How to fight stress and anxiety through supplementation
The VITL Nutrition Team
Our in-house Nutrition Team discuss which vitamins are best for fighting stress and anxiety
A survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation in 2018 found that almost three quarters of UK citizens (74%) were ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ at some point over the past year 1, with the coronavirus pandemic only making things worse for our already “stressed nation” 2.
Nutrition plays a crucial role in helping the management of stress and anxiety as we need micronutrients in steady supply to make neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for the brain’s communication with the rest of the body). Whilst we agree that a balanced diet is the most important thing, we understand that it can be quite hard to achieve 100% of the time. If you often have a low mood or worry for no real reason, while struggling to maintain a healthy diet, we will make sure that your personalised formula contains a selection of nutrients and plant extracts that will help lift your spirits and relieve your stress. Here are a few examples of such nutrients:
B vitamins help to produce serotonin, our ‘happy hormone’, which regulates our mood 3, and choline (usually grouped with B vitamins due to their similarities) is integral in nerve signalling pathways that influence memory and muscle function 4, 5. Studies have shown improvement in cognitive performance after only 33 days of supplementing with B vitamins (alongside vitamin C and some minerals) 6, while B complex supplementation was found to significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve overall quality of life in adults with depression, in as little as 60 days 7.
Magnesium contributes to around 300 enzyme reactions in the body 8, regulating normal functioning of the nervous system, normal psychological function and reduction in tiredness and fatigue 9. Several studies have shown that magnesium can reduce anxiety 10 and perceived stress within 28 days 11. Research has also found that, together with some other key nutrients such as zinc, magnesium can improve sleep within around 8 weeks 12.
Two amino acids, L-theanine and tryptophan, have been repeatedly researched due to their contribution to numerous physiological mechanisms, including beneficial effects on cognitive function 13, 14. Serving as a precursor for the synthesis of serotonin, tryptophan was found to decrease anxiety and improve depressive symptoms in 25 healthy young individuals, after consuming a diet high in tryptophan (containing foods like Talbinah) for only 4 days! 15 Unlike most sedatives, L-Theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness 16. Although it may take a bit longer for the full benefits to be observed, a study found that stress-related symptoms such as depression and sleep disturbances improved after four weeks of L-theanine administration in 30 healthy individuals 17.
Lemon balm, hops, and ashwagandha, are some of the natural herbal extracts we will use to make your personalised formula possess potent anti-anxiety and antioxidant properties to help you ease stress symptoms. Lemon balm has been found to improve cognitive performance and mood 18, ashwagandha to increase an individual's resistance towards stress 19, while hops has been shown to have a sedative effect, improving quality of sleep, at doses as small as 2 mg 20.
Our gut is also very important, since almost 95% of our serotonin receptors are located in the lining of our intestine 21. A majority of studies found a positive correlation between probiotic intake and anxiety symptoms. However, the strain of probiotic, the dosing, and duration of treatment may vary for the full benefits to be observed 22. Amongst the 8 live cultures of our probiotic capsule, totalling up to 14 billion of live friendly bacteria, is Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a strain that is most well supported with evidence of its beneficial role in reducing anxiety symptoms 23.
These nutrients will be packed into your personalised formula if you choose reducing stress and anxiety as a health goal. Try yours today!