Vitamin supplementation may improve alertness and reduce negative mood symptoms in healthy older men, suggests a new Australian study.
In this randomized controlled trial, fifty healthy men, aged 50–69 years, were given supplements for a period of 8 weeks with a multivitamin formulation that contained vitamins C, E and B vitamins plus minerals (at levels above recommended daily intakes) or a placebo (1). The participants completed a series of mood and stress questionnaires before and after the supplementation. The results showed that, compared with placebo, there was a significant reduction in the overall score on a depression anxiety and stress scale and an improvement in alertness and general daily functioning in the multivitamin group. There were no changes in the placebo group, signifying a real effect of multivitamin supplementation.
The researchers concluded that multivitamin supplementation may be beneficial in preventing negative mood symptoms. The present findings would be particularly relevant for older people who may be at risk of experiencing subclinical depressive symptoms. However, as the sample was relatively small, a larger study would be required to confirm the present findings.
In studies, depressive symptoms have been associated with deficiency of a number of key micronutrients such as vitamin B12 and folic acid deficits and lower levels of vitamin D and zinc (2). The results of studies examining the effects of multivitamin supplementation have been contentious. Although some studies have found no changes in mood after supplementation, others have suggested that B-complex vitamins or multivitamins can improve mood or reduce depressive symptoms (3, 4).