Do you feel busy all the time, like you can never quite catch up or finish all of your tasks? Do you feel like you’re under a constant pressure to perform at home and at work and to complete everything on your to-do list? Does it all feel overwhelming?
None of us are strangers to stress. Unfortunately, these days we have become so comfortable and familiar with stress that it has become like a constant companion that we just expect to hang around. In the modern age and in a culture of high output and high achievement, it isn’t uncommon for us to feel stressed out most, if not all, of the time.
Constant stress may be the new norm, but that doesn’t make it a healthy way of being. Chronic stress is very harmful to the body, and it is associated with a wide range of health problems. So we have to start doing something about it, or our bodies will start taking a major toll. Learning to reduce stressors, manage our stress response, and take care of ourselves is key to living a longer, healthier, happier life.
One effective way to support your body when you are stressed is to provide it with the nutrition it needs. Read on to discover some of the best vitamins for stress (and some helpful minerals, too).
But first, let’s learn a little more about why chronic stress shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The negative effects of stress on the body
The body’s stress response can sometimes be life-saving. In real emergency situations, the fight-or-flight response can help us prepare and deal with what comes our way. It helps us stay safe and avoid danger.
But when everyday things like our work load, busy family schedules, and tension in relationships are constantly turning on our stress response? That is when problems start to occur.
What was designed to be a protective mechanism turns against us, beginning to harm our bodies from the inside out. When our body is signaled to turn on the stress response all of the time, things start to take a toll. Chronic stress is associated with problems relating to memory, immune system function, digestion, and heart health, to name just a few. And over time, those issues can lead to illness and disease.
Stress is associated with a wide range of conditions, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Autoimmune syndromes
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Memory problems
- Cancer1 2
Stress can make just about any health concern worse, and it can certainly bring on many more problems down the line. So it is important to take stress seriously and to prevent the negative effects of stress on the body. One way to preserve your health and well-being is to give your body the nutrients it needs to better deal with stress.
Supplementing with vitamins and minerals can help with stress
There are many nutrients that the body needs to process and deal with stressful events. And certain nutrients can also help you feel better along the way, with a greater sense of balance and an improved mood.
There are several studies showing that supplementing with vitamins and minerals can have beneficial effects in the body when it comes to stress. For example, studies have shown that multivitamins can be useful in reducing stress.3 4 5 And certain nutrients are particularly useful. One study found that a supplement of B vitamins combined with vitamin C and minerals led to improved ratings of stress and mental health in healthy males.6 Supplements are also useful when it comes to anxiety,7 which can be a major factor related to stress.
So which vitamins (and minerals) should you turn to for stress relief?
7 of the best vitamins for stress
Feeding your body with plenty of vitamins will help keep you healthy and support you in better dealing with stress. Here are the top 7 stress-busting vitamins to consider:
1. Folate (B9)
Folate is one of the B vitamins. B vitamins in general are very good for stress. They are important in the brain,8 and studies show that supplementing with a vitamin B complex can help people decrease stress and improve mood.5 9 10
Folate in particular is very useful for helping the brain when it is under stress.10 This vitamin is also associated with depression, which is a common condition that can come along with high levels of stress.11
How much you need: Adults need 400 mcg dietary folate equivalents (DFE) daily.12
Foods high in folate: Green leafy vegetables, asparagus, fruits, oranges, nuts, beans, peas
2. Vitamin B6
Another B vitamin that’s useful for stress is vitamin B6.8 10 It helps the brain make neurotransmitters that are associated with stress, along with neurotransmitters that are associated with improved mood.13 It may also be useful in reducing anxiety and premenstrual stress.14
Research suggests that being under chronic stress depletes your body of vitamin B6.10 That is another reason to up your intake, because you don’t want to become deficient.
How much you need: Adults under age 50 need 1.3 mg daily. Men over 50 need 1.7 mg and women over 50 need 1.5 mg.15
Foods high in vitamin B6: Poultry, fish, organ meats, potatoes, fruits (other than citrus)
3. Thiamin (B1)
The adrenal glands are a part of the endocrine system, and they regulate the stress response. Thiamin, or vitamin B1, has been shown to be helpful in protecting the adrenals from exhaustion.13 Healthy adrenals are key to dealing with stress in a healthy way, and so B1 is another B vitamin that you’ll want to consider for stress.
