The results of the three-month trial, where participants were given a course of either high dose vitamin B supplements or a placebo, have been accepted for publication in the journal Human Psychopharmacology.
According to study leader Professor Con Stough, at the beginning of the trial the researchers assessed sixty participants against factors such as personality, work demands, mood, anxiety and strain, and then re-evaluated them at 30 and 90 days.
“At the end of the three-month period, those in the Vitamin B group reported much lower levels of work stress than they did at the beginning of the trial,” he said. “In fact, participants experienced an almost 20 per cent improvement in stress levels.
“On the other hand, those in the placebo group showed no significant change.”
While this was the first study of its kind, Professor Stough said that the results were perhaps unsurprising, given the important role Vitamin B plays in cognitive function.
“Vitamin B, which is found in whole unprocessed foods such as meat, beans and wholegrains, is integral to the synthesis of neurotransmitters critical to psychological wellbeing,” he said. “But the reality is that many people don’t get enough Vitamin B from their diet, so they are turning to vitamin supplementation.”
With occupational stress increasing in Australian society, Professor Stough said that it is having a significant impact on individuals, organisations and the community.
“Anything we can do to reduce work-related stress is a good thing,” he said. “By lowering stress, we also lower the risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety.
“And from an organisational perspective, reducing your workers’ stress is likely to improve productivity and minimise stress claims made due to workplace pressures.”
While the results of the study present a strong case for Vitamin B supplementation, according to Professor Stough further research is still needed. “Ideally we’d like to conduct a larger trial with more participants that would investigate the effects of Vitamin B supplementation over two-to-three years.”
The study used Blackmores’ Executive B Stress Formula. It was jointly funded by Blackmores and Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Psychopharmacology, which is the largest research group in the world examining the cognitive and mood effects of natural products, nutritional supplements and nutritional interventions.
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