In this article I am focusing on the human rather than the cat. When a cat caregiver feels better, they are going to be a better cat caregiver. When a cat caregiver is irritable and fed up it will clearly affect the quality of their caregiving. Pretty obvious but I want to start off with that statement. And today, anxiety is a major issue in hundreds of millions of people for good reason. The world is becoming more competitive and more volatile. It is less predictable. There are several factors which influence this such as global warming and the war in Ukraine at the moment plus other factors such as the Covid pandemic and the aftermath of it. The cold war does not help and neither does the impending invasion of Taiwan by China.
Having established that, it is pleasant today to read that a study based out a Reading University in the UK concluded that the high levels of vitamins in Marmite can help quell anxiety by interfering with brain chemistry as reported by Eleanor Hayward, the health correspondent of The Times newspaper. You might hate Marmite but knowing about this you might learn to like it ?.
Marmite is made from concentrated yeast extract. It is rich in B vitamins. B vitamins modify chemical messengers which cause the brain to overreact.
The study investigated as to whether high doses of vitamin B6 could reduce anxiety and depression. More than 300 adults participated. The average age was 23. They were divided into two groups. One group were given daily supplements of either vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. The other group were given a placebo. The trial lasted for a month.
Those who took B6 “reported statistically significant reductions in depression and anxiety”. Vitamin B12 had no effect compared with the placebo.
This is the first study to narrow down the benefits of vitamin B6 in reducing stress. The scientists discovered that it increased the body’s production of gamma-aminobutyric acid. This chemical blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain.
Dr. David Field, the 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 further remarked that: “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.”
They took more than 50 times the recommended daily amount of vitamin B6 which amounted to 70 mg. Before consuming B6 supplements they had an average score of 24.8 out of 88 on an anxiety assessment and after taking the supplements this fell to 21.5. Not a huge difference but a significant one. Every little helps as they say.
Marmite alone is probably not enough because it contains more B12 than B6 and as mentioned B12 had no effect. Therefore, you will need an additional supplement of B6 to ensure that you ingest a high enough dosage.
Vitamin B6 is present in many foods including fruits, vegetables, chickpeas and tuna. But these foods alone will not provide enough B6. As the classic drugs to deal with anxiety produce side effects, this information, I would have thought, is useful. I would also have thought that eating Marmite on a slice of toast in the morning (if you don’t like Marmite you’ll have to grin and bear it) together with a vitamin B6 supplement is far better than taking amitriptyline or some other mind-altering drug.
And if you are less anxious you are a better cat caregiver because cats love calm environments and they probably feed off the emotions of their owner. An anxious owner is likely to live with an anxious cat companion and the opposite.
Below are some more articles on human behavior.
Israeli Defence Minister’s declaration that “we are fighting animals, not people” is an unfair analogy
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