Ingredients rich in vitamin B6: potatoes, hazelnuts, walnuts, buckwheat, oatmeal, barley

The use of oral contraception (OC) or birth control has been associated with increased depression among college women and a lack of micronutrient intake. Furthermore, OC users have a higher risk of low plasma levels of vitamin B6, a cofactor in the mood-regulating tryptophan-serotonin pathway. 

There is an increased risk of low vitamin B6 plasma concentrations among oral contraceptive users, a necessary cofactor in a tryptophan-serotonin way.

This crossover study aimed to determine if vitamin B6 supplementation reduced depression symptoms and improved mood in college women on birth control.

In recent years, vitamin B6 has been widely used to manage nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, but its ability to reduce birth control side effects hasn’t been established. Studies of women from the UK, Brazil, Sudan, and Mexico show mixed results on the effectiveness of vitamin B6.

If you’re taking birth control pills, you may have heard you can’t take B vitamins. While taking birth control pills can cause a deficiency of vitamins B-6, B-12, and B-9 (folic acid), no studies suggest taking biotin, a vitamin B-7, while taking birth control pills may be harmful.

A daily dose of 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B-6 is recommended for men and women ages 19 to 50; 400 micrograms of folate and 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 are recommended for older adults. However, if you have a deficiency or are pregnant or breastfeeding, the amounts may need to be higher.

The effects of taking high-dose vitamin B6 and B12 for one month on depression and anxiety were examined in a new study of 478 adults published earlier today. 

A study involving 478 adults suggested that high-dose vitamins B6 and B12 may help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Specifically, vitamin B6 is essential for mood regulation, according to the researchers.

According to the researchers, vitamin B6 reduced self-reported anxiety as well as a trend toward reduced depression in study participants. However, the researchers acknowledged that the study had some methodological limitations and needed additional research. Vitamin B12, they said, produced trends toward changes in anxiety and depression levels.

The participants in this study (aged 18–25 years) did not take dietary supplements, used birth control (estrogen with progestin) consistently for at least one year, and were healthy. 

Participants (n = 8) maintained regular exercise and eating patterns and recorded daily tablet consumption during a 12-week, randomized, double-blind crossover trial (two 10-week treatment periods separated by a 4-week washout).

Results of the Study

As part of each 4-week treatment period, mental health was assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS). In the trial, average intakes of vitamin B6 (1.2–1.4 mg/day) did not differ, whereas vitamin B6 status increased significantly following the B6 supplementation period.

The experts found that vitamin B6 supplementation reduced BDI-II scores by 20%, while placebo ingestion increased them by 11%. However, POMS scores were not significantly affected by vitamin B6 supplementation. 

These preliminary data support a growing body of literature suggesting that B6 supplementation can reduce depression symptoms in young women using oral contraceptives.

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