What Supplements Help With Anxiety? (10 Evidence Based Picks)
There's enough scientific evidence that vitamin D, B vitamins, magnesium, omega-3, valerian root, chamomile, L-theanine, lavender, ashwagandha, and vitamin E help reduce anxiety symptoms.
About 19.1% (40 million) of the United States adult (18+) population suffers from anxiety disorders.
Of all adults with this disorder, there are 25.2 million adults with untreated anxiety disorders.
It's important to note that anxiety by itself is normal. It's a natural human response to stressors and danger.
However, anxiety morphs into a disorder when it prolongs, and you start having symptoms such as nausea and high blood pressure.
Additionally, untreated anxiety issues can serve as a catalyst for other mental illnesses, such as depression.
As such, you must take care of your anxiety before it does more damage. One of the ways to deal with anxiety is by eating a nutritious and balanced diet.
Eating well is easier said than done, thanks to imbalanced work-life dynamics and other factors. Per their own admission, only half of Americans try to “actively” eat healthy.
Dietary supplements are adequate substitutes for food if you want to meet your daily nutritional needs.
In this article, we talk about supplements that can help with anxiety. We also touch on what anxiety is and its causes.
What is anxiety and what causes it?
Typical anxiety symptoms include worried thoughts, unease, dread, tension, and sometimes physical manifestations such as increased blood pressure.
Anxiety is the body's natural response to a distressing situation or thought. For example, you may experience anxiety when your company is downsizing or when you're about to write a test, or thinking about certain aspects of your future.
Anxiety is future-oriented toward a threat that is yet to manifest. Anxiety is different from fear in that the latter presents itself during the presence of real-time threats.
A prolonged, intense, and permanent feeling of anxiety with physical symptoms and regular unwelcome thoughts is unhealthy. At this point, it is regarded as an anxiety disorder.
It begins to impede daily functions such as work or school performance and social relationships.
Some of the common symptoms associated with anxiety include:
- Increased heart rate
- Nervous or tense feeling
- Concerns that you cannot shake off
- Shortness of breath
- Aches and pains
- Avoiding social activities
- Poor sleep quality and hygiene.
Causes of anxiety and anxiety disorders
There are many potential causes of anxiety. For some people, anxiety runs in their families. Some people have anxiety due to lifestyle choices such as alcohol and drug use and poor sleep hygiene.
Experiencing or witnessing traumatic events in the past can trigger anxiety from time to time. Such people are at risk of developing anxiety disorders down the line.
Anxiety could also be an indicator of some health conditions. Examples include diabetes, heart disease, some rare tumors, hyperthyroidism, and many others.
Other potential causes of anxiety include significant stressful life events like death, relationship breakup, financial issues, and other mental health conditions.
Types of anxiety disorders
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders: 5th Edition, there are many anxiety disorders. A few include:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
GAD refers to anxiety that brings excessive worry, even over mundane issues. The weight of worry is totally at odds with the situation.
GAD occurs with other mental conditions like depression and other anxiety disorders.
It’s the most common form of anxiety disorder. People with GAD can’t pinpoint the genesis of their worry.
When certain objects, things, or animals trigger your anxiety, you have a specific phobia.
For example, the fear of spiders is known as arachnophobia, and dromophobia is the fear of crossing the road.
These things typically induce panic attacks in people.
Panic disorder is a sudden intense feeling of anxiety that quickly develops into a panic attack. It presents symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath.
Panic disorders may occur with or without a trigger. Common triggers include prolonged stress or experiencing a frightening situation.
People who fear being trapped or helpless in a place or situation experience this anxiety disorder. A simple example is being scared of using the elevator or entering public transport.
Also called social anxiety disorder describes the fear of people judging you. It usually stems from self-consciousness and sometimes low self-esteem.
Such persons avoid social interactions that’ll put them in front of people or make them the center of attention.
Other types of anxiety disorders include substance-induced, selective mutism, and anxiety disorder caused by medical conditions.
Can supplements help ease anxiety?
Dietary supplements can help ease mild anxiety that hasn’t progressed into an anxiety disorder. For example, vitamin D aids the body’s production of serotonin, which plays a big role in mood regulation. People with normal levels of serotonin are calmer and more emotionally stable.
One of the most common prescription medications for anxiety or depression is antidepressants.
The most common form of antidepressant is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). SSRIs work by helping the body to absorb monoamine neurotransmitters and increase their level in the brain.
Monoamine neurotransmitters like serotonin play an important role in regulating mood. Too low or high serotonin causes psychological issues, such as anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and depression.
Many supplements have a similar mechanism as SSRIs. Some supplements also help the body to reabsorb neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin, and norepinephrine.
For example, vitamin D helps neurons in cells to produce serotonin, the same as omega-3 fatty acids.
