In this day and age, we are prone to feeling continuous stress. We worry about our jobs and children; we stress over finances and relationships. Eventually, stress can wreck havoc on our health, causing illnesses, such as heart problems, excess weight, stomach and digestive problems as well as depression and anxiety. B vitamins can help with stress by working with brain chemistry and balancing neurotransmitters, thus aiding us in achieving balance over stress.
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is important in keeping the nervous system healthy and plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy mental attitude. This water-based vitamin is essential to converting glucose into energy. B1 can help stabilize mood and improve memory and concentration.
Vitamin B3 supports the functions of the nervous and digestive system. The body can produce niacin from the amino acid L-tryptophan. A deficiency in B3 can cause depression, irritability, stress and mood disturbances. Niacin functions to help the body release energy from carbohydrates. This can control blood sugar and maintain nervous system function.
Vitamin B6 can help the body manufacture neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which aids in the body’s ability to cope with depression, stress and anxiety. Vitamin B6 may also help boost the immune system during times of anxiety.
B9, Folic Acid
Folic acid is an essential vitamin needed for energy. The body is unable to produce folic acid on its own. If there is a deficiency in folic acid, people may experience depression and fatigue which may produce higher levels of stress.
Vitamin B12 could be called the memory vitamin because the organ that depends on it the most is the brain. B12 deficiencies may cause mental confusion, neurological changes and make it difficult to cope with stress. This water-based vitamin is significant in the creation of the sleep hormone melatonin and the mood hormone serotonin.
Other Important B Vitamins
B2 is necessary for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. B5, pantothenic acid, enhances the activity of the immune system and, with this improvement, the body can use its natural ability to withstand stressful conditions. B7, biotin, helps the body process glucose and can help balance moods and, in turn, stabilize stress.
B vitamins are vital for optimal mental health and stress. Water soluble, they need to be replenished on a daily basis. Sources rich in B vitamins include cereals and grains, meats, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, peas, beans and vegetables. Taking a B-complex vitamin, which contains most the major B vitamins, might be the best option to help reduce stress. A good B-complex vitamin can help digestive metabolic processes which might be affected negatively since stress slows digestive processes.
- The Nutrition Desk Reference; Robert Garrison, Elizabeth Somer; 1977.
- Depression Free Naturally; Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D.; 1999.
- HelpGuide.org: Stress Signs