Best Supplements for Anxiety
Did you know that taking vitamins and supplements can lower your anxiety? Taking a carefully curated number of vitamins and supplements is a simple and cost-effective solution to reduce anxiety and feel better.
Below are some of the vitamins and minerals that have been shown to be helpful if you are struggling with anxiety. As always, be sure to consult with your doctor regarding any vitamins or supplements that you choose to take.
I know this list can feel overwhelming, but I suggest you take an experimental approach when trying to find vitamins or supplements that help you. Introduce one at a time while holding everything else constant, and see if you notice a difference. Magnesium is the vitamin with the strongest research evidence, so that’s a good place to start (in addition to a daily multivitamin).
Also, consider your specific anxiety symptoms. Do you have a lot of muscle tightness? Magnesium might be your best bet. Is insomnia more of a problem? Melatonin could be the one to try first. Does anxiety show up as digestive problems? Look into the probiotics. Only you know your unique situation and can do the experimentation to find what works.
Magnesium deficiency is the second-most common nutritional deficiency in developed countries. In addition, anyone with stomach issues is more at risk for magnesium deficiency. Some signs of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, brain fog, constipation, migraines or headaches, and muscle tightness.
I’m putting magnesium at the top of the list because the research evidence is strong in support of taking this supplement for anxiety. Magnesium is my go-to supplement for anxiety and it should be yours too if you experience the above issues.
Just don’t bother with a cheap bottle from the drugstore. Magnesium L-Threonate is best for the brain since it effectively crosses the blood-brain barrier. You can read more about it and purchase directly from the manufacturer Life Extension.
2. B Complex
B Complex vitamins help to reduce fatigue and improve mood. One study of 215 men found that a high-dose B-complex vitamin improved general mental health, stress, and cognitive performance.
Another study of 60 adults with depression showed that 60 days of taking a B complex vitamin led to reduced depression and anxiety symptoms.
The B complex vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), inositol (B8), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12).
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is also called the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin produces it when exposed to the sun.
There is some evidence of Vitamin D being linked to lowered anxiety, so it’s best to make sure you are getting enough either by getting outside or taking a daily supplement.
Those who live in northern climates (hello from Canada!) are particularly at risk of Vitamin D deficiency in the winter months.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps your body create and maintain connective tissue including your skin, blood vessels, and bones.
It helps to protect against heart disease, helps you to absorb iron, and lowers your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. It also protects against cancer by combating free radicals and supports immune function.
Getting enough vitamin C could also help your anxiety; a small study of 42 high school students showed that taking a Vitamin C supplement every day reduced levels of anxiety.
Zinc is an essential nutrient, meaning that your body can’t produce or store it. You need to get it from your food or a supplement.
Zinc is involved in growth and development, immune function, wound healing, metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and other body functions. It’s important for skin health, protein production, and DNA synthesis.
One study also showed that being deprived of zinc may lead to symptoms of anxiety.
As there are side effects from taking too much zinc, make sure you do not exceed the dose on the label of your supplement.
Iron helps to keep you healthy and maintain your energy level. If you have low iron, you might experience fatigue, trouble concentrating, and becoming ill easily.
There is also some evidence that low iron can also be related to anxiety symptoms.
However, it’s important to be aware that taking iron when you do not need it could harm your health. For this reason, it’s best to have your iron tested by a doctor before deciding to take a supplement.
Calcium helps your body to release hormones, move muscles, and circulate blood. It also helps you to carry messages from your brain to your body.
Calcium is also important for strong teeth and bones. If you don’t have enough calcium in your diet or from supplements, then your body will take it from your bones, making them weak.
There is also evidence that calcium can help to reduce PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).
Because your body does not make calcium, you need to get it from food or supplementation.
Your body also needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium. Taking a calcium supplement that includes Vitamin D is your best bet, like the Nature’s Way product linked above.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a naturally occurring amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain.
GABA is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it blocks brain signals and reduces activity in your nervous system.
When GABA attaches to a GABA receptor in your brain, this produces a calming effect that can help with anxiety.
