What to look for in stress relief supplements and vitamins?
Stress relief supplements can help towards providing an effective solution against stress. With so many options available, it may be difficult to understand which is most suitable. Learn about the vitamins and other ingredients you need to look for.
Search for stress supplements or stress vitamins online and you’ll find hundreds of products ranging from herbal supplements and vitamins to prescription medications, all claiming that they have your stress covered.
You’ll also find a lot of confusing contradictory claims that certain ingredients are better than others in helping to relieve stress.
Just like most men’s wellness products, some stress vitamins and supplements can offer real benefits, while others are designed with promotion and marketing in mind and are less convincing from a scientific perspective.
In this article, we’ll look at the key ingredients that you might want to look for in vitamins or supplements focused on stress.
While there’s no need for you to look for all these ingredients in stress vitamins and supplements, you may want to try a product that contains a good number of these. You can also try to get as many as possible naturally from your daily diet.
Ready to go?
Let’s get started with arguably one of the most underrated ingredients you can find in your stress vitamins and supplements, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
It may sound like some sort of STI but 5-HTP is actually a substance derived from the amino acid, tryptophan which is present in most animal proteins such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs. Despite tryptophan being so ubiquitous, 5-HTP cannot be sourced in a typical human diet and can only be found in one place in nature, the African scrub Griffonia simplicifolia.
5-HTP gets converted to two important chemicals popularly associated with mood and sleep regulation: serotonin and melatonin.
Serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone”, is a chemical messenger that plays a key role in supporting a positive mood. It is also a chemical precursor to your body’s natural sleep hormone melatonin.
Depleted serotonin levels may result from prolonged periods of stress as well as other factors such as genetics, poor metabolism, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, lack of sunlight and poor diet – vitamins and minerals are also key to producing serotonin. There is a strong correlation between low levels of serotonin and problems such as stress, anxiety, OCD, negative thoughts, depression, low self-esteem, poor appetite control and insomnia.
Some scientific studies have shown that healthy levels of serotonin assist relaxation, alleviate stress and anxiety, promote restful sleep and improve mood.
Magnesium is an essential mineral in the biological functioning of our bodies and is present in every organ. It is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions which enable chemical reactions across our bodies including the transmission of nerve signals, the metabolism of food, and the synthesis of fatty acids, proteins and DNA. Magnesium is also important for the maintenance of bones and muscles including the heart and reduces the risk of diabetes as it is used in the metabolism of carbohydrates and glucose.
Magnesium is present in many foods in low amounts. Foods high in magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach as well as nuts, avocados, beans, whole grains and bananas.
Stress can cause magnesium deficiency as it causes more magnesium to be lost from your body, primarily through urine. Magnesium deficiency enhances stress by lowering your body’s stress tolerance levels, causing it to produce more stress response hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol at an earlier stage.
This starts a vicious cycle as the enhanced stress response leads to an even greater magnesium deficiency, lowering your stress tolerance levels even further and in turn causing more stress response hormones to be produced, etc. Eventually it may just take the smallest thing to trigger a stressful reaction.
Zinc is another important mineral for body functionality. It assists in the production of over 200 enzymes, supports the structure and function of cell membranes as well as many biological processes throughout our bodies. Zinc enables proper functioning of our immune systems, supports growth, helps you see, smell and taste things, keeps your skin healthy, heals wounds and maintains testosterone levels.
Zinc is present in meat such as beef and lamb as well as shellfish such as oysters and crab. As a rule of thumb fruits and vegetables are poor sources of zinc and therefore vegetarians are more likely to suffer from zinc deficiency. Your body has no mechanism for storing zinc so it is important to continuously make sure that you are consuming enough on a daily basis.
Similar to magnesium, enhanced levels of stress suppress zinc levels limiting your body’s functionality. In the process, copper displaces the zinc, leading to potentially toxic levels of copper which may be harmful for your liver and nerves in particular.
Vitamin B’s are great mood stabilisers, which also have important roles in metabolic functions, the nervous system, cell metabolism, red blood cell production and the conversion of food into energy - helping us feel energised.
Similar to other nutrients such as zinc and magnesium, stress can cause your body’s Vitamin B resources to become depleted. Given their importance to your body’s functioning it can be beneficial to replenish depleted reserves with vitamins.
There are eight distinct types of vitamin B: thiamine (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic acid (Vitamin B9) and Vitamin B12. Vitamin B’s are available in a wide range of foods however not every food contains them all. Generally good sources include whole grains, meats, beans, nuts, eggs, milk and diary.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Vitamin B1 is sometimes given the nickname “anti-stress vitamin” because it helps protect your body’s immune and nervous systems, regulates blood sugar, stabilises mood, enhances memory and concentration and breaks down carbohydrates to convert glucose into energy. Great sources of Thiamine include fish, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, spinach, kale and green peas.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 has strong antioxidant properties helping your body fight particles that damage cells. It also has a good record in preventing premature ageing as well as the development of heart disease. Riboflavin plays a critical role in converting food into energy and producing red blood cells which help to transport oxygen throughout the body. You can get decent amounts of Vitamin B2 in almonds, wild rice, dairy, Brussel sprouts, spinach and soybeans.
