Thinking about taking vitamin B6 for stress and anxiety?
Vitamin B6 is involved in a variety of processes throughout the body. These include:
- protein metabolism
- carbohydrate and lipid metabolism
- biosynthesis of neurotransmitters
- maintaining normal levels of homocysteine
- supporting the functioning of the immune system
- the formation of haemoglobin
- helps the body to absorb magnesium
It is a water-soluble vitamin, which means your body can’t store it. To hit your daily RDA and avoid vitamin B6 deficiency, you should aim to eat B6-rich foods regularly. Vitamin B6 food sources include pork, poultry, fish, peanuts, bananas, milk and fortified foods.
But does vitamin B6 help with anxiety and stress? Here we’re discussing the benefits of pyridoxine for stress.
Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin B6
The recommended daily vitamin B6 dosage is as follows:
- 0-6 months – 0.1mg/daily
- 7-12 months – 0.3mg/daily
- 1-3 years – 0.5mg/daily
- 4-8 years – 0.6mg/daily
- 9-13 years – 1mg/daily
Adolescents and adults:
- Males 14-50 years – 1.3mg/daily
- Females 14-18 years – 1.2mg/daily
- Men 50 years and over – 1.7mg/daily
- Women 50 years and over – 1.5mg/daily
- Pregnant women – 1.9mg/daily
- Breastfeeding women – 2mg/daily
Some people also take vitamin B6 for stress relief and to help manage anxiety/depression. In fact, pyridoxine is considered one of the most effective vitamins and minerals for managing mental health issues.
If you’re wondering how much vitamin B6 per day for anxiety, unfortunately no specific dose has been identified. In general, health professionals advise that getting enough vitamin B6 for stress will be sufficient.
Vitamin B6 and homocysteine
When it comes to vitamin B6 for stress, pyridoxine clears the body of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced when proteins are broken down. High levels of homocysteine in the blood have been associated with a higher risk of low mood. In fact, 30% of depressed patients have high levels of homocysteine.
Because vitamin B6 helps to clear the body of homocysteine, hitting your daily RDA will help to lower levels of homocysteine. This can help to improve your mood and lower your risk of depression.
Vitamin B6 and neurotransmitters
Another benefit of vitamin B6 for stress relief is that it helps to produce and regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine creates noradrenaline and adrenaline and is important for the brain’s reward system. This system gives you motivations, desires and cravings.
Low levels of dopamine have been linked to increased anxiety. Getting enough vitamin B6 will help to maintain the levels of dopamine in the brain and lower your risk of anxiety.
Lower levels of serotonin are linked to depression. Many antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). There is debate about how serotonin helps reduce depression. Many believe it may be to do with how it dampens the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
SSRIs are also used to treat anxiety disorders such as:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
In other words, taking vitamin B6 for stress relief has the ability to improve neurotransmitter balance in the brain.
Vitamin B6 and blood pressure
Vitamin B6 helps to lower your blood pressure and reduce the impact of corticosteroids.
When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that temporarily increase your blood pressure. If this goes on for a long time, it can have a negative impact on your health. Vitamin B6 can help lower your blood pressure, which will prevent the potential long-term health effects of stress.
Corticosteroids are released by your body in times of stress and can create a fear and anxiety response. When you are in a fearful situation, your body’s anxiety and stress responses help you to act quickly. When you are exposed to prolonged stress, however, corticosteroids can leave you with high anxiety.
If you take extra vitamin B6 for anxiety and depression, you’re essentially reducing the impact that corticosteroids have on your body.
Vitamin B6 and magnesium
Vitamin B6 plays a role in the absorption of magnesium. Magnesium is important for several processes that are related to anxiety. It can reduce the sensitivity of the body to stress hormones and reduce the amount of these that reach the brain. Evidence suggests that taking magnesium supplements helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression behaviours in mice.
In a clinical trial, participants suffering from moderate to severe stress were given either magnesium supplements alone or magnesium and vitamin B6 together. In both groups, stress levels improved immediately and dramatically (by 40% overall). The group that were given vitamin B6, as well as magnesium, showed a 24% greater decrease in stress.
Thus, a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 for stress can promote relaxation and soothe anxiety.
Vitamin B6 and PMS
Moreover, taking vitamin B6 for stress and anxiety relief could have benefits for PMS symptoms, too.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of symptoms that women experience after ovulation and before the start of their period. Symptoms of PMS can range from mild to severe. In severe cases, PMS can make it impossible to go to work or school. Symptoms can include:
- mood swings
- feeling upset, anxious, or irritable
- tiredness/trouble sleeping
- bloating and/or tummy pain
- tender breasts
- spotty skin or greasy hair
- changes in appetite and/or sex drive
In a study looking at PMS in university students, vitamin B6 reduced irritability, anxiety, depression, dizziness, tiredness, chocolate cravings, palpitations, breast tenderness and bloating. The greatest impact of all, however, was on anxiety.
Increasing your intake of vitamin B6 could help you reduce your PMS symptoms, especially anxiety.
Vitamin B6 for Stress and Anxiety: Conclusion
Vitamin B6’s benefits for mental health are related to anxiety and stress. It can lower your levels of homocysteine, which in turn lowers your risk of depression. It can also increase the amount of neurotransmitters in your brain, thus reducing your anxiety.
Taken together, these findings suggest that taking vitamin B6 as part of your stress and anxiety management plan could be helpful.
Always seek medical advice from your GP or a qualified health professional before taking vitamin B6 for stress and anxiety.