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Specific vitamins, nutrients, and herbs may ease symptoms and levels of stress. These include B vitamins, vitamin C, and omega-3s.

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From boosting immunity and bone health to supporting the nervous system and blood cells, vitamins and minerals are essential in ensuring our physical well-being. But these nutrients are also believed to aid mental health.

Stress is one of the biggest mental health challenges in today’s world.

According to a 2021 survey published by the American Psychological Association (APA), almost three-quarters of U.S. adults experience stress-related symptoms ranging from headaches to fatigue. One-third even reported feeling so overwhelmed at times that they’re unable to make simple decisions, such as what to wear.

While vitamins and nutrients may not be able to solve your stress-related difficulties, they could play an important part in helping you manage stress, which is crucial for mental well-being and physical health.

Something to keep in mind

It’s generally recommended to get your vitamins and other nutrients through a balanced diet. If you’re interested in boosting your intake of specific nutrients through supplements, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional first to discuss the ideal dosage and whether the supplement may interact with any medications you’re taking.

If you want to jump directly to the sections for each product, you can click the links below.

There are a lot of vitamin supplements, so it can feel overwhelming when trying to choose the one for you. We used the following criteria to help select our picks:

  • positive (and negative) consumer reviews
  • price
  • ingredients and formulation
  • brand reputation

In addition, all the products and brands featured are vetted to ensure they align with Psych Central’s medical, editorial, and business standards.

A note on price

The price range for each product is indicated by dollar signs ($ to $$$). A single dollar sign represents a lower-priced product, while three dollar signs represents a higher price point.

However, the prices of supplements vary according to the product size, ingredient quality, and formulation. This means it can be trickier to directly compare the prices of a product.

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

B complex

This supplement type comprises eight B vitamins:

  • B1
  • B2
  • B3
  • B5
  • B6
  • B7
  • B9
  • B12

“Evidence suggests that adequate levels of the entire B vitamin group are essential for optimal physical health and brain functioning,” explains Jessica DeGore, diabetes care and education specialist at Dietitian Jess Nutrition LLC. “They play a role in keeping our brains running properly.”

This potentially includes helping to alleviate stress. For example, a 2019 review of 18 studies found vitamin B supplementation aided in reducing stress among healthy and “at-risk” individuals. A 2011 study saw participants report significantly lower levels of work-related stress after taking a high dose multivitamin B supplement for 90 days.

B vitamins — particularly B6, B9, and B12 — have also been linked to reducing cortisol, the body’s “stress hormone.”

These vitamins are water-soluble, and the body takes in only the amount it requires. It then excretes unused water-soluble supplements, which is why your urine may have a brighter color when you take them.

However, having too high B vitamin intake can lead to severe health issues, including liver and nerve damage, so discussing the best dosage with your doctor is important.

Best B complex supplement for stress: Thorne Stress B-Complex

  • Price: $$
  • How to take it: 1 capsule 1 to 3 times daily
  • What we like:
    • It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.
    • Each bottle contains up to 2 months’ supply.
    • It’s formulated with extra B5, which supports adrenal function (which helps regulate the body’s stress response).
  • What to look out for:
    • Vitamin B may disrupt sleep, so consider taking it earlier in the day.
    • Pregnant people should consult a doctor before taking.
    • This product shouldn’t be taken if you’re undergoing cancer therapy.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in abundance in fruits like oranges and berries. It’s important for many aspects of health and, for example, supports:

  • heart health
  • immunity
  • tissues
  • memory

Plus, it’s thought to help regulate cortisol, reducing stress levels.

“Adrenal glands react to stress by releasing cortisol. In a stressful situation, these and other hormones trigger the ‘[fight, flight, or freeze]’ reaction, and vitamin C is rapidly used up,” shares DeGore. “The antioxidant properties in vitamin C help control cortisol, thus reducing stress.”

Studies in animals indicate that taking a vitamin C supplement may reduce how much cortisol the body releases following a stressful event.

Researchers have widely linked vitamin C deficiency to stress-related conditions. Also, one 2019 study found that taking 500 mg of vitamin C daily 1 week before a public-speaking event reduced feelings of stress.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests a daily maximum of 2,000 mg for adults, as too much vitamin C can lead to side effects, such as nausea and cramping.

Best vitamin C supplement for stress: MegaFood Ultra-C 400 mg

  • Price: $$$
  • How to take it: one tablet a day with a beverage
  • What we like:
    • The vitamin C in these tablets is obtained from organic oranges, blueberries, and cranberries.
    • They’re vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and Kosher.
  • What to look out for:
    • Vitamin C can interact with several medications, including cholesterol-lowering medications and some to treat cancer. It’s important to check with a doctor before taking it.
    • This supplement is recommended for adults only.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Typically found in fish oil (but also in various plants), omega-3 fatty acids are believed to help with concerns such as:

  • heart disease
  • cognitive decline
  • inflammation
  • eye degeneration

But research also indicates that it may help reduce stress levels.

