Steps to protect yourself from stress & Anxiety

There are times when everyone feels anxious or sad. Still, some people experience such intense feelings regularly that they develop mental health disorders that require treatment. 

Researchers at Reading University in the United Kingdom studied how vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 might affect anxiety and depression.

This double-blind study examined the effect of supplementing with two high doses of B6 or B12 for one month on behavioral outcomes related to the balance between neural inhibition and excitation.

The experts wanted to learn to what degree vitamins B6 and B12 can affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

B vitamins are integral to many anabolic and catabolic cellular processes essential for the nervous system and brain functions.

Several neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression, have been linked to an imbalance shifted too far towards excitation.

A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health-Trusted Source (NIMH) found that around 31% of Americans experience anxiety disorders at some point in their lives.

Supplementation with high doses of B vitamins has been suggested as an effective strategy for enhancing behaviourally observable neural inhibition and dampening excessive neural excitation in the human brain.

Since the inhibition-excitation balance is involved in anxiety and depression and Vitamin B6 and B12 have potential mechanisms of different actions, vitamin B6 status has been associated with mood-related outcomes, and high doses of vitamin B6 supplementation could act as an anti-stress strategy.

Four hundred and seventy-eight young adults were recruited over five linked phases, and experts analyzed self-reported depression (N = 146) and anxiety (N = 265) at baseline and after supplementation.

Student experimenters in the BSc and MSc programs experimented over five years. In exchange for course credit, participants were recruited through advertising, word-of-mouth, and social media. 

In this study, participants received either a lactose placebo tablet, a vitamin B6 tablet, or a vitamin B12 tablet

The B12 pills each contained 1000 g of methylcobalamin, and the B6 tablets each contained 100 mg of pyroxidine hydrochloride.

The experts used the mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ) and Screen for Adult Anxiety-Related Disorders (SCAARED) to screen the participants for anxiety and depression before and after the vitamin or placebo regimens.

Results Of The Study

The experts used a range of behavioral outcome measures to assess whether supplementation of either Vitamin B6 or Vitamin B12 would alter the balance between neural excitation and inhibition. 

Two key findings from a general population sample skewed towards younger females suggest that Vitamin B6 supplementation influences excitation and inhibition balance. 

As a first step, B6 supplementation increased visual contrast thresholds in the presence of suppressive surroundings but not in the absence. 

This finding is due to an increase in neural inhibition caused by an increase in GABA levels. The suppressive surround affects thresholds, at least in part, by inhibiting GABAergic interneurons.

Additionally, the experts found that B6 supplementation significantly reduced self-reported anxiety symptoms and that the effect size was more prominent for GAD symptoms. Our findings suggest that increased GABA levels may explain our anxiety reduction. 

However, it may be a partial explanation, with additional contributions from the three pathways to reduced neural excitation described in the Introduction.

Taking vitamin B6 supplementation reduced self-reported anxiety, decreased depression, and improved visual contrast suppression but didn’t reliably affect other outcome measures.

During the study, participants who received vitamin B6 significantly reduced their SCAARED and MFQ scores compared to the placebo group. In addition, the B6 participants saw a significant decrease in their SCAARED and MFQ scores. 

Researchers found that the vitamin B12 group slightly improved anxiety and depression symptoms, but experts did not consider this significant.

Written by