July 2013

Multivitamins Evaluated for Effects on Mood, Well-Being

A new study suggests that multivitamin supplementation may reduce stress and physical fatigue, but may lack effects on overall mood.

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs to grow, develop and function normally. With few exceptions, vitamins cannot be made by the human body and must be obtained from food or dietary supplements. Multivitamins are manufactured supplements that may contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Multivitamins are meant to provide individuals with the proper amounts and types of vitamin and mineral nutrients that the body needs. Supplemental multivitamins may benefit individuals who do not get enough vitamins and minerals from food, as well as people who have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food.

There are 13 essential vitamins that the body needs: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12). Vitamins perform a wide variety of functions in the body. For instance, vitamin C is necessary to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels, and it helps the body absorb iron. Some vitamins, such as vitamins A and E, are antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that work to prevent damage that occurs in cells and body tissues due to both normal bodily processes and exposure to some chemicals. Antioxidants may work by preventing or slowing the oxidation of DNA and proteins.

In a recent study, 138 healthy adults were administered a multivitamin with high levels of B-vitamins or a placebo daily for 16 weeks. Mood measures, including custom visual analogue scales, were administered at the beginning of the study, and again at weeks 8 and 16. Changes in visual analogue scale response to a multi-tasking framework were also evaluated.

The researchers found that significant effects of multivitamin supplementation on any mood measurements were lacking. At-home assessments that were conducted after supplementation resulted in significantly reduced physical fatigue and anxiety as well as stress for those in the multivitamin group when compared to placebo. However, the authors noted that there was a trend toward increased stress for male participants only at 16 weeks.

Larger-scale, well-designed clinical trials are needed to further evaluate these findings.

Experts disagree whether multivitamins are necessary if a person is healthy and eats a well-balanced diet. The human body has a limited capacity to use vitamins in its metabolic activities. When vitamins are consumed in excess of the body's normal needs, they may have drug-like effects and may also interfere with the effectiveness of standard medical treatments. Individuals should consult qualified healthcare professionals before making decisions about multivitamin use. The recommended daily amounts of vitamins vary depending on several factors, including a person's age, gender, overall health, sun exposure and eating habits.

For more information about multivitamins please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.

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  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Pipingas A, Camfield DA, Stough C, et al. The effects of multivitamin supplementation on mood and general well-being in healthy young adults. A laboratory and at-home mobile phone assessment. Appetite. 2013 May 30;69C:123-136. 

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