It’s largely thought to help by reducing cortisol. One 2021 study found that supplementing with omega-3s lowered levels of the stress hormone by around one-fifth. A study from 2019 in overworked nurses discovered that taking omega-3 helped keep cortisol low, particularly upon waking (the time of day when it’s usually highest).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that an adequate intake of omega-3 for men is about 1.6 grams a day and 1.1 grams for women (although this is slightly higher if you’re pregnant).

Taking too much omega-3s in the form of fish oil may lead to side effects such as:

For this reason, it’s important to discuss the ideal dosage with a doctor.

Best omega-3 supplement for stress: Barleans Seriously Delicious Total Omega Orange Creme 2,400 mg

  • Price: $$
  • How to take it: 1 tablespoon daily (can be mixed into food or drink)
  • Why we like it:
    • It comes in liquid form, which is ideal for those who aren’t keen on taking tablets.
    • It’s formulated with fish and plant oils for a varied balance of omega-3 sources.
    • Its natural fruity flavor means there’s no fish aftertaste.
  • What to look out for:
    • Fish oils can interact with various medications, so it’s important to check with a doctor before taking them.
    • The fish content means they’re unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans.

L-theanine

“L-theanine is found predominantly in green and black teas,” states DeGore. “Many studies show that [it] has the potential to promote mental health in the general population by releasing levels of certain chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine, which influence mood, sleep and emotion, and cortisol, which helps the body deal with stress.”

One 2019 review of 9 studies suggests that supplementing with 200 to 400 mg of L-theanine a day may lower stress levels. A smaller 2019 study on 30 adults found that taking L-theanine for 4 weeks helped reduce stress-related symptoms.

This nutrient may aid in reducing stress because of the relaxation effect on the brain and neurotransmitters, which researchers state may occur as quickly as 30 minutes after ingesting it.

Still, there’s not enough research to establish a recommended daily dose for L-theanine, so it’s best to discuss with a doctor what dosage may be best for you.

Best L-theanine supplement for stress: Sports Research L-theanine 200 mg

  • Price: $$$
  • How to take it: one to two tablets daily with food
  • Why we like it:
    • It’s formulated with the patented ingredient of Suntheanine, a pure form of L-theanine.
    • The soft capsule shell can make it easier to take.
    • It’s non-GMO and gluten and soy-free.
  • What to look out for:
    • L-theanine may interact with several medications, so it’s best to speak with a doctor before taking the supplement.
    • It should be avoided if you’re pregnant or breast- or chestfeeding.
    • This product is unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans.

Magnesium

This mineral supports everything from the immune system and nerve function to blood cells and muscle. So, what role does it play in stress?

Researchers state that low magnesium levels may make your body more susceptible to stress. Also, a 2018 study found that taking a daily 300 mg supplement of magnesium lowered stress levels in participants by over 40%.

This mineral is thought to interact with various stress hormones, helping to regulate the body’s response. For example, a smaller 2016 study on 23 individuals found taking magnesium helped lower cortisol and ACTH (the hormone that helps regulate cortisol).

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies by gender and age but is 300 to 400 mg. Too much magnesium can cause side effects such as diarrhea and nausea, so it’s important to speak with a health professional if unsure how much to take.

Best magnesium supplement for stress: Nature’s Bounty Magnesium 500 mg

  • Price: $
    • How to take it: one tablet daily, ideally with food
  • Why we like it:
    • A single tablet provides just over the RDA for men and women.
    • It’s non-GMO, free from gluten, wheat, soy, lactose, and milk, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
    • The brand has been producing science-backed supplements for almost 5 decades.
  • What to look out for:
    • It shouldn’t be taken if you’re pregnant or breast- or chestfeeding or have issues with your kidneys.
    • Magnesium can interact with various medications, including certain antibiotics, so check with a doctor before taking it.

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is not just nice to look at. This flowering herb has also traditionally been used to ease fatigue and boost brain function.

When it comes to reducing stress, research from 2020 suggests that it may help reduce inflammation in the body — high levels of which can encourage a greater stress response. Plus, review studies from 2018 and 2016 indicate that Rhodiola rosea may impact the body’s release of stress hormones and how cells respond to stress.

Still, experts agree that more research into the relationship between stress and this herb is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn.

There’s currently no RDA for Rhodiola rosea. Studies indicate that associated side effects — such as headaches and dizziness — are relatively uncommon. Still, they may occur, so it’s important to speak with a doctor about a suitable dosage.

