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Cooper Clinic Meridan Zerner RDN discusses key supplements for stress management

According to the American Psychological Association, two-thirds of Americans experience stress. When stress becomes constant in our lives, our bodies can suffer mentally, physically and emotionally. Are there supplements for stress reduction that can help?

“The number one stress reliever in terms of a psychological response is exercise,” explains Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Meridan Zerner. ”If we could package exercise as a supplement, that would be your best bet.”

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

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.

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.

Prolonged Release Melatonin Supplement

$14.48 Add to cart

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

“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 support people who fall asleep easily but then find they wake and have difficulty returning to sleep. Each Cooper Complete melatonin product has 3 mg melatonin so if needed they can be taken together.)

Magnesium: Regulating Stress Response

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 Oxide

$8.98 Add to cart

Magnesium supports our adrenals, which overwork themselves in a 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.

Having a low magnesium level during stressful times can also cause energy depletion and fatigue. When the body doesn’t get enough sleep, stress often occurs.

(The Cooper Complete line contains Magnesium Glycinate with 100 mg elemental magnesium and Magnesium Oxide with 300 mg elemental magnesium. Magnesium can have a laxative effect on some, and Magnesium Glycinate is least likely to have this effect.)

B Vitamins: Improving Mood for Stress

There are eight B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin). These water-soluble vitamins are important for cell metabolism.

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 kind of deficiency can be made up with supplements,” says Zerner. People who avoid animal products (meat, fish, poultry or dairy) may be at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency as this vitamin is only naturally found in food in 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, Nexium and Prevacid), H2 blockers (such as Tagamet or Zantac), and regular use of other antacids slow or decrease stomach acid, so it’s important to disclose over-the-counter usage with your physician so that B12 level can be regularly checked. (Cooper has a liquid Vitamin B12 product for people who need supplement vitamin B12.)

Feeling stressed 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 differences in personality and work demands, the Vitamin B groups reported significantly lower personal strain than the placebo group which did not receive the Vitamin Bs.

B Vitamins in Cooper Complete Multivitamins

See the chart below for a side-by-side comparison of the B vitamins in Cooper Complete multivitamins. Basic One multivitamin is a one-tablet-a-day option that contains the baseline level of B supplementation we recommend, while the Original multivitamin also includes biotin, and higher levels of vitamins B1 and B2.

B Vitamins in Cooper Complete Multivitamins

B1 (Thiamin) 1.5 mg 3 mg
B2 (Riboflavin) 2 mg 10 mg
B3 (Niacin) 20 mg 20 mg
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 10 mg 10 mg
B6 (as Pyridoxine HCI) 10 mg 10 mg
B7 (Biotin) 300 mcg
B9 (Folic Acid) Metafolin® Folate 333 mcg DFE (200 mcg L-5-MTHF) Metafolin® Folate 333 mcg DFE (200 mcg L-5-MTHF)
B12 (Cobalamin) 400 mcg Methylcobalamin 400 mcg Methylcobalamin

Omega-3: Decreasing Stress Inflammation

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

Advanced Omega-3

$19.98 Add to cart

The hormone cortisol helps regulate the inflammation response in the body. When cortisol isn’t working properly, inflammation can get out of control. Long periods of stress can alter the effectiveness of cortisol.  It reduces its ability to regulate the inflammatory response because it decreases tissue sensitivity to the hormone.

EPA found in omega-3 fatty acids can help bring your body’s cortisol back to normal levels. The Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 product includes 720 mg EPA in each serving.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Blood Flow for Lower Stress

Zerner says high blood pressure can cause the body stress. 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.


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 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.

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