Rationale: A significant proportion of the general population report supplementing their diet with one or more vitamins or minerals, with common reasons for doing so being to combat stress and fatigue and to improve mental functioning. Few studies have assessed the relationship between supplementation with vitamins/minerals and psychological functioning in healthy cohorts of non-elderly adults.
Objectives: The present randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel groups trial assessed the cognitive and mood effects of a high-dose B-complex vitamin and mineral supplement (Berocca(R)) in 215 males aged 30 to 55 years, who were in full-time employment.
Methods: Participants attended the laboratory prior to and on the last day of a 33-day treatment period where they completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Cognitive performance and task-related modulation of mood/fatigue were assessed with the 60 min cognitive demand battery. On the final day, participants also completed the Stroop task for 40 min whilst engaged in inclined treadmill walking and subsequent executive function was assessed.
Results: Vitamin/mineral supplementation led to significant improvements in ratings on the PSS, GHQ-12 and the 'vigour' subscale of the POMS. The vitamin/mineral group also performed better on the Serial 3s subtractions task and rated themselves as less 'mentally tired' both pre- and post-completion of the cognitive demand battery.
Conclusions: Healthy members of the general population may benefit from augmented levels of vitamins/minerals via direct dietary supplementation. Specifically, supplementation led to improved ratings of stress, mental health and vigour and improved cognitive performance during intense mental processing.