Best Supplements for Anxiety
Did you know that taking vitamins and supplements can lower your anxiety? This is a really simple and cost-effective thing that you can do to improve your overall mental health: take vitamins for anxiety.
Below are the vitamins and minerals that have been shown to be helpful if you are struggling with anxiety.
While you may not want to take all of these, having them on hand means that you can be sure you have all the vitamins and supplements you need to support your mental health.
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.
The daily recommended value (DV) of Vitamin C is 60 mg for adults. This vitamin is easy to add to your daily routine, protects against common colds, and may help anxiety. It’s a good one to add to your medicine cabinet.
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 eld 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).
In general, adding a B Complex supplement is a good idea if you live with anxiety. The recommended daily intake varies for each B vitamin and by your age, gender, and health status.
B complex is an easy choice if you are looking for a vitamin supplement that is helpful overall but that may also help your anxiety.
Vitamin D is also called the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin produces it when exposed to the sun.
Vitamin D is important for the development of bones and teeth and to protect against disease. It also supports immune system function.
Taking a Vitamin D supplement may also help you to lose weight, as one study showed that those taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement experienced an appetite suppressant effect.
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This vitamin may also ward off depression based on a study of people with depression who experienced an improvement in symptoms when taking Vitamin D supplements.
There is some evidence of Vitamin D being linked to lowered anxiety, so it’s best to make sure you are getting enough. It is recommended that adults up to age 70 take 600 IU of Vitamin D per day.
If you aren’t getting enough sunlight or worry about your Vitamin D levels, this is an easy supplement to add to your arsenal. And if you are anxious or trying to lose weight, it’s worth a try!
Magnesium is involved in different body functions including muscle contraction, so it makes sense that too little could disrupt your level of calm.
Magnesium plays a role in the signals sent between your brain and your body. It is involved in brain development, memory, and learning.
In healthy adults, magnesium sits inside your NMDA receptors (N-methyl-D-aspartate). This prevents them from being triggered too easily, which can stimulate your nerve cells for no reason.
When your magnesium levels are too low, then your NMDA receptors are too easily stimulated, which can kill nerve cells and lead to brain damage.
Low levels of magnesium have been linked to depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
There is also some evidence that magnesium supplements help anxiety.
Magnesium is one of those “no-brainer” supplements that should be first on your list to try if you are struggling with 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 on a regular basis.
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 with rats also showed that after being deprived of zinc, they showed signs of anxiety.
The recommended daily intake of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. As there are side effects from taking too much zinc, make sure you do not exceed the recommended dose.
Iron helps to keep you healthy and with your energy level.
If you have low iron, you might experience fatigue, trouble concentrating and becoming ill easily.
There is some evidence that low iron can 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.
This is because supplements usually contain a high dose of iron, which can cause digestion problems and reduced absorption of other nutrients.
Taking iron supplements can also cause cell damage, and in very severe cases, organ failure, death, or coma.
For this reason, it’s best to have your iron tested by a doctor before deciding to take a supplement.
That way, you will know whether it is necessary or not.
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.
Because your body does not make calcium, you need to get it from food or supplementation. Dietary sources include dairy products, dark green vegetables, and calcium-fortified cereals, orange juice, etc.
It’s also important to note that your body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium. So, be sure you are not low on Vitamin D or taking calcium won’t help (remember: sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D).
There is also evidence that calcium can help to reduce PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) if you are a woman. If you suffer with bad PMS, taking calcium could help.
The recommended dose of calcium is 1000 mg each day. Since too much calcium can have side effects, it’s best to check with your doctor before taking.
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.
GABA is not really available from food sources. The main sources are fermented foods like tempeh.
Some people with certain disorders may have lower levels of GABA, including those with seizure disorders, movement disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s), ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
There is still limited evidence on whether GABA supplements help or 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.
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 also 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.
The optimal dose is 400-600 mg in a single dose, taken on an empty stomach but not before bedtime (since it has a stimulating effect).
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.
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 the 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 under consultation with your doctor.
Start with a dose of 50-100 mg two times per day and increase to the recommended dose. To enhance your mood, take 50 to 100 mg 3 times per day with meals. Use it for at least a week to see the best results.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you want to make sure you are getting the recommended doses of all vitamins, an easy way to do that is to take a multi-vitamin.
Learn More About Natural Treatments for Anxiety
Do you feel like you need more help or guidance on vitamins for anxiety or other natural treatments?
The course “How to Control Anxiety,” by holistic psychiatrist Ellen Vora, M.D. walks you through doctor-approved natural remedies for anxiety, such as what to eat, what supplements to take, and more.
Tracking Your Vitamins
If you find it confusing to keep track of what you have taken, I recommend the following helpful tools.
- Medication & Vitamins Tracker
- Medical Printables Medical Binder
- Sunlit Clouds 7-Day Pill Box, Wooden Pill Box
Saving Money on Vitamins
Before you start shopping for vitamins online, make sure to sign up for Rakuten!
Rakuten is a company that gives you money back when you shop online (most stores are included!). All you need to do is go to Rakuten first before you shop.
Right now, you will receive $10 for FREE when you join and spend $25 in the next 90 days.
Why say no to free money if you will be shopping for vitamins anyway? You could put that extra $10 towards more vitamins to stay healthy!
Make sure that you use this link to join and receive your $10 bonus. Then, remind yourself to go to Rakuten first before you shop online to make sure you receive credit for your bonus.
If you’d like to learn more about how Rakuten works, I have a whole post about that here.
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
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