Participants took about 50 times higher than the recommended daily allowance every day for a month, investigators say
Taking high-dose vitamin B6 tablets has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, according to the results of a study conducted by University of Reading investigators.
In the study, investigators aimed to measure the impact of high-dose vitamin B6 on young adults. They found that they reported feeling less anxious and depressed after taking the supplements every day for a month.
The study results, published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, showed evidence to support the use of supplements to modify levels of activity in the brain to prevent or treat mood disorders.
“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,” David Field, PhD, from the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
The results of previous studies have suggested that marmite or multivitamins can reduce stress levels. However, few studies have shown which particular vitamins contained within them drives the effect.
This study focused on the potential role of vitamin B6, which increases the body’s production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain.
In the trial, more than 300 individuals were randomly assigned either vitamin B6 or vitamin B12 supplements far above the recommended daily intake, approximately 50 times higher than the recommended daily allowance or the placebo. The individuals took them once a day with food for a month.
The results showed that vitamin B12 had little effect during the trial period compared with the placebo, but vitamin B6 made a statistically reliable difference.
“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,” Field said.
Individuals who had taken vitamin B6 supplements were confirmed to have increased levels of GABA by visual tests that were conducted at the end of the trial.
Subtle but harmless changes in visual performance were detected, which remained consistent with the controlled levels of brain activity.
further research will be needed to identify other nutrition-based intervention that could benefit mental well-being, investigators said.
“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,” Field said.
Vitamin B6 supplements could reduce anxiety and depression. EurekAlert. News release. July 19, 2022. Accessed July 19, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/958719