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The Best Supplements for Fighting Stress

Our world is a whole lot different then our parent's generation. It is a 24/7 anxiety-generator, what with work, commuting, parenthood, staying connected and trying to cram more than ever into every waking hour.

“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.”

Those words ring particularly true during the holiday season when long lines, slow traffic, packed schedules and bad weather add more stress to the mix. Meditation, soft music and disconnecting from the stresses of life (at least for a while) can add a semblance of balance. And as Stengler suggests, these supplements can help, too.


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.

Food sources: Fish, meat, dairy, nutritional yeast, avocado, pomegranate, Swiss chard, kale.


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.

Food Sources: Herring, eel, offal, tuna, white beans, chicken.


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.

Food Sources: Flax seeds, fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, fresh basil, grape leaves.


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.

The information in this article is for general educational purposes only, and should not be construed or interpreted as medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new heathcare regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article or any linked materials.

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