To chill out, your parents’ generation might have chanted “om.” But that was then. Nowadays, the natural substances found in stress-fighting supplements can help.
“Stress generates anxiety, and anxiety keeps our minds in motion,” says Mark Stengler, NMD, of Encinitas, California. “Luckily, we can choose from several natural substances to help us stay calm when the world around us is in turmoil.”
Many Americans don’t get enough B vitamins, making this supplement a good first defense. Researchers determined way back in 1943 that B vitamins had antistress and antianxiety benefits. Since then they’ve discovered the brain uses B vitamins to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals that influence mood. For example, in a study of stressed-out office workers, taking high-potency B-complex supplements eased stress, confusion and anger. A high-potency multivitamin, which contains the B’s, is equally effective.
Dose: Take a daily multivitamin or B-complex supplement with at least 50 mg each of vitamins B1, B2 and B3. If you develop overactive dreams, cut back on B6.
Found in brain cell membranes, phosphatidylserine protects against the damaging effects of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. A study by German researchers found that high doses reduce cortisol and stress levels in men. College students who took phosphatidylserine had better moods, experienced lower stress and had less “neurotic” behavior. In seniors, phosphatidylserine can improve memory.
Dose: Take 200–400 mg daily.
We need omega-3s—specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)—for brain development as infants and children and to maintain healthy moods as adults. Studies have shown omega-3s have a powerful calming and antistress effect. Medical students at The Ohio State University found that omega-3 supplements led to a 20-percent reduction in anxiety symptoms. Other studies show that omega-3s have broad mood-enhancing effects, diminishing anxiety, depression, irritability and hostility. Good news for vegans: Omega-3 supplements are now available from both fish and plant sources.
Dose: Take 1,000–2,000 mg daily.
This often-overlooked herb has been shown to effectively minimize anxiety in healthy people and those about to undergo surgery. It also promotes sleep without causing druglike sedation or grogginess.
Dose: Follow label directions whether taking passionflower as a supplement or tea.
Calming supplement products to look for
Ready to take it easy?
Keep an eye out for these products at your local natural retailer—and remember to talk to your doctor whenever you're considering a new supplement regimen.
Country Life Coenzyme B-Complex Caps.
This company offers a well-rounded, high- potency, gluten-free, B-complex supplement. Most of the ingredients contain the active form of the vitamin, such as riboflavin 5’-phosphate (B2) and pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (B6). The formula contains at least 50 mg each of the major B vitamins in a two-capsule dose.
Gaia Herbs Serenity with Passionflower.
These alcohol-free, vegetarian capsules offer a blend of calming herbs totaling 1,080 mg for every three-capsule serving, which can easily be reduced to just one or two capsules daily. The alcohol-free extracts contain American skullcap, kava root, passionflower, wild oats, mugwort, hops, German chamomile and peppermint leaf.
Jarrow Formulas Yum-Yum PS100 Gummies.
Just two gummies deliver 100 mg of phosphatidylserine, which the company recommends for adults and children ages
4 and older. The phosphatidylserine is sourced from non-GMO soy and the sweeteners include cane and/or beet sugar, glucose, lemon juice and natural strawberry flavor.
Nordic Naturals Algae Omega.
There’s no shortage of fish oil supplements on the market, but this high-quality, algae-based formula is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Two soft gels provide 180 mg of EPA and 320 mg of DHA.
Nature’s Answer Passionflower.
Just 1 ounce of this alcohol-free tincture provides 15 servings of passionflower. As with all tinctures, doses can easily be adjusted.