As we grapple with the prolonged experience of living in a pandemic combined with the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Ida, it is more important than ever to prioritize wellbeing and provide ourselves with the self-care we so desperately need.
For those looking for natural strategies to help us deal with stress and anxiety more effectively, some important nutritional supplements can help give your body the boost it needs as we continue to work toward our wellness goals.
Of course, we would like to have the basics of stress management covered:
Basic elements of self-care are getting enough sleep, nutritious foods, and regular exercise. Let go of perfection, TJust do it with the schnapps, do our best to surround odeal with the positiveand MMake time for gratitude.
If you find that you are doing all of these – or at least most of these things – and it is still not quite enough, here are six nutritional supplements that have been shown to help lift moods and relieve feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.
Supplementing 400 to 1,600 mg daily has been shown to significantly improve symptoms of depression, with several studies showing it to be as effective as certain prescription antidepressants.
The American Psychiatric Association suggests supplementing SAMe as an alternative to traditional antidepressants like Paxil or Effexor for people with depression who prefer alternative therapies.
And here’s an added bonus: SAMe has been shown to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis as well, perhaps as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs like Celebrex and with fewer negative side effects. This doesn’t happen overnight, however – it can take a month for supplementation to occur before relief occurs.
If you choose to take SAMe, the daily doses can be given as 1-3 divided doses. SAMe is best taken on an empty stomach 30-60 minutes before meals or two hours after meals. Do not take it in combination with other antidepressants unless recommended and directed by a doctor.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb used in traditional medicine, which means that it increases our resistance to physical, chemical or biological stressors and has a “normalizing” or stabilizing effect on the body.
In adults with chronic stress, clinical research shows that taking 240 mg of ashwagandha extracts daily or 300 mg twice daily for 2 months lowers perceived stress levels by 30% to 44% and cortisol levels by 22% to 28%.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid. It is found along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the liver and tissues of marine mammals and oily fish. It is also found in some types of microalgae.
EPA supplementation appears to reduce symptoms of depression, especially in patients already on traditional antidepressants.
Those already on traditional antidepressants may benefit more from EPA than those who are not taking antidepressants. Preliminary clinical studies show that taking 500 to 1,000 mg of EPA twice daily with standard therapy improves symptoms of recurring major depression such as depressed mood, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and insomnia after 2-4 weeks of treatment.
Theanine, passion flower and lavender
These are three of the mildest mood enhancing supplements with the fewest known side effects and interactions.
Theanine (also known as L-theanine) is an amino acid found in green tea and is typically used in doses of 200-400 mg daily for 4-8 weeks.
Passion flower is an herb that can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, with some studies showing it can be as effective as a drug. The typical dosage is 45 drops of passion flower liquid extract daily or one 90 milligram tablet daily.
lavender is a popular aromatherapy agent; People find the scent relaxing. is often used to relieve stress, anxiety, and promote a good night’s sleep.
We can’t stress it enough: Always check with your doctor, as well as your pharmacist, for potential mood enhancing supplements when taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication. And don’t just rely on a supplement to help you manage stressors. Instead, think of it as an addition to your other stress relief efforts and strategies
Remember that just because a dietary supplement is natural or has been shown to be safe in long-term studies doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe for you – or that it is free from side effects. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements. And because many dietary supplements can interact with certain drugs – and other dietary supplements – check with your pharmacist about possible negative interactions with prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
Most of these dietary supplements have hardly been researched for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Also, take only one product at a time to avoid potentially unsafe adverse drug interactions, and start with the lowest recommended dose.
As always, check with your doctor + pharmacist before adding a new dietary supplement to your regimen.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered nutritionist + nutrition writer based in New Orleans and the founder of the nonprofit restaurant initiative Ochsner Eat Fit. Tune in to their podcast FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s Articles + TV Segments at www.mollykimball.com and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites’ weekly newsletter here.
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