|February 5, 2024

Top Supplements for Stress

By Bulletproof Staff
Reviewed by Theresa Greenwell for Scientific Accuracy on 01/03/2024

Top Supplements for Stress

  • Acute and long-term stress can lead to headaches, irritability, high blood pressure and fatigue.
  • There are many supplements and vitamins that offer stress relief, such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, L-tyrosine, L-theanine and magnesium citrate.
  • Learn more about the stress-curbing benefits of various supplements, along with science-backed ways Bulletproof can offer support.

In addition to quality sleep, fueling up with nutritious foods and exercising, there’s another tool in the self-care toolbox that can help fight daily stress: supplements. They provide an extra dose of calm by filling in any nutritional gaps left behind from our diets.

From familiar ones like vitamin C and melatonin to a few lesser-known ones, here are the supplements you can turn to for support.

Supplements shouldn’t be used as a substitute for other stress-relieving tools and behaviors, such as exercise, a nutritious diet and prescribed medication. Supplements work best when they are combined with other stress management tools.

ASHWAGANDHA

Ashwagandha supplement for stress

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb native to northern Africa and India. Adaptogens are natural substances that help your body and brain adapt to stress. It has reddish orange fruits and roots that have been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. This adaptogen may help balance the relationship between your hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands, also called the HPA axis.[1]

MELATONIN

Bulletproof sleep collagen on nightstand next to tea

Sleeping soundly at night plays a pivotal role in combating stress levels. The most well-known sleep supplement found on most bedside tables is melatonin. Produced naturally by your brain, this hormone helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms.[2]

However, supplementing can be a great way to increase your melatonin levels. Bulletproof Sleep Mode contains both plant-based melatonin (300mcg per serving) and L-ornithine, an amino acid which may support better quality rest.[3]

If you prefer the sip-able supplement route, Bulletproof Sleep Collagen Protein combines collagen protein, melatonin, chamomile and magnesium in a delicious, slightly sweet Lucuma Vanilla flavor.

L-THEANINE

Cup of tea next to pot

If you’ve ever felt relaxed after a cup of green tea, you can thank the calming effects of l-theanine. This compound is a natural component of tea leaves that encourages relaxation and mental focus. When l-theanine is combined with caffeine, it may increase mental recall and reduce mental fatigue.[4] We include l-theanine in our sugar-free Stress Gummies Think of it as just another reason to enjoy a cup of green tea.

Related: Tea Time: What are the Benefits of Green Tea?

MAGNESIUM CITRATE

Hand holding Bulletproof Magnesium supplements next to bottle on blue counter top

Magnesium is a mineral involved in more than 300 bodily functions, including synthesizing proteins, regulating blood sugar levels already in the normal range and controlling neurons.[5] A specific type of magnesium, magnesium citrate, may help to promote the benefits of magnesium more effectively because of its high bioavailability.[6] It may also play a role in reducing the occurrences of headaches in people prone to migraine-sufferers.[7]

Bulletproof Magnesium provides 320mg of highly absorbable magnesium citrate per serving, and you can take all three capsules at one time or spread them throughout the day. Either way, this supplement may support a healthy nervous system, brain function and cellular health.†

Related: How to Choose the Best Magnesium Supplement for Your Body

B COMPLEX

Vitamins spilling out of bottle

Unleash the power of teamwork with a B-complex vitamin. Taking B-complex means you’ll be obtaining eight key vitamins, including vitamin B12, biotin and thiamine.

A meta-analysis on the effects of vitamin B supplementation showed that it may be beneficial for healthy populations when it comes to stress.[8]

It is possible to obtain B vitamins through eating foods like eggs, meat and dark green vegetables, but a supplement can help fill in any deficiencies.

Related: B12 Deficiency: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

LEMON BALM

Herbal tea made with lemon balm

When life gives you lemons, try Melissa officinalis, better known as lemon balm. Research has found that calming lemon balm may assist our ability to handle stress.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment on 44 patients showed that a 700mg dose of lemon balm helped significantly reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.[9]

Ultimately, the results of the study suggest lemon balm has the potential to mitigate some effects of stress, though more research is needed.

RHODIOLA

Rhodiola plant

Rhodiola is an herb that’s been used to treat anxiety, depression and fatigue for centuries. It grows at high altitudes or in the northern latitudes.

Multiple studies have found that rhodiola has a long history of reducing stress, burnout and fatigue.[10] With more than 140 active compounds, rhodiola may offer intriguing mind-body balance benefits. Available in capsules or tablets, it can easily be fit into your supplement routine for combatting stress.

Related: Adaptogenic Turmeric Latte

HOLY BASIL

Holy basil next to tea

Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, is another Ayurvedic herb with thousands of years of use behind it—and science is starting to confirm its benefits. Studies have found that holy basil may reduce minor, daily stress.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment on over 100 patients showed that 125mg of holy basil extract twice daily improved the stress response and greatly improved sleep.[11]

Also, participants reported no adverse effects over the eight-week study period, making this another low-risk supplement for stress to add to your regimen.

L-TYROSINE

Looking through eyeglasses

This supplement is a building block for major brain chemicals. L-tyrosine is a precursor to some of the most important neurotransmitters in your brain, including dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline. You may choose to take l-tyrosine to support your mental performance while under stress.[12]

GABA

GABA tablets

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that serves as the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brains.[13] Originally discovered in plants, there has been ample research conducted on its potential to combat stress and enhance sleep. A meta-analysis found evidence supporting GABA’s benefits for relaxation, sleep and the stress response.

SAFFRON

Saffron strands

Saffron is much more than a spice that enhances food with its vibrant color and rich flavor. It’s also been clinically proven to support your mood.[14]

This ancient spice comes from the stamen of the crocus flower and has been added to dishes for thousands of years. To get it naturally, integrate saffron into your meals. Try this paleo Poached Cod in Tomato Broth recipe. It’s packed with healthy macros and is seasoned to perfection with nutrient-rich herbs, including saffron. Be sure to wear an apron because this reddish spice leaves permanent stains.

Bulletproof Zen Mode contains saffron, plus other calm-inducing ingredients on this list. You can take three capsules at the same time every day, or time it around big presentations, social events or stressful projects.†

VALERIAN ROOT

Dried valerian roots in wooden spoon

Seeking better quality sleep and a less-stressed mind? Adding valerian root to your supplement routine may be the answer. A popular herbal supplement that’s been used for centuries, it’s often consumed via teas, tinctures or capsules.

Results from an in vitro study suggest valerian root extract may cause GABA to be released from brain nerve endings.[15] Plus, a meta-analysis of 60 studies determined evidence suggests that supplementing with this perennial plant may support improved sleep quality.[16]

OMEGA-3

Hand holding Bulletproof Omega Krill Complex supplements next to bottle on counter

You’ve probably heard about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids before. If you want to combat stress, supplementing with omega-3s can be a beneficial strategy.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that daily supplements that contained 2.5 grams of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were the best at helping the body resist the negative effects of stress.[17] Meanwhile, the placebo group produced higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Related: Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil: What to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

VITAMIN C

Vitamin C supplements with oranges

The benefits of vitamin C range from healing to supporting brain function. Plus, it may offer a helping hand in combating stress. Several studies show that vitamin C supplementation may help improve mood.[18]

And considering our bodies can’t produce this key micronutrient on their own and vitamin C is easily damaged by heat, supplementing can make up for any gaps.

Need more motivation to get moving? Discover how exercise can help you manage stress and achieve better quality sleep.

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This article has been updated with new content.