Supplements That Can Help Reduce Stress
Posted by Kayla Phillips on
Most of us live with a low-simmering level of stress from trying to juggle work and family responsibilities to navigating sudden problems, such as a job loss or health scare. And now, we are all experiencing added stress from the anxiety and unknowns of living in the age of COVID-19.
Elevated stress hormones, especially cortisol, can increase inflammation, reduce immunity, and raise the risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic stress can negatively impact every aspect of your health and contribute to a wide range of problems that include:
- sleep problems
- mood disturbances, such as sadness, anger, or irritability
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
Stress is a problem we clearly need to address, but what can we do?
The good news is that there are numerous strategies that have been shown to be effective for relieving stress, including eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, talking to friends or a mental health professional, and engaging in relaxation techniques and meditation, just to name a few.
Another stress-relief tool at your disposal: dietary supplements, some of which have been shown to help lower anxiety levels, tame sleep troubles, ease depression symptoms, and more. Here are two (2) products that may help as you start your journey toward a more relaxed (and healthy) you.
Magnesium is a mineral the body uses to regulate dozens of processes, from the functioning of nerves and muscles to the synthesizing of protein and bone.
Research points to magnesium as possibly being helpful in people who have mild anxiety. A review of 18 studies published in May 2017 in the journal Nutrients found that magnesium supplements may improve stress and anxiety but also noted that the quality of the evidence was poor and more research needs to be done before magnesium can be established as a stress reducer.
Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods. That said, many of us aren’t getting enough, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). The ODS recommends 310 to 320 mg of magnesium a day for most women and 400 to 420 mg for men.
Melatonin, a hormone made in the pineal gland, is released when it gets dark, helping keep your internal clock on track and prime your body for sleep.
Melatonin is famous for helping people nod off at night, but it may also help lower anxiety levels in people who are scheduled for surgery. A review published in April 2015 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews of more than 770 people found that melatonin may be as effective at reducing anxiety presurgery as midazolam, a sedative.
Melatonin supplements are easy to find as tablets, capsules, drops and most conveniently, gummies. Most come in doses of 1 mg or 5 mg.
B complex vitamins
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.
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.
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.
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.
Available as capsules or in liquid form.
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