How great would it be if we could take a pill to erase a bad day or one that allowed us to see the world through rose-colored glasses? Some would argue that Prozac and Ecstasy do just that, though one is illegal and both have some problematic side effects.
But, what if you could reduce depression and anxiety and promote happiness and focus with one pill? And what if that pill was natural?
According to researchers from Australia, such a pill exists. And it’s legal. And it’s available online, in grocery stores, in health food stores, even in Wal-Mart. It’s a multivitamin.
Multinutrient and Mood
The connection between nutrients and mood-related conditions has been studied for years. There’s vitamin B12 and folic acid for depression; vitamin D and selenium for anxiety and negative mood; and B vitamins in general for energy.
Past studies that have looked specifically at vitamins and mood have been inconsistent. Some show no effect, while others that do show improvement have questioned if there was a placebo effect.
In an attempt to establish a good baseline assessment of the effect of supplements on mood, Australian researchers designed a gold standard study (double-blind, placebo-controlled) with 50 men between the ages of 50 and 69 years of age.
They divided them into two groups. The first group received a placebo. The second group received a multivitamin that contained 26 vitamins and minerals and 21 herbal, fruit and vegetable extracts. Both groups took one tablet every day for eight weeks.
At the start and conclusion of the study, all participants took five separate health and mood assessments, including:
- General Health Questionnaire (60 questions)
- The Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (21 questions)
- Perceived Stress Scale (14 questions)
- Profile of Mood States (65 questions on mood-related adjectives)
- Visual Analog Mood Scale (16 questions on mood at present moment)
Researchers found that those talking the multinutrient had a significantly greater increase in their general health questionnaire after the eight weeks, as compared to those taking the placebo. The multi group also enjoyed improvement in their Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, as well as for the Visual Analog Mood Scale, especially as it pertained to alertness. There were no significant changes in the Perceived Stress Scale or the Profile of Mood States.
After evaluating all scores for all five assessments, researchers found that those taking the multinutrient saw specific improvements in negative mood symptoms, as well as subjective mood. They also expressed having greater positive moods.
Researchers concluded, “The results suggest that multivitamin supplementation may be useful in improving alertness and reducing negative mood symptoms and improving day-to-day functioning.”
Build Your Foundation
Most health experts, nutritionists, and physicians would agree that a good multivitamin is a critical part of your basic health plan. Not only does it give you a solid foundation for physical health, but as this study shows, it clearly plays a role in emotional health as well.
Choose a product that contains at least the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals, but also a variety of herbs, antioxidants and plant extracts. You may have to go online and research brands that fit these criteria, and they are often pricier than the drugstore options, but you are worth it!
 Harris, E et al. The effect of multivitamin supplementation on mood and stress in healthy older men. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2011 Nov 16. [Epub ahead of print.]