Nutrition Notes

Vitamin B6: A Nutrient Cofactor to Support Healthy Mood

Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is a water-soluble molecule that acts as a cofactor for more than 100 enzymes in the human body. Vitamin B6 is metabolized in the body into an active coenzyme pyridoxal 5-phosphate (P5P), which is also commonly known as PLP. P5P is involved in gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis, lipid metabolism, and the synthesis of amino acids, carbohydrates, proteins, and neurotransmitters. Research indicates that vitamin B6 may also help support the body’s response to psychological stress.

A cross-sectional, population-based survey aggregated data from 447 adults regarding dietary intake of vitamins B6, B9, and B12. The study results of the qualitative data suggest that the dietary intake of vitamin B6 may be associated with certain aspects of mood health.

Another population-based survey included data from more than 7,000 adults regarding B vitamin intake and psychological stress. In an aggregation of the data from the entire population, vitamin B6 intake was inversely associated with markers of stress.

A third study focused on elderly individuals who were found to have a low status of vitamin B6. Lowered vitamin B6 status was found to be associated with an increased risk of anxiety and was significantly associated with depression.

In addition to its role in neurotransmitter synthesis, vitamin B6 may help facilitate the cellular uptake of magnesium. A controlled randomized 8-week-long clinical trial assessed the difference between supplementation with magnesium alone or with a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 on stress levels in individuals who experience moderate-to-extreme severe stress. The daily intake was approximately 300 mg of elemental magnesium and 30 mg of vitamin B6. Stress levels were measured using the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS)-42 at baseline, at week 4, and at week 8. Both treatment arms experienced an improvement in DASS scores after 8 weeks, with those taking the combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 reporting greater improvements. In a subgroup analysis, those who experienced severe or extremely severe stress levels at baseline were shown to have statistically significant improvements at week 8 in the combination arm. In the overall study population, a reduction of symptoms related to stress was observed in both treatment arms of approximately 30% at week 4 and 40% at week 8.

A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial explored the potential efficacy of vitamin B6 in individuals with fibromyalgia, including parameters related to mood health and psychological stress. The study involved 90 participants who received either a placebo or 80 mg of vitamin B6 daily for 60 days. Improvements were observed in both groups; the authors reported no statistically significant differences between the intervention and the placebo. However, study drawbacks according to the authors include a relatively short treatment period, a high dropout rate, and the use of a potentially non-clinically relevant amount of vitamin B6. In addition, the primary outcomes assessed were based on qualitative data subject to interpretation; more quantitative data collection is needed before clinical conclusions can be made.

Although more research is needed, particularly in the clinical setting, vitamin B6 may help support many aspects of human health. It may help support neurological function, cognitive health, and a healthy mood.

By Dr. C Ambrose, ND, MAT