It’s a stressful time for many of us. Uncertainty and health concerns have us all worried. Our bodies can react to this excess stress in negative ways. Referred to as vitamin B complex, the eight B vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 — play a crucial role in keeping our bodies running well and reducing stress levels. Here’s the lowdown on how you can use B vitamins to battle stress naturally and where you’re most likely to find them:
- B1 (Thiamine) – helps the body make healthy new cells. It’s often called an anti-stress vitamin because of its ability to protect the immune system.
Found in: Whole grains, peanuts, beans, spinach, kale, blackstrap molasses and wheat germ
- B2 (Riboflavin) – works as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals (particles in the body that damage cells) and may prevent early aging and the development of heart disease. B2 is also important for red blood cell production, which is necessary for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Several studies suggest B2 can help ward off migraines.
Found in: Almonds, wild rice, milk, yogurt, eggs, Brussels sprouts, spinach and soybeans
- B3 (Niacin) – helps to boost “good” HDL cholesterol. The higher your HDL, the lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol. If you tend to break out with acne when you’re stressed, Niacin, used both topically and orally has been shown as an effective treatment.
Found in: Yeast, red meat, milk, eggs, beans and green vegetables
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – helps break down fats and carbs for energy. It’s responsible for the production of the stress-related hormones. Studies have shown that B5 also promotes healthy skin and can reduce the visible signs of stress and aging.
Found in: Avocados, yogurt, eggs, meat and legumes
- B6 (Pyridoxine) – helps regulate levels of the amino acid homocysteine (associated with heart disease). B6 is a major player in mood and sleep patterns because it helps the body produce serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine, a stress hormone. Some studies also suggest B6 can reduce inflammation for people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Found in: Chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, lentils, sunflower seeds, cheese, brown rice and carrots
- B7 (Biotin) – often referred to as the “beauty vitamin,” B7 is associated with healthy hair, skin and nails. Biotin also plays an important role in energy metabolism and helps to maintain normal cell growth and development. It assists nervous system functioning as well helping to reduce stress levels
Found in: Barley, liver, yeast, pork, chicken, fish, potatoes, cauliflower, egg yolks and nuts
- B9 (Folate) – and its synthetic version, folic acid, is crucial for brain development. Many studies suggest that folate may help keep depression at bay and help prevent memory loss.
Found in: Dark leafy greens, asparagus, beets, salmon, root vegetables, milk, bulgur wheat and beans
- B12 (Cobalamin) – is vital to the health and function of your nerve and red blood cells and is necessary for the replication of DNA. Recent studies suggest that B12 has the ability to reduce fatigue, improve memory, boost the immune system and prevent sleep disorders. In other words, it may help alleviate many of the side effects related to chronic stress.
Found in: Fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, beef and pork