field said: “Many foods, including tuna, chickpeas, and many fruits and vegetables, contain Vitamin B6. However, the high doses used in this trial suggest that supplements would be necessary to have a positive effect on mood. It is important to acknowledge that this research is at an early stage and the effect of Vitamin B6 on anxiety in our study was quite small compared to what you would expect from medication. However, nutrition-based interventions produce far fewer unpleasant side effects than drugs, and so in the future people might prefer them as an intervention.”
He continues, “To make this a realistic choice, further research is needed to identify other nutrition-based interventions that benefit mental wellbeing, allowing different dietary interventions to be combined in the future to provide greater results. One potential option would be to combine Vitamin B6 supplements with talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to boost their effect.”
Reference: “High-dose Vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and strengthens visual surround suppression” by David T. Field, Rebekah O. Cracknell, Jessica R. Eastwood, Peter Scarfe, Claire M. Williams, Ying Zheng and Teresa Tavassoli, 19 July 2022, Human Psychopharmacology Clinical and Experimental.