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Occupational stress of ageing Australians

A study investigating the effect of multivitamin supplementation on the health and psychological wellbeing of older working Australians has shown preliminary positive findings concerning the reduction of workplace stress and levels of depression.

Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre of Human Psychopharmacology (CHP) has been assessing the psychological and physical health of participants aged 30 to 65 years. They are analysing the effects of this supplement on employees' stress levels, cognitive performance, physiological and cardiovascular health.

The effect of work related stress on the health, wellbeing and productivity of the working population has been identified as a major issue facing Australian society, with the effects not only impacting on an individual’s performance at work but also their personal life.

Led by Professor Con Stough and Dr Luke Downey, the study uses online questionnaires to measure stress levels, as well as computerised tests of cognitive performance such as memory, spatial perception, problem solving and reaction time which steadily decrease as we age.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain is also used to assess the structural and functional aspects of the brain related to stress, and how these are altered after six months of multivitamin supplementation.

“Despite the widespread use of vitamins to compensate for the busy lifestyle and irregular eating patterns that often accompany busy modern lifestyles, there are few controlled trials directly investigating the relationship between multivitamins, psychological strain, cardiovascular health and levels of anxiety and depression.” Professor Stough says.

Getting enough vitamins and minerals, according to Professor Stough, is essential for many processes that effect brain function.

“Through this study we want to determine whether vitamin B supplementation can reduce occupational stress and improve cognition and other aspects of quality of life in full time working adults,” he says.

The treatments used in the study contain a combination of B vitamins that have been identified by scientific studies to improve a range of molecular processes that are thought to underpin our body’s ability to manage stress. 

The treatments have already been shown to reduce stress and strain in the research team's previous published study.

The study, now in its second year and expected to finish in 2015, has approval from the Swinburne University Human Research Ethics Committee and is partly industry funded by Blackmores. 

People aged 30 to 65 years, who are interested in taking part in the study, can contact Clare Billings on (03) 9214 8229 or nutra@swin.edu.au

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