ON SALE: Supplement Guides — take only the supplements you need. Save 33% until tonight! Learn more

The Nutrition Examination Research Digest (NERD) aims to provide rigorous, unbiased analysis of the latest and most important nutrition and supplementation studies. Click here to subscribe or login if already a subscriber .

In this article

B vitamins on the brain: Do they improve mental health?

This meta-analysis found a small impact on stress in people without clinical mental health issues, but it also may have asked too broad of a question.

Study under review: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and 'At-Risk' Individuals.

Introduction

Mood disorders represent a category of mental illness that impact a person’s persistent emotional state. They affect nearly 21% of all adults in the U.S. at some point during their lives. The emotional states that mood disorders affect include depression, stress, and anxiety. Over the past several decades, there has been an increasing awareness about the relationship between diet and mental health, including mood disorders.

B vitamins have received extra attention as a dietary component of mood disorders because of their relationship[1] to brain function. B vitamins play a role in brain chemistry, specifically related to mood, as they act as cofactors ultimately necessary for the synthesis of dopamine and serotonin, as shown in Figure 1. These neurotransmitters are both key components in regulating mood. Supplementation with B vitamins has a good safety profile and may have a lower risk of side effects than antidepressants.

There have been several investigations into the effect of B vitamin supplementation on many aspects of mood. For example, randomized controlled trials have shown that B vitamin supplementation improves depression[2], anxiety[3], and work-related stress[4]. However, not all studies[5] have shown benefit. As such, there is a need to examine the literature in a broader scope to understand the effect B vitamins might have on mood disorders. The present study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials examining the effect of B vitamins on mood.

B vitamins are critical components in the synthesis of neurotransmitters that regulate mood, such as dopamine and serotonin. Previous studies have yielded mixed results on the effects of vitamin B supplementation on mood disorders. The present study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials examining the effect of B vitamins on mood.

What was studied?

Become a subscriber to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to read the full article.

Becoming a member will keep you updated on the most important nutrition studies every month, and give you access to our back catalog of over 500 other articles.

NERD also includes access to Examine Personalized, which includes 150+ monthly summaries on the most important recent studies and access to our database of 10,000+ studies across 600+ health topics.

Stop wasting time and energy — we make it easy for you to stay on top of nutrition research

Try free for a week

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What were the findings?

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Free 7-day trial!

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

The bigger picture

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What should I know?

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

33% OFF SALE ENDS TONIGHT: Supplement Guides — Actionable information to help you reliably improve your health.

📋Get precise instructions for your specific scenario

💰Avoid wasting hundreds of dollars on useless supplements

💪Reach your health goals with the right combo of supplements

Save 33% and Get started today »

Other Articles in Issue #63 (January 2020)