How much you need: Men need 1.2 mg daily, while women need 1.1 mg.16
Foods high in vitamin B1: Whole grains, meat (especially pork), fish, legumes, seeds, nuts
4. Vitamin B12
As mentioned, B vitamins are some of the best vitamins for stress. One more specific B vitamin that is recommended for stress is B12. When you are stressed, your 24-hour biological clock (the circadian rhythm) gets disrupted. Our stress response is regulated by that clock. So when we are stressed, our stress hormone function can get all out of whack. B12 can help to get this rhythm back in balance.13
Vitamin B12 also helps protect the brain from stress.10
How much you need: Adults need 2.4 mcg daily.17
Foods high in vitamin B12: Fish, clams, meat (especially beef liver), eggs, dairy
5. Vitamin C
When you are stressed, a bad mood is easy to come by. Vitamin C can help with that. Studies have shown that people who eat vitamin C-rich foods and have higher vitamin C levels have more elevated moods.18
How much you need: Men need 90 mg, and women need 75 mg daily.21
Foods high in vitamin C: Citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, bell peppers
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is helpful in reducing the effects of stress in the brain, as it has neuroprotective effects.10 22 This makes it helpful in preventing long-term damage to the brain, which can result in issues down the line such as dementia.
How much you need: Adults need 15 mg daily.23
Foods high in vitamin E: Vegetable oils like sunflower and safflower oil, nuts, seeds (especially sunflower seeds), green leafy vegetables
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is involved in so many aspects of health and wellness. Low levels of vitamin D can play a role in anything from cognitive impairment to cardiovascular disease. And it is particularly important when it comes to your mood. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with things like anxiety and depression.24
So if you are stressed, and you also have symptoms like anxiety and depression, vitamin D is a great choice.
How much you need: Adults under age 70 need 600 IU daily, and those over 70 need 800 IU.25
Foods high in vitamin D: Fish like salmon and tuna, high-fat dairy, egg yolks, and mushrooms
2 minerals for stress
It isn’t just vitamins that can help you relax and prevent the long-term effects of stress. Minerals can help, too. Below are the top two choices when it comes to minerals for stress:
Magnesium is a great supplement for stress. Researchers believe that magnesium helps regulate the body’s stress response,26 and it can really help improve your mood.7 It is a useful supplement for anxiety and depression, too.27 28
How much you need: Men need about 400 mg daily, and women need about 320 mg.29
Foods high in magnesium: Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, meats
When you are low in calcium, you can get symptoms like irritability, fatigue, anxiety, reduced concentration, and personality disturbances.30 Sound similar to feeling stressed? Calcium could be very helpful if you are feeling stressed and have those types of symptoms.
How much you need: Adults under 70 need 1,000 mg daily. Adults over 70 need 1,200 mg.31
Foods high in calcium: Green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli, fish with soft bones like sardines and salmon, dairy
Protect yourself from chronic stress
If you are under a lot of stress, you aren’t alone. It is far too common to live in a state of constant stress and overwhelm in the modern age. But we can’t just take stress as a new norm—we’ve got to learn to protect our brains and bodies from the looming threat of chronic stress.
Diet plays a big role when it comes to stress. Certain nutrients can help protect your body against its harmful effects, and they can help you feel more balanced and in a better mood along the way. It is important to support your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy through it all, so that you can deal with stress effectively and stay as healthy as possible.
As a reminder, the best vitamins for stress include:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
And a few minerals that can help include magnesium and calcium.
To get enough, eat a well-rounded diet full of plants and high-quality foods. Green leafy vegetables are a particularly good choice, as they are packed with many of these vitamins and minerals.
Additionally, if you would like individualized information to make better decisions about your diet and supplementation, a ZYTO biocommunication scan, or bioscan, can help. A bioscan measures the body’s galvanic skin response as various supplements, essential oils, and lifestyle options are introduced to help you know what your body prefers.
Doing all you can to reduce the effects of stress is very important. Don’t let your busy lifestyle and long to-do list be the priority. Prioritize yourself first. Learn to manage stress, practice stress relief techniques, and use these vitamins and minerals for stress to stay healthy.
About Chelsea Clark
Chelsea Clark is a writer and certified health and wellness coach who is passionate about supporting others along their own health journeys. She enjoys helping people make positive, lasting changes so that they can live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
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