Nancy Dell: Supplements to reduce stress; Sea salt benefits?

1. Do any supplements help reduce the stress response?
M.B. West Springfield

Stress can ruin our sleep, increase weight and elevate blood pressure. According to a review of studies at, seven natural substances can help with stress.

Fish oil may blunt some of the effects of mental stress, such as increased heart rate and nervous activity. The herb ashwagandha may help to relieve symptoms in people with anxiety and improved fatigue, motivation and concentration. Some probiotics has been shown to lower levels of the “stress” hormone cortisol and reduce depression and anger.

L-theanine, a compound found in black and green tea, has been shown to reduce stress responses without causing drowsiness, and there is some evidence that the herbs passionflower and lemon balm may also be helpful. Talk to your doctor about which may be best for you.

Japanese researchers found low blood levels of iron and vitamin B6 have been associated with stress responses such as hyperventilation and panic attacks in women. So be sure you’re getting sufficient intake of these nutrients.

2. I need to cut sodium. Is sea salt better?
Lidia, Internet

A recent survey by the American Heart Association found that 61 percent of people believe sea salt is a low sodium alternative. However this is not true. By weight, sea salt has the same amount of sodium as other salts.

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