READING, England — Taking high-dose vitamin B6 supplements can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, a new study reveals. Researchers from the University of Reading in England report that young adults taking a dose 50 times the recommended daily dose reported feeling less anxious and depressed after one month.
What is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 helps the body convert proteins and carbohydrates into energy and also plays an important role in the nervous system. It also increases the body’s production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a chemical that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain.
Vitamin B6 is found naturally in a variety of foods, including salmon, tuna, chickpeas and bananas.
“Brain function relies on a delicate balance between excitatory neurons, which carry information, and inhibitory neurons, which prevent runaway activity,” says Dr David Field of the University of Reading in a press release. hurry. “Recent theories have linked mood disorders and certain other neuropsychiatric conditions to a disturbance of this balance, often in the direction of increased 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 to reduced anxiety in participants.
The study provides evidence missing from previous studies as to what exactly drives the stress-reducing effects of pot and multivitamins.
More than 300 participants took either a placebo or vitamin B6 or B12 supplements at 50 times the recommended amount, or about 70 mg. Each participant took one tablet daily with food. Vitamin B12 had little effect compared to placebo, but vitamin B6 showed a statistically reliable difference.
Is there a risk in taking too much?
Visual tests at the end of the trial confirmed the elevated GABA levels in participants taking vitamin B6, supporting the hypothesis that the supplements reduced anxiety.
The team also detected subtle but harmless changes in visual performance consistent with controlled levels of brain activity. UK health officials advise people not to take too high a dose – more than 200mg a day – as this can lead to loss of sensation in the arms and legs. In a few cases, this has become permanent in people who have taken very high doses for several months.
“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 needed to have a positive effect on mood,” continues Dr. Field. “It is important to recognize that this research is at an early stage and that the effect of vitamin B6 on anxiety in our study was quite small compared to what you would expect from a drug. However, the interventions based on nutrition produce far fewer unpleasant side effects than drugs, and so in the future people may prefer them as an intervention.
“To make this a realistic choice, further research is needed to identify other nutrition-based interventions that benefit mental well-being, allowing different dietary interventions to be combined in the future to provide better outcomes” , concludes the author of the study. “One potential option would be to combine vitamin B6 supplements with talk therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy to enhance their effect.”
The study is published in the journal Human psychopharmacology: clinical and experimental.
South West News Service writer Danny Halpin contributed to this report.