The effect of vitamin B, vitamin C and mineral supplementation on mental function and mood

The Introductionvitamin bottle

I’ve long taken a daily multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement – mainly to cover what may be missing in what I hope is a healthy, well-balanced diet. A significant proportion of the general population report supplementing their diet with one or more vitamins or minerals, with common reasons for doing so being to combat stress and fatigue and to improve mental functioning. Few studies have assessed the relationship between supplementation with vitamins/minerals and psychological functioning in healthy cohorts of middle-aged adults. Vitamin/mineral (Berocca) supplementation led to significant improvements in ratings on the stress scale, general health questionairre and the ‘vigour’ subscale of the POMS.

The Research

This study measured the cognitive and mood effects of a high-dose B-complex vitamin and mineral supplement (good old-fashioned Berocca) in 215 males aged 30 to 55 years, who were in full-time employment. Participants attended a laboratory prior to and on the last day of a 33-day supplement period where they completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Mental performance and measures of mood/fatigue were assessed with a 60 minute cognitive demand test. On the final day, participants also completed a test called a Stroop task (identifying words quickly that appear on a computer screen at eye level while on the treadmill) that involved walking on a treadmill at 60% of maximum heart rate (brisk walking).

The Results

Vitamin/mineral (Berocca) supplementation led to significant improvements in ratings on the stress scale, general health questionairre and the ‘vigour’ subscale of the POMS. The vitamin/mineral group also rated themselves as less ‘mentally tired’ both before and after completion of the cognitive demand test.

The So What?

Healthy members of the general population may benefit from augmented levels of vitamins and minerals via direct supplementation. Specifically, supplementation appears to lead to improved ratings of stress, mental health and vigour and improved cognitive performance during intense mental processing.

 

Cautionary Note: While I don’t question the validity of the results of this study, particularly given it was peer-reviewed before publication, the research was funded by a multi-national pharmaceutical company that manufactures Berocca.

 Kennedy, D.O. and others (2010). Effects of high-dose B vitamin complex with vitamin C and minerals on subjective mood and performance in healthy males. Psychopharmacology (Berl).211(1): 55-68.

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