Researchers at Reading University found that the vitamins in Marmite can interfere with your brain chemistry and could ultimately reduce levels of anxiety and depression.
The researchers noted that the spread was high in B vitamins, which can modify chemical messengers in the brain.
The study of 300 adults with an average age of 23 sought to learn whether high doses of B6 could reduce signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Study participants were split into groups and were given either daily supplements of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, or placebo tablets for a month.
It found that those who took B6 saw “significant” reductions in depression and anxiety, but those who took B12 saw “no effect” compared with those who took the placebo.
“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,” Dr David Field, lead author of the study, explained.
The authors noted that Marmite is higher in vitamin B12 than B6, and supplements would need to be taken alongside the Marmite to achieve the results from the study.
They also said that study participants took more than 50 times the recommended amount of vitamin B6, which equated to about 70mg.
Field added: “Many foods, including tuna, chickpeas and many fruits and vegetables, contain vitamin B6. However, the high doses used in this trial suggest that supplements would be necessary to have a positive effect on mood.
“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. However, nutrition-based interventions produce far fewer unpleasant side effects than drugs, and so in the future people might prefer them as an intervention.
“One potential option would be to combine Vitamin B6 supplements with talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, to boost their effect.”
The research comes after a 2017 study which found that those who ate Marmite regularly showed lower levels of stress and anxiety than those who didn’t.