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High-dose supplementation of Vitamin B6 decreases anxiety

0 2 years ago

B vitamins play vital roles in the cellular metabolic processes, essential for brain function and the nervous system, including those that help maintain a balance between neural excitation and inhibition. An equilibrium towards excitation has been implicated in multiple neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety. As such, it has been suggested that supplementing with high-dose vitamin B might effectively augment behaviorally noticeable effects of inhibition.

In one study, subjects were supplemented with Marmite, rich in vitamin B, and the steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) were measured. They observed reduced SSVEP amplitudes after supplementation, which implied an increase in neural inhibition or decrease in excitation. The study mentioned the established role of vitamin B6 in synthesizing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. However, other mechanisms of action could not be ruled out, given that Marmite is rich in B12 and other B vitamins.

About the study

In the present study, researchers investigated the effects of high-dose supplementation of vitamin B6 or B12 on anxiety and depression. The findings presented here are collective results of double-blind placebo-controlled trials conducted over five years. Participants were a general adult population (chiefly students) recruited in exchange for course credit by advertorials, social media, and word of mouth.

Participants were randomized to receive vitamin B6/B12 or lactose placebo tablets. Individuals were excluded if diabetic, lactose-intolerant, epileptic, or using medications interfering with the absorption of vitamin B. The vitamin B6 tables contained 100 mg of B6 as pyroxidine hydrochloride, and B12 tablets had 1000 μg of B12 as methylcobalamin; the doses far exceeded the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Participants were asked to take one tablet with food daily for 30 to 35 days.

The outcome measures were 1) screen for adult anxiety-related disorders (SCAARED) [for anxiety], 2) mood and feelings questionnaire (MFQ) – long version [depression], 3) visual contrast sensitivity and surround suppression [the ability to detect low-contrast visual targets in the presence/absence of a suppressive background pattern], 4) binocular rivalry reversal rate, and 5) tactile battery test [tactile sensory processing battery].


The study comprised 478 participants, primarily females (381), aged 18 to 58. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) of the SCAARED data of B6 and placebo cohorts revealed a significant decrease in anxiety post-test, mainly driven by the reduced anxiety among B6 group subjects. The minor reduction in anxiety in the placebo group was insignificant. The ANOVA of B12 and placebo groups revealed a significant decline in anxiety post-test, chiefly driven by a decrease in anxiety among B12 group participants.


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