Key Supplements for Stress: Reducing Stress Levels
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Key Supplements for Stress

Young woman at table with open laptop, calculator, and reports out, looking stressed

According to the American Psychological Association, two-thirds of Americans experience stress which can negatively affect their health. When stress becomes constant, our bodies suffer mentally, physically and emotionally. So do supplements for stress reduction really help?

“The number one stress reliever in terms of a psychological response is exercise,” explains Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, CWC.” So if we could package exercise as a supplement, that would be your best bet. For example, taking a 10-minute walk lowers stress hormones, in particular cortisol, allowing for a relaxation response.”

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important, but certain key supplements for stress reduction can help manage the body’s stress response.

Melatonin: Using Sleep to Lower Stress Levels

“We want you to get a good night of sleep because lack of sleep can make all kinds of life’s adventures that much more challenging. In addition, a good night of sleep is critical for memory consolidation, muscle repair, and just to live the kind of life you deserve,” says Zerner. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body’s pineal gland, which helps control sleep cycles. The body naturally produces melatonin on its own when our body temperature drops.


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Stress and sleep are closely connected, making melatonin one of the best supplements for stress relief. Zerner says you’re more likely to feel stress if you don’t get enough sleep. Research shows melatonin can improve sleep quality and even help lower symptoms of depression and anxiety any time of day.

Melatonin supplements can help kick-start your body’s natural production of the sleep hormone, helping you get a good night’s sleep and, in turn, deal with stress more effectively.

“While melatonin mostly helps for sleep, we can use the supplement to create that relaxed response when we feel stress or anxiety at other times of the day as well,” says Zerner. (Cooper Complete has fast-acting melatonin to support people who have difficulty falling asleep and time-release melatonin to help people who fall asleep easily but then find they wake and have a problem returning to sleep. Each Cooper Complete Quicke release melatonin product has 3 mg of melatonin; Cooper Complete Prolonged Release Melatonin hs 5 mg of melatonin.)

Magnesium: Regulating Stress Response

“Magnesium, among its many roles in the body, is a natural vasodilator, so when you think about constriction, and you think about opening up arteries and getting enhanced blood flow, we get a nice relaxation response with that – which can be helpful for muscle cramping and all kinds of other issues and that sense of relaxation. It could even help you with a better night of sleep,” says Zerner.  Magnesium normally works in the body on nerve and muscle function, but this essential mineral can be extremely helpful in lowering stress levels. Yet, research shows more than half of Americans don’t get enough daily magnesium through their diet.

Magnesium supports our adrenals, which overwork themselves in response to stress. Without sufficient magnesium, the nerve cells can become over-reactive, causing a person to become highly sensitive, irritable and unable to relax.

Low magnesium levels during stressful times can also cause energy depletion and fatigue.

(The Cooper Complete line contains Magnesium Glycinate with 120 mg elemental magnesium. Magnesium can have a laxative effect on some, and Magnesium Glycinate is least likely to have this effect.)

Magnesium in Cooper Complete Multivitamins

Multivitamin Original Multi Basic One Multi
Magnesium 660 mg 200 mg

B Vitamins: Improving Mood for Stress

B vitamins are water-soluble and are important for cell metabolism. They include eight B vitamins:

  • B1 (thiamin)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folic acid)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

While all B vitamins play an integral part, vitamin B12, also known as “the memory vitamin,” plays the biggest role in brain health. B12 deficiencies may cause mental confusion and make it difficult to cope with stress. That’s because B12 is significant in the creation of melatonin and the mood hormone serotonin.

“It’s easy to get enough B vitamins through your diet, but any deficiencies can be corrected with supplements,” says Zerner. For example, people who avoid animal products (meat, fish, poultry or dairy) may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency since this vitamin is only naturally found in food from animal products.

Further, it’s estimated 10-30 percent of adults age 50 and older have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 due to decreased stomach acid. Proton-pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec OTC®, Nexium® and Prevacid®), H2 blockers (such as Tagamet®, Pepcid AC® or Zantac 360°™), and regular use of other antacids slow or decrease stomach acid. Hence, it’s crucial to disclose over-the-counter usage with your physician so that your B12 level can be regularly checked. (Cooper has a Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) product for people who need to augment their diet with vitamin B12.)

