2020 was not easy! We have all felt the strain of this pandemic. Too much stress can take its toll on the body – physically and mentally. One of the questions I get asked a lot, as a nutritionist, is "which supplements are good for helping with symptoms of stress and anxiety?".
My response is always that there are many – but if I had to whittle it down to my favourite nutrients, it would be the following...
Cordyceps Mushrooms For Stress
Cordyceps is a mushroom that has been used for centuries to treat fatigue and kidney disease. There are two main properties this mushroom possesses that are particularly useful in times of stress: energy production and adrenal support.
Cordyceps are thought to increase the body’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is your body’s energy source. It is thought that patients with ME and/or Fibromyalgia have difficulty producing this molecule, and that may be one of the reasons they tend to feel very tired and fatigued a lot of the time.
Cordyceps have adaptogenic properties which means that, whatever your cortisol levels are doing, the cordyceps act to rebalance those levels and bring them back to equilibrium.
For anyone looking to support their adrenal glands and feel energised at times of stress, I recommend the Nootropic Regenerate & Focus Capsules by Core Nutrition. This supplement uses a unique mushroom blend that helps to enhance alertness, concentration, and focus.
5 HTP Supplements For Stress
One thing that is paramount for the recovery of the adrenal glands is sleep. This is because, when you're sleeping, your adrenal glands are producing the stress hormones required for the following day.
For anyone struggling to get to sleep, my advice is to try 5 HTP (5 Hydroxytryptophan). This is an amino acid that helps to promote sleep by increasing melatonin production, which is the hormone that tells the body to fall asleep.
Studies have suggested that 5 HTP significantly reduces the time it takes to fall asleep. Plus, 5 HTP also gets converted into the hormone serotonin which makes us feel happy and calm.
Magnesium For Stress
Magnesium is also helpful at night-time as a natural sleep aid. It is great for reducing stress and anxiety. 50% of the population are deficient in magnesium and stress is its biggest robber!
This mineral is a major muscle relaxant and can be taken before bed to induce sleep. Studies show that it binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is the neurotransmitter responsible for quietening down nerve activity, so it's helpful for anyone who is restless at night!
I really like the Sweet Dreams capsules by FARMASSIS+ as they are specifically designed to improve your quality of sleep. These capsules contain chamomile, a naturally calming ingredient, as well as B5 and B6 (co factors for 5 HTP).
On a side note – B vitamins are vital for energy and reducing stress. They help to maintain a healthy nervous system, and a strong nervous system is essential for being able to deal with the fight or flight response!
Maca Root For Stress
Another nutrient I think is beneficial to support the adrenal glands is Maca Root. This Peruvian vegetable looks a bit like ginger and has powerful calming properties.
The Maca Root contains flavonoids, which are thought to reduce anxiety. Acting as an adaptogenic agent, it is thought to balance the stress hormones thanks to the unique nutrients they contain called macaenes and macamides.
Furthermore, Maca is extremely nutrient dense. It is rich in amino acids containing over 90% of both essential fatty acids and free fatty acids. It is high in vitamin C, copper, magnesium and iron. Vitamin C is excellent for the adrenal glands and studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce levels of stress hormones in the blood.
If you are low in iron, you will experience feelings of fatigue and breathlessness. Since many of us are eating partly plant-based nowadays or going 100% vegan, iron is the one of the first minerals to be deficient. Taking a Maca Root supplement will provide you with sufficient iron – this is especially important if you have cut out meat from your diet.
Bottom line, Maca root is a powerhouse for the stress response and it is really a practical way of covering all your needs when you are stressed!
I have been using the Maca Root liquid drops by Balance. I am a huge fan of liquid supplements because when you take your vitamins sublingually (under the tongue), it maximises absorption into the body and it goes directly into the bloodstream.