The 6 best vitamins and minerals for easing anxiety
There are many natural supplements for anxiety and alternative treatments that can provide anxiety relief and they now have been receiving more recognition with studies reporting their benefits on mental health.
The management of anxiety should be multi-faceted including not only the appropriate supplements but of course coinciding with optimal nutrition and lifestyle changes which play a powerful role in managing chronic stress and reducing the symptoms of anxiety.
Not only can natural treatments be effective but they also tend to come with minimal adverse effects.
Magnesium is an essential mineral well known for its calming effects that can help to reduce the stress response and aid sleep.
Research supports magnesium in reducing cortisol levels and anxiety symptoms as it can help to improve brain function and regulate neurotransmitters and adrenal gland function (1).
There is now a link associating magnesium status with anxiety levels (2).
Magnesium has been shown to prove helpful in improving sleep quality and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep (3).
Magnesium is also needed to maintain healthy levels of amino acids like GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
GABA is an amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter that possesses anti-anxiety effects, as it works to reduce nerve excitability. Low levels of GABA are thought to play a role in anxiety and symptoms of depression as well as other mental disorders (5).
The dose of magnesium will vary but will typically range between 200-600mg per day.
Food sources may include almonds, leafy greens, dairy products, beans, soy, cashews, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, and certain fortified foods such as breakfast cereal.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an important vitamin and hormone for mental health and mood regulation.
For many people vitamin D deficiency is an increased risk factor during the winter months thus it is recommended to test your blood levels of vitamin D to assess your status.
Foods rich in D may include salmon, mushrooms, cod liver oil, herring, sardines, tuna, egg yolks, and milk.
A vitamin D supplement is often needed as it can be challenging to obtain enough through food alone.
Believe it or not calcium also plays a surprisingly important role in anxiety. Calcium is needed for healthy brain function and a deficiency can negatively impact the nervous system and exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression (10).
What's important to note is that the body requires vitamin D to maintain optimal calcium levels which means these nutrients work synergistically.
Always verify with your medical professional before taking calcium supplements as they can potentially promote adverse reactions in certain cases (11).
Decreased zinc levels have been associated with increased anxiety and symptoms of stress (12).
This mineral is essential for many body functions including brain function. It is associated with GABA regulation, which we talked about previously has anti-anxiety effects.
Iron is an important mineral for brain health and is involved in emotional regulation.
Low iron can interfere with GABA levels, result in poor brain myelination and promote feelings of anxiety. Human studies now link anxiety-driven behaviors to poor iron status (16).
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, especially among women. For this reason and the important role this mineral plays in health it's worthwhile to get your levels tested on a regular basis.
6. B vitamins
B vitamins can help to regulate stress levels and reduce levels of stress hormones while having a number of positive effects on mood (19).
These vitamins play a role in neurotransmitter regulation and the production of brain chemicals. They are also important for the nervous system.
Lack of these natural vitamins can potentially promote mental stress.
B complex supplements provide a blend of the B vitamins together to help you cover all of your bases.
Low levels of vitamin B6 can alter mood states even promoting anxiety and depression while supplementation can help with stress reduction.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is known to regulate neurotransmitters while reducing stress and supporting energy levels (22). It is also involved in the synthesis of acetylcholine, which helps to support brain function and help us cope with stress. Also known as the anti-stress vitamin, B5 is another B vitamin involved in regulating adrenal function and normal production of cortisol.
It is common to see low levels of vitamin B5 among those chronically stressed.
An important reminder is that B vitamins are more quickly used up by the body during times of stress.
People with anxiety may benefit from a B vitamin supplement and should first discuss with their doctor if it might be a good option for them.
About the Author