What if you could reduce stress just by taking a few vitamin supplements? There are many people who swear by taking vitamin supplements, but do they really work for stress management? Let’s take a look…
What are the common pre-conceptions?
You’ve probably seen packaged multi or B vitamins in pharmacies, health stores and supermarkets, often labelled with some variation of “stress management”. The ‘B’ vitamins, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and biotin (B7) work primarily by acting as middle-men in helping our bodies. We need them to help obtain energy from our food and produce new substances in the body. Vitamins such as B12 (cobalimin) and folic acid are often lacking in the body, yet these are very important for helping to create healthy DNA.
B vitamins are said to help the body to cope with psychological stress. Use for two to twelve weeks is said to enhance subjective mood indicators and stress levels. But, do they really work? Or are millions of people wasting their money every year?
What do the experts say?
Last year, a study was conducted by researchers at the University of Swansea with results being published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine. In this study, researchers looked into the influence of diet supplementation on mood in some non-clinical subjects. The study involved a group who were given placebos as well as those who were given the vitamin supplements containing high doses of B vitamins.
While people have been using B vitamins to supplement for years, very few formal studies have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of supplements. What the researchers found in this study was that supplementation with the micronutrients reduced perceived stress and mild psychiatric symptoms and improved mood indicators in otherwise healthy individuals. However, they didn’t find any significant improvement in individuals who were diagnosed with depression.
What does this mean for supplements?
Good news if you are otherwise healthy. Taking vitamin B supplements just may help you to manage stress and improve your mood. However, those who are clinically diagnosed with depression should not rely on supplements to try and get them through, as evidence shows they may not help. In these cases, you would be better advised to follow a management plan devised in conjunction with your doctor.
Questions that are left to answer lie around dosage. What is the optimal dose of B vitamin supplements to really help with stress management?