Medically reviewed on July 7, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Stress is a feeling everyone is likely to experience throughout their life. If left unaddressed, stress can lead to long-term physical and mental ailments . That’s why addressing anxiety, depression, stress, and all other associated feelings is essential to maintaining mental and physical health.
Certain vitamins and supplements may help reduce stress and anxiety—and when paired with other healthy lifestyle habits, the results can be quite effective. We’ve compiled a list of 10 vitamins and other supplements that may combat or reduce stress and anxiety levels. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.
Table of Contents
The body needs eight B vitamins to function at its happiest and healthiest. B vitamins like B12 and B6 may help relieve stress, support cognitive function, and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety [2, 3, 4].
An Oxford study found that optimal B12 levels support brain health. Those without a B12 deficiency were six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage than those with a deficiency .
How It’s Used: While B vitamins can come from foods such as milk, eggs, chicken, red meat, tuna, avocados, and potatoes, you can also find B vitamin supplements in capsule and powder forms.
Maintaining proper levels of B vitamins through diet is ideal. However, those with vitamin B deficiencies might find it easier to improve their levels through supplements. If you’re interested in vitamin B supplements, talk to your healthcare provider about the ideal dosage for you.
Additional Benefits: B vitamins can support normal brain function, energy levels, and cell metabolism. Increasing your intake of B complex vitamins through food and/or supplements can help you feel ready to take on the day by supporting :
Best For: If you’re naturally intaking enough of this vitamin through diet, it’s not always necessary to take vitamin B supplements. However, it’s recommended for those with a deficiency, those who are 50 or older, are pregnant, those who take certain medications, those who follow a vegan diet, or those who have specific chronic conditions. Again, always consult with your healthcare provider before adding a new vitamin or supplement to your routine.
A 2015 blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial found that vitamin C can help combat oxidative stress . This study represents a promising look into the ability of antioxidants to help support healthy and stable moods, though more large-scale studies need to be performed .
Vitamin C helps prevent the buildup of excess cortisol, a stress hormone found in the bloodstream, during times of increased tension . The less amount of cortisol in the system, the less likely you are to feel stressed and/or see the physical signs of stress like fatigue, headaches, or high blood pressure.
How It’s Used: Vitamin C is in many common foods like citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach. Eating these foods regularly can improve your vitamin C levels. However, vitamin C supplements can be helpful for those with deficiencies and/or strict diets.
Online stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies sell vitamin C supplements. You can take daily capsules or mix vitamin C powders into drinks like water and smoothies. Be sure and consult with your healthcare provider prior to changing your diet or adding a new vitamin or supplement to your routine.
Additional Benefits: One of the main roles of vitamin C, aside from reducing stress, is its ability to help with the growth, development, and repair of bodily tissues . Those who intake appropriate amounts of vitamin C can benefit from healthy immune system function, prevention of iron deficiencies through vitamin C’s aid in iron absorption, assistance in managing blood pressure, and improvement in stress levels [6, 7, 9].
Vitamin D, the vitamin the body synthesizes after exposure to sunlight, is important for absorbing calcium and phosphorus and maintaining immune system functions [10, 11]. Vitamin D is also important for the growth and development of teeth and bones.
A small 2020 study found that vitamin D can influence academic stress levels, and in turn reduces additional levels of stress throughout the body . Students in particular may be able to reduce the effects of stress by exposing themselves to sunlight or taking vitamin D supplements, like D3 capsules.
How It’s Used: The most natural way to intake vitamin D is through diet and exposure to the sun. Milk, certain fortified cereals, fatty fish, and egg yolks are great sources of this key nutrient. Supplements like daily capsules and powders are great alternatives. It’s worth noting that vitamin D3 does have upper limits, so be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before adding it to your diet, and stick to the recommended dosages.
While sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D, be sure to apply sunscreen and limit sun exposure in excess amounts to avoid damaging your skin.
Additional Benefits: This powerful vitamin can do more for your body than you think. For example, vitamin D [11, 13, 14]:
Vitamin D helps your body function properly, and improved physical health can make it harder for your mind to slip into periods of anxiety, stress, and depression.
Melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain's pineal gland, helps control sleep patterns. A study found that people experiencing repeated anxiety and depression spells lack quality sleep . Melatonin supplements can be an effective way for those struggling with falling asleep or with staying asleep to regulate their sleep schedule .
How It’s Used: Unlike other vitamins and minerals that help with stress, melatonin is not found in many foods or drinks. However, there are ways to encourage the body's levels of this hormone, such as supplementation and decreased exposure to blue light (phone light, television light, etc.) [17, 18].
With increasing awareness of how sleep affects overall health, melatonin supplements have become widely available across the globe. Melatonin supplements come in a variety of forms: capsules, gummies, drinks, and/or powders.
Since sleep has a direct impact on your mood throughout the following day, it’s important to recognize when you’re becoming adjusted to a recommended dosage of melatonin. Taking too much melatonin can negatively disrupt the natural circadian rhythm, leaving you feeling groggy and irritable. While uncommon, you can recognize excess melatonin intake by dizziness, headaches, and/or daytime sleepiness . For these reasons, we recommend talking with your healthcare provider before you add melatonin or any other supplement to your daily regimen.
While you may recognize melatonin for its sleep benefits, it can also help support eye health .
