Stressed Man at Work

Stressed at Work? Try B Vitamins

Stressed Man at WorkA case of the Mondays. TGIF. Hostile work environment. More and more often, we are developing phrases to encapsulate the amount of workplace stress Americans seem to be experiencing on an ever-increasing basis.

In fact, recent data shows that stress-related work claims are 50 percent higher than any other work-related claims.[1] Additionally, stress-related illnesses in the United States have increased by an astounding 560 percent over a six-year period.[2]

This is frightening when you consider that stress can manifest in:

  • Heart disease
  • Increased alcohol intake
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Depletion of key nutrients, namely vitamin B6

This last point is concerning given that B vitamins in particular have been shown to help reduce stress. Similarly, previous studies have shown that a basic multivitamin can help to improve performance on a multitasking stressor assignment while also improving mood.[3]

But can a multivitamin high in B vitamins specifically reduce workplace stress? According to Australian researchers, it can.[4]

B-Complex and Workplace Stress

Researchers set out to determine if a standard multivitamin high in vitamin B complex (Blackmores Executive B Stress Formula) could reduce workplace stress. Secondarily, they also tested to see if a slow-release formula worked better, worse, or similar to a “normal” supplement.

Sixty participants age 32 to 52 were randomly divided into three groups: Executive B Stress, normal release; Executive B Stress, slow-release; or placebo. All groups worked either full-time (75 percent) or part-time (25 percent) and were asked to take two tablets each day for 90 days.

Participants also completed four stress-related questionnaires, which, among other things, measured:

  • Occupation stress
  • Psychological strain and coping resources
  • Role overload
  • Role insufficiency
  • Role ambiguity
  • Role boundaries
  • Responsibilities
  • Physical environment
  • Interpersonal strain

Researchers administered the tests at baseline, 30 days, and study conclusion at 90 days. They found that there was no difference between the normal release and slow-release supplements. As such, researchers combined these two arms of the treatment and viewed them as a single treatment instead.

They found that, between 30 days and 90 days, there was a 19 percent improvement in personal strain in the supplement group. Similarly, the supplement group showed improvement in tension/anxiety, depression, anger/hostility, fatigue and confusion.

Given this, researchers concluded, “The results of this study are suggestive of significant decreases in the experience of workplace stress after 90-day supplementation of a B complex vitamin.”

‘B’ Calm at Work

Once again, the B vitamins prove that they can stand up against stress, regardless of the source. But, in this case, as the researchers note that the Bs may have had some help.

Turns out, the Blackmores formula also contained passionflower, which is regularly regarded as an effective stress-reducer in its own right.[5] Given this, one has to question if the combination of B vitamins and passionflower was responsible for the success of the study, versus just the B-complex.

Regardless, you can still take advantage of the learning here by upping your B vitamins — and maybe even add in some passionflower — to help alleviate workplace stress. The formula used in the study contained:

  • 75 mg B1
  • 10 mg B2
  • 100 mg niacin
  • 68 mg B5
  • 25 mg B6
  • 30 mcg B12
  • 20 mcg bioti
  • 150 mcg folic acid
  • 100 mg passionflower

Take regularly and let the relaxation wash over you.


[1] Goetzel RZ et al. The relationship between modifiable health risks and health care expenditures: an analysis of the multi-employer HERO health risk and cost database. J Occup Environ Med. 1998;40(10):843-54.

[2] Hurrell JJ et al. Occupational Stress. Occupational and Environmental Health: Recognizing and Preventing Disease and Injury, 5th ed. Levy B, Wegman D, Baron S, Sokas R (Eds.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins:Philadelphia; 382-96.

[3] Wetherell MA and Sidgreaves MC. Short communications: Secretory immunoglobulin-A reactivity following increase in workload intensity using the Defined Intensity Stressor Simulation (DISS). Stress and Health. 2005;21:99-106.

[4] Stough, C et al. The effect of 90 day administration of a high dose vitamin B-complex on work stress. Hum Psychopharmacol Clin Exp. 2011;26:470-6.

[5] Zanoli P et al. Behavioral characterization of the flavonoids apigenin and chrysin. Fitoterapia. 2000;71:S117-S123.