After consuming high dosages of Vitamin B6 for a month, trial participants reported feeling less worried or sad. The experiment shows that B6’s soothing impact on the brain may make it useful in preventing or treating mood disorders.
Researchers from the University of Reading studied the effects of high dosages of Vitamin B6 on young people and discovered that they felt less worried and sad after taking the supplements every day for a month. The study, published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, adds to the body of data supporting the use of supplements considered to alter brain activity levels in the prevention or treatment of mood disorders.
“The functioning of the brain relies on a delicate balance between excitatory neurons that move information around and inhibitory neurons that prevent runaway activity,” said Dr David Field, principal author from the University of Reading’s School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. “Vitamin B6 helps the body create a specific chemical messenger that suppresses impulses in the brain, and our study ties this calming impact with lower anxiety among the individuals,” said the researchers.
While prior research has shown that multivitamins or marmite can lower stress levels, few studies have looked into specific vitamins are responsible for this impact. The current study focuses on the possible effect of Vitamin B6, which is known to promote the body’s synthesis of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), a molecule that slows 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 RDA) or a placebo, and they took one a day with meals for a month.
During the experimental time, Vitamin B12 had minimal impact compared to placebo, while Vitamin B6 produced a statistically significant difference. Visual tests at the conclusion of the experiment indicated that those who had taken Vitamin B6 supplements had higher levels of GABA, confirming the idea that B6 was responsible for the reduction in anxiety. Changes in visual performance were identified that were subtle but innocuous, consistent with regulated levels of brain activation. 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 crucial to note that this research is still in its early stages, and the effect of Vitamin B6 on anxiety in our trial was rather tiny when compared to what would be expected from medicine. However, because nutrition-based therapies have fewer negative side effects than medications, individuals may prefer them as an intervention in the future.” Further study is needed to uncover alternative nutrition-based therapies that promote mental wellness, allowing diverse dietary interventions to be integrated in the future to deliver higher outcomes.
“One possible approach would be to mix Vitamin B6 pills with talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to increase their effectiveness.”