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B vitamins may support the ability to withstand workplace stress

January 11, 2012

Intake of high doses of B vitamins may improve mood and reduce psychological strain associated with chronic work stress, suggests a new Australian study.

In the randomized controlled trial, 60 participants each took either two tablets per day with vitamins B1
(75 mg), B2 (10 mg), B3 (100 mg), B5 (68.7 mg), B6 (25 mg), B12 (30 µg) and folic acid (150 µg) or placebo for a period of three months (1). To assess personality, work demands, mood, anxiety and strain, the participants completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study and after 30 and 90 days of the treatment. The study results showed that after individual differences in personality and work demands were statistically controlled, the vitamin B complex treatment group reported significantly lower personal strain and a reduction in confusion and depressed/dejected mood after 12 weeks. There were no treatment-related changes in other measures of mood and anxiety.

The researchers concluded that B vitamins may be a cost-effective treatment for the mood and psychological strain effects of occupational stress. These findings could have important personal health, organizational and societal outcomes given the rising cost and incidence of workplace stress.

Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals are essential for the optimal performance of a host of physiological processes that have both direct (e.g. neurotransmitter synthesis, receptor binding, membrane ion pump function) and indirect (e.g. energy metabolism, cerebral blood supply) effects on brain function (2).The results of the study are consistent with two previous studies examining multivitamin supplementation and personal (non-work) feelings of strain (3, 4) and suggestive of significant decreases in the experience of workplace stress after 90-day supplementation of a B multivitamin.

References

  1. Stough C. et al. The effect of 90-day administration of a high dose vitamin B-complex on work stress. Human Psychopharmacology Clinical & Experimental. 2011; 26(7):470–476.
  2. Haller J. Vitamins and brain function. Nutritional Neuroscience. CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL. 2005.
  3. Kaplan B. J. et al. Vitamins, minerals, and mood. Psychol Bull. 2007; 133(5):747–760.
  4. Kennedy D. O. et al. Effects of high-dose B vitamin complex with vitamin C and minerals on subjective mood and performance in healthy males. Psychopharmacology. 2010; 211:55–68.