Do you feel stressed?
We often tell ourselves that a little bit of stress is good for us – but healthy challenges shouldn’t be confused with feeling stressed. When you successfully meet a challenge, you should feel satisfied and relaxed.
But if you feel exhausted, and like challenges just can’t be met, it’s more likely there’s a problem.
has been steadily increasing in Australia. There has been a rise in the number of stress-related work cover claims, and more people needing to take time off work to cope with stress.
Getting into the office early and staying late can also lead to poor food choices. Most of us are familiar with that urge to reach for the pastry rather than nuts or fruit to get through a particularly heavy afternoon slump. This can make stress even worse, as the body has a lower capacity to deal with stress if we have a poor diet.
It’s not just those with office jobs that are feeling stress. Balancing all the demands of modern life can be hectic – rushing kids from A to B, supporting older family members and maintaining a social life can sometimes leave us feeling drained.
How is vitamin B related to stress?
There are eight different B vitamins
, all of which your body needs for general wellbeing. Each one has its own name, like folate (vitamin B9) and thiamine (vitamin B1).
Each B vitamin serves a specific function
in the body, from supporting blood production to promoting DNA repair.
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 help to maintain a healthy nervous system. This is partly where stress relief comes in - a strong nervous system is essential to being able to effectively fight the symptoms of stress.
Certain B group vitamins are required for energy production, which is needed to support the bodily systems that respond to stress.
Can vitamin B help with stress relief?
Studies suggest there is a link between vitamin b and stress levels. In one study, 215 healthy males who took a B complex (a supplement containing a combination of the B vitamins) for 33 days. Participants reported significant improvements in self-perceived stress, general health and vigour.
In another trial, 60 participants took either a B complex or a placebo for three months. The group that took the B complex reported significantly lower personal strain and a reduction in confusion and dejected mood than the placebo group.
Other studies suggest additional benefits that can be gained from vitamin supplementation. One found that B complex supplements are a good approach to preserving brain health in the absence of an optimal diet. Others point to links between vitamin supplementation, including B vitamins, and a healthy mood.
How can you get enough vitamin B?
Luckily, there are plenty of foods rich in B vitamins
. Good sources include wholegrain cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, fish, milk, legumes and fresh vegetables.
However, apart from folate and B12, the body has a limited capacity to store B vitamins for when they are most needed. To ensure you have the levels you need to adequately deal with stress, try to top up your levels with dietary sources every day if you can.