Relieve depression and anxiety with vitamin B6 supplements
According to a recent study, taking vitamin B6 in high doses should reduce feelings of anxiety and symptoms of depression. It was already assumed in advance that vitamin B6 could influence brain activity and mood.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Reading in England found that taking high doses of vitamin B6 for a month can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. The research results were recently presented in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental.
balance in the brain
Previous studies have shown that multivitamin therapy can improve symptoms of an anxiety disorder or depression. Until now, however, it was not known which vitamin it contains is responsible for the effect.
“Brain function depends on a delicate balance between excitatory neurons, which transmit information, and inhibitory neurons, which prevent excessive activity,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. David Champ.
It has been theorized, he says, that mood disorders and certain other neuropsychiatric disorders are linked to a disturbance in this balance. This often manifests as a general increase in brain activity.
How does vitamin B6 affect the brain?
“Vitamin B6 helps the body produce a specific chemical messenger that inhibits impulses in the brain, and our study links this calming effect to reduced anxiety in participants,” says Dr. des Champs.
The messenger substance is so-called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This substance would be involved in the regulation of impulses between nerve cells.
course of the study
For the study, more than 300 participants with anxiety disorders or depression were randomly assigned to receive a vitamin B6 or B12 supplement. The dose of the preparations was about 50 times higher than the recommended daily dose. Some of the subjects received a placebo. The preparations were taken daily with meals for over a month.
As the evaluation shows, neither placebo nor vitamin B12 preparations had significant effects on symptoms. With vitamin B6, however, a reliable and significant improvement in symptoms could be documented.
The group that took high doses of vitamin B6 also had high levels of GABA, which was confirmed by a test at the end of the study. A change in visual performance was observed in some participants, but the researchers classified it as harmless.
Difficult to get high doses of vitamin B6 from food
“Many foods, including tuna, chickpeas, and many fruits and vegetables, contain vitamin B6. However, the high doses used in this study suggest that dietary supplements would be necessary to obtain a positive effect on mood”, summarizes Dr. des champs.
However, he points out that more research is needed in this area in order to be able to derive a specific vitamin B6 treatment. Also, the effect of B6 was not as strong as that of medications available for anxiety and depression. But the side effects were also significantly lower.
Combined approach to anxiety disorders and depression
“For this choice to be realistic, more research is needed to identify other nutrition-based interventions that have a positive impact on mental well-being, so that in the future, different interventions can be combined to achieve better results”, concludes Dr. des champs.
He thinks the possibility of combining an adapted diet with vitamin B6 supplements and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy to increase the effect is promising. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
David T Field, Rebekah O Cracknell, Jessica R Eastwood et al. High-dose vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and enhances visual environment suppression; in: Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental (2022), onlinelibrary.wiley.comUniversity of Reading: Vitamin B6 supplements may reduce anxiety and depression (published: 19.07.2022), reading.ac.uk
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.