Stress is the body’s natural physiological reaction that helps us deal with difficult situations. However, when it turns into a chronic condition, it can disrupt various bodily functions and even lead to fatal diseases. More and more people experience chronic stress today, bringing the need for stress management into focus.
Dealing with stress requires a comprehensive approach, including a change in daily habits, a nutritious diet, and taking supplements. Coping with stress may also require psychotherapy and medication.
This article looks into vitamins for stress management, explaining which vitamins can be of help and how to use them. It also lists other nutrients and lifestyle practices found to promote relaxation and ease stress.
The following vitamins best support the body’s response to chronic stress. Their deficiencies increase the likelihood of stress disrupting other bodily functions and causing illness.
B vitamins are essential for energy metabolism, helping to maintain a stable mood. Several B vitamins (B1, B6, B9, B12) participate in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that affect our emotional state, and their deficiency is linked to neurological and mental issues.
The best food sources of B vitamins include:
Note: Learn how vitamin B12 injections can help speed up metabolism, regulate sleep, and improve mood.
Vitamin D is primarily responsible for calcium absorption and maintaining strong bones, but recent research also links a deficiency to mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Because of its role in the regulation of serotonin and dopamine levels, protection against pathogens, and improved immune function, vitamin D may provide an adaptive response to chronic stress.
Our bodies produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun. We also obtain it in small amounts through food, namely fatty fish and fish oil. Since health professionals recommend limited sun exposure to protect the skin from UV radiation, the best way to take adequate amounts of vitamin D is through dietary supplements or monthly vitamin D IV infusion sessions.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant powerhouse, helping to improve immunity and regulate various bodily functions, including hormonal activity. Research suggests it may blunt the effects of cortisol, significantly reducing stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and other negative psychological states.
Humans can’t synthesize vitamin C so we have to ingest it through diet or supplements. Raw fruits and vegetables are the best sources, especially citrus fruits, cantaloupes, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.
If you struggle to eat healthily, dietary supplements are an easy and affordable way to take vitamin C. This nutrient is water soluble, so you can’t overdose on it. The body takes the amounts it needs, and the rest is excreted in the urine. Many people take time-release vitamin C supplements of 1000 mg to ensure they absorb the right amount.
Vitamin C IV therapy is the quickest and most effective way to restore optimal vitamin C levels and provide other health benefits.
Relora is gaining popularity as a high-performing natural solution to stress, anxiety, sleep problems, and weight gain. It is a blend of two plant extracts - Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense, which have been used for centuries for their soothing properties. The supplement also contains B-complex vitamins to boost the stress-reducing effects of the botanicals.
Note: Interested in more products for relaxation? Read our blog post that covers the four best supplements for stress.
A positive change in dietary habits can significantly improve the stress response and our overall health. Look for the following foods and nutrients to assist with your stress management efforts.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Elevated cortisol causes a decline in melatonin, disrupting sleep. In a vicious cycle, a lack of sleep further aggravates the mood, leading to more stress and anxiety. For a healthy sleep and stress response, these two hormones need to follow the circadian rhythm in a synchronized pattern.
Melatonin can be found in dietary supplements. Patients experiencing stress should take it only in consultation with their medical provider.
Ashwagandha is a plant used in Ayurveda for relaxation. It has been studied for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anxiolytic properties and is proven to reduce stress by affecting the molecules that transmit stress signals to the nervous system.
Ashwagandha is used as a dietary supplement in powder form, tablet, or capsule and should be taken 2-3 times daily. It also appears in topical skincare products to reduce skin stress.
Magnesium is an essential mineral responsible for many bodily functions, including reducing inflammation and metabolizing cortisol.
Stress and magnesium are in a two-way causal relationship. When stressed, we excrete magnesium in our urine. At the same time, low magnesium levels intensify stress. We need sufficient magnesium levels to balance stress and preserve other essential bodily functions, such as glucose control and muscle and nerve function.
The following foods are rich in magnesium: pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios, broccoli, bananas, avocado, spinach, and cocoa. If you suspect a magnesium deficiency, supplements are a quicker way to restore depleted reserves and manage stress.
Vibrant MG is formulated to minimize the unpleasant gastrointestinal issues some patients have when supplementing magnesium. Consult your medical provider before starting a new supplement regimen.
Zinc is another essential mineral responsible for vital functions, such as DNA growth and repair, protein building, wound healing, and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Prolonged stress depletes zinc reserves, and zinc deficiency leads to increased plasma cortisol. Consequently, supplementation may help decrease cortisol levels. A study showed supplementing zinc in the amount of only 25-30 mg daily lowers cortisol levels over time.
Health experts recommend a diet rich in zinc and other essential vitamins and minerals. Foods containing zinc include shellfish, red meat, poultry, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and fortified cereals.
If suspect that you are deficient in this mineral, consult your doctor who will test your blood levels and recommend a supplementation regimen.
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid with anxiolytic properties. Evidence shows it promotes relaxation, relieves stress, improves sleep, and positively affects mental health. These effects are observed after four weeks of taking L-theanine supplements.
L-theanine is naturally found in tea, but it is more commonly ingested in capsule form as tea is unlikely to have a significant impact on stress. The standard dosage is 200 mg taken once or twice daily.
Glycine is a non-essential amino acid that acts as a precursor to several important bodily compounds, such as creatine and glutathione. Scientists have recognized the calming properties of glycine and recommend it as an aid to healthy sleep, which indirectly helps relieve stress.
