SPOILER ALERT! ~ B vitamins, including B6, are essential biochemical components in the nervous system ~ Optimal levels of B6 predict a lower risk of developing anxiety and depression in women ~ B6 supplements reduced GAD symptoms ~ B6 was taken as a pyroxidine hydrochloride tablet ~ Participants in the study took 100 mg tablet of B6 supplements once a day before breakfast for 30 to 35 days ~ Marmite is a UK yeast-based spread that is rich in B vitamins, including low levels of B6 and high levels of B12. It can be spread on toasts with butter, on biscuits or added to foods.
B vitamins are crucial components for biochemical reactions essential in the nervous system, and yet it is argued that many individuals are deficient. Supporting this claim are studies demonstrating that neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression implicate low levels of B vitamins.
The Link between B vitamin and Anxiety
In fact, a number of studies reported positive effects of vitamin B supplementation on stress and anxiety. Consistent with those results, another study demonstrated that individuals who regularly consumed a dietary source rich in vitamin B (e.g., Marmite is a yeast-based spread that is rich in vitamin B) had lower anxiety and stress compared to those who did not.
The function of B vitamins includes maintaining a good balance between inhibition and excitation of brain cells (i.e., neurons) by increasing inhibition (brain cells do not respond = no behavioral response) and decreasing excitation (brain cells respond = behavioral response occurs).
For example, it was found that one of the behavioral responses resulting from an imbalance between these two processes has been linked with anxiety, autism and schizophrenia.
The Anxiolytic Effects of Vitamin B6
Among B vitamins, there is a particular interest in the effects of vitamin B6 which have been linked to a reduction in anxiety (i.e., anxiolytic effects). For example, a recent study reported that high dietary intake of vitamin B6 predicted a reduced risk of developing anxiety and depression in women, but not in men.
The current study further supports those findings by showing that a supplementation of vitamin B6 over 30 to 35 days had significant anxiolytic effects (i.e., reduce anxiety) on participants who, for the most part, reported high levels of anxiety at baseline (i.e., before starting the study) with potentially many even exhibiting an anxiety disorder.
The most noteworthy aspect of this study concerns its findings with regard to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Indeed, it was found that B6 supplements clearly reduced the symptoms of GAD in the participants.
Field DT, Cracknell RO, Eastwood JR, Scarfe P, Williams CM, Zheng Y, Tavassoli T. High-dose Vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and strengthens visual surround suppression. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2022 Jul 19:e2852. doi: 10.1002/hup.2852. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35851507.