For almost everyone, stress in inevitable. It engulfs us during stressful life situations, like being in a rough relationship. It creeps up in small bursts during our daily lives, like when we’re stuck in traffic or late for an appointment. Staying calm during life’s stressful situations isn’t easy, hence most of us could use a few extra tools when we’re dealing with stress.
What you may not realize is that a nutritional deficiency can magnify your stress. As such, you can minimize the effects of stressful situations by putting the right nutrients into your body. Here are some supplements for stress that research has shown effective.
Why is dealing with stress important?
When you become stressed, you are more susceptible to emotional and physical illness.
On a psychological and energetic level, being stressed can be distracting and very tiring. You’re less likely to be effective in accomplishing tasks because stress can preoccupy the mind. Moreover, stress can leave your body feeling drained, even exhausted. To boot, inability to handle stress can result in poor sleep.
On a physical level, when you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol. This prepares your body for either fight or flight.
When this happens, your heart rate and blood flow increase. As well, you start taking in more oxygen. Furthermore, your immune system becomes taxed, thus reducing your ability to fight off pathogens and other germs. Finally, stress can lead to increased inflammation in the body. The scientific community has linked inflammation to many diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
When daily responsibilities create stress that’s difficult to manage, a magnesium supplement may help. Personally, when I started taking Natural Vitality’s Magnesium Anti Stress Powder, I’ve noticed a significant difference in how I handle stressful situations.
As per Dr. Mark Hyman, director the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine:
Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency. This critical mineral is actually responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes and to help muscles relax.
You can increase your magnesium intake by eating foods such as avocados, Brazil nuts, brown rice, cashews, dark leafy greens, oily fish, and raw cacao.
Furthermore, many nutritionists believe that we could all benefit from taking a magnesium supplement. Dr. Mercola specifies that an adult may consume 400-1000 milligrams of magnesium, which they should take with potassium bicarbonate, to get the full benefit.
BioCalm – All-Natural Stress Relief Capsules Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate and Organic Anti-Stress Superfood Ingredients
This water-soluble amino acid promotes relaxation. It is present in the tea plant, Camellia sinensis and is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. A study out of Unilever Food and Health Research Institute in The Netherlands found that L-theanine “has a significant effect on the general state of mental alertness or arousal.” Furthermore, the same study discovered that ingesting 50mg of T-theanine resulted in increased alpha brain activity.
Confirming this claim, the Cleveland Clinic states:
Clinical trials have shown that l-theanine increases activity in your brain’s alpha wavelength. This wave … taps into your intuitive voice and encourages an attentive, relaxed, creative state. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, or having trouble focusing, try sipping on green or black tea rather than coffee, and see if you notice a difference.
Have you ever wondered why people offer you a hot cup of tea when you’re stressed or worried? It calms and relaxes you. As such, green or black tea may be a good supplement to help you handle stress in your life.
3. Vitamin B12
Getting sufficient vitamin B12 promotes alertness, good memory, concentration, and stress relief. The National Institute of Health specifies:
Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.
Vitamin B12 is present predominantly in seafood, such as clams, trout, salmon and tuna. In addition, you can get B12 from other animal products, such grass-fed beef, organic milk and yogurt, and organic eggs and poultry. As well, food producers may fortify certain products with B12, such as coconut milk, cereals and nutritional yeast.
A healthy gut is essential to overall good health. This includes mental health and our ability to become resilient in stressful situations. On the other hand, an unhealthy gut flora can lead to issues like anxiety and depression.
Researchers at the University College Cork in Ireland studied the effect that bacteria, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, has on the brain. They published the following statement:
These findings highlight the important role of bacteria in the bidirectional communication of the gut-brain axis and suggest that certain organisms may prove to be useful therapeutic adjuncts in stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Living in a depressed or anxious state makes handing stressful situations very challenging. Therefore, supplementing with beneficial bacteria may help.
Potassium is a mineral that offers the body many health benefits, such as a lower blood pressure and optimal muscular function. Researchers at Deakin University in Australia tested the impact of a low-sodium, high-potassium diet (LNAHK) on mood. They concluded:
There was a greater improvement in depression, tension, vigour and the POMS global score for the LNAHK diet compared to (DASH)-type diet.
In conclusion, a LNAHK diet appeared to have a positive effect on overall mood.
It’s no surprise, then, that potassium deficiency can result in feelings of stress and anxiety.
A potassium-rich diet consists of leafy greens, especially beet greens and spinach. Other produce to include are bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes.
Ayurvedic medicine practitioners use ashwagandha to treat stress and counteract inflammation. It is also used to boost energy and stamina. A randomized control trial at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine sought to explore the effectiveness of neuropathic care on anxiety symptoms.
The researchers treated participants in the neuropathic care (NC) group with various breathing techniques and 300mg of ashwagandha. Another group received psychotherapy intervention (PT). The trial lasted 8-12 weeks. The researchers discovered the following:
Final BAI scores decreased by 56.5% (p<0.0001) in the NC group and 30.5% (p<0.0001) in the PT group. BAI group scores were significantly decreased in the NC group compared to PT group (p = 0.003). Significant differences between groups were also observed in mental health, concentration, fatigue, social functioning, vitality, and overall quality of life with the NC group exhibiting greater clinical benefit.
7. Valerian Root
Another ancient medicinal herb used to treat anxiety and restlessness is Valerian root. You may also know it for its ability to aide with sleeplessness. Here’s what the University of Maryland Medical Center has to say about this plant:
Scientists aren’t sure how valerian works, but they believe it increases the amount of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA helps regulate nerve cells and has a calming effect on anxiety. Drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) also work by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain.
Medical professionals agree that stress is harmful to the mind and body. Taking supplements for stress can help you increase your resilience in stressful situations. You will be physically better prepared to handle stress. As a result, this will reduce the likelihood of your stress turning into physical and mental health problems.
Sources are linked within the article content.
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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