Glycine is not a common ingredient in our everyday diet. The richest source of glycine is collagen in the connective tissue of animals, making bone broth a good source of glycine.
People typically use glycine as powdered collagen or gelatin supplements that can be added to coffee, oatmeal, or smoothies.
Note: Learn more about amino acid IV therapy, which amino acids are typically used, and how they improve our health.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It has been studied for its many beneficial properties, including its calming effects on the nervous system. Many products with CBD have emerged following the legalization of marijuana in several U.S. states and other countries worldwide. Anecdotal evidence shows it helps people relax, destress, and sleep better.
The available CBD products include dietary supplements in tablet form, liquid extracts, vape oil, and skincare products.
Rhodiola is a medicinal herb that stimulates the activity of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, helping the body to build resilience to stress. Its two main adaptogenic ingredients include rosavin and salidroside. Studies show 400 mg of rhodiola may improve chronic stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression, sleep issues, and concentration.
Rhodiola is available as a dietary supplement in capsule, tablet, and tincture form. Health experts recommend using 100-600 mg daily for up to 12 weeks but only after consulting a medical provider.
Omega-3 fatty acids naturally reduce inflammation, helping to lower cortisol levels. They also help release serotonin and dopamine, improving the mood and bolstering the body’s stress response.
Foods containing omega-3s include fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring, and plant-based foods, such as walnuts, avocado, chia seeds, flax seeds, and olive oil.
Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, is an herb belonging to the mint family. It has been used traditionally to improve sleep, cognitive skills, and indigestion. The research is ongoing but suggests that the terpenes, tannins, and flavonoids present in lemon balm have potent antioxidant, antiviral, and anxiolytic properties.
Lemon balm is available in capsule form, as tea, tincture, powder, topical cream, and essential oil. Patients typically use doses of 300-600 mg two or three times a day. Consult your healthcare provider for instructions on how to use lemon balm.
Valerian is another medicinal plant traditionally used for its calming effects. Limited research shows it may reduce stress by modulating serotonin and GABA levels and increasing sleep duration.
Valerian is a popular OTC remedy for anxiety, stress, depression, and insomnia. Patients typically take 300-600 mg daily for up to six weeks.
Saffron is a well-known culinary herb that may also have calming effects on the mind and mood. Animal studies show it helps balance dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels, and one human study suggests that smelling saffron for 20 minutes reduces cortisol levels.
Saffron supplements typically contain 20-100 mg saffron, and they can be pure or combined with other stress-relieving ingredients, such as ashwagandha, L-theanine, vitamin D, etc.
St. John’s wort is an herbal medicine often used as an OTC remedy for depression. It exhibits similar activity to antidepressant pharmaceuticals, increasing serotonin and noradrenalin levels, but without the drugs’ strong side effects.
The supplement typically comes in tablet or capsule form and the dosage ranges from 600-900 mg, split into two or three daily doses.
Bacopa monnieri, also called brahmi, is a renowned plant in Ayurvedic medicine that is believed to relieve various ailments, from improving memory to treating epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety. The evidence for brahmi’s positive anxiolytic effects is mostly anecdotal, with preliminary scientific data showing the plant may improve cortisol levels and relieve stress.
Bacopa is used as a dietary supplement in capsule or powder form. The standard daily dosage is 300-450 mg.
Phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance in the brain that protects brain cells. When taken as a dietary supplement, it improves cognitive function as we age. The claimed benefits of phosphatidylserine also include stress relief, better sleep, and decreased anxiety and depression.
Foods that contain phosphatidylserine include fish, eggs, liver, and soybeans. Dietary supplements come in tablet or capsule form, and the typical dosage is 100-200 mg daily, taken with or without food.
Lavender is a soothing herb popularly used as a tea or essential oil in holistic treatments for relaxation. A large pool of studies shows it significantly reduces stress and stress-related symptoms, such as anxiety, agitation, and disturbed sleep.
Lavender supplements are available in capsule form, and doses for stress relief and sleep range from 80 to 160 mg.
In aromatherapy, a few drops of lavender essential oil are added to a diffuser or diluted with a carrier oil and applied topically during a massage to promote relaxation.
Note: Learn how holistic skin care works to improve health and fight aging signs.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces the of ability nerve of cells to communicate with one other. It is involved in reducing nerve cell hyperactivity, promoting calmness and muscle relaxation. By decreasing the responsiveness of nerve cells, GABA helps to reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep.
GABA is found naturally in fermented foods such as kimchi and miso, and in green, black, and oolong tea. Foods that may increase its production include brown rice, soybeans, chestnuts, mushrooms, cruciferous vegetables, and sweet potatoes.
GABA is also available as a dietary supplement and is considered safe in doses of up to 1.5 g daily.
Kava is a tropical plant historically used in the South Pacific as a ceremonial beverage. Its active compounds, kavalactones, may reduce stress by inhibiting the breakdown of GABA, responsible for inducing relaxation.
Kava is consumed as a tea, capsules, powder, or liquid. The safe dosage ranges from 70 to 250 mg of kavalactones daily.
Stress management is a holistic process that involves more than diet and supplementation. The following lifestyle habits are essential in supporting the mind and body to deflect the negative impact of stress.
Elevated stress is helpful in the short term as it helps us deal with challenges. However, prolonged exposure leads to severe diseases. Learn to manage it effectively with healthier lifestyle habits, holistic treatments, and adequate vitamins for stress.
This article is not intended to give medical advice. It is important to always consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplements regimen or implementing dietary changes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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