For people with anxiety and depressive symptoms, vitamin B6 might be the key to easing the conditions.

This is according to a study recently published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, where a team of researchers wanted to learn whether specific vitamins could help ease disorders that fall under the umbrella of anxiety disorders.

According to data by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 31% of adults in the U.S. experience some kind of anxiety disorder at some point in their lives for various reasons. The number of young adults (ages 13-18) experiencing anxiety was around the same.

Around 8.4% of all adults in the U.S. experienced a form of depressive episode in 2020, according to data from NIMH. This makes depression one of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the country.

Researchers wanted to learn to what degree vitamins B6 and B12 can affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) processing since this is the neurotransmitter that can help calm the nervous system and contribute to someone developing anxiety or depression.

“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,” said Prof. David Field, the lead author of the study and associate professor at the University of Reading’s School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences.

The researchers recruited 478 participants with self-reported anxiety or depression and gave them vitamin B6, B12, or a placebo. The participants were then asked to complete visual and tactile tests after the trial.

The researchers discovered that vitamin B6 produced a specific chemical messenger that “inhibits impulses in the brain, and our study links this calming effect with reduced anxiety among the participants,” according to Field.

The team hoped their findings could help people suffering from anxiety or depression in multiple ways.

Vitamin B6 supplements are readily available at most drug stores, making them accessible to anyone showing symptoms.