Just as every superhero has an arch-nemesis to overcome, everyday heroes like us are in a constant battle with a formidable rival of our own—stress. Whether we’re going through a period of relative calm or feeling a bit overwhelmed, stress is often waiting in the wings, poised to make its presence felt.
Fortunately, there are some secret weapons that can help keep stress in check so you can stay feeling strong, confident and relaxed. What are these secret weapons? Stress busting-nutrients that melt away stress while also giving your health a boost. Let’s take a look at some top stress busters and how they can help us live our best lives.
Magnesium for Stress
Magnesium plays a role in hundreds of functions throughout the body. It can be found in every cell and in particularly high quantities in bone, blood, soft tissue and muscle.1 As an essential mineral, magnesium plays a role in promoting DNA and RNA synthesis, muscular contractions, healthy blood pressure levels within the normal range, heart health, nerve transmission and insulin metabolism, just to name a few of its many functions.1 Magnesium is also a key ally when it comes to fighting stress.
When life turns up the pressure, magnesium can help support a sense of calm, which it does in a few different ways. One such way is by inhibiting N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity, which reduces neuronal hyper-excitability2 Another includes a reduction in presynaptic glutamine release by boosting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity within the brain.2 To put it in less scientific terms, magnesium helps promote stress reduction by calming the brain.
Fun Fact: Did you know your body wastes magnesium when you’re stressed? It’s true! In fact, excessive amounts of stress can actually lead to magnesium deficiency, which underscores the importance of taking a magnesium supplement or ensuring you’re eating enough magnesium-rich foods like spinach, avocado, bananas and pumpkin seed.
B Vitamins for Stress
There are 8 B vitamins: vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin). B vitamins are found in a wide variety of meats, grains, leafy greens, dairy, beans and peas and are also available in supplement form. Since each of the aforementioned B vitamins has it’s own unique health benefits, getting enough of all the B vitamins can give your health a boost in many areas within the body. One important area is healthy energy levels, which plays a significant role in helping you push back against the physical and psychological effects of stress.3
Moments of high stress can take their toll on the body and deplete it of some nutrients it needs to function at a high level. The result can be a decrease in psychological and physical health and a drop in productivity.3 That’s why a taking a B vitamin, especially a B-vitamin complex supplement can be really important, because not only can it replenish the nutrients that stress robs you of, but it can promote an actual decrease in stress levels.3
Fun Fact: Like puzzle pieces that come together, each B vitamin has its own role to play in health. Ensuring that you get enough of each of these vitamins every day is essential because the body cannot store most B vitamins long-term.
Potassium for Stress
The next time you’re feeling stressed, you may want to reach for a banana. That’s because bananas are an excellent source of the mineral potassium. One of the most essential micronutrients that the human body requires, potassium is vital for many critical bodily functions. It promotes healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range, nervous system health and heart health and has a unique ability to support stress reduction.
Potassium has been clinically studied for its ability to fight off daily stress and boost mood health. While poor mood health can lead to increased stress levels and a number of other brain-related concerns, researchers found that getting an adequate amount of potassium helps promote both calm and a healthy mood, making it an excellent stress-busting nutrient.4 It is believed that the electrolytes found within potassium are a key difference-maker, as studies show that they play a role in managing the stress hormone cortisol.4
Fun Fact: Potassium is the seventh most abundant elements found on the earth’s crust, and researchers estimate that it makes up roughly 2.4% of its mass.5
Curcumin from Turmeric for Stress
Brightly-colored turmeric is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years by Ayurvedic herbalists. Turmeric contains an antioxidant compound called curcumin, which is its main health-boosting component. Curcumin is effective in delivering antioxidant support. Highly popular among health-conscious individuals, curcumin is a great supporter of cardiovascular, liver and joint health and plays a significant role in helping individuals overcome stress.
Studies have shown that taking a curcumin supplement may significantly improve fatigue brought on by daily stress. Further, research also indicates that curcumin may play an essential role in boosting memory health, cognitive function and supporting a healthy mood.6
Fun Fact: Curcumin is bright yellow and is responsible for giving turmeric it’s coloring. As a result, curcumin isn’t just used as a supplement, it’s also used for food coloring and even as an ingredient in cosmetics.
L-Tyrosine for Stress
While you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with the other nutrients on this list, you may not have heard of L-tyrosine. It isn’t a household name like potassium or B vitamins, but L-tyrosine is no less impressive as a stress-fighting sidekick. L-tyrosine is an amino acid found in various dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, wheat and oats. Aside from helping alleviate the effects of stress, tyrosine also helps boost mental alertness and memory health.
Studies have shown that L-tyrosine plays a role in dopamine and norepinephrine synthesis.7 This explains the stress response that L-tyrosine is able to deliver. Instead of creating a calming, relaxing effect, L-tyrosine promotes cognitive function and mental focus during times of high stress. It may also support hormones that fuel the brain during these times.8
Fun Fact: L-tyrosine was initially discovered in casein obtained from cheese by German chemist J. von Liebig way back in 1846.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Stress
Omega-3 fatty acids have a lot more to offer in the realm of stress relief than most people realize. In fact, it’s so important for fighting daily stress and promoting wellbeing that we’ve included it in our Antidotes for Everyday Life bundle, featuring 5 essentials to help you fight back against everyday perils like stress, too much screen time, sleepless nights, less-than-optimal diets and not enough energy. Click here to watch the video and find your antidote to everyday life.
Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish and some varieties of nuts and vegetables. They’ve been linked to a wide range of positive health effects from promoting heart health to supporting the immune system, bones, joints, restful sleep, healthy skin and mental health to name a few. But omega-3 fatty acids also fight back against many of the health concerns stress can provoke, plus they may boost your mood, reduce anxiousness, and increase your ability to handle stress.9
Omega-3s and their stress-busting abilities have been the focus of numerous studies, and results have indicated that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may be helpful in promoting the ability to overcome stress. And that may help you double-up on the heart-health benefits of omegas since reducing stress can be good for heart health.10
Fun Fact: The ratio of omega-3 fatty acids vs. omega-6 fatty acids in your diet is important. Research shows that keeping your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 to 4:1 can significantly improve health, though ratios closer to 1:4 are optimal.11
Supplements that Fight Stress
While there may be no silver bullet when it comes to knocking stress out for the count, making sure you’re getting the right nutrition is an important step in helping you keep daily stress in check. Paired with other stress-busting activities including exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, spending time with friends and family or any of the many activities that bring you joy, getting the right nutrients either through diet or supplementation will give you the upper hand.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like 14 Adaptogenic Herbs for Healthy Stress Support and Top 10 Mushrooms for Better Health Also, be sure to sign up for Swanson Health Emails to get expert advice and our best promotions delivered straight to your inbox.
1 Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26404370
2 The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress – A Systematic review. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/
3 Reducing Occupational Stress with a B-Vitamin Focused Intervention: A Randomized Clinical Trial: Study Protocol. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290459/
4 Dietary Electrolytes are Related to Mood. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18466657
5 Curcumin: A Review of its Effects on Human Health. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
6 Facts About Potassium. LiveScience.com. https://www.livescience.com/29025-facts-about-potassium.html
7 L-tyrosine to Alleviate the Effects of Stress? US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1863555/
8 Food Components to Enhance Performance: An Evaluation of Potential Performance-Enhancing Food Components for Operational Rations. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209061/
9 Anxiety and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-zone/201201/anxiety-and-omega-3-fatty-acids
10 Reduce Your Stress to Protect Your Heart. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/reduce-your-stress-to-protect-your-heart
11 The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.