A recent study highlights the potential of vitamin B6 as a tool for improving mental health. In the study of 478 young adults, it was found that 100 mg of vitamin B6 per day over just one month significantly reduced anxiety with trends towards reducing depression. The effects were likely mediated in part through augmenting GABA production in the brain (Field 2022).

While the effect appears to be stronger in women, vitamin B6 has been linked in numerous past studies to lower rates of depression. A study on vitamin B intake and depression found correlations between low B6 and risk for depression in women (Wu 2022).

A separate study of depressed college women on oral contraceptives found that supplemental vitamin B6 reduced depression scores by 20% (Curtin 2022). For postpartum depression, vitamin B6 reduced depression scores by 60%, whereas control patients had a slight increase in depression symptoms (Khodadad 2021).

Yet research and utilization of vitamin B6 as a treatment is still often neglected if not completely ignored.

 

Considering the low cost of vitamin B6, it seems strange that it remains so underutilized as a potential therapy.

While medications have their place in treatment of depression and anxiety, on average, first-line therapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) provide minimal benefits.

For depression, the average improvement with medications is known to be below the threshold of a clinically meaningful change (Volkmann 2020). For anxiety, the data is not as well established, but the effect size appears similar to depression (He 2019), which is, on average, quite small.

There are likely millions of depressed and anxious adults in the United States, and throughout the world, that would benefit from more effective treatment of their anxiety and depressive symptoms.

 

Research continues to consistently show that nutrition-based approaches can have clinically meaningful impacts on patients’ symptoms and overall mental health.

In my opinion, it’s becoming increasingly unjustifiable to not evaluate patients’ nutrient status and treat any potential deficiencies. Functional psychiatry, which uses testing to broadly evaluate the underlying biochemical and physiological factors that contribute to an individual’s mental health, should lay the foundation for a new model of psychiatric care.

I founded Psychiatry Redefined to provide much-needed training in the functional and integrative approach to mental health. We offer online courses (many with CME credit), conferences, free webinars, and comprehensive training. I encourage you to explore our resources to learn more about personalized care and how it’s changing patient outcomes.

Are you ready to help transform mental health care with functional psychiatry treatment?

Join me for an upcoming discovery session on Zoom or schedule a private call with me to learn if our comprehensive 2023 Fellowship in Functional and Integrative Psychiatry is right for you.

References

National Institute of Mental Health. Major Depression. Accessed September 16, 2022.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression

National Institute of Mental Health. Any Anxiety Disorder. Accessed September 16, 2022.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder

Volkmann C, Volkmann A, Müller CA. On the treatment effect heterogeneity of antidepressants in major depression: A Bayesian meta-analysis and simulation study. PLoS One. 2020;15(11):e0241497. Published 2020 Nov 11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0241497

He H, Xiang Y, Gao F, et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-line drugs for the acute treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in adults: A network meta-analysis. J Psychiatr Res. 2019;118:21-30. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.08.009

Field DT, Cracknell RO, Eastwood JR, et al. High-dose Vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and strengthens visual surround suppression [published online ahead of print, 2022 Jul 19]. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2022;e2852. doi:10.1002/hup.2852

Wu Y, Zhang L, Li S, Zhang D. Associations of dietary vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 with the risk of depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2022;80(3):351-366. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuab014

C Curtin A, Johnston CS. Vitamin B6 Supplementation Reduces Symptoms of Depression in College Women Taking Oral Contraceptives: A Randomized, Double-Blind Crossover Trial [published online ahead of print, 2022 Feb 2]. J Diet Suppl. 2022;1-13. doi:10.1080/19390211.2022.2030843

Khodadad M, Bahadoran P, Kheirabadi GR, Sabzghabaee AM. Can Vitamin B6 Help to Prevent Postpartum Depression? A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Prev Med. 2021;12:136. Published 2021 Oct 19. doi:10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_240_19

Lu Z, Sun Y, Zhang Y, et al. Pharmacological treatment strategies for antipsychotic-induced hyperprolactinemia: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Transl Psychiatry. 2022;12(1):267. Published 2022 Jul 5. doi:10.1038/s41398-022-02027-4

Zhuo C, Xu Y, Wang H, et al. Safety and Efficacy of High-Dose Vitamin B6 as an Adjunctive Treatment for Antipsychotic-Induced Hyperprolactinemia in Male Patients With Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia. Front Psychiatry. 2021;12:681418. Published 2021 Aug 26. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2021.681418

Romoli M, Perucca E, Sen A. Pyridoxine supplementation for levetiracetam-related neuropsychiatric adverse events: A systematic review. Epilepsy Behav. 2020;103(Pt A):106861. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.106861