B vitamins for Stress & Depression

The ability of B vitamins to help those who are plagued with the symptoms of stress has been well documented. One study conducted in Swinburne University in Melbourne revealed that individuals who had been taking B vitamin supplements experienced a 20 per cent reduction in their stress levels while at work.

This conclusion was made after making assessments of the participants’ mood, work strain, personality traits and their work demands before and after the study. 

A control group of study participants who were given only a placebo did not experience any reduction in their stress levels, using the same assessment criteria.

Following are some of the most important B vitamins, with details of how they can help you in your constant efforts to overcome the damaging symptoms of stress.

In a study conducted on young Welsh women, researchers determined that there is a significant association between having low levels of thiamine and feeling less composed and more depressed.

After taking vitamin B1 supplements for 90 days these Welsh women experienced significant improvement in their mood, simultaneous with the increase of thiamine levels in their bodies.

The researchers at the University of Wales in Swansea said that 6 per cent of the study participants had thiamine levels that were so low that their mood had drastically been affected. Happily for them, after thiamine supplementation their mood improved.

Thiamine or vitamin B1 is a water-based vitamin that is essential for keeping a person’s mental health in tip top shape. Besides stabilizing mood, thiamine also helps improve memory and the ability to concentrate.

Another of the major B vitamins, riboflavin, is highly touted for its ability to help people cope better with fatigue and any other effects of stress.

One of the most common consequences of excessive stress is migraine or headache. A great benefit of riboflavin is that if taken in adequate doses it is able to reduce the frequency of headaches and to prevent the onset of migraine.

It is also beneficial for improving a person’s mood especially when it is taken together with vitamin B6.

Another consequence of too much stress is the manifestation of poor skin health.  Exposure to prolonged stress will also lead to brittle nails and dry hair.

Riboflavin will serve as your best friend during these times as it will shield your hair, nails and skin against the damaging effects of stress especially when it is taken with another B vitamin called biotin.                                    

Very importantly, riboflavin is a powerful antioxidant, which is attributed to its glutathione redox cycle. This quality is known to be helpful in fighting against oxidative stress, especially lipid peroxidation.

Lipid peroxidation has been implicated in several illnesses common to those people who are constantly subject to high levels of stress.

The illnesses that may arise from lipid peroxidation include atherosclerosis, kidney damage, Parkinson’s disease and asthma, among others.

Continuing studies support what many experts have previously claimed, being that oxidative stress is one of the major contributors to the development of many chronic diseases.

With regular intake of riboflavin, the damaging effects of oxidative stress can be reduced or kept at bay.

Niacin has been promoted for its ability to induce sleep and relaxation through its “flushing” effect, which is a method popularized by Abram Hoffer, M.D.

Dr. Hoffer’s experience regarding the use of niacin for helping people with anxiety and depression started in the 1950s.

He harnessed the ability of niacin to promote flushing in order to provide a natural tranquilizer effect that relaxes people who are plagued with depression.

The flushing effect may last up to thirty minutes and though it may feel uncomfortable it is totally harmless. This effect is experienced after taking niacin supplements, doses of which may be 50mg per day and more depending on each person.

Niacin was used in conjunction with vitamin C as part of Dr. Hoffer’s routine for treating depression and anxiety in his patients.

The niacin flushing effect occurs as a result of the dilation of blood vessels which causes a warming sensation that makes the person’s skin look pinkish or blushing.

Some people may find this irritating or disconcerting at first but are usually quick to accept this inconvenience for the benefits received.

Following the procedure, a feeling of calmness is experienced making it easier for an individual to more completely relax and fall asleep.

Aside from its natural tranquilizer effect, niacin is also used to flush out toxins in the body. This will then improve a person’s overall health and further help stave off the harmful effects of stress.

The positive results that Dr. Hoffer has achieved in treating depressed individuals strongly imply that a deficiency of vitamin B3 may be linked to the development of depression and anxiety.

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