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Effects of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation on Stress, Mild Psychiatric Symptoms, and Mood in Nonclinical Samples: A Meta-Analysis

Long, Sara-Jayne BSc; Benton, David DSc

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31827d5fbd
Review Article

Objective Biochemical processes in the brain affect mood. Minor dietary inadequacies, which are responsible for a small decline in an enzyme’s efficiency, could cumulatively influence mood states. When diet does not provide an optimal intake of micronutrients, supplementation is expected to benefit mood. This meta-analysis evaluated the influence of diet supplementation on mood in nonclinical samples.

Methods Databases were evaluated and studies were included if they considered aspects of stress, mild psychiatric symptoms, or mood in the general population; were randomized and placebo-controlled; evaluated the influence of multivitamin/mineral supplements for at least 28 days. Eight studies that met the inclusion criteria were integrated using meta-analysis.

Results Supplementation reduced the levels of perceived stress (standard mean difference [SMD] = 0.35; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.47–0.22; p = .001), mild psychiatric symptoms (SMD = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.43–0.18; p = .001), and anxiety (SMD = 0.32; 95% CI = 0.48–0.16; p < .001), but not depression (SMD = 0.20; 95% CI = 0.42–0.030; p < .089). Fatigue (SMD = 0.27; 95% CI = 0.40–0.146; p < .001) and confusion (SMD = 0.225; 95% CI = 0.38–0.07; p < .003) were also reduced.

Conclusions Micronutrient supplementation has a beneficial effect on perceived stress, mild psychiatric symptoms, and aspects of everyday mood in apparently healthy individuals. Supplements containing high doses of B vitamins may be more effective in improving mood states. Questions about optimal levels of micronutrient intake, optimal doses, and active ingredients arise.

From the Department of Psychology (S.-J.L., D.B.), University of Swansea, Swansea, Wales, UK.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to David Benton, DSc, Department of Psychology, University of Swansea, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK. E-mail: d.benton@swansea.ac.uk

Received for publication April 20, 2012; revision received October 4, 2012.

Copyright © 2013 by American Psychosomatic Society
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