Here’s Why Marmite Might Help With Your Anxiety, Apparently

today19 July 2022 2

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Marmite might be one of the answers to dealing with stress and anxiety, scientists say. According to a new study, properties in the much maligned spread – love it or hate it – can help us keep calm.

The research, carried out by scientists at Reading University, found that the abundance of vitamins in Marmite can interfere with your brain chemistry… in a good way.

The concentrated yeast extract is high in B vitamins, which have previously been found to alter chemical messengers responsible for making the brain overreact.

More than 300 adults with an average age of 23 were tested by Reading University to investigate whether high doses of the B6 vitamin could quell anxiety and depression. The cohort was split into different groups and given daily supplements of vitamin B6, B12 or placebo tablets for a month.

Those who took B6 – which Marmite has a hefty dose of – reported significant reductions in depression and anxiety compared to those who took the placebo, while those on B12 showed no effect.

B vitamins are generally thought to be good in fighting stress, but this is the first study to quantify and explore individual vitamins, looking at B6 in particular, which was found to increase how much gamma-aminobutyric acid, a chemical that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain, the body produces.

Dr David Field, lead author of the study, said: “The functioning of the brain relies on a delicate balance between the excitatory neurons that carry information around and inhibitory ones, which prevent runaway activity. Recent theories have connected mood disorders and some other neuropsychiatric conditions with a disturbance of this balance, often in the direction of raised levels of brain activity.

He added: “Vitamin B6 helps the body produce a specific chemical messenger that inhibits impulses in the brain, and our study links this calming effect with reduced anxiety among the participants.”

Before you go and and grab spoonfuls of the stuff though, it’s worth noting that research respondents took more than the recommended daily amount.

Participants took 50 times more than the recommended amount for B6 – around 70mg, which led to subtle and harmless changes in brain activity.

So you might need to take a B6 supplement to get your fill in. Or you could eat other foods rich in the stuff.

“Many foods, including tuna, chickpeas and many fruits and vegetables, contain vitamin B6,” Dr Field added. “However, the high doses used in this trial suggest that supplements would be necessary to have a positive effect on mood.”

He also added that consuming lots of B6 won’t cure your anxiety and depression on its own, suggesting that combining Vitamin B6 supplements with talking therapies, such as CBT, could boost their effect.

“It is important to acknowledge that this research is at an early stage and the effect of vitamin B6 on anxiety in our study was quite small compared to what you would expect from medication,” he said. “However, nutrition-based interventions produce far fewer unpleasant side effects than drugs, and so in the future people might prefer them as an intervention.”

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