March 3, 2021

New review examines the effect of B vitamin supplementation on mood, depression, anxiety, and stress.

B vitamins are essential nutrients involved in numerous metabolic processes that play a significant role in brain health. Due to the increasing number of individuals with mental health issues, researchers are looking more and more at nutrients to prevent or reduce this incidence.

According to a new review published Monday in Nutrients, researchers investigated the effects of B vitamin supplementation on mood, depression, anxiety, and stress.

This review consisted of 18 studies including over 2000 participants over the age of 18 involving a B vitamin supplement containing at least 3 B vitamins with a minimum study duration of 4 weeks. The rationale is that multiple vitamins would be more efficacious than single nutrients. Studies published after 1999 were only accepted. All of the studies used supplements containing B6 and B12, with all but one study including folate. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5 were included in 16 of the 18 included studies. Biotin was the least included and was only in 10 of the studies. Most of the supplements contained twice the recommended daily value of B vitamins and some exceeded the intake by 10 to 300 times. Eleven of these studies demonstrated a positive effect of B vitamins for overall mood. Eight of these studies were in an ‘at-risk’ population and five were found to have a significant benefit on mood. Total well-being and mood was assessed by either a General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) or Profile of Mood States (POMS) B vitamin supplementation was also shown to benefit stress, which was assessed utilizing the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).

The research team also investigated B vitamin supplementation and its effects on depression and anxiety. As a result, a benefit on depressive symptoms did not reach clinical significance and there was no effect on anxiety. This review demonstrates the benefit of B vitamin supplementation in healthy and at-risk populations on mood and stress, but not for depression or anxiety.

Previous research has reported that up to 30% of patients that suffer from depression have elevated homocysteine, therefore, B vitamin supplementation would support lowering these levels and improving mood.

There was an interesting study published January 6, 2016 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Previous studies have already established that B vitamins can slow cognitive. The research team initially found that there was a link between Omega-3 levels, homocysteine, and brain atrophy rates. There have been links between homocysteine and omega-3 fatty acids. Homocysteine plays a role in regulating phospholipid metabolism and omega-3 distribution by the methionine cycle. As a result, B vitamins are essential for the synthesis of phospholipids.  In this study researchers investigated whether omega-3 fatty acid status had an effect on the treatment of B vitamins in mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

This study demonstrated that B vitamins had no effect on cognitive decline in MCI when omega-3 levels are low. However, when omega-3 levels are in an upper normal range, B vitamins slow cognitive decline and brain atrophy. These findings suggest that a combination of fish oil supplements and B vitamins may help to improve cognition and the importance of synergy as dysfunction and symptoms are often due to multifactorial causes.

Also, we should consider natural alternatives to anti-depressants such as Sceletium tortuosum and Saffron flower. Sceletium tortuosum has attracted increasing attention over past few decades for promoting a sense of wellbeing and treating depression andSaffron flower has had numerous studies demonstrating positive outcomes on mild clinical depression and has gone head to head with SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants demonstrating the same efficacy.

Previous research has also demonstrated that probiotics, specifically multispecies formulations, can have beneficial effects on mood and cognition. There is definitely a gut-brain relationship between nutrition and the gut microbiome and how they support brain health and function. The gut and brain communicate through the nervous system, immune system, and hormones. The microbiome can also release neurotransmitters.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS Source: Lauren M Young, Andrew Pipingas, et al. A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients. 16 September 2019, 11(9), 2232.

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