A study found that taking high doses of vitamin B6 supplements might lessen depressive and anxious symptoms. Researchers at the University of Reading in the UK examined how high vitamin B6 dosages affected young adults and discovered that after taking the pills daily for a month, they reported feeling less worried and sad.
The study, which was published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, offers important proof in favour of the use of dietary supplements for treating or preventing mood disorders that are considered to alter brain activity levels.
‘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’, said study lead author David Field, from the University of Reading.
Although earlier research has shown that multivitamins help lower stress levels, very little research has been done to determine which specific vitamins in multivitamins are responsible for this impact. The most recent research concentrated on the possible function of vitamin B6, which is known to boost the body synthesis of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), a substance that inhibits impulses between brain nerve cells.
In the study, more than 300 volunteers were divided into two groups at random and instructed to take one vitamin B6 or B12 supplement each day with food for a month, or a placebo. The research found that during the course of the experiment, Vitamin B12 had no effect compared to placebo, while Vitamin B6 produced a statistically significant difference.
Visual tests performed at the trial’s conclusion showed that those who had taken vitamin B6 supplements had higher GABA levels, confirming the theory that B6 was the cause of the decrease in anxiety. According to the researchers, there were slight but unharmful alterations in visual performance that were compatible with regulated levels of brain activation.
‘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’, Field said.
‘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 added.