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Nutritional supplements help during and after earthquakes

Nutritional supplements help during and after earthquakes, trial finds

August 9, 2012

Nutritional supplements have been found to help people during earthquakes and in the stress periods after earthquakes, according to a significant University of Canterbury study.

Associate professor Neville Blampied, who headed the clinical trial, also found benefits could be more marked for people with an existing psychological condition.

Blampied has just returned from giving a paper on the trial at the International Congress of Psychology in Cape Town. The event attracted had 5500 delegates from 103 nations.

"Natural disasters such as earthquakes expose whole communities to prolonged, severe distress and trauma. While in the long-term many people display resilience to such stress, almost all may be adversely affected in the short-term, and a minority (up to 30 percent in some disasters) may experience long-term adverse consequences," Blampied said today following his return to the University of Canterbury (UC).

The stress from a disaster not only affected individuals, but also families, community groups, and local and regional organisations and institutions, with stress at one level interacting with stress and distress at other levels, with the potential for moderate harmful outcomes.

"The series of catastrophic earthquakes that occurred in Christchurch, last year and in 2010 provided us with an opportunity to study the impact of nutritional supplements on resilience.

"Our first study involved 33 adults all with a pre-quake diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and baseline measures of depression, anxiety, and stress. At the time of the September 4, 2010 earthquake half the participants were taking a nutritional supplement Those taking the supplement showed reduced levels of anxiety, depression, and stress in the immediate post-quake period."

Blampied said their second UC study involving 78 people occurred two months following the February 22 earthquake last year. Again those taking nutritional supplements showed significant reductions in stress, anxiety, and trauma symptoms over the trial.

Nutritional supplements had the potential to enhance resilience following a disaster, he said. The supplements contained 14 vitamins, 16 minerals, three amino acids and three antioxidants. They had also shown in other international studies to benefit bipolar disorder, autism and ADHD symptoms.

Blampied represented the New Zealand Psychological Society in Cape Town and also the executive board of the International Association of Applied Psychology.

ENDS

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