Health Watch -- Stress Vitamins

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Can vitamins help you deal better with a stressful life?

You many have noticed “stress formula” vitamins at your drugstore. Will these help you stay calm even though you have deadlines, money woes and a stressful job? Probably not, according to nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

These stress formula supplements, especially those containing B vitamins such as thiamin, niacin and riboflavin, are actually meant for physical stress, not emotional stress. Patients suffering from the acute stress of surgery or injuries need more energy and more nutrients to help them recover. The B vitamins are especially important for injury recovery because they play a key role in energy metabolism, helping patients get more of the energy they need from the foods they eat. These vitamins are found in foods such as whole grains and enriched cereals, lean meats and dairy products.

But psychological stress doesn’t really increase your energy or nutrient needs, so taking stress formula vitamins won’t help relieve this stress or make you feel any calmer. Dr. Scott Grundy, director of UT Southwestern’s Center for Human Nutrition, says there are other ways to relieve psychological stress.

First, you should get plenty of rest to help you through stressful times. You should also eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Drink plenty of fluids and get regular exercise. Relaxation techniques may also help.

If you feel that your diet isn’t as good as it should be, a daily multi-purpose vitamin and mineral supplement will provide the vitamins you need in a balanced ratio.