Best Rhodiola rosea supplement for stress: Gaia Herbs Rhodiola rosea

  • Price: $$$
  • How to take it: one capsule, twice a day between meals.
  • Why we like it:
    • The brand tests its ingredients to ensure purity and efficacy.
    • It’s suitable for vegans and free from gluten, dairy, and soy.
    • The capsules are designed for fast dissolution and absorption.
  • What to look out for:
    • The product is unsuitable for people with bipolar disorder or those who are pregnant or breast- or chestfeeding.
    • It is advised to check with a doctor before taking Rhodiola rosea if you’re on any medications or have a health condition.

Ashwagandha

This plant has been relied upon by Ayurvedic practitioners for centuries to boost energy and concentration and help reduce stress.

Modern studies have also started to explore its role in minimizing stress.

For instance, in a 60-day study from 2019 and an 8-week study from 2019, participants experienced notably lower levels of stress and anxiety after taking a daily ashwagandha supplement. Researchers also observed that the participants had reduced cortisol levels.

A 2021 review of human and animal studies showed similar outcomes.

There’s no official RDA for Ashwagandha. The dosage typically depends on personal circumstances and needs, so it’s recommended to speak with a medical professional to determine the correct amount.

Best ashwagandha supplement for stress: NutriRise Ashwagandha Root 1,300 mg

  • Price: $$
  • How to take it: two capsules a day
  • Why we like it:
    • The product is third-party tested to ensure ingredient purity.
    • The formula contains black pepper, which may aid absorption.
    • It’s vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and free from gluten, dairy, and wheat.
  • What to look out for:
    • The product is unsuitable if you have an overactive thyroid or are pregnant or breast- or chestfeeding.
    • Ashwagandha can interact with specific medications, including some for diabetes and anxiety, so it’s recommended to speak with a professional before taking it.
    • Taking too much can lead to side effects, including stomach upset and diarrhea, so it’s best to stick to the recommended dose.

Specific vitamins, nutrients, and herbs are thought to help reduce stress by influencing stress-related hormones and networks in the body. Cortisol is most reported as the hormone various nutrients interact with.

Others, such as B complex, play a role in keeping your brain healthy and functioning overall — which is vital in maintaining its defenses against stressful situations.

The products listed above are only a few if you’re looking to help ease your stress levels.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate dietary supplements in the same way as medications, so it’s particularly important to research a product or brand you’re choosing.

When choosing a supplement, some factors to consider are:

  • the brand and its reputation
  • the ingredients and their quality
  • positive (and negative) user reviews
  • research to support its use
  • certifications by external parties

If you’d like to learn more about how to select a high quality supplement, consider reading Healthline’s in-depth guide.

If taking a supplement doesn’t feel like the right option for you, there are plenty of natural alternatives you can try. For example, you may consider:

When to see a doctor

For those experiencing mild-to-moderate stress levels, taking a supplement or adopting another holistic approach may be enough to help.

However, if you find that stress impacts other aspects of your mental well-being, quality of life, or daily activities, consider seeking help from a professional. There’s no shame in doing so, and they can help by discussing potential options with you — such as talk therapy or medication.

Can vitamins also be used for anxiety?

Although they have similar symptoms, stress and anxiety are two separate concerns.

Still, research suggests that some dietary supplements — including some of those listed in this article — may also help ease anxiety.

If you’d like to learn more about supplements for anxiety, consider reading our in-depth article.

Can vitamins relieve stress over time?

How long a vitamin takes to work can vary depending on the product and individual.

“In most cases, vitamin supplementation generally results in rapid resolution of the symptoms of deficiency,” DeGore adds. “By taking time-release supplements, stress can be reduced throughout the day.”

A lot of the research into vitamin supplements and stress has been conducted over several weeks and months, which may indicate their effects are enhanced and sustained when taken over an extended duration.

How often should I take vitamins for stress relief?

It’s highly recommended to speak with a medical professional before starting a new dietary supplement — especially if you take medication, have a known medical condition, or are pregnant or breast- or chestfeeding.

Vitamins have long been recognized for maintaining good physical and mental well-being. Taking a daily supplement may help relieve stress — either on its own or complement other treatments.

Some supplements most commonly used to ease stress include vitamins B and C, omega-3s, and magnesium. More research into the relationship between different nutrients and stress is needed, but some evidence may have a positive influence.

It’s good to remember that the supplemental approach doesn’t always suit everyone, and side effects can vary. Plus, dosages and requirements differ by supplement and individual, so it’s recommended to seek professional advice before beginning a new routine to help ensure you feel your best.