Multivitamins may boost alertness and mood for men: RCT data

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dietary supplement

Multivitamins may boost alertness and mood for men: RCT data
A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement with added herbal ingredients may boost alertness and feelings of ‘general day-to-day well-being’, suggest data from a randomized controlled trial from Australia.

Eight weeks of supplementation with the commercial product Swisse Men’s Ultivite containing vitamins, mineral, antioxidants, and plant extracts were associated with reductions in measures of depression, anxiety and stress, according to findings published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental​.

“In the present study, there were no changes in the placebo group, signifying a real effect of multivitamin supplementation,”​ wrote researchers led by Andrew Pipingas from the NICM Collaborative Centre for Neurocognition at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

“The present findings are, particularly, relevant for older people who may be at risk of experiencing subclinical depressive symptoms.”

The study was funded by Swisse Vitamins Pty Ltd.


The new study follows hot on the heels of a report in Psychopharmacology ​(doi: 10.1007/s00213-011-2481-3) from the same researchers, which indicated that a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement with added herbal ingredients may boost memory in older women, but no effects were seen for other mental processes.

Multivitamin and mineral supplements are the most frequently used supplements in industrialised countries, where there is a common belief that they ensure an adequate nutrient intake, and boost overall health.

Most multivitamins contain a wide spectrum of nutrients, including antioxidant vitamins, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium and selenium – all of which have been inversely related to heart disease by previous research.

The supplement used in the Australian study contained vitamins, mineral, antioxidants, and plant extracts.

Pipingas and his co-workers recruited 50 men aged between 50 and 69 and randomly assigned them to receive the multivitamin supplement or placebo for eight weeks.

The effect of the supplement on mood and stress was assessed using a range of questionnaires, and results showed improvements in the multivitamin group according to the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS), but no benefits were recorded using the Perceived Stress Scale and Profile of Mood States.

Significant improvements in alertness were also reported by the researchers.


Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers said that a number of different nutrients contained in the supplement have previously been linked to mood. These included vitamins C and D, and the herbal ingredients ginseng, ginkgo biloba and gotu kol.

“In the present study, the participants were instructed to maintain their usual diet but no record of habitual intake was taken,” ​explained the researchers.

“We cannot rule out the possibility that these effects may have been more pronounced in individuals who routinely consume a diet low in vitamins and minerals (or indeed less evident in those with higher intakes).

“Furthermore, the sample was relatively small; a larger study is required to confirm and possibly strengthen the present findings.”

Source: Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/hup.124
“The effect of multivitamin supplementation on mood and stress in healthy older men”
Authors: E. Harris, J. Kirk, R. Rowsell, L. Vitetta, A. Sali, A.B. Scholey, A. Pipingas

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