Vitamin B3 (Nicotinamide)
Vitamin B3 supports the functioning of the digestive system, helps to control blood sugar and nerve health and is used in the production of energy. Niacin boosts levels of HDL cholesterol (that’s the good type) in the bloodstream, which in turn reduces the levels of bad cholesterol. Foods high in vitamin B3 include bread, red meat, diary, beans and green vegetables.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B5 can be found in tiny amounts in pretty much every food group. In fact, the Greek word “pantothen” means “from everywhere”. Vitamin B5 is used in the break down of fats and carbohydrates to create energy as well as create sex and stress-response hormones such as testosterone and cortisol. Foods which have high levels of Vitamin B5 include avocados, diary, meat and vegetables.
Vitamin B6 is involved in the regulation of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with heart disease. It is also involved in energy production, immune system support, maintaining the nervous system as well as the production of serotonin, melatonin and the stress hormone norepinephrine. There is evidence that Vitamin B6 reduces inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Get your Vitamin B6 from white meats such as chicken and turkey, beef, tuna, salmon, lentils, seeds, rice, chick peas and carrots.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin is often linked to healthy hair, skin and nails. In addition, it converts food into energy and may help control high blood glucose levels. Foods high in biotin include barley, liver, bread, pork, chicken, fish, potatoes, cauliflower, egg yolks and nuts.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Vitamin B9 is used in the production of energy and helps to maintain the nervous system. Some studies suggest that it can suppress depression and prevent memory loss. Fortified foods such as cereal and bread, as well as dark leafy greens, asparagus, salmon, root vegetables, bulgur wheat, beans are great sources.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 works together with vitamin B9 to produce red blood cells and enable iron to work effectively in creating haemoglobin, the protein which carries oxygen. It is also involved in supporting the nervous system and the brain, as well as the production of serotonin and melatonin. Vitamin B12 is only available from animal products such as fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs and meat so vegans need to take supplements.
Vitamin C is a vital vitamin that works as an antioxidant, helping to protect your cells from damage and keep them healthy. It is also thought to prevent cancer, cataracts and damage from pollutants. Vitamin C helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including skin, muscles, gums, bones, cartilage and blood vessels. This enables your body to protect itself against heart disease, scurvy as well as making it better placed to heal wounds. Vitamin C also assists in iron absorption and decreasing levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad form).
Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and papaya.
Vitamin C is involved in clearing out the stress response hormone cortisol which can have a detrimental impact on your body’s functioning and your overall health. In doing so, cortisol’s impact on your body can be limited. For example, your immune system’s function can be improved and any inflammation decreased.
Ashwaghanda is an exceptionally healthy herbal medicine originating from the Indian Ayurveda medicine tradition which focuses on natural healing. The Ashwaghanda is a small shrub with yellow flowers that is indigenous to parts of India and North Africa. Extracts taken from the shrubs roots and leaves can be used to treat a variety of conditions including several associated with stress.
Ashwaghanda is an adaptogen, a herbal stress relieving herb which boosts the production of endorphins in the brain.The shrub has a high concentration of the natural steroids withanolides which are often argued to be behind its health benefits.
Ashwaghanda has been used for over 3,000 years to provide herbal stress relief, increase energy levels and improve brain function. There is also evidence that it reduces blood sugar levels, has anti-cancer properties, boosts male fertility, increases muscle mass, reduces inflammation and reduces cholesterol.
In terms of its benefits as a natural remedy for stress, some evidence exists that Ashwaghanda can lower levels of the stress response hormone cortisol in chronically stressed individuals. Other studies have shown it reducing levels of stress, anxiety and depression. A study of chronic stress sufferers found that there was an average reduction in anxiety and insomnia of 69% in a group taking Ashwaghanda supplements compared to 11% in a placebo group.
Ginseng extract is derived from the root of the ginseng plant and has been used as a stimulant in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years. The ginseng plant can be found in parts of East Asia where there are several regional varieties including south China ginseng and Korean ginseng. Ginseng contains the natural steroids Ginsenosides which work as a stimulant.
Similar to Ashwaghanda, Ginseng is also an adaptogen. It is also known for its ability to lift depression and helps to buffer the body from stress.
Ginseng's antioxidant properties make it effective at supporting the body’s natural defences including the immune system. It benefits the cardiovascular health and prevents against heart disease by improving circulation and lowering blood pressure. Ginseng improves male sexual health and has been used to combat erectile dysfunction as well as increase levels of testosterone and libido.
Interested in making stress a thing of the past? Try our expert formulated stress relief supplement today.
This article was created for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the views of For Chaps Ltd. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.