Other supplements like Ashwagandha work to reduce the level of stress hormone (cortisol) in the system.
Best supplements that help ease anxiety
Here are the top ten supplements that are scientifically proven to help with anxiety.
1. Vitamin D
Multiple studies show that low levels of vitamin D correlate with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Lacking vitamin D doesn’t necessarily cause anxiety. It merely worsens the symptoms.
Vitamin D has many purposes in the body that can be directly linked to poor mental well-being and anxiety.
As we discussed above, vitamin D helps neurons to make serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been associated with anxiety and depression. In fact, many drugs prescribed for anxiety try to flood the brain with more serotonin.
One of the best ways to increase serotonin and vitamin D levels is to get more sunlight. You can also get more serotonin by eating food rich in tryptophan, the amino acid from which the body makes the former.
About 35% of the United States population has vitamin D deficiency. Many people are not getting enough sunlight, and their diet does not compensate for this deficiency. Vitamin D supplementation can help you fix this gap to ease and manage anxiety.
Every Vitamin D3 + K2 capsule by Why Not Natural is packed with 10,000 IU of D3 to help you quickly fill the difference between your current D3 level and where it ought to be.
High doses of vitamin D have been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms severity, including in those with generalized anxiety disorder.
2. Vitamin B complex
The B vitamins perform many important functions in the body, including food metabolism and keeping our brains in perfect condition.
Different studies have examined and tried to find a connection between B vitamins and anxiety. Many made overwhelmingly conclusive evidence to support that B vitamins are effective in reducing the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
A study in which participants received either vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12, or a placebo found that those who received high doses (above daily dietary allowance) of vitamin B6 enjoyed a greater reduction in anxiety symptoms.
According to one of the researchers of the above study, pyridoxine is a catalyst for the production of a chemical messenger that limits certain brain impulses that can lead to anxiety.
Other studies found that higher biotin (vitamin B7) is associated with lower anxiety, particularly in women.
Another study of over 7,000 participants found that a moderate intake of thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is linked to a lower probability of having anxiety.
Several studies also show those with depression and/or anxiety have lower levels of vitamin B12.
So if B complex vitamin intake correlates to lower odds of anxiety, where can you get it? You can find them in food like eggs, poultry, oatmeal, spinach, bananas, seafood, and fortified cereals and drinks.
Six percent of adults below 60 years in the United States are deficient in vitamin B12 alone. This figure jumps to 20 percent for those above 60 years. Most people do not eat healthy enough to meet their daily nutritional needs.
With supplements, you can meet your daily nutritional needs irrespective of how your day panned out.
The B Complex Liquid by Why Not Natural contains ALL the B vitamins in their bioavailable active forms for quick absorption. It’s also blended with additions to boost your energy and reduce stress.
Magnesium has many functions that directly and indirectly contribute to anxiety relief. Magnesium helps the body to produce serotonin and melatonin.
We’ve already talked about serotonin and the role it plays in the body. Melatonin regulates the body’s clock and sleep pattern. Poor sleep hygiene and quality are strongly associated with anxiety. So if you can sleep more, you can reduce anxiety symptoms.
Magnesium also helps the body inhibit the production and activities of cortisol (stress hormone) and cytokines. High levels of cortisol and cytokines indicate significant stress. Stress is also one of the known causes of anxiety, so it’s easy to see how magnesium can help.
Although you can get magnesium from food, genetics and preexisting conditions can limit how much magnesium your body absorbs. Magnesium supplementation can help in this regard.
In particular, magnesium supplements, when paired with vitamin B6 have been proven to be more effective in reducing stress than using the former alone. Both can serve as supplements for anxiety.
An examination of 19 research studies found that participants who received omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) had improved anxiety symptoms compared to those who received a placebo.
A more significant effect was observed in participants who took at least 2,000 mg of omega-3s daily.
Another study found that PUFA was low in people with anxiety disorders.
Medical students who participated in another omega-3 study reported a 20 percent decrease in their anxiety symptoms. In this study, the students received 2,500 mg of omega-3 daily.
The conclusions suggest you'll need a very high dose of omega-3s to act as an anxiety supplement. You can get omega-3 from oily fish such as tuna, sardines, mackerel, leafy greens, and walnuts.
The average diet doesn't include up to 2,500 mg of omega-3 daily from these sources. Additionally, fish also sometimes contain dangerous chemicals like mercury. So, supplements are your best bet to meet this requirement.
5. Valerian root
Valerian roots have been used to reduce anxiety symptoms for many ages second century A.D.
Valerian works by inducing the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA inhibits neurotransmission to reduce excitability, thus producing a calming effect.
