by Charina Lumley
This piece was originally published on LinkedIn here.
In a recent interview with Elle Magazine, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter dishes on the top 30 things she’s learned as she closes out her twenty-somethings at the end of this year. #15 on her list is all about nutritional supplements. “Vitamins make me feel so much better!” Taylor Swift exclaims. “I take L-theanine, which is a natural supplement to help with stress and anxiety.”
In an era of celebrity-endorsed health, fitness, and nutrition advice that may or may not be the furthest thing from being scientifically proven. Is this just another piece of goop-y fiction or is there some actual fact?
Ummm, but what’s Taylor even talking about?
Chances are that if you’ve stepped into your local hipster coffee shop anytime in the past year and sucked down a green tea latte, then you’ve had L-theanine. It’s is an amino acid that naturally occurs in green tea leaves —along with black tea and a few mushroom varietals—and was discovered back in 1949 by Japanese scientists. It’s said to be responsible for that feeling of wakeful calm that morning matcha drinkers can testify to, especially in comparison to their jittery cup-o-joe counterparts.
But is that smooth energy boost placebo or something real? Studies show that when it comes to alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety, there’s truth to the matter. In a recent 2018 study, subjective stress response to a multitasking cognitive stressor was significantly reduced one hour after administration of the L-theanine drink when compared to a placebo (1).
So is there bad blood here with us and Taylor Swift when it comes to L-theanine? Definitely not. There’s tons of research showing numerous benefits of L-theanine including the elevation of neurotransmitters that manage mood, alertness and sleep (2). So drink that high-quality, ceremonial grade matcha tea to your heart’s content.
Fact it is! So what’s the best way to take L-theanine?
In the Soulcycling, Barry’s Bootcamping, boutique fitness circles, matcha lattes are so basic that it’s an everyday occurrence. This offers the boost of caffeine without the jitters, not to mention the antioxidant EGCG to fight off free radicals, and L-theanine for that stress and anxiety relief. And the good news is that matcha and a wide variety of green teas are readily available wherever you go. While it’s always a preference to get micronutrients from its most natural source, there are also many L-theanine supplement choices available at Whole Foods, Amazon, or your local specialty store.
But what about some help to cure the insomnia when you’re banning the caffeine from green tea? In this case, L-theanine can be combined with other ingredients to provide a restful slumber without the groggy morning feel. In my experience with experimentation in the sleep space over the last year, there’s two that I swear by, especially when I’m feeling the Sunday scaries:
Sugarfree SOM Sleep with its blend of L-theanine, melatonin, and GABA is served ready-to-drink with a mild flavor
Natural Factors Tranquil Sleep, which I prefer in the fast-acting chewable form, includes L-theanine, melatonin and 5HTP
Do you have experience with taking L-theanine? Is it worth Taylor’s hype or is it just a bunch of hooey to you? Share what you think, along with any other stress and anxiety cures that you can recommend to others!
About The Author
Charina is a leader in socially-conscious health, fitness, and nutrition businesses that can do well while doing good. Charina cut her teeth decades ago at Men’s Health, O, The Oprah Magazine, and a number of publications in the adventure sports category. Since then, she has been one of two founding executives of the health and fitness non-profit, Movemeant Foundation, and has developed numerous sports nutrition and supplement lines for Bodybuilding.com, including the science-backed women’s sports nutrition brand, Revel.