There’s no denying that stress has become a constant fixture of our modern life. Work, family life, relationships, money, and now the COVID-19 pandemic are just a few of the many stressors we have to deal with on a daily basis.
By now, you probably already know that stress can take a significant toll on both physical and mental health. Left unchecked, stress can become chronic and lead to headaches, migraines, upset stomach, anxiety, fatigue, and more. Chronic stress can also increase your risk for heart disease, reduce immunity, and trigger sleep problems.
The good news is that you also have a wide range of tools for managing stress at your disposal. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, talking to a mental health professional, and implementing stress-relieving techniques like yoga and meditation can make a world of difference. And certain vitamins and herbs can also help.
Here are 6 vitamins and supplements for stress, reviewed by science.
What is it?: Valerian is a perennial plant that grows wild throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The root of this plant has been used since ancient Greece to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety as well as inducing sleep.
Valerian root is packed with valerenic acid, a chemical compound known for improving symptoms of stress and promoting healthy sleep. In fact, valerian root is often called “nature’s Valium” because of its mild sedative and tranquilizing effects.
What the science says: Evidence suggests that valerian root might interact with a chemical messenger in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Low GABA levels are associated with chronic stress, sleep problems, and anxiety. The valerianic acid in valerian root has been shown to inhibit GABA breakdown in the brain, supporting feelings of relaxation and calmness.
How to take it: Valerian is available in several forms, including capsules, teas, tinctures, or liquid extracts. The dosage for sleeping difficulties ranges from 300 to 600 mg. However, you may want to take a lower dosage if you want to take valerian extract for stress and anxiety during the day as it can cause drowsiness.
What is it?: Green tea is not only delicious, it also has a laundry list of proven health benefits. Native to China and India, green tea is made from the unoxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. It is high in l-theanine, a powerful amino acid shown to reduce stress and anxiety and support sleep.
What the science says: Studies show that the l-theanine found in green tea can promote relaxation and reduce stress without causing drowsiness. And there’s also evidence that green tea can improve memory and boost concentration by lowering levels of the stress hormone corticosterone, which can interfere with learning and attention during periods of high stress.
How to take it: Brew yourself a cup and drink it whenever you’re feeling stressed. You can also find green tea and l-theanine extract in pills, powders, and liquids.
What is it?: Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub native to India, Africa, and the Middle East. It is classified as an adaptogen, which are natural stress-relieving plants and compounds that help enhance your body’s ability to fight stress.
What the science says: Research suggests that ashwagandha supplements can reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost memory and attention. In a 2019 study published in Medicine, participants with mild stress who took 240 mg of ashwagandha daily reported a significant decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression.
How to take it: The easiest way to take ashwagandha is through a supplement like Akeso’s Calm & Clever daily formula. You can also find this herb in capsules, powders, and liquid extracts.
What is it?: Also called water hyssop or herb of grace, bacopa monnieri is a medicinal herb typically found in tropical, wet environments. Celebrated for its nootropic, adaptogenic, and antioxidant effects, the benefits for this herb are said to be many. Evidence suggests that bacopa may boost cognitive function, improve stress and anxiety, and may even reduce symptoms of ADHD.
What the science says: Studies show that bacopa monnieri could influence the activity of certain enzymes involved in the stress response. Experts think bacopa works by modulating the levels of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and dopamine in the brain and nervous system to induce a sense of calmness and tranquility.
How to take it: Bacopa monnieri can be found in the form of capsules and powders. The recommended dosage varies depending on the product you purchase. In research studies, typical doses range from 300 to 450 mg daily.
What is it?: Delicious to cook with and incredibly good for you, sage leaves are loaded with over 160 different polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that act as antioxidants. As a complementary therapy, sage has been shown to fight fatigue, boost memory, and support cognitive function.
What the science says: In a 2017 review of studies, researchers reported that sage could improve alertness and cognitive skills in mice. Other studies have found that this herb can protect neurons against oxidative stress and damage, promote learning, and boost memory.
How to take it: Sprinkle dried sage on your favorite fish or chicken dishes, brew a tasty tea with its leaves, or take it as a supplement. While there is no standardized dosage, doses of up to 1,000 milligrams daily are considered safe and well-tolerated.
Vitamin B complex
What is it?: The vitamin B-complex is composed of eight B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12). B vitamins are extremely important for your body’s overall function and health. They have a direct impact on your metabolism, brain function, and immunity.
What the science says: Studies show that individuals with low levels of vitamin B12 may be more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and anxiety. And chronic stress can deplete levels of vitamin B6 in the body. On the other hand, people who consume higher levels of B vitamins seem to experience less work-related stress.
How to take it: Unlike many other vitamins, your body doesn’t store B vitamins. That means that you must get it from food or supplements to maintain adequate levels. Most people fill their daily needs through a balanced diet filled with B vitamin-rich foods like leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, mushrooms, and lean protein. But if you are going through a particularly tough time, you may want to consider amping up your intake with a daily supplement to ensure your body has the levels it needs to deal with stress.
While there are plenty of stress-relieving supplements on the market, not all supplements are created equal. To receive the benefits you expect, be sure to use high-quality vitamins at the proper doses proven effective in human clinical studies. Follow the link to learn more about a quality 7 in 1 combination supplement for reducing stress and improving memory at the same time.
What is it: Huperzine A is a chemical compound extracted from a Chinese medical herb called Huperzia serrata, sometimes known as Chinese club moss.
What the science says: Studies show that huperzine A helps increase a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which supports different types of memory, including long-term and working memory. This herbal compound seems to have significant neuroprotective effects, especially among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Several studies, including this 2013 review of clinical trials, have found that huperzine A improves both the cognitive function and daily functioning of patients with AD. And a small clinical trial of 34 high school students found that those taking a huperzine A supplement performed better in memory and language tests, suggesting the herb’s memory-boosting effects could extend beyond individuals with AD.
How to take it: Huperzine A supplements can be found in pill or tablet form. To date, there is no recommended huperzine A dosage. It has been studied at oral doses of 100 to 300 mcg daily for memory boosting and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is it: Vitamin C, the most renowned of all vitamins and supplements, owes its fame to its potent antioxidant activity and involvement in a long list of health benefits. It is an essential vitamin, which means that your body can’t produce it but needs it to survive. So you must consume it through vitamin C-rich foods like citruses, broccoli, kiwi, bell peppers, and tomatoes or dietary supplements to reap its health-boosting potentials.
What the science says: A higher intake of vitamin C may protect you against age-related cognitive decline and impaired thinking. Low levels of vitamin C, sometimes known as ascorbic acid, are associated with a diminished ability to think and remember things.
In contrast, research suggests that individuals with intact cognitive functions are more likely to have higher serum concentrations of vitamin C. Animal studies have also shown that vitamin C intake may reduce levels of cortisol — aka the “stress hormone,” and could minimize the signs of emotional stress.
How to take it: Vitamin C supplements are sold in many forms, including effervescent tablets, powders, capsules, liquid concentrates, chewable gummies, and more. The best way to take vitamin C for stress is as a part of a multivitamin or combined supplement. These preparations are typically tailored to specific groups (men, women, etc.) and boost your intake of other important nutrients as well.
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