Not being able to handle stress can lead to health issues down the line.
Your body’s demand for specific nutrients increases when stressed.
Having enough of certain nutrients can support a healthy stress response.†
Supplements that support your natural ability to manage stress can be part of a holistic stress management strategy. †
Nothing hits quite like stress does. Psychological stress affect every function of daily life like sleep, cognitive function, emotional health, levels of energy and fatigue, and immune health. If this describes you, then first focus on the skills that allow you to better cope with everyday stressors (find Nature Made® supplements for stress).
When it comes to nutrition and stress, the relationship goes two ways. Stress can deplete certain nutrients over time, which can lead to other health issues. But on the other hand, if you don’t have enough of certain nutrients, you may be decreasing your body’s ability to handle stress in the first place.
Coping strategies should be your first approach to stress, but they can only take you so far. Try to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, low fat dairy and lean protein including seafood, exercise regularly, and consider adding these stress vitamins and supplements to your routine.
What Vitamins are Good for Stress and Support Your Stress Response?
Antioxidant Vitamins C and E
Stress increases the demands on your body, which results in byproducts called “free radicals,” that can cause oxidative damage to your body’s cells. Your body’s front-line defense that helps neutralize these free radicals are the antioxidants vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). Getting enough of these two should form the basis for any stress vitamin strategy. †
B-complex vitamins (the 8 B vitamins) are known for their role in metabolism, but B vitamins are essential for a positive mood, too. As essential cofactors, they are required for making the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Lacking specific essential B vitamins is correlated with stress, which means that addressing the root cause may help you better handle everyday stressors.When you think of stress vitamins, the B vitamins below are the ones that top the list. †
Folic Acid and its derivatives stand at the center of your body’s ability to make hormones that contribute to a balanced mood.†
Vitamin B6 supports this same pathway in making hormones related to mood, but it has other roles too. It helps in producing a neurotransmitter called GABA, which is the signaling molecule your body uses to calm an activated nervous system. In addition, one study showed that vitamin B6 can facilitate certain functions of Magnesium and better support its effect on relieving stress.†
Vitamin B12 plays a supporting role in making the hormones you need by working with folic acid and vitamin B6 to produce SAM-e, which is needed for a healthy mood. .†
What Minerals are Good For Stress?
Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients to pay attention to when you’re stressed due to it’s ability to help relax the body.†
Among its many roles (magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body!), magnesium is involved in your muscles’ ability to stop contracting. Magnesium supplements are great to take to help your muscles relax after a long day and wind down before bed.†
There is a correlation between stress and your body’s Magnesium levels. If you are always stressed and cortisol levels are elevated, this can deplete your Magnesium as a result.  When you consider how few people get enough Magnesium in the first place (over 54% of Americans do not consume enough Magnesium in their diets), it’s apparent that if you're stressed and feeling tense, magnesium may help with relaxation!†
Although Magnesium is one of the most important minerals to pay attention to when you’re stressed, it’s not the only one. Check with your doctor for other options that may be beneficial.
What other supplements are good for stress?
Sometimes after being frazzled, you just need something to help ease you into a more grounded state. You may be familiar with the calming effect of a cup of tea? That’s the effect of L-theanine, an amino acid that supports relaxation.†
GABA acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and in the gut to help support a calm and relaxed mental state. Many of the other nutrients mentioned here have their effect on stress levels by balancing GABA, and supplementing with it may contribute to better stress levels, too.†
What are adaptogens and what are they used for?
By their very definition, adaptogens are meant to help you adapt resiliently in the face of stress. Dozens exist, but there are a couple that stand out. Learn more about adaptogenic supplements for stress here.
Ashwagandha has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for stress support , One study showed that Ashwagandha influenced the stress-control center in the brain, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and led to reports of lower stress. Another study using supplemental Ashwagandha showed healthier cortisol levels, better sleep, and lower stress levels overall.†
Ginseng traditionally used in herbal medicine to increase resistance to stress & help restore energy.†
The Bottom Line
Stress is something every one of us faces. There is often a choice to grow from it or buckle under its pressure, but there are so many other factors to consider in your ability to withstand stress. Make sure you eat a balanced diet and talk to your healthcare provider about checking certain vitamin and mineral levels to discuss your individual needs. Support your ability to take stress head-on by topping off the nutrients that stress can deplete, and then reach for other science-backed supplements that have been studied for their positive effects.
† 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.
Traber MG, Stevens JF. Vitamins C and E: beneficial effects from a mechanistic perspective. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011;51(5):1000-1013. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.05.017
Pouteau E, Kabir-Ahmadi M, Noah L, et al. Superiority of magnesium and vitamin B6 over magnesium alone. PLoS One. 2018;13(12):e0208454. Published 2018 Dec 18. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0208454
Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Chapter 19: Magnesium and Stress In: Vink R, ed. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System. University of Adelaide Press; 2015.
Lopresti AL. The Effects of Psychological and Environmental Stress on Micronutrient Concentrations in the Body: A Review of the Evidence. Adv Nutr. 2020;11(1):103-112. doi:10.1093/advances/nmz082
Hepsomali P, Groeger JA, Nishihira J, Scholey A. Effects of Oral Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Administration on Stress and Sleep in Humans: A Systematic Review. Front Neurosci. 2020;14:923. Published 2020 Sep 17. doi:10.3389/fnins.2020.00923
Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, Malvi H, Kodgule R. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(37):e17186. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000017186
Salve J, Pate S, Debnath K, Langade D. Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus. 2019;11(12):e6466. Published 2019 Dec 25. doi:10.7759/cureus.6466
Detrick Snyder, MPH, RD is a Denver-based dietitian who brings expertise in clinical research, public health, and evidence-based food-as-medicine practices to provide the most relevant, accurate, and actionable content possible. He especially loves working alongside organizations with a mission for better health. Find him at detricksnyder.com.
As a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Sandra educates healthcare professionals and consumers on nutrition, supplements, and related health concerns. Prior to joining Pharmavite, Sandra worked as a clinical dietitian at University of Chicago Medicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, with minors in Spanish and Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from RUSH University in Chicago, IL. As part of her Master’s program, Sandra performed research on physical activity participation and correlates in urban Hispanic women.