The Effects of Vitamin B6 Supplementation on Mood States in College Women Taking Oral Contraceptives
Oral contraceptives are one of the most frequently used forms of birth control among young women. However, research has shown that this type of medication can contribute to negative changes in mood and diminished vitamin status. In particular, women taking oral contraceptives are at an increased risk of vitamin B6 deficiency due to changes in enzyme activity with estrogen intake. Depressed mood is one of the known symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency as this vitamin acts as an essential cofactor in converting tryptophan to the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Lack of adequate levels of vitamin B6 therefore contribute to decreased production of serotonin and subsequent changes in mood, including symptoms of depression. With vitamin B6 being the most common nutrient deficiency, and the ever increasing prevalence of depression in the United States, especially among young adults, it is crucial that researchers investigate ways to mitigate both of these undesirable side effects. Current research on the topic fails to directly connect supplementation of vitamin B6 to positive changes in mood in oral contraceptive users.
This 12-week long double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover trial examined the effects of daily supplementation of vitamin B6 as 100 mg of pyridoxine hydrochloride, on mood states in 8 healthy college women (18-25 y) that use combined oral contraceptives. Vitamin status was assessed via plasma pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (PLP). Plasma PLP levels significantly increased by >193% (p=0.003) with daily supplementation of 100 mg B6 over a four week period. Mood changes with supplementation were assessed using the Profile of Mood States (POMS). Although a small improvement in the POMS depression sub score was observed after 4 weeks of vitamin B6 supplementation (14.7%), the changes were insignificant (p>0.05). Furthermore, total mood disturbance scores did not significantly change with either the placebo or supplement periods. While mood states were not improved, a significant decrease in the presence of depressive symptoms as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory was observed after vitamin B6 supplementation, compared to placebo (p=0.047). The results of this study necessitate further investigation into the use of B6 supplementation as a means of reducing negative mood changes in oral contraceptive users.