Taylor Swift Swears By L-theanine Supplements—But Do They Actually Work?
It's no secret Taylor Swift has been an unstoppable force in the music world for more than a decade now. With top-performing albums and songs you can't get out of your head to the fact that her most recent Reputation Stadium Tour made history as the highest-grossing concert tour to date, it's safe to say she has a lot going on.
The artist will be turning 30 this year, and it goes without saying that she is arguably in her prime—so what's her secret? Well, T. Swift is all about getting her vitamins, and she's recently highlighted one supplement in particular: L-theanine.
Of course, maintaining a strong, healthy mindset is partially to credit—you may have seen her essay in Elle magazine, "30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30," which showcases a few ways the music icon has achieved success through mindset and attitude changes over the years. She also points out that vitamins make her feel better, stating she takes "magnesium for muscle health and energy" and an L-theanine supplement. "I take L-theanine, which is a natural supplement to help with stress and anxiety," she wrote in Elle.
This grabbed our attention and prompted us to consult an expert for more information on L-theanine supplements and to find out if they actually do work. If Taylor is out here singing its praises, it must be doing something good for her, right? We spoke with Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, to learn more about L-theanine.
What exactly is L-theanine, and what does it do for the body and mind?
"L-theanine is an amino acid, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein," explains Weinandy. "Theanine may affect mood and anxiety, but research overall does not strongly show that it is effective for many conditions it may be taken for, like attention, ADHD, and schizophrenia. There is some evidence it may help with mental performance, especially when taken with caffeine."
So it can be taken to help quell nerves, but it won't necessarily be as effective for those who have diagnosed mental health-related conditions and disorders. It's also interesting that it may be best absorbed in the presence of a cup of coffee, for example.
Do L-theanine supplements actually work?
As is the case with any supplement, there's a chance that the placebo effect can occur, meaning you convince yourself into believing the substance is having a positive effect on you when, in reality, no notable changes have actually been made.
"Sometimes the placebo effect takes place when a person takes a supplement and feels it works because they expect a certain result. Supplements are poorly regulated, so I don't usually use them as a first route to solve health issues," Weinandy says. "Focusing on the pillars of health like a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep usually produce much better (and significant) results than a single supplement."
Weinandy points to the idea that the effects of leading a healthy lifestyle overall are important, not just relying solely on a supplement. For example, working out regularly allows for the continuous release of endorphins (which make you feel good), eating healthy helps you to stay energized, and getting adequate sleep allows for essential muscle repair and maintaining a good mood.
And T. Swift recognizes the importance of overall wellness, too. She also wrote in Elle about some of her healthier habits, like being cognizant of social media and its effects on her (yes, that's why the comments are off on her Instagram posts) and learning to accept her body as it is.
Weinandy says that people tend to focus heavily on taking a supplement or a pill to help a health condition instead of focusing on the lifestyle factors articulated above. "It is like trying to build a house on a poor foundation…[it's] not going to work very well!" she says.
If someone does decide to take this supplement though, she says it's been shown that (for adults) taking up to 400 milligrams a day for up to eight weeks is safe.
Are there side effects of taking an L-theanine supplement?
There is always a potential risk of side effects with supplements.
"L-theanine may decrease blood pressure in people with low blood pressure or those who are on blood pressure-lowering drugs, so caution should be taken in these cases," she advises. "It may also block some of the effects of caffeine, so people may not realize how much caffeine they are taking in if taking at the same time as L-theanine."
Yikes, so make sure to stop yourself after that first cup of coffee or cold brew, otherwise you might feel jittery and even more anxiety-ridden than before!
Are there natural ways you can get L-theanine besides taking a supplement?
There absolutely is!
"I would recommend people take [it] in tea, specifically green or black and mushrooms, which all contain theanine naturally," says Weinandy.
So maybe Taylor Swift is onto something here with this L-theanine kick. If you've been feeling more stressed than usual recently, consider those healthy lifestyle suggestions (eating well, exercising, and getting adequate sleep) and getting a boost of L-theanine. If Tay-Tay likes it, it must be good!
RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.