Where there is a negative symptom, there is a supplement to address it. Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements are more popular than ever. They can affect mood, performance, focus, and even stress levels. In fact, there are supplements that help to naturally reduce stress, and it helps to know what they are and how they affect the body.
Most people don’t go a single day without experiencing some level of stress, no matter how minute it may be. Juggling a child’s schedule with your own, planning projects at work, or dealing with the arrival of family members can elevate stress levels. In the case of the world in which we live, the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 can increase stress. When stress levels are too high, though, it can be harmful to the body.
Chronic stress or high stress levels can impair immune function and increase the risk of high blood pressure, inflammation, stroke, and heart attack. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic stress negatively affects all aspects of a person’s health. People need to address stress and not simply sweep it under the rug. “Shrugging it off” isn’t the mindset people should have about stress.
How Can Supplements Help?
While a healthy diet, regular exercise, proper sleep, and healthy communication can regulate stress levels, they aren’t always enough. Either that, or people simply cannot adhere to the type of regimen that naturally reduces stress. This is where supplements enter the equation. Both vitamins and minerals help the body perform optimally, but it’s important to get the dosage right. You may have to discuss what supplements to take and how much of them you need with a nutritionist or doctor before you start taking them freely. The following supplements may improve stress or help the body cope with it.
L-theanine is an amino acid that naturally exists in green tea. Despite being in a caffeinated tea, L-theanine has anti-stress and relaxing effects on the body. A 2019 study in the Nutrients journal monitored adults who consumed 200 milligrams (mg) of L-theanine or a placebo every night for one month. The results indicated that the L-theanine group saw an improvement in sleep, depression, stress, and anxiety.
Although this is a common herbal remedy for insomnia and anxiety, valerian root also helps to reduce stress. Valerian root contains a number of beneficial plant compounds, including isovaleric acid and valerenic acid. According to research studies, valerian interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a chemical messenger in the brain and nervous system that aids with nerve signal regulation. Valerenic acid inhibits the breakdown of GABA, which increases feelings of calm or relaxation. You can consume valerian root tea or take it as a supplement.
Many healers incorporated this lemon-scented herb in various herbal remedies during the Middle Ages. Now, it regularly grows around the world and has been used as a mild sedative or calming agent. A 2019 study followed 80 people who underwent coronary artery bypass surgery. Half the group received 500 mg of lemon balm three times daily, while the other group received a placebo. At the end of the study, the lemon balm group improved sleep quality by 54% and reduced anxiety by 49%. Lemon balm is commonly made into a tea, but supplements are also available.
Some nutritionists refer to magnesium as the forgotten mineral because many people fail to consume enough via their diet. The body uses magnesium in various processes, including muscle and nerve function and protein synthesis. Several research studies indicated that magnesium helps to relieve mild anxiety. A 2017 review of 18 studies found that magnesium not only lowered stress levels, but also aided with anxiety reduction. More research is still necessary to determine how effective it is at lowering stress levels. You can readily find magnesium in nuts, seeds, leafy greens, whole grains, and legumes.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it enhances the body’s resilience to physical and mental stress. It’s native to India, where it was popularly used in Ayurveda. One study monitored 60 patients with mild stress. Half the group took 240 mg of ashwagandha and the other half took a placebo daily for 60 days. The results found that people experienced lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. A review of five studies determined that ashwagandha was beneficial for people who needed help managing stress, anxiety, and fatigue.