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Men's Social Stress Linked to Decreased Life Expectancy

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  • Men's Social Stress Linked to Decreased Life Expectancy

A 2014 study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health concluded that middle-aged men are more likely to experience premature death due to worrying and frequent arguing with partners, relatives, friends and neighbours. The study, which sampled nearly 10,000 men and women, showed that men who experienced frequent stressful social situations such as worries and demands from their spouses and children had a 50-100% increased mortality risk.[1]

Evidence like this shows that even the smallest day-to-day worries and demands from family and friends, if frequent enough, can shorten life, warrants serious consideration as to what nutrients can assist men who find themselves in this situation.

The B group vitamins are important contributors to nervous system health and stress reduction. Vitamins B3, B5 and B6 in particular play a critical role in supporting the body’s stress response with vitamin B5 supporting adrenal function and, together with folic acid, inositol and vitamin B6, are involved in the production of mood-enhancing hormones such as serotonin. Deficiency of the B vitamins, particularly B6 and B5 are associated with mood alterations and vulnerability to the symptoms of stress.[2,3]

Similarly, magnesium is essential for a healthy mood and to combat stress. Sub-chronic and chronic stress are almost always associated with lowered magnesium status as anxiety and emotional stress deplete magnesium in two ways – by stimulating neuro-endocrine factors such as catecholamines which increase magnesium urinary excretion; and by increasing the hormone aldosterone which also increases magnesium excretion and affects magnesium homeostasis.[4,5]

Also beneficial are adaptogenic herbs such as Schisandra canadensis which has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to improve the body’s resilience to physical and emotional stressors.[2]

Rhodiola rosea has also been traditionally used to support and balance the stress response. Studies show rhodiola may fight fatigue and boost mental performance in people struggling with stress-induced burnout.[6] Similar benefits to emotional and mental health were observed in a 2007 study showing that adults with mild to moderate depression who took either 340-680mg of rhodiola extract for six weeks experienced significant improvements in overall depression, insomnia and emotional instability.[7,8]


  1. Lund R, Christensen U, Nilsson CJ, et al. Stressful social relations and mortality: a prospective cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health 2014;doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203675 [Abstract]
  2. Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and Natural Substances: An evidence-based guide. 3rd ed. Sydney: Elsevier Australia, 2010. [Abstract]
  3. McCarty MF. High dose pyridoxine as an ‘anti-stress’ strategy. Med Hypotheses 2000;54(5):803-807. [Abstract]
  4. Cernak I, Savic V, Kotur J, et al. Alterations in magnesium and oxidative status during chronic emotional stress. Magnes Res 2000;13(1):29-36. [Abstract]
  5. Grases G, Pérez-Castelló JA, Sanches P, et al. Anxiety and stress among science students: Study of calcium and magnesium alterations.Magnes Res 2006;19:102-106. [Abstract]
  6. Olsson EM, von Schéele B, Panossian AG. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extractSHR-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med 2009;75(2):105-112. [Abstract]
  7. Darbinyan V, Aslanyan G, Amroyan E, et al. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.Nord J Psychiatry 2007;61(5):343-348. [Abstract]
  8. Bensky D, Clavey S, Stoger E. Chinese herbal medicine materia medica, 3rd ed. Seattle: Eastland Press, 2004 [Abstract]


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Vanessa Wong
Vanessa Wong holds an Advanced Diploma in Naturopathy and Diploma in Nutrition from Nature Care College. She has been practicing nutrition since 2004, developing nutritional seminars and publications for corporate clients and leading neutraceutical companies. Her passion lies with nutrition, particularly nutritional support for those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She is married and a mother to three very food-loving children, each a product of her other area of focus - childhood nutrition!