GABA: What Is It And What Are The Benefits?
* Verified by a US-based board-certified doctor.
Are you looking to take a new supplement? Have you considered adding GABA to your routine?
GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid. It’s a naturally occurring amino acid that works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain.
So, if GABA occurs naturally in the body, why do people take GABA supplements? Can GABA supplements help improve your health?
Read on to learn about GABA and its top benefits.
What is GABA?
As we mentioned, GABA is a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messengers. They are molecules found in the nervous system that transmit messages from neurons to muscles.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means that it decreases the chances of a neuron firing on an action potential. In other words, GABA inhibits or blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in the nervous system. Serotonin is another type of inhibitory neurotransmitter.
GABA attaches to proteins in your brain known as GABA receptors. This helps produce a calming effect in the body, and it can help with feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety.
As a result of these benefits, GABA has become very popular in recent years. This is largely in part due to the fact that GABA doesn’t occur naturally in many foods. GABA is mainly found in fermented foods, such as tempeh, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt. You can also find GABA in:
- Adzuki beans
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Sprouted grains
- Sweet potatoes
- White tea
Most food sources contain 1 to 40 mg of GABA.
The Top Benefits of GABA
All kinds of GABA supplements are available online and in-store. Because GABA only occurs in trace amounts in food, it’s worth looking into GABA due to its potential benefits.
Here are some of the top benefits of GABA:
Help With Anxiety Management
One of the biggest benefits of GABA is that it can help with anxiety management. Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million Americans, making them the most common mental illness in the US.
There are many ways to treat anxiety, from therapy to medications to exercise. There have been multiple studies conducting tied to the effectiveness of GABA. A 2009 review study found that various supplements containing GABA helped improve GABA levels in the brain and reduce anxiety levels.
Another study measured patients’ brain waves an hour after taking GABA. The study found that participants had a significant increase in alpha waves, which cause feelings of relaxation and calm. While GABA may not be able to cure your anxiety, it can help reduce anxiety levels in many patients.
Control High Blood Pressure
Another major benefit of GABA is that it can help you control high blood pressure. According to the CDC, nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure (hypertension).
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause a variety of complications, including:
- Heart failure
- Heart attack or stroke
- Trouble with memory or concentration
- Weakened blood vessels
Stepping up your physical activity, losing weight, and cutting out tobacco products can all be great ways to control your blood pressure. However, sometimes these lifestyle changes are not enough.
This is where GABA supplements come in, as GABA can help stabilize blood pressure. One study found that taking a cholera supplement containing GABA twice a day helped reduce blood pressure in those suffering from borderline hypertension.
Another study found that consuming a fermented milk product containing GABA helped to reduce blood pressure in those who suffered from hypertension after just two to four weeks.
Fight Stress and Fatigue
A recent poll found out that Americans are among the most stressed-out people in the world. Fifty-five percent of American adults say that they experience “a lot of stress” during the day.
Another study uncovered that nearly half of Americans admit to being too tired to function during the workday. Reducing stress and fatigue levels nationwide isn’t something that’ll happen overnight.
But, there are many natural supplements and resources that can help lower your stress and fatigue levels. A 2011 Japanese study looked at the effects of two beverages containing 25 and 50 mg of GABA.
They found that the beverage was linked to lower levels of physical and mental fatigue when performing a problem-solving task. Of the two beverages, the 50 mg one proved to be more effective. Another 2009 study found that consuming chocolate containing 28 mg of GABA reduced stress levels in participants performing problem-solving tasks.
One in four Americans suffer from insomnia in the course of a year. Some people experience short bouts of insomnia, while others suffer from insomnia their entire lives.
A small 2018 study found that participants who consumed 300 mg of GABA an hour before bed fell asleep quicker than those who took a placebo. The participants also reported improved sleep quality over the course of 4 weeks. If you’ve been struggling with your sleep, GABA may be the answer.
Nootropics can also help you sleep better. Click here to learn all about them!
As you can see, GABA offers a lot of potential benefits, many of which can be reaped immediately or just a few short weeks. If you’ve decided that taking GABA is right for you, the next step is to find the right GABA supplement.
When choosing a supplement, one of the biggest things you want to look at is the dosage. How much GABA you take will largely depend on what you’re taking it for. For example, you may need a higher dose if you’re taking it for sleep or anxiety as opposed to high blood pressure.
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