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Article Title

THE EFFECT OF A DIETARY STRESS SUPPLEMENT ON PHYSIOLOGICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL MEASURES IN COLLEGIATE STUDENTS

Abstract

C. Contreras, S.J. Brooks, C. Richardson, A.F. Brown

University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

College students report an immense amount of stress, which can lead to an increased production of the stress hormone cortisol. Chronic elevated levels of cortisol may be implicated in adverse physiological responses such as increased heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP). PURPOSE: To assess the effectiveness of a daily stress and mood dietary supplement in supporting optimal mood balance and reducing daily stress among collegiate-aged men and women. METHODS: Participants (age 18-22) were randomly assigned to either a placebo (n = 29) or supplement (n = 27) group following a 1-week placebo lead in period. During the 8-week intervention, resting HR, BP and salivary cortisol were collected in weeks 2, 5 and 8. In addition to physiological measurements, depression, anxiety, stress, and affect were assessed. Multilevel modeling using the MIXED procedure was used to analyze whether changes in physiological and psychological outcomes occurred throughout the 8-week study, and if so, whether these changes were a result of supplementation. RESULTS: There was a significant between-person and within-person variability following the 8-week study in cortisol awakening response (CAR), heart rate, blood pressure, depression, anxiety, stress, positive affect, and negative affect (all p < 0.001). There was a significant negative linear change in CAR (p < 0.05), depression (p < 0.01), stress (p < 0.001), positive affect (p < 0.001), and negative affect (p < 0.05) throughout the study. Further, there was a reduction in CAR in the supplement group (week 2: 0.159±0.228 ml/dL, week 5: 0.114±0.196 ml/dL, week 8: 0.0702±0.151 ml/dL; p < 0.05) and placebo group (week 2: 0.138±0.277 ml/dL, week 5: 0.110±0.174 ml/dL, week 8: 0.0726±0.0966 ml/dL; p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: These results suggest that supplementation may help maintain a healthy physiological response during stressful life events. There was no significant effect of supplementation on HR and BP; however, cortisol responded positively. Although the supplementation group demonstrated higher CAR levels at baseline, by week 8, CAR levels were lower compared to the placebo group. Given that the participants were in a normal range for salivary cortisol, future research should consider including participants with elevated cortisol to test the effects of this daily supplementation.

Supported by ONNIT Labs.

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