Vitamins and Supplements for Stress
While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.
Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.
Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and good nutrition are some of the best ways to better equip your body to combat stress, but several vitamins and supplements can also help.
Here are some of the vitamins and supplements that help you combat stress:
- How to use: A study investigating the safety and efficacy of ashwagandha supplements in people with chronic stress noted that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha for 60 days was safe and well-tolerated.
- Best used for: Ashwagandha is good for lowering stress levels, elevating mood, and lowering cortisol levels.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb native to India, where it has been used in Indian Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems.
Similarly to Rhodiola, ashwagandha is thought to enhance your body’s resilience to physical and mental stress.
In one study on the stress-relieving effects of ashwagandha, researchers randomized 60 individuals with mild stress to receive 240 mg of a standardized ashwagandha extract or a placebo daily for 60 days.
Compared with the placebo, supplementing with ashwagandha was strongly associated with greater reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. Ashwagandha was also linked to a 23% reduction in morning levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
What’s more, a review of five studies examining the effects of ashwagandha on anxiety and stress observed that those who supplemented with ashwagandha extract scored better on tests measuring levels of stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
- How to use: One older study showed that taking supplements with 200 mg of l-theanine reduced measures of stress, such as heart rate, in response to performing a mentally stressful task.
- Best used for: L-theanine is a natural component of tea leaves that has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
L-theanine is an amino acid most commonly found in tea leaves. It has been studied for its ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress without exerting sedative effects.
A review of 21 studies involving nearly 68,000 people found that drinking green tea was associated with reduced anxiety and improvements in memory and attention.
These effects were attributed to the synergistic effects of the caffeine and L-theanine in the tea, as each ingredient on its own was found to have a lesser impact. However, studies suggest that L-theanine by itself may still help relieve stress.
In another study in 34 people, drinking a beverage containing 200 mg of L-theanine and other nutrients lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol in response to a stressful task that involved multitasking.
L-theanine is well tolerated and safe when supplemented with at its effective dose for relaxation, which ranges from 200–600 mg per day in capsule form.
For comparison, L-theanine comprises 1–2% of the dry weight of leaves, corresponding to 10–20 mg of L-theanine per commercially available tea bag.
B Complex Vitamins
- How to use: In one 12-week study involving 60 people with work-related stress, those taking one of two forms of a vitamin B complex supplement experienced less work-related stress symptoms, including depression, anger, and fatigue, compared with those in the placebo group.
- Best used for: The eight B vitamins, collectively known as B complex vitamins, may improve mood and reduce stress by either lowering homocysteine levels or maintaining healthy levels of this amino acid.
B complex vitamins usually contain all eight B vitamins. These vitamins play an important role in metabolism by transforming the food you eat into usable energy. B vitamins are also essential for heart and brain health.
Food sources of B vitamins include grains, meats, legumes, eggs, dairy products, and leafy greens. Interestingly, high doses of B vitamins have been suggested to improve symptoms of stress, such as mood and energy levels, by lowering blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine.
High levels of homocysteine are associated with stress and an increased risk of several conditions, including heart disease, dementia, and colorectal cancer.
What’s more, a review of 8 studies involving 1,292 people found that taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement improved several aspects of mood, including stress, anxiety, and energy.
Though the supplement contained several other vitamins and minerals, the study’s authors suggested that supplements containing high doses of B vitamins may be more effective at improving aspects of mood.
Another study observed similar results, suggesting that supplementing with B vitamins as part of a multivitamin and mineral supplement may improve mood and stress by lowering homocysteine levels.
However, it’s unclear whether people who already have low homocysteine levels will experience these same effects.
Vitamin B complex supplements are generally safe when taken within the recommended dosage ranges. However, they may cause harmful side effects like nerve pain when taken in large amounts. Plus, they’re water-soluble, so your body excretes any excess through urine.
Many things, such as job, money, health, or relationship factors, can cause stress.
Several vitamins and other supplements have been linked to reduced stress symptoms, including ashwagandha.
L-theanine and B complex vitamins may also help increase your body’s resistance to life’s stressors.
Always talk with your doctor before trying a new supplement, especially if you’re taking other medications, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant.
If stress continues to be a problem in your life, consider speaking with a medical professional or therapist about possible solutions.
Original Source: Healthline.com