Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine is a cofactor for enzymes that will convert L-tryptophan to the feel good hormone Serotonin. Thus a deficiency of Vitamin B6 will result in reduce levels of serotonin leading to depression. Although Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare it is noted in studies that at least 21% of depressed patients had low plasma levels of pyridoxine. Another study suggests that four out of seven depressed patients have below normal levels of pyridoxal phosphate ( the active form of vitamin B6 found in plasma ). Depression is also a common side effect of oral contraceptives. A double blind study showed that the symptoms of depression associated with oral contraceptive use can be reduced by taking 2mg of Vitamin-B6 twice a day for two months. Females who are not deficient with Vitamin-B6 did not respond to vitamin supplementation. Studies suggest that Vitamin B6 is a good complementary treatment for depressed patients. The typical dose for supplementation is 50 mg per day.
“Our study suggests that a low level of plasma PLP is associated with symptoms of depression. Randomized trials are now justified and needed in order to examine whether treatment with vitamin B6 may improve symptoms of depression.” (Reference: Hvas AM, Juul S, Bech P, Nexø E. Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Aarhus University Hospital, AKH, Aarhus, Denmark. firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Results suggest that doses of vitamin B-6 up to 100 mg/day are likely to be of benefit in treating premenstrual symptoms and premenstrual depression.” (BMJ. 1999 May 22;318(7195):1375-81.)
Dosage and Sources:
Natural sources of Vitamin B6 include bananas, potatoes, acorn squash, avocados, watermelon, avocados and prune juice.
1. Carny, K., William, D. and Sheffield, B., Thiamine and pyridoxine lack in newly-aditted psychiatric patients, BR J Psychiat, 13 5:249-54, 1979
2. Ross, C.E. and Hayes, D., Exercise and psychological well-being in the community, Am J Epidemiology, 127:762-71, 1988.
3. Caruso, I., Fumagali, M., Boccassini, L., et al., Antidepressant activity of S-adenosylethionin, Lancet, i904, 1984.
4. Lipton, K., Mailman, R. and Numeroff, C., Vitamins, megavitamin therapy and the nervous system. In: Nutrition and the Brain, vol 13, Wurtman, R. and Wurtman, W. (eds.), Raven Press, New York, NY, 1979, pp. 183-264.
5. Russ, C., Hendricks, T., Chrisley, B., Kalin, N. and Driskell, J., Vitamin B6, status of depressed and obsessive-compulsive patients, Nutr Rep Intl, 27:864-73, 1983.
Last update: January 16, 2009