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Mental well-being

Supplements for stress: vitamins, minerals and herbs for less stress

Chronic stress is deadly. It’s also bad for your brain health. These stress supplements are proven to help.

Heights
Heights
March 30, 2021
6 min read

Nearly three-quarters of us are chronically stressed and overwhelmed, with work worries ranking as one of the top stress triggers. But stress isn’t just an emotion or about having a “bad day”. If left unmanaged, chronic stress changes your body and mind in measurable ways. 

For optimal wellness and a healthier brain, we need to understand the correlation between stress and cognition, and find natural, healthy ways to treat stress (stress supplements included!). 

Article breakdown

Stress and brain health: does stress affect your cognition? 

When you run into a stressful situation, your body’s natural stress response kicks in. It starts with the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that floods your body and leads to the physical reactions we know so well:

  • Faster heart rate

  • Higher blood pressure

  • Tightened muscles (e.g., clenched fists, tight jaws, etc.)

  • Feeling flushed and warm (some people even find themselves sweating under pressure)

This is all a part of your body’s automatic fight-or-flight response. Our prehistoric ancestors evolved to react this way, and all of these symptoms queued up to help us either fight or flee from prehistoric predators. 

Unfortunately, your brain views all stressful situations equally. And frankly, we’re all feeling the pressure and grind of our 24/7, always-connected world. 

Stuck in traffic? Received an angry email from your boss at midnight? Running behind on your children’s pandemic homeschooling assignments? 

Cortisol, cortisol, cortisol. 

All that chronic stress and constantly elevated cortisol levels can lead to some significant mental and physical side effects. 

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The harmful health effects of chronic stress

Your stress is killing you — literally. A recent study followed nearly 120,000 people for four years. The researchers found that those who felt the most stressed had a significantly higher risk of an early death. 

But even before it comes to such drastic outcomes, your daily stress takes a toll.

  • Stress triggers physical side effects, such as chronic nausea, headaches, digestive problems, loss of appetite, etc.

  • Stress raises your risks of cardiovascular health problems, including a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Stress leads to unhealthy weight gain.

  • Stress is a significant cause of sleep disorders, which creates a host of other concerns for your general wellness.

  • Stress may trigger anxiety symptoms, and lead to the development of an anxiety disorder over the long run.

  • And much more...

The adverse effects of stress are not just linked to your physical health. When it comes to your brain health, Harvard Medical School warns that stress:

  • Keeps your brain in survival mode, conserving all of its energy and resources for surviving and shutting off resources to the parts of your brain related to learning, memory, etc.

  • Makes you more forgetful, affecting your memory retention and ability to recall information.

  • Structurally rewires your brain, making it harder for you to complete complex tasks.

  • Leads to permanent changes in your brain that may increase your risks of Alzheimer’s, dementia and other long-term brain health concerns.

There are many ways to manage stress. Regular exercise, mindfulness and meditation, maintaining healthy social connections, and eating a healthy diet as all ways to help reduce your stress levels.

But don’t overlook one powerful remedy: Stress supplements. 

Herbs, vitamins and minerals have a long history in traditional medicine as a way to manage stress, and modern research suggests that a few specific supplements may be especially effective for stress management.

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Supplements for stress: Minerals, herbs and vitamins for stress

1. B-complex vitamins: are B vitamins good for stress?

If you’re wondering what vitamins you should take for stress, start with B vitamins. 

B vitamins play an important role in numerous cognitive functions. Deficiency in various B vitamins has been linked with increased irritability, fatigue and other side effects of stress. 

One study gave highly stressed employees a B-complex multivitamin for 90 days. Over the course of three months, those taking a high dose of B vitamins saw a significant decrease in stress, including improvements in both their psychological and physical symptoms.

Additional studies returned similar results:

  • Healthy men were given a high-dose B-complex vitamin for 33 days. Their self-reported mood scores and stress levels were significantly improved, and the men were also better able to perform mental tests.

  • A meta-analysis of 12 trials found that B vitamin supplementation improved mood and reduced stress in as little as four weeks.

  • A randomized study gave participants B vitamins for six months and found that the supplements reduced oxidative stress and inflammation (biomarkers for stress) in the brain.

Researchers warn that chronic stress depletes your body’s levels of B vitamins. If you’re feeling anxious or under pressure, you may need far more than the NRV recommended by the NHS. This is why the clinical researchers and doctors behind the Heights Smart Supplement formulation included a higher amount of B vitamins in each daily dose.

2. Ashwagandha: an adaptogen for stress management

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used in traditional herbal medicine for more than 3,000 years

Numerous studies have shown how taking ashwagandha supplements can significantly reduce your stress levels, and in one case, it even reduced cortisol levels by nearly a third

The effects take place in as little as six to eight weeks.

Researchers are still determining exactly why this plant is so effective. Animal trials suggest it works by affecting your brain’s chemical pathways.

A secondary benefit: Ashwagandha may also improve cognitive function.

3. Magnesium: a natural chill pill

Researchers often refer to magnesium as a natural chill pill during times of stress, anxiety and mood changes. 

Your brain and nervous system need this essential mineral to regulate your neurotransmitters (chemical messages in the brain). Studies have found that taking a magnesium supplement may:

  • Improve numerous markers of stress, including your cortisol levels, and reduce overall stress.

  • Reduce your risks of depression.

  • Improve your blood pressure numbers.

  • Improve your sleep (many people find it hard to sleep when stressed, which simply exacerbates the problem).

4. Other vitamins, minerals and plants for stress

B vitamins, ashwagandha and magnesium are some of the most well-researched stress supplements with the research to back their de-stressing claims. But they’re hardly alone.

Other stress supplements that you may want to consider include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which can significantly reduce perceived stress levels 

  • Vitamin D, a proven mood-booster during times of stress

  • Vitamin C, which enhances your natural response to stress

  • Zinc, which has been shown to specifically help with anxiety

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Get the nutrients you need for managing chronic stress and improving your cognitive function. The Smart Supplement contains B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, zinc, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals that get depleted during times of stress. 

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