· By Caitlin Bray
Vitamins for Anxiety: 25 Options to Supplement Your Diet
Vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements can often do an amazing job of supporting mental health holistically and naturally, and they’re generally very easy to add into your day to day routine.
As important as magnesium is to our overall diet, it’s shocking that it’s also one of the nutrients we tend to be most deficient in. Magnesium deficiency, in addition to a host of health issues like heart arrhythmias and even sudden death, can also lead to an increase in the symptoms of depression, irritability, and overall stress.
Magnesium sits on the synapse that connects two neurons, which is the part that allows the neurons to talk to each other. It lives there alongside calcium and glutamate, both of which are trying to excite the nerves by activating the NMDA receptor. Magnesium helps block their ability to do that, essentially helping to calm the brain and the body.* It can also block the hippocampus from triggering the activation of ACTH, which is the hormone that tells the body to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
For all of those reasons, and more, magnesium has earned its title as a “chill pill.”
It is recommended that people get around 350 mg of magnesium a day. This can be in supplement form, or by eating magnesium-rich foods like chickpeas, dark chocolate, nuts, and avocados.
L-Theanine is a unique, essential amino acid (essential meaning our bodies can’t make it naturally) that can help us relax without making us fall asleep.* It has been the focus of a lot of research, which has concluded that the way L-Theanine does this is by encouraging the brain to produce an alpha-wave pattern.* This state, known as active relaxation, is the same frequently seen in people who are meditating or daydreaming.
The way that L-Theanine does that is by promoting the production and release of GABA, an important neurotransmitter that helps block excitatory impulse from being passed back and forth and triggering anxiety.* GABA also goes on to increase the levels of “feel good” hormones in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin.* L-Theanine is basically an excellent wingman.
L-Theanine is found naturally in black, white, and green teas, as well as a type of mushroom known as a Bay Bolete. While the effective range varies depending on why you’re taking it, a good general recommendation is to get at least 300mg daily.
That’s why we chose L-Theanine as one of the three active ingredients in our Original Mood Chews. We really believe in its power and effectiveness, and we hope you will, too. The evidence is pretty solid!
#3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been the subject of significant research for a long time, looking at its effects on both physical and mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), are responsible for helping fight inflammation in the brain.* Inflammation can lead to oxidative stress, which makes the brain feel like it’s in danger. Over time, oxidative stress can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression, as well as memory loss.
The suggested daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids is around 1000mg. This can be supplemented, or by eating “fatty” fish like salmon, tuna, and trout. For those who don’t eat fish, walnuts and flaxseed are also high in omega-3s.
#4) Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is another of the three active ingredients in PYM Mood Chews. We think it’s an incredibly helpful option to combat feelings of overwhelm quickly and effectively. It also helps both the body and the mind fight off the effects of tension and tiredness.*
Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen that has been frequently studied, and has shown the ability to significantly help the body with its natural stress response, not only fatigue, but also to burnout and overall emotional upset.* It also helps support brain function and even exercise performance.*
500mg daily is recommended for this powerful multi-tasking adaptogen.
#5) Vitamin B1
The first of the B-complex vitamins, Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine), has not been studied enough to conclusively say it is effective for anxiety. However, anecdotal evidence has shown that it may be effective in boosting mood and reducing feelings of worry and tension.*
It can be found naturally in many beans and nuts, and humans need between 1.1 - 1.2mg daily for optimal functioning.
#6) Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 (niacin) is also a B-complex vitamin. While it also has not been extensively studied, it is said to help support normal, healthy sleep patterns, which naturally reduces anxiety and depression.* It may also help lower blood pressure and help the body clear elevated adrenaline from the system.
It is found in broccoli, sweet potatoes, and almonds, and it is recommended to get up to 30mg daily.
#7) Vitamin B5
While vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) itself has not shown any effect on stress or anxiety, it helps with other supportive bodily functions like producing CoEnzyme-A and oxidizing fatty acids. It is found along with the other B vitamins in a B-complex supplement.
Recommended dosage is between 5 - 7mg daily. It is found naturally in eggs, mushroom, and sunflower seeds.
#8) Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is one of the B-complex vitamins with the most potential to help with mental wellness, although far more research is needed. It can synthesize both neurotransmitters and amino acids, and may increase serotonin levels in the brain.*
We need around 1.3mg daily, which can be found in a B-complex supplement or in foods like bananas, poultry, and chickpeas.
#9) Vitamin B12
The final of the B-complex vitamins, and likely one of the most important, is B12 (cobalamin). It is common for people to be deficient in B12, as it is only found in animal products like eggs, dairy, and meat. However, deficiency can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as other nerve disorders and cognitive issues.
Supplementation is important, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan. The recommended dosage is 2.4mcg.
#10) Vitamin C
Vitamin C is known as the “stress buster,” for both the mind and the body.
It not only helps support the immune system, which can be lowered during times of stress, but also helps us be more resilient in the face of psychological stress*. It also works to lower cortisol levels, effectively helping to manage the body’s fight or flight response.*
The current official daily recommendation is just 60mg daily, but stress studies are starting to show the advantages of higher doses. Supplement your diet with fresh fruits and veggies, especially citrus fruits, as well as orange juice and nori. Vitamin C is destroyed during the cooking process, so it’s best to eat these foods raw.