Drugs like Valium and Xanax work based on the same mechanisms and principles. Valerian produces less GABA than Valium and Xanax.
GABBA imbalance is associated with medical conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders, depression, schizophrenia, hypersomnia, and epilepsy.
The United States Food and Drug Administration lists valerian root as a "Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)," which signifies that it is safe to consume based on scientific data.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) equally lists it as safe for short-term (less than one month) consumption.
Valerian should, however, never be taken with other anxiety medications like benzodiazepines.
In a study of 179 participants, the researchers concluded that chamomile produced a clinically meaningful reduction in GAD symptoms. The participants received chamomile extract - 1500 mg daily (500mg three times) for up to 8 weeks.
Another study that gave participants chamomile over a longer period (26 weeks) than the above study came to the same conclusion: long-term consumption of chamomile is safe and caused a reduction in both moderate and severe GAD symptoms.
You can buy chamomile as a tea or as a supplement. Please note that chamomile may interact with prescription medications. So always consult your doctor before buying this supplement, especially if you’re pregnant.
If you’ve consumed tea recently, you’ve probably consumed L-theanine.
It is a primary compound in tea and makes up about 1 and 2 percent weight of tea when dry. So, for every 200 ml of tea you consume, you’ll get about 20-60 mg of L-theanine.
So does it work for reducing anxiety symptoms? Scientific evidence suggests so.
A study gave some participants 200mg of L-theanine daily and others a placebo. The former group experienced fewer stress-related symptoms and improved sleep quality than those in the latter group.
There are other similar studies, but the sample sizes are either too small or have varying L-theanine dosages.
You can get all the L-theanine you need from green or black tea. But if drinking tea is not your cup of tea, you can get supplements. The FDA classifies L-theanine supplements as GRAS product.
Most people know and perhaps use a lavender-laced products like air fresheners and soaps. But what most people don’t know is that you can use lavender to reduce anxiety symptoms.
In one study, patients awaiting surgery who received lavender aromatherapy reported a reduction in anxiety symptoms over those who were unexposed to aromatherapy.
The same study on pregnant women in labor came to the same conclusion. Post-birth, women who took regular drops of lavender for four weeks did not suffer from anxiety or depression.
The best way to consume lavender is aromatherapy or as a lavender essential oil oral supplement.
Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) is a popular herb with many medicinal benefits. People use it for stress management, anxiety, diabetes, pain, and skin conditions.
A 2021 review of previous studies on the efficacy of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on anxiety concluded that it “exhibited noteworthy anti-stress and anti-anxiety activity in animal and human studies.”
In another study, participants who received 250 mg per day and those who received 600 mg daily enjoyed a significant reduction on their perceived stress scale. Cortisol levels also reduced while they enjoyed improved sleep quality.
Supplements come in capsules, powder, and liquid extract with potency ranging from 250 to 1,500 mg of ashwagandha.
There’s no standard dosage for ashwagandha, but some people who took high doses reported unpleasant side effects.
10. Vitamin E
Anxiety correlates to low levels of antioxidants in the body.
A study in India found that people with low levels of antioxidants who took beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C supplements had improved depression and anxiety symptoms.
The study concluded physicians could prescribe antioxidants to supplement adjuvant therapy for treating stress-induced psychiatric disorders.
Some foods rich in antioxidants include walnuts, pecans, berries, apples, plums, broccoli, turmeric, ginger, spinach, kale, and sweet cherries.
The importance of a personalized approach when taking supplements for anxiety
When it comes to dealing with anxiety, it’s imperative to know that one size doesn’t fit all.
It’s also important to stress that dietary supplements cannot cure anxiety. They are used alongside other lifestyle approaches to manage anxiety symptoms.
That’s why it’s imperative to take a personal approach when taking supplements for anxiety. What works for person A may not work for person B for diverse reasons.
For starters, what causes anxiety varies from person to person. Anxiety also manifests in people differently. So if you copy someone else’s supplementation choice, you may not be dealing with the symptom specific to you.
Overall, using supplements for reducing anxiety symptoms is more applicable to you if:
- You have known vitamin or mineral deficiency.
- You aren’t responding to traditional therapies.
- You can’t take certain anxiety medications because of allergies or side effects.
- You only have mild symptoms.
Takeaway: Easy your anxiety with natural supplements
When you don't attend to mild anxiety and stress, it can lead to more serious mental health disorders.
There's strong scientific evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements have a real and substantial impact on reducing anxiety symptoms.
Vitamins or minerals that can help you manage anxiety include vitamin D, B vitamins, magnesium, omega-3, valerian root, chamomile, L-theanine, lavender, ashwagandha, and vitamin E.For quality and natural supplements with no preservatives, fillers, artificial additives, or sugar that really works, visit the Why Not Natural supplement store today.