Do you find yourself stressed out at work? Some research shows B complex vitamins are linked to improved mood and can specifically help lower stress levels in the workplace. In this small study, 60 participants completed a 90-day double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which personality, work demands, mood, anxiety and strain were assessed. After statistically controlling for personality and work demand differences, the vitamin B groups reported significantly lower personal stress and strain than the placebo group, which did not receive the B vitamins.

B Vitamins in Cooper Complete Multivitamins

Zerner says, “On any given day, if you’re stressed out, you may not be eating your best diet, so filling in the gaps with a good multivitamin can help.” See the chart below for a side-by-side comparison of the B vitamins in Cooper Complete multivitamins as well as the B vitamins in Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex.

B Vitamins in Cooper Complete Multivitamins and Advanced Vitamin B Complex

B VITAMIN Advanced B Complex Original Multi Basic One Multi
Thiamin (B1) 50 mg 3 mg 1.5 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 50 mg 10 mg 2 mg
Niacin (B3) 50 mg 20 mg 20 mg
Vitamin B6 50 mg 10 mg 10 mg
Folic Acid (B9) 680 mcg DFE (400 mcg L-5-MTHF) 333 mcg DFE (200 mcg L-5-MTHF) 333 mcg DFE (200 mcg L-5-MTHF)
B12 (Methylcobalamin) 500 mcg 400 mcg 400 mcg
Biotin (B7) 75 mcg 300 mcg
Pantothenic Acid (B5) 50 mg 10 mg 10 mg

Omega-3: Decreasing Stress Inflammation

“Any supplement that helps with a decreased inflammatory response can also be helpful in combating stress levels,” says Zerner. “That’s why Omega-3 can be so beneficial.”

The hormone cortisol helps regulate the inflammation response in the body. When cortisol isn’t working correctly, inflammation can get out of control. Long periods of stress can alter the effectiveness of cortisol. Stress reduces cortisol’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response because it decreases tissue sensitivity to the hormone. Chronic inflammation can be caused by stress, and chronic inflammation is the root cause of the onset of chronic disease, according to this 2019 Harvard Magazine article.


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Eicosapentaenoic (EPA), found in omega-3 fatty acids, can help bring your body’s cortisol back to normal levels. The Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 dietary supplement includes 720 mg EPA in each (two softgel) serving.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Blood Flow for Lower Stress

Zerner says high blood pressure can stress the body. Therefore, anything that would help lower high blood pressure would be meaningful.

CoQ10 is a vessel dilator, so you get greater blood flow and decreased blood pressure says Zerner. “This can also help reduce high blood pressure and, in turn, lower stress levels.”

Zerner says the increased blood flow can also help those who suffer from migraines. Migraines are another component that can cause copious amounts of stress on the body.

Microbiome Fiber: Fiber Consumption and a Healthy Mood

“The bacteria in the gut, also called the microbiome, can influence stress hormones. In fact, 96-97 percent of the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter serotonin is found in the gut,” says Zerner. NIH studies indicate that diet, stress and mood substantially influence which bacteria or microbes survive.

These studies showed an inverse relationship between total dietary fiber intake with anxiety and high psychological distress, as well as reduced odds of depression in women. Ninety percent of Americans don’t get enough fiber. Increasing vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes is encouraged and a fiber supplement can help boost intake to get closer to the goals.

Probiotic: Connecting a Healthy Gut to Stress Response

Studies have found that probiotics can play a role in attenuating negative emotions and reducing abnormal behaviors while improving cognitive function and showing the potential of probiotics in relieving stress.

Meridan Zerner tells us: “Bolstering our healthy bacteria with certain fermented foods and smart supplementation like probiotics can be part of a multifactoral strategy to manage the stress response. In addition, for the healthy bacteria to flourish and work in complex ways, adequate fiber in the diet is critical.”


While not supplements for stress reduction, Zerner says practicing mindfulness and meditation (along with regular exercise) can be a great “supplement” for any lifestyle.

“If we would move more, have a mindful practice, healthy diet filled with a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and supplement with what we can’t get, we would live in a perfect world,” says Zerner.

As a reminder, your physician understands your health profile best, so it’s important to talk with them if you’re experiencing higher stress levels to decide which supplements are best for you.

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WATCH this Stress Management and Smart Supplementation video from Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Meridan Zerner.

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