People who regularly eat a yeast-based spread such as Marmite, showed lower stress and anxiety scores in a new study by doctors, but it does not reduce depression.
The secret ingredient is Vitamin B found in the yeast used for the famous brand, along with Aussie favourites such as Vegemite – the research was carried out by Australian experts where such spreads are massively popular.
In particular, those brands such as Marmite which add B12 to the think gooey mixture are even better for helping to reduce anxiety and stress levels, they found after monitoring 520 adult volunteers over their diet, habits and mood symptoms.
Using a psychological questionnaire to record their mental state of mind, they found those who were regular consumers of yeast based spreads scored significantly lower on an anxiety and stress scale and lowest of all in spreads with added B12.
The spreads are particularly popular as a breakfast staple in Australia where the study was conducted which suggests it may be a good way to generate a better mood for those with a stressful job.
But it is also a particularly cheap and effective way to increase vitamin B intake among those on a budget or on a vegetarian diet for instance.
Vitamin B deficiency has been associated with poor mental health.
While the stress and anxiety levels plummeted for Marmite lovers, depression symptoms remained unchanged, despite previous studies suggesting B vitamins were helpful for depressives.
The study was led by Kathleen Mikkelsen and others from the Centre for Chronic Disease at Victoria University in Australia and published in the specialist Journal of Functional Foods.
Vitamin B, particular B6, B9 and B12, regulate neurotransmitters that control mood through a process called methylation that turns an amino acid called homocysteine into one called methionine.
This prevents the build up of homocysteine which leads to stress and anxiety.
The authors said the findings “indicate that regular consumption of yeast based spreads lowers anxiety and stress scores and those consuming YBS with added vitamin B12 have further improvements in stress scores.“
While the study calls for further research, it concluded that eating Marmite or alternative spreads was a cheap way to increase vitamin B intake.
It added: “There are numerous groups that could benefit from and cheap, easily accessible form of vitamin B.
“These include hospitalised patients with decreased appetites, children who are fussy eaters, vegetarians, vegans, elderly people, low income families and people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction who may be nutritionally depleted.”