We're globally going through conditions of high stress due to a wide variety of factors that might detonate it in our lives: be it due to work pressure, money, health and sometimes even our personal relationships, causing greater stress in everyday life.
Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability. Keeping an active life, having adequate sleep and a good diet is one of the best ways to better equip our bodies to combat stress, but several vitamins and supplements can also be of great help if you're feeling like you need an extra helping hand.
That said, we'll share the top 7 vitamins and supplements to help you combat stress with you! Keep reading to find them out.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), also known as Rodiola, is an herb that grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Russia and Asia. It's long been known as an adaptogen. It's a natural, non-toxic herb that stimulates the body's stress response system and actually increases stress resistance.
The adaptogenic properties of rhodiola are related to two of the herb's powerful active ingredients: rosavin and salidroside.
Daily supplementation with 400 mg of rhodiola extract has been found in studies to improve stress symptoms after just 1 week. Furthermore, symptoms continued to decrease throughout the study.
And it was found to improve associated symptoms, including anxiety, exhaustion, and irritability. Rhodiola is well tolerated and is quite safe for consumption.
Adequate sleep is always related as a factor that can relieve or decrease stress symptoms. Stress is strongly related to insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, or both.
That said, something that should be taken into account unfortunately, is that if you suffer from stress, you'll surely have some issues with falling asleep too.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm of our body or the sleep-wake cycle. The hormone levels increase at night when it is dark to promote sleep and decrease in the morning when it is light to promote wakefulness.
In a review of 19 studies with people who had trouble falling asleep, melatonin decreased the time it took for them to finally fall asleep, increased total sleep time, and improved overall sleep quality, compared to a placebo group.
Another review of 7 studies investigated the effectiveness of melatonin in controlling the side effects of sleep disorder, which are regularly related with other conditions, such as stress or depression.
Although melatonin is a natural hormone, its supplementation does not affect its production in the body. Melatonin also does not create dependency.
Melatonin supplements range in dosage from 0.3 to 10 mg. It is best to start with the lowest possible dose and increase to a higher dose if necessary.
Glycine is an amino acid that our bodies use to create proteins.
Studies suggest that glycine can increase the body's resistance to stress by promoting a good night's sleep through its calming effect on the brain and the ability to lower core body temperature.
A lower body temperature promotes sleep and helps us stay asleep at night.
One study found that with 3 grams of glycine at bedtime people experienced less fatigue and increased alertness the next day, compared to a placebo. And in another, there was an improvement in performance in memory recognition tasks.
Glycine is well tolerated, but taking 9 grams on an empty stomach before bed has been associated with mild stomach upset. That being said, taking 3 grams is unlikely to cause any side effects.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb native to India, where it's been used in Indian Ayurveda, one of the oldest medicinal systems in the world. Similar to rhodiola, Ashwagandha is believed to improve the body's resistance to mental and physical stress.
In a scientific study where 240 mg was administered to people with stress, ashwagandha supplementation was strongly associated with greater reductions in stress, anxiety and depression. Ashwagandha is also associated with a 23% reduction in morning levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Additionally, a review of five studies examining the effects of ashwagandha on anxiety and stress found that those who supplemented by taking an ashwagandha extract scored better on tests that measure levels of stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Another study focused on investigating the safety and efficacy of supplementing with ashwagandha in people with chronic stress noted that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha for 60 days was safe and well tolerated.
L-theanine is an amino acid that is most commonly found in tea leaves. This substance has been extensively studied for its ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress without exerting sedative effects.
In scientific studies it has been found that drinking green tea is associated with less anxiety and improvements in memory and attention. These effects are attributed to the synergistic effects of caffeine and l-theanine in tea, as each ingredient alone had a minor impact.
However, studies suggest that L-theanine alone can help relieve stress. One study showed that supplementation with 200 mg of l-theanine reduced stress measures, such as heart rate, in response to performing a mental stressful task.
L-theanine is well tolerated and safe when supplemented with its effective dose for relaxation, which varies from 200 to 600 mg per day in capsule form.
For reference, L-theanine comprises 1 to 2% of the dry weight of the leaves, which corresponds to 10-20 mg of L-theanine per standard size tea bag that we can find in stores.
That said, drinking tea is unlikely to have a noticeable effect on stress. However, many people find the act of drinking tea relaxing.
Vitamin B complex is composed of 8 vitamins. These vitamins play an important role in metabolism by transforming the food we consume into usable energy. B vitamins are also essential for heart and brain health.
Food sources of B vitamins include grains, legumes, and green leafy vegetables.
Interestingly, high doses of B vitamins have been suggested to improve stress symptoms, such as mood and energy levels, by lowering blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine.
High homocysteine levels are associated with stress and an increased risk of various conditions, including heart disease, dementia, and colorectal cancer.
In a 12-week study of 60 people with work-related stress, those who took a B-complex vitamin supplement experienced fewer work-related stress symptoms, including depression, anger, fatigue, and overall better mood, compared to those in the placebo group.
B-complex vitamin supplements are generally safe when taken within the recommended dose ranges. However, they are soluble in water, so our body excretes any excess through urine.
Kava (Piper methysticum) is a tropical evergreen shrub native to the South Pacific islands. Its roots have traditionally been used by Pacific Islanders to prepare a ceremonial drink called kava or kava kava.
Kava contains active compounds called kavalactones, which have been studied for their stress reducing properties.
Kavalactones are believed to inhibit the breakdown of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that decreases the activity of your nervous system, producing a calming effect. This can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress.
Kava can be taken in the form of tea, capsules, powder or liquid. Its use appears to be safe when taken for 4 to 8 weeks at a daily dose of 120 to 280 mg of kavalactones.
Serious side effects like liver damage have been linked to kava supplements, likely due to adulteration of the supplement or the use of less expensive parts of the kava plant, such as the leaves or stems, rather than the roots. Therefore, if you choose to supplement with kava, choose a reputable and organic brand.
Stress can be caused by multiple factors. Several vitamins and other supplements have been linked to reducing stress symptoms, including: Rhodiola rosea, melatonin, glycine, and ashwagandha.
L-theanine, B vitamins, and kava can also help increase the body's resistance to life's stressors.
Before consuming any supplement, be sure to go to a health professional and / or your GP to advise you according to your particular needs.
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