A study published in the Human Psychopharmacology journal revealed that the B complex group of vitamins have an important role to play in the management of work-related stress. This study which evaluated the personality, work demands, mood, anxiety and psychological strain experienced by the participants, found that those who took a high dose supplement of B complex vitamins for 3 months had considerably reduced personal strain, confusion and depressed moods.
These B complex vitamins are also important for helping the body cope with stress from other sources since your body responds with the same fight or flight response regardless of whether you are dealing with stress from family feuds, financial woes or work stress.
This acute stress response which is triggered by the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline, is characterized by increased heart and respiratory rates as well as elevated blood pressure. Blood is also shunted to the muscles in the limbs which are already tightened in preparation for fighting or fleeing from the stressor.
These stress related in your body require a lot of energy and underscore the importance of B complex vitamins in stress management since thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and pyridoxine (B6) are cofactors in the chemical reactions that convert carbohydrates consumed in the diet into glucose and energy.
Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and cobalamin are also doubly important for stress management since they support the nervous system which is usually firing rapidly during these periods.
B Complex Depletion During Stress
Since B complex vitamins are water soluble and thus cannot be stored in the body, if you are dealing with chronic stress you run the risk of suffering from their depletion due to the continuous activation of the acute stress response.
This B complex vitamin depletion can reduce your body’ ability to cope with the stressful situation and even aggravate stress related symptoms. For example deficiency of vitamin B6 which is associated with headaches can exacerbate your pre-existing stress related headaches.
Low levels of vitamin B3 which have been linked to mood disturbances like depression and irritability, can plunge you into depression if you are already feeling blue about your stressful situation.
B Complex Stress Management Foods
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If you are dealing with longstanding stress you should therefore eat B complex rich foods each day like whole meal bread, brown rice, oatmeal and other whole grains. Eggs, beef, poultry, fish and dairy products like milk and cheese are other good sources of these vitamins. If you are a vegan, you can eat Brussels sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms and leafy greens like spinach.
If you are not able to consume adequate amounts of these foods, taking a B complex supplement is the next best option. This supplement should be balanced to make sure that it not only boosts your energy levels and prevents fatigue, but that it also ensures you’re your nervous system is functioning optimally. To do this, the stress management B complex supplement should have around 800 mcg of vitamin B1, 1100 mcg of vitamin B2, 13000 mcg of vitamin B3, 1200 mcg of vitamin B6, 200 mcg of vitamin B9 and 2.4 mcg of B12.