Mood-boosting, energy-pumping vitamins and supplements
Imagine… we celebrate a new decade in January 2020, you set new fitness and health goals; book your annual family holiday; plan to move up to the next level in your career… Then a World pandemic brings social isolation; complete ongoing uncertainty and, for many, an incredibly challenging and stressful time.
It’s been many weeks and unless you are a key-worker – we applaud you – then you have probably only been out of your home for key essentials like food and your daily exercise. This simpler, pared-down existence, may now be affecting your mood, bringing an almost fogginess to everything you do. Neuroscientists say that the reason stems from the wear and tear on our bodies when living in a constant state of stress response, the ‘fight, flight or flee mode’, which is, quite frankly, draining.
Regular exercise, adequate sleep and good nutrition are some of the best ways to better equip your body to combat stress, but several vitamins and supplements can also help.
Here are the 6 best vitamins and supplements to help you combat stress in 'lockdown' plus... a reminder of all those super foods that can really help boost your mood.
Vitamin B Complex
Chronic stress depletes those important eight B vitamins like crazy. Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) all have unique functions.
By taking a B-complex vitamin daily over a period of time, studies have shown that it can lift your spirits, improve your cognitive performance, reduce fatigue and banish brain fog that all sit alongside stress.
B vitamin-rich foods you should have on your shopping list:
The grandfather of all super foods, avocado;
Yoghurt is a great source of a bunch of B-vitamins;
Salmon or if you are not a fan try tuna;
Chicken is a great source of B6;
Sunflower seeds, tofu and chick peas if you are eating a mainly plant-based diet.
Elevate your mood with a burst of vitamin C every day. This essential vitamin cannot be produced by your body; yet it has many roles and has been linked to impressive health benefits.
By adding a Vitamin C supplement to your diet you are: improving your antioxidant levels in your body to improve immunity to disease; helping to lower your blood pressure; improving your iron absorption to stop you from feeling tired and run down and, importantly it help fight stress in your body.
Start your day with a burst of fruits like oranges, strawberries and blueberries top with full fat Greek yoghurt or blend to make a smoothie. Add kale and spinach, kiwi, pineapple or papaya to make a super powerful vitamin C smoothie.
This mineral can improve your sleep, memory and mood. It has long been considered as a key mineral for better brain function and is regarded as the ‘anti-stress’ mineral because it works to calm the nerves and relax the muscles so you’ll sleep like a baby.
Getting enough magnesium is vital for maintaining good health and ensuring your body functions at its optimal level. Using a supplement is a quick way of ensuring your body maintains healthy levels of magnesium especially if your diet doesn’t include magnesium-rich foods.
Chia seeds literally bolster your immune function, blast depression and reduce inflammation thanks to their magnesium content. Easily added to a whole host of recipes, these little black seeds are the quickest way to banish the blues! If you can’t get hold of these at the moment, try adding dark leafy greens to your evening meal or topping your salad with sunflower or sesame seeds. Banana’s too are a fantastic source of magnesium which is great for your bedtime snack with some full fat Greek yoghurt and almonds!
Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D is created in your body when you are exposed to direct UV sunlight. Vitamin D, actually a hormone, supports adrenal health and can play a vital role in managing your stress levels and mood.
As a nation, we spend much more time indoors than our Mediterranean friends, meaning we don’t get as much sunlight as we need, so we often need to use a supplement to provide that much needed boost.
Oily fish like salmon should be top of your list to boost your Vitamin D. For a plant-based alternative try a wild mushroom omelette as both wild mushrooms and egg yolks are packed full of vitamin D.
Iron is the ‘little carrier’ in your body that transports oxygen around to support muscle strength and boost your energy levels. Low levels can leave you feeling exhausted and, if not treated, can cause anaemia, anxiety, irritability, low mood and a decrease in cognitive abilities including poor concentration.
If needed, it is important to use iron supplements to regulate your iron levels to reduce tiredness and boost your mood. These supplements are best taken on an empty stomach with water.
A great way to top up your iron intake within your diet is by adding a bit of Popeye to your dinner. That’s right; spinach is a great source of iron, together with lentils and soya beans. Pomegranates, apples and bananas are also great little iron boosters.
Omega-3 fish oils
Among their benefits, these anti-inflammatory fish oils can help manage mental stress and your adrenal response. These fatty acids also help keep your skin healthy, preventing premature ageing and safeguarding against sun damage. If you don’t eat a lot of oily fish, then now is the time to an omega-3 supplement to your diet.
If you really are not keen on fish, then give your body a boost, with plant-based alternatives like kidney or edamame beans which are a great source of both omega-3 and plant-based protein.
The bottom line
It is also important to remember that supplements aren’t magic beans. They always need to be used in-line with a well-balanced diet and exercise regime. They cannot make up for poor eating habits and don’t offer a magic solution to health.
If you need a little help in getting your healthy eating back on track, why not check out our other blog Healthy Eating a Beginners Guide.
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