Using Supplements, Vitamins & Minerals to Deal With Stress

Jul 21, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Stress is very prevalent these days. Many of us have had to deal with family issues, work issues, school issues, drought issues and money issues, all through the pandemic. This is all on top of not being able to enjoy the things we take for granted, like eating out, team sports, travel, and socializing. What does all of this usually amount to? Stress!

Stress is defined as the normal response to pressures or demands, which elevates if there is a perceived threat or danger. It occurs from the release and circulation of hormones, which make people breathe rapidly, sweat, tense their muscles, and prepare to act. Your alarm system, referred to as the "fight-or-flight" response, activates for our protection. It is a normal part of daily life which helps us cope, meet deadlines, prepare, be productive and make important decisions. However, long-term stress can become harmful. If stress is prolonged or over-whelming, risks for mental health problems, unhealthy habits and medical problems increase. Stress is associated with anxiety and depression, substance use problems, sleep problems, pain, and bodily complaints such as muscle tension. It also increases the risk of medical problems such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, a weakened immune system, difficulty conceiving, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

To help deal with stress, many ask their health care provider such as their pharmacist with the question "What is available for me to try without seeing a doctor". Many times, our team of clinic pharmacists are asked this question in the vitamin and supplement aisle of the pharmacy.

There is no miracle supplement to help get rid if your stress. There are a few options you could try along with finding stress managing skills to help you feel better. Learning these skills along the way is what will help you find success. Keeping your overall health in check is important. Stress ease is a product in our vitamin section which supplements a variety of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and others. While none of these are magical ingredient this product can help you fight off stressful situations.

If you want to help relieve some of your stress, adaptogens like 5-HTP may be able to help. Adaptogens are supplements that contain compounds that improve brain health and function. Most adaptogens have a gastrointestinal benefit as well, which believe it or not helps your brain health. The neurons lining your gut can play a major role in your mood. These neurons produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to mood. A chemical 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP, helps to form both serotonin and melatonin, both of which help calm the brain and exert happy feelings and restful sleep. More studies are needed, but 5-HTP shows some ability to help you fall asleep and improve the quality or sleep. Having a chamomile tea or supplementing as needed with melatonin may also improve sleep and therefore help your body combat stress.

Prebiotics and probiotics, which encourage a healthy balance of the gut microbiome and can help reduce the overgrowth of bad bacteria. Some studies are starting to show a link between the brain and gut, along with the role a balanced gut microbiome plays in reducing anxiety. Look for more links between the gut and mental health to be uncovered in the future.

Ashwagandha, an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, may be an effective stress reliever. It is capable or reducing the stress hormone cortisol and feelings of stress. Studies show users of ashwaganda had improved resistance to stress and reported an improvement in their quality of life.

There is no treatment or supplement for stress as effective as making healthy attempts to reduce it or eliminate unhealthy stress completely. Often this starts with proper nutrition and sleep. Your nutritional, digestive and sleep healthy is crucial. Reducing stress will depend on what is causing your stress. However, exercise, healthy eating and doing things you enjoy will help. Other methods to manage stress might include getting a massage, yoga, or meditation. Not using substances like alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, or recreational drugs is important as well. These substances can damage your natural ability to cope with stress. Here is to you enjoying your summer activities and always striving to make life better. That will really help keep the stress at bay.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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