With shopping, travel, and calories galore, the holidays can be just as brutal as they are warm and fuzzy. But before you lose your head—and your belt buckle—rest assured: We’ve got your back.
We rounded up some of our must-have products for beating stress, soothing indigestion, dealing with excess calories, and simply staying healthy. With these in your arsenal, you’re one step closer to smooth sailing straight on through to New Year’s.
Whether you’re waiting in long lines, preparing to host family, or cramming in work before taking time off, the holiday season has a special way of stressing us out. Luckily—whether it’s a calming mushroom elixir, a little magnesium, or an adaptogen—there are plenty of supplements out there that can help you chill.
If you haven’t hopped on the magnesium train yet, Natural Vitality’s Calm Gummies will surely convince you. The mineral magnesium has become a go-to for its soothing, relaxing properties—and now you can get your fill from raspberry lemonade-flavored gummies. Every yummy four-gummy serving provides 330 milligrams of magnesium citrate. They’re so tasty, you might just have trouble sticking to one serving!
One of the most popular health-boosting mushrooms in the game, reishi has been long loved for its ability to balance the body and mind. Four Sigmatic’s Reishi Elixir Mix contains 1,000 milligrams of dual extracted reishi paired with a few natural ingredients and flavors for a beverage you’ll happily sip on. A mug in the evening is the perfect way to unwind, regulate hormones, and balance cortisol, so you can drift into sweet, sweet sleep.
Adaptogens, herbs known for their ability to help our bodies adapt to and overcome stress, may just be the most popular stress-management supplements available right now. Research suggests supplementing with the ‘it’ adaptogen ashwagandha improves feelings of well-being and lowers cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in people dealing with chronic stress. Every vegan capsule of plnt brand Ashwagandha provides 380 milligrams of organic ashwagandha and 95 milligrams of standardized ashwagandha extract (which provides an added dose of benefits).
Found in green tea, the amino acid l-theanine helps us beat stress in a couple of ways. First, it increases levels of GABA, a calming hormone, in our brain. And second, it increases production of dopamine, the hormone we know as the ‘feel-good hormone,’ which our body releases during pleasurable activities. The Vitamin Shoppe brand L-Theanine provides 100 milligrams of the relaxation-boosting amino acid in every capsule.
Not only do our favorite holiday treats—love them as we may—tend to up our calorie intake, but they also do a number on our digestive system. Below are some of our favorite products for keeping gut function strong and tackling tummy issues when they strike.
To help your gut stay as healthy as possible through year’s end, consider a probiotic. Trillions of these healthy bacteria live in our digestive tract, not only helping us to digest our food properly, but keeping our immune system in tip-top shape, too. ProBioCare’s Probiotic 80 Billion provides a potent dose of probiotics—80 billion CFUs, comprised of more than eight strains of bacteria. It also provides prebiotics—the fiber probiotics feed on—for good measure.
Another daily supplement that can help you keep your gut’s natural balance intact throughout the hectic holiday season: this organic grass juice powder from Garden of Life. Made with 54 nutrient-dense ingredients, including cleansing herbs, alkalizing greens, probiotics, and enzymes, it’s an easy way to support digestion, detoxification, and energy. Not to mention, you’ll also score some vital vitamins and minerals!
Try as we might to eat clean, veggie-filled diets most of the time, we’re not going to pass up that ice cream-topped slice of apple pie or creamy glass of eggnog at our favorite holiday celebrations. But, often, indulging in some of these goodies spells disaster to our unsuspecting bellies. That’s where a digestive enzyme blend, like Digest Extra, comes in. Pre-gaming holiday feasts with digestive enzymes can help your body break down potentially problematic foods, like gluten and dairy, so you can focus on the fun, and not your aching belly.
If you’re already dealing with an upset stomach, a big mug of soothing tea can help ease your discomfort. Organic India’s Turmeric Ginger Tulsi Tea combines three soothing ingredients: turmeric, ginger, and tulsi (a.k.a. holy basil). Each is revered for its health-boosting properties, and together the three form an incredibly comforting experience.
Another natural way to address gastrointestinal discomfort: peppermint, which has been traditionally used for digestive upset, cramps, gas, nausea, and more. Nature’s Way Pepogest Peppermint Oil softgels are coated to release in the intestines (not the stomach), where the oil can work its best soothing magic. If you know you’ll be feasting, take a softgel 30 minutes to an hour before eating.
Survive All The Calories
Balancing a healthy lifestyle with occasional (but necessary!) celebrations and indulgences can seem downright impossible from Halloween through New Year’s. Though they can’t replace squeezing in your veggies, these supplements can help you stay on-track with your health and fitness goals throughout all of the holiday fun.
When you need to nip cravings in the bud, Healthy Delights’ acai berry-flavored Appetite Control Chews have your back. Made with ingredients like garcinia cambogia, l-carnitine, and green tea extract, they’re an easy way to support your metabolism and avoid going overboard on the leftover pecan pie and sugar cookies hanging out in the kitchen. Oh, and they just so happen to taste like candy.
If you’re trying to stick to a keto diet through the holiday season—or are just looking for a carb-free way to fuel—single-serving packs of MCT oil come in clutch. Whether you’re blending FBomb’s MCT oil into coffee, drizzling it over salad, or slurping it down straight, it’s a convenient way to add more energizing fat fuel to your diet. Not to mention, it’ll leave you feeling so satiated that stale Halloween candy and other unplanned treats lose their allure.
CLA and l-carnitine have each been longtime healthy weight all-stars in their own right. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a type of fat, has been thoroughly studied for its ability to boost fat loss while supporting lean muscle. Carnitine, an amino acid-like compound, meanwhile, helps our bodies turn fat into energy. BPI’s CLA + Carnitine drink mix combines both of these powerhouse ingredients to support fat-burning.
Survive The Cold
Considering the busiest time of the year happens to overlap with the peak of cold and flu season, it’s crucial that we maintain our overall health so we can enjoy all of the seasonal festivities! The following picks will help you keep up that healthy foundation—even in the face of sick kids and co-workers.
If you want to keep your immune system strong throughout the holidays, black elderberry (a.k.a. Sambucus) is perhaps your number-one supplement must-have. The extract of this little black berry is loaded with antioxidants; research even shows it can ward off the immune impairment we face while traveling. Sambucol’s tasty Black Elderberry Gummies provide 50 milligrams of black elderberry extract, along with some vitamin C and zinc to further support your body’s defenses.
Echinacea goldenseal, a combination of two well-known immune-boosting herbs, is another helpful supplement this time of year. Together, these herbs help our immune system stay strong when under attack and support respiratory health.
When you’re dealing with the stress of finding (and hiding) holiday gifts and long hours at the office, you don’t want to waste a minute staring at the ceiling after your head hits the pillow at night. A natural supplement, like melatonin (the hormone that signals our body to rest), can support quality sleep, which then supports a healthier, more energized day. If you’re having trouble drifting off, try Natrol’s Fast Dissolve Melatonin about 20 minutes before hitting the hay.
Omega-3 fatty acids support our health in a number of ways. Not only do these healthy fats bolster heart and brain health, but research now suggests they also support balanced mood and even help our immune system function at its best. Getting plenty of omega-3s throughout the holidays can help you maintain your baseline health; Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega packs an impressive 1,280 milligrams per serving.
Check out more of our holiday survival must-haves here!