I should preface this article by stating that one of the best ways to restore any deficiencies in the body is to focus on consuming more of an organic whole foods based diet!
However, especially in the short term, supplementing can be very helpful in helping to reduce anxiety levels and bring your body back into balance as you simultaneously begin to incorporate a more balanced diet. Not only this, but because of our depleted soils, supplementing can be helpful for maintaining your bodies’ essential vitamin and mineral levels.
Below you’ll see a list of some of the top supplements I recommend for anxiety, however it’s important to know that EVERYONE’s requirements will be unique! Just because the supplements are listed, does not necessarily mean they will be the exact ones you need. It’s also important to note that the list below is not exclusive (there could be nutrients I didn’t list that your body & mind might actually benefit most from taking).
The best thing to do is to work with a health practitioner (such as myself 🙂 ) to talk about your symptoms and potentially get your levels tested before you go over board with supplementing!
In her book, “The Mood Cure”, Julia Ross explains that, “much of our increasing emotional distress stems from easily correctable malfunctions in our brain and body chemistry- malfunctions that are primarily the result of critical, unmet nutritional needs.” (7)
Often times, in focusing on a higher quality diet, and practicing proper supplementation when needed, we can correct much of the imbalances within the body that are causing increased levels of mental distress, such as anxiety.
Below is a list of great places to start when it comes to considering supplementing for anxiety!
Top Supplements for Anxiety
Magnesium is an essential mineral that has a very calming effect on the body. Research has found that magnesium plays an important role in regulating neurotransmitters that help with mood balance (such as serotonin and GABA) (1). Not only this, magnesium can be incredibly helpful for improving sleep (2). I often recommend people take it before bed for best results with sleep support.
Zinc is an important mineral that supports immune function, wound healing, and healthy growth. Zinc has also been found to have a very supportive role in helping to reduce anxiety. In fact, in a 2010 Randomized Control Trial, it was found that increases in serum zinc concentrations were associated with decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety (3).
The “B vitamins” play SO many important roles in the body! B vitamins are particularly supportive in improving mood, reducing anxiety & depression, improving memory, and can even help to reduce PMS (4).
Vitamin B6 is particularly helpful for helping to reduce anxiety as it supports the creation of serotonin, GABA and dopamine. It is also involved in several of the steps involved in carbohydrate metabolism. A lack of this vitamin is often connected with high levels of inflammation as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research has also found that low levels of B6 can be a trigger for panic and anxiety attacks (5).
Depending on ones symptoms, I often recommend either a super high quality multi vitamin along with the P-5-P form of B6 or P-5-P with a B complex.
As you may or may not have heard – North Americans are in a Vitamin D deficiency epidemic! In fact, over 42% of the North American population is deficient in this very important fat soluble vitamin!
Vitamin D plays a significant role in mood regulation, as well as nerve and brain health (6). The exact link between Vitamin D and anxiety is still being researched, however there has been very well established links between depression and vitamin D deficiency. With the prevalent connection between anxiety and depression, it’s believed that adequate vitamin D levels are very important for keeping anxiety at bay as well as depression!
SPECIFIC AMINO ACIDS
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Without adequate high quality protein intake and the right micronutrients to help absorb these amino acids, deficiency can be quite common. In her book, “The Mood Cure”, nutrition expert Julia Ross outlines thousands of examples in which supplementing with the right amino acids can help to dramatically reduce anxiety levels along with other mood related conditions such as depression! She believes it to be one of the most impactful supplements we have to support mental health (7).
Some of the most common amino acids to supplement with include:
– Tryptophan (often supplemented as 5-HTP)
Other Supplements to Consider
Aside from all the common vitamin and minerals I listed above, both iron and omega 3 fatty acid supplementation can be very supportive for helping to reduce anxiety.
To know if you’re iron deficient, I definitely recommend getting blood work done by your doctor. If you are deficient, getting on a high quality supplement right away is very important. Not only can iron deficiency contribute to anxiety, it can contribute to a whole host of other issues such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.
When considering omega 3 fatty acids, supplementing with a high quality fish oil as well as incorporating more spirulina, ground flax, walnuts, hemp hearts, and small wild fish (avoid larger fish due to toxin load) can really help! Omega 3’s are the “anti-inflammatory” fatty acids within the body. They are also incredibly effective at supporting overall brain health including mood balance, memory, and cognitive function (8).
What Brand of Supplements are Best?
As I mentioned, it’s super important to work with a health care practitioner (such as a nutritionist like myself), to ensure you are taking the RIGHT supplements to help ease your anxiety. When working with a practitioner, they will likely share with you many brands they recommend and trust.
One of my favourite brands for whole food supplements is Mega Foods. I love them so much because their quality is top notch and many of their vitamins or minerals are paired with an “ideal real food” to provide guaranteed potency and the benefit of health-promoting compounds present in the whole food itself. For this reason, they tend to be extra absorbable!
Not only do I love Mega Foods for their focus on whole food supplements, they also happen to focus on organic & regenerative agriculture, are a certified B corp, are certified glyphosate residue free, dairy & soy free, and non GMO verified. They work to form intimate relationships with their farmers to ensure the quality of their product is top notch! Mega Foods also has incredible standards around both their social and environmental impact, by partaking in lobbying against glyphosate and paying all employees at least 25% above living wage.
*Thank you to the lovely folks at Mega Foods Canada for sponsoring this post to make it possible!
NOTE: Meghan De Jong is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. The recommendations listed on this post should not be taken as medical advice. Meghan will not be held liable for your health and in reading this post you agree to assume full responsibility for any or all injuries or illnesses you experience.