do b vitamins help with anxiety

Do B Vitamins Help with Anxiety?

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Do B vitamins help with anxiety? According to researchers, taking a high-dose B6 supplement has the potential to help with anxiety and other mental health symptoms. Also relevant is B12, which positively affects mental health but not as much as vitamin B6. Folate or vitamin B9 can also affect mental health. Below, we discuss what you should know about B vitamins for anxiety, depression, and other mental health symptoms and conditions.

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What Are B Vitamins?

The B vitamins include:

  • B1 or thiamine
  • B2 or riboflavin
  • B3 or niacin
  • B5 or pantothenic acid
  • B5
  • 6
  • B7 or biotin
  • B9 or folate (folic acid)
  • B12
  • Folic acid

B vitamins help the processes your body relies on to make energy from your food and help form red blood cells. You can get B vitamins from animal-based proteins such as poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, and fish. Some leafy green vegetables have B vitamins, as do peas and beans.

If you don’t get enough B vitamins, it can lead to various health conditions, including anemia.

B Vitamins and Mental Health

Why do B vitamins play a role in mental health?

B vitamins impact energy production, the synthesis of RNA and DNA and repair, and the synthesis of signaling molecules and neurochemicals. These are the primary reasons that having enough B vitamins will help your psychological functioning.

Among the most common nutrient deficiencies in America are related to B vitamins—namely, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, which, as mentioned, are most important for mental health.

Signs of a B vitamin deficiency can include low energy, mood changes, cognitive problems, and tingling in the extremities.

Specific ways that B vitamins can help support mental wellness include:

  • These vitamins convert food into energy
  • Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 help with homocysteine metabolism, reducing the risk of cognitive decline and the development of dementia
  • Improves mood because they’re part of the synthesis of neurotransmitters that regulate mood
  • Alleviate stress

Common reasons for a vitamin B deficiency include the use of oral contraceptives, inadequate dietary intake, alcohol consumption, and inadequate absorption, often because of conditions like Crohn’s, IBS, or celiac.

How B Vitamins Work

There are two critical ways that B vitamins affect your mental health.

First, B vitamins are part of the Krebs cycle. The Krebs cycle is the way that each cell makes energy. It’s a metabolic process in which the energy stored in food becomes available to your body. Glucose is the primary source of energy in the brain, and B vitamins help convert food to glucose, fueling your brain.

B vitamins also have antioxidant properties that help with cellular cleanup, protecting your cells from oxidation effects.

Antioxidants can help your brain deal with stress more effectively.

B vitamins also provide mood support because they’re cofactors to produce serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Vitamin B6 and Anxiety

The B vitamin you should most consider supplementing with if you’re struggling with anxiety is B6. However, a complete B vitamin complex like the ones highlighted above under “Shop This Post” is the best option.

In research, high-dose vitamin B6 supplements have been found to reduce both anxiety and depression. In one study published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, evidence was found to support using supplements to change activity in the brain to prevent or treat mood disorders.

Vitamin B6 helps your body produce a chemical messenger that can prevent overactivity in the brain. This then has a calming effect and reduces anxiety among participants in studies.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, seems to be heavily affected by vitamin B6. GABA blocks impulses between the brain’s nerve cells and has a calming, inhibitory effect on activity.

In the one study that identified a link between B6 and anxiety, more than 300 participants were randomly assigned to a group taking B supplements including B6 and B12, or taking a placebo. The B vitamin supplement group took around 50 times higher than the recommended daily allowance, and they took the supplement with food every day for a month.

The B12 didn’t have much effect compared to the placebo, but the B6 had a significant impact.

While B6 is found in food, the researchers concluded that high doses would be required based on the trial to impact mood positively.

If someone has a lack of B6, it can lead to not only anxiety and depression but anemia, increased susceptibility to infections, nausea, and confusion.

Vitamin B12 and Mental Health

Deficiencies in vitamin B12 are known to cause mental disturbances. Several studies show a correlation between low levels of B12 and an increase in depression.

There could be a link between B12 and brain levels of serotonin. Serotonin helps with mood regulation.

Folate and Mental Health

Folate is also a B vitamin. When you’re deficient in folate, it can increase homocysteine levels, increasing the risk of depression and low mood. In a study of clinically depressed patients receiving an SSRI and l-methyl folate or a placebo, the patients receiving folate had a 30% greater clinical improvement than those only taking an SSRI.

How to Take B Vitamins for Anxiety

As mentioned, a B complex is the best way to ensure you’re getting everything you need.

Regarding vitamin B9 in particular, doses of anywhere from 20 mg twice a day to 200 mg per day may be helpful for anxiety, depression, and mental health. Taking a high amount of B9 might also help with symptoms of PMS.

Doses of up to 200 mg a day are considered safe.

Final Thoughts

Do B vitamins help anxiety? There’s evidence to show that, yes, B vitamins can help anxiety as well as depression and general mental health and wellness. Many people in the United States are deficient in B vitamins, especially women, because of factors like contraceptive use. If you believe you could have a B vitamin deficiency, correcting it, particularly with B6, B9 and B12, could substantially affect anxiety and mood.

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