Traumatised survivors of the Christchurch earthquakes
benefited from taking daily doses of vitamins and minerals, a
new study has found.
Research by the University of Canterbury showed that stress,
trauma, anxiety and depression for people who suffered
post-quake psychological distress "improved markedly" after
taking daily doses of micronutrients for a month-long period.
Associate professor of psychology Julia Rucklidge led the
four-week study on 91 members of the public just 10 weeks
after the February 22, 2011 disaster, which claimed 185
"We found that under high stress following a natural disaster
it would be beneficial to take a supplement to compensate for
the nutrient depletion that occurs when the body is dealing
with chronic stress," Prof Rucklidge said.
Participants took one of two supplements - Berocca, a high
dose vitamin B complex, or either a low or high dosage of a
broader-based nutrient supplement (CNE), which contains more
vitamins and minerals than Berocca.
"We wanted to see if we could come up with a simple solution
to help people with on-going chronic stress associated with
the earthquakes," Prof Rucklidge said.
"There are a lot of treatments to help people with stress
associated with a natural disaster such as
cognitive-behavioural therapy, medications, psychological
first aid and simulators for the reductions of post-traumatic
stress disorder, and many of these treatments have been found
to be helpful.
"Unfortunately, medications often come with side effects that
some people can't tolerate.
"The other alternatives can be expensive and more challenging
to reach a large population in a short time.
"That's the appeal of using micronutrients as a treatment
because you can purchase them easily and they are widely
The research has been published in the UK journal Human
The study was conducted during a period of ongoing stress
where participants experienced 45 aftershocks of greater than
magnitude four, including the 6.3 quake on June 13 2011.
There was also the Government announcement of homes being
zoned red, green or orange, and there was constant disruption
in the city.
"A lot of the participants were directly affected during this
time," Prof Rucklidge said.
"It was such a successful technique that we will be
conducting our studies this way in the future."