Ashwagandha, a shrub grown in parts of Asia and Africa, is commonly used as a supplement to reduce stress. Although it’s not a vitamin, we’re including it on the list because of its benefits for reducing stress. Though herbal supplements are uncommon in Western medicine, ashwagandha may help increase energy and reduce inflammation as well as feelings of anxiety .
This herb works wonders by lowering cortisol levels. Notable healthcare systems like the Cleveland Clinic have voiced approval of ashwagandha’s benefits .
How It’s Used: You can apply ashwagandha topically or take it orally. If you’re using this herb to reduce inflammation, you can mix it into creams or liquids and apply it to the affected area.
Taking ashwagandha supplements or mixing it into drinks like hot tea can deliver benefits like relaxation and stress reduction. It is important to note that ashwagandha supplements may not be for everyone: the herb has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men, and likely has the same effect in women. High testosterone levels in women are associated with reduced fertility, as well as many side effects similar to those observed in PCOS [22, 23]. Please consult with your healthcare provider prior to adding any supplements to your routine.
Other benefits of ashwagandha include [21, 22, 24]:
Magnesium is key for supporting brain health and stable mood. Studies on magnesium in the central nervous system are leading researchers to believe that magnesium deficiencies may be linked to heightened stress levels .
How It’s Used:
Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods like whole grains, nuts, vegetable seeds, potatoes, leafy greens, and fruits. Be aware, however, that increasing your magnesium levels through diet may take a bit longer than with supplements. Supplements can increase magnesium levels almost immediately, but we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider before making the change.
Like the other minerals, herbs, and vitamins mentioned above, magnesium can help support a variety of bodily functions, including heart health and exercise performance [26, 27].
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea and certain mushrooms, and may help reduce stress, depression, and sleep problems [28, 29, 30].
A 2019 study deciphering the impact of L-theanine on stress-related symptoms and cognitive functions in adults found that higher intake of this amino acid leaves adults feeling more relaxed in their daily lives and uniquely stressful situations . Though small, the study provides a starting point for more evidence of this amino acid’s uses.
How It’s Used: While L-theanine is from natural substances like green tea, black tea, and mushrooms, it is more commonly taken as a daily capsule supplement.
Additional Benefits: L-theanine can do much more than reduce stress levels, including:
Glycine is an amino acid that the body uses to create proteins. Glycine is essential for the body’s synthesis of glutathione, which the cells produce to fight oxidative stress .
One study suggests that this amino acid can increase resistance to stress by improving sleep. A group of individuals who complained about poor sleep were given glycine or a placebo before bed, and it was found that those given the glycine saw improvement .
How It’s Used: The body produces glycine naturally, but it’s also consumed through foods like meat, fish, dairy, and legumes. If tests show that you lack optimal levels of glycine, you can take supplements.
Glycine supplements are typically taken once daily. While glycine supplements are generally safe, we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider before adding glycine or any other supplement to your regimen.
Additional Benefits: Aside from supporting healthy sleep and stress levels, glycine can benefit multiple areas of the body. Additional benefits include [33, 34, 35]:
Rhodiola rosea is a flower grown naturally in the Arctic, European regions, Asia, and North America. A clinical trial observing the effects of this plant on stress levels found that supplementation can help people experiencing stress-related burnout .
While Rhodiola rosea is an herb, it’s also an adaptogen that may help to promote healthy stress levels .
How It’s Used: Most people consume Rhodiola rosea through daily supplement capsules. Dosage can vary depending on health, physical stature, and needs. However, it’s safest to consume a 100-to-200-milligram tablet or capsule a day. Discuss what dosage is right for you with your healthcare provider before adding to your daily routine.
Rhodiola rosea doesn’t have serious side effects or precautions; however, that’s not to say they don’t exist. If you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), it’s best to steer clear of this natural supplement.
Additional Benefits: People who’ve used Rhodiola rosea rave about its ability to support normal mood. Other benefits include [37, 38]:
Kava is a Pacific shrub that can be consumed by grinding its roots into a powder for brewed teas, liquid forms of medicine, or capsule supplements. This shrub is said to give off pleasant and calming feelings for people that ingest it on a regular basis.
A large study on the effectiveness of kava extract tested 645 individuals experiencing anxiety. After using the Hamilton Anxiety Scale to measure the results, researchers found kava to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety .
How It’s Used: Kava is used as a daily supplement to support low stress and anxiety levels. If you’re interested in this shrub's benefits, you can use kava capsules, liquid drops, drinks, or powders. Liquid forms of kava are extremely potent, so it’s important to use only the prescribed amount.
If you consume too much kava, you may experience unwanted side effects like dizziness, headache, and/or diarrhea . In addition, taking large amounts of kava is associated with toxic liver damage . Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before adding kava to your supplement routine, and inform any current providers if you already take it.
Additional Benefits: In addition to relieving anxiety, kava root may aid in reducing pain and relaxing muscles.
While vitamins and other supplements can help reduce stress, there are other ways to help alleviate stress and anxiety, including breathing and body scanning meditation, yoga, regular exercise , interacting with a pet such as a dog , and biofeedback therapy .
Remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s best to test out different stress management techniques and seek support if you continue to experience heightened anxiety, depression, or stress.
Too much stress over time can cause serious mental and physical health concerns, so it’s important to take it seriously. If you’re struggling to manage the amount of stress and anxiety in your life, it’s best to seek guidance from a mental health professional before adding vitamins and supplements to your routine.