#11) Vitamin D
We are only just discovering the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many benefits of vitamin D. While it hasn’t been directly related to anxiety or depression, studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is commonly found in people suffering from those conditions.
It also helps the body maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones, supports the immune system, regulates insulin levels, and may even impact cancer development.* It’s really an amazing vitamin!
At least 400 - 800IU of Vitamin D is needed daily, but even more is needed for people who are deficient. It is frequently added to milk and cereal, and is found naturally in fatty fish like salmon.
GABA is the final active ingredient we included in our mood chews. As incredibly effective as it is on its own, it’s even more impressive when paired with L-Theanine and Rhodiola Rosea at supporting your mental wellness.*
GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Basically, what this means, is that it stops the impulses that trigger our body’s fight or flight response from reaching their target. This leads to a larger sense of overall calm and stability in the body.*
Between 500 - 750mg is considered safe daily. GABA is found in almonds and shrimp, but supplementation is almost always the best way to go.
Zinc is important for supporting mental wellness by supporting the health of the hippocampus, which directly impacts mood.* Low levels of zinc have been linked to anxiety and depression, as well, as it can lead to low levels of GABA production. This situation is called excitotoxicity, and can lead to nerve damage as well as an exacerbation of mental health conditions.
Zinc is recommended at 11mg daily, in supplement form or by eating oysters, pumpkin seeds, or cocoa beans.
Lavender, in addition to smelling great, is an excellent supplement to add to your diet. This can be done through lavender extract or tea, or by taking a supplement.
Around 80 - 160mg is recommended for help with stress, insomnia, and general nervousness. Just the smell can help promote a sense of calm and relaxation!
Not only is tea always helpful for anxiety and to calm the nerves, but chamomile tea is especially beneficial. It can help ease your emotional state; exactly how it does this is yet unknown, but it also helps with sleep related concerns that often directly tie into anxiety related problems.*
#16) Lemon Balm
The anti-stress effects of lemon balm haven’t been studied much, but the studies that have been done are optimistic. Lemon balm can help calm the nerves, improve the mood, and improve cognitive function.*
You can cook with it, add it to drinks, or make it into a tea.
5-HTP, an amino acid that naturally occurs in our bodies, is part of two necessary components of creating serotonin. Without it, not only would we not be able to make serotonin (the “feel good” hormone), we would also be far more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and insomnia. That’s why it is such a common supplement ingredient!
Not too much is known about how exactly the passionflower supplement works, but it is said to help improve mood and sleep, and reduce general nervousness.* We hope to see much more research on passionflower soon!
It is available as a supplement, or as a tea or tincture.
Ashwagandha is known to help the body adapt to both stress and anxiety. It has been used for millennia in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine, and for good reason. It is an adaptogen, so it helps the body to be better able to support itself in times of stress.* It also promotes overall wellness and health, in addition to improving the mood.*
Ashwagandha is available in supplement form only.
#20) Kava Kava
Kava Kava is incredibly popular as a supplement, mainly for its ability to help reduce feelings of restlessness.* It interacts with mood receptors to help naturally boost the mood and fight the signs of stress.*
#21) Licorice Root
Licorice root is great for reducing stress, as well as fighting off adrenal fatigue (caused by an increase in cortisol and adrenaline in the body).* While many of these benefits have not yet been scientifically proven, there is some anecdotal evidence out there to say that research should continue.
It is best used in supplement form; note that most licorice-based candies out there only have flavoring and not the actual extract!
While probiotics may not help directly with anxiety, they do make the body much more resilient. This means your body can more effectively fight off oxidative stress as well as bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. There are some out there that say they are specifically helpful for elevating mood, but that has not yet been proven.
#23) Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba has been used in alternative medicine for centuries. It is a neuroprotective, meaning it protects the brain from the effects of stress and damage, as well as potentially helping reduce emotional upset.* It can also boost mood, fight irritation, and increase heart and circulatory health.* That’s why it’s one of the most well-known supplements out there.
Ginkgo Biloba is best when used in supplement form, and around 240mg a day is generally recommended.
#24) Holy Basil
Holy basil’s effects really do seem to be holy. This amazing herb can help reduce both mental and physical stress, as well as help support mental wellness during times of stress, too.* While it is currently the subject of research to officially determine its effectiveness, other benefits associated with holy basil include potentially lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and helping support the immune system.*
It can be cooked directly (it’s great in italian food, especially), or as a supplement with between 300 - 2000mg daily.
Turmeric works to help the body and the mind in two different ways - by reducing emotional imbalance and supporting brain function.* Its active ingredient, curcumin, helps protect the brain against the effects of inflammation caused by oxidative stress, which supports the body in its fight against anxiety.* It also helps the body produce more DHA.* More studies are needed to officially state its helpfulness. For now, we have to rely on anecdotal evidence.
Turmeric can be added directly to food, and it is recommended that you get between 500 - 2000mg daily for optimal effects.
As you can see, vitamins and other minerals are essential for the healthy functioning of both your mind and your body. Supplementing your diet with these nutrients can help you feel more at ease, both physically and mentally, and taking it a step further to really focus on supplements designed for mental wellness can help bring you back to that state of calm, away from tension and overwhelm.
*FDA Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.