Certain disorders are thought to involve lower levels of GABA, including seizure disorders, movement disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s), ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
If you’ve ever experienced a relaxation effect from alcohol, then you have an idea of the function of GABA. Alcohol actually mimics GABA by binding to the same receptors in the brain. Without the risk of addiction or the negative effects of alcohol.
There is still limited evidence of whether GABA supplements actually reach the brain. However, there is some evidence that taking GABA may help to increase a sense of relaxation and reduce stress. There is also evidence that GABA may help you to fall asleep. It’s a good choice for anxiety!
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body to manage stress. It helps to improve brain function, lower cortisol, and help reduce anxiety and depression.
Ashwagandha is an herb used mostly in alternative medicine. Because it is an herb and not a vitamin/mineral, it is important to note that its safety is not evaluated by the FDA.
You should check with your doctor before taking this or any other herbal medicine.
In one study, 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported lowered anxiety, compared to 50% taking a placebo.
Ashwagandha root extract is typically taken in 450-500 mg capsules up to twice per day.
Rhodiola is an herb and adaptogen, meaning that it helps your body adapt to stress.
In one study of 101 people with work and life stress taking 400 mg per day, they showed reductions in signs of stress such as anxiety, fatigue, and exhaustion, after only three days.
There are also many other proven benefits of Rhodiola including reduced depression, improved brain function, etc.
Probiotics ensure that you have the right gut bacteria. This is important for weight loss, digestion, immune function, healthy skin, and reduced risk of disease.
Probiotics are a type of friendly bacteria that you can get from certain foods (e.g., yogurt) or from a supplement.
Some scientists refer to your gut as your “forgotten organ,” since its metabolic activities are similar to that of an organ.
Probiotics have been shown to help with digestive health, weight loss, etc.
Finally, there is evidence that probiotics may help with anxiety and depression.
10. Fish Oil & Omega 3
Fish oil is a supplement extracted from fatty fish like salmon or sardines.
It contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids, which have benefits for skin and heart health.
There is also research showing that fish oil supplements improved depressive symptoms comparable to the effects of antidepressant medications.
5-HTP (5-hydroxytrptophan) is an amino acid naturally produced by your body.
It is used by your body to produce serotonin, which is linked to depression, anxiety, sleep, etc.
There are some potential side effects of taking 5-HTP, so it’s best to take it under consultation with your doctor and follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. I’ve taken 5-HTP myself and would liken its effects to a feeling of serenity and lifted mood.
L-Lysine is an essential amino acid that your body cannot make and you need to obtain from food.
It is involved in growth and muscle turnover. It also helps fat be transported to be used as energy.
L-lysine may reduce anxiety by blocking stress receptors.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that promotes relaxation without being drowsy. There is also evidence that it may reduce stress and anxiety.
14. Valerian Root
Valerian root has sometimes been called “Nature’s Valium.” It is an herb that may promote sleep and reduce anxiety.
Valerian root may inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain, which results in feeling calm and tranquil. This is the same way that medications like Xanax and Valium work.
Chamomile oil has been shown to help with digestion, wound healing, skin conditions, pain, sleep, and anxiety.
16. Kava Kava
Kava Kava is a member of the nightshade family of plants that is known for its stress-reducing and anxiety-reducing properties.
There are some concerns about its safety, so you should consult your doctor.
Lavender is a flower with potential health benefits. Lavender is usually used as an essential oil to reduce stress and anxiety and promote calm and wellness. However, it can also be used as a supplement.
19. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb that is from the same family as mint. It has been shown to reduce stress.
Passionflower is a plant that is known to help with anxiety and insomnia.
Melatonin is a hormone that your body makes naturally that controls your sleeping patterns. It’s also available as a supplement to help promote sleep. One study showed that melatonin helped increase levels of GABA in parts of the brain. Melatonin is a good night time choice if anxiety prevents you from falling asleep.
How about you? Do you take vitamins and supplements to reduce your anxiety? Feel free to leave a comment below about what you take.
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The Best Vitamins for Anxiety
Here are some of my favorite social anxiety tools
Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope you’ll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, I’ll earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
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