Though more research needs to be done, doctors and dietitians think vitamins could help treat anxiety. BY JENNA BIRCH
Aug 30, 2019
There are many treatments for anxiety: exercise, meditation, and medications to name a few. But one thing you may not have considered is using vitamins to help your anxiety. Although they are not a magic bullet, they might hold more promise than you realize. Vitamins and supplements get a bad rap sometimes, says Nicole Avena, PhD, an assistant professor at Mount Sinai Medical School and visiting professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University. “People don’t always realize how micronutrient deficiencies can impact the way we feel, as well as our health,” she says. “Also, many vitamins contain sugar and other fillers which people often want to avoid.” Research on vitamins’ ability to help anxiety is still a bit cloudy, but there’s been evidence that supplementation may help improve symptoms, especially in certain populations. A small 2019 of 51 women found that vitamin D supplementation improved symptoms of anxiety and inflammation in women with type-2 diabetes. Another study, performed in 2019 on more than 120 males, found that a six-week regimen of magnesium supplementation improved symptoms of anxiety and depression among 112 adult participants. It's best to get tested before altering any routines to help your anxiety. If this is an avenue you want to go down, you first need to see a doctor to find out what supplements and vitamins might be right for you. “It’s better to get your neurotransmitters tested first so we know exactly what needs to be balanced,” Dr. Yeral Patel, MD, a functional medicine physician practicing in Newport Beach, California, tells Woman’s Day, explaining that anxiety and depression can often be the result of neurotransmitter imbalances. “There are fantastic supplements which have been shown to improve anxiety and mood symptoms. The safest way to do it is get tested first, for best results.” Keep in mind that some supplements may help more than others. Patel notes that, because anxiety can be caused by too many excitatory neurotransmitters, GABA supplements may be the most helpful. “GABA is a natural neurotransmitter that has a role of calming and relaxing,” Patel says, adding that it can be found in supplement form. Avena, however, is a fan of Frunutta vitamins, because they “easy to take, and they don’t contain any fillers or additives.” She also likes B-complex vitamins, which are easy to find and can be “helpful in stabilizing mood.” Patel agrees, saying B vitamins are just one of several “important vitamins called cofactors,” which she frequently recommends for anxiety. “B vitamins [B-complex], vitamin D, Calcium, and Vitamin C are all important,” she says. “Cofactors are needed to make sure the neurotransmitters get converted and broken down properly for proper function.” Herbal remedies could help lower cortisol, which could help with anxiety. Herbal remedies may also prove helpful as a relaxation method. “Ashwagandha is a supplement used in India and China for years, and in the US, too,” says Patel. “It helps balance high cortisol and anxiety from stress.” But again, if you’re considering adding something to your routine, it’s always best to check with your primary-care physician or a functional medicine specialist to check for side . Heidi Moretti, RD, a dietitian of functional nutrition, adds that there is emerging research and promise of lavender oil in a gelcap form. “Lavender can help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, in clinical studies,” she says. Some research has also suggested that simple multi-vitamins can combat stress and stabilize mood symptoms. But even scientists consistently note that a lot more follow-up study needs to be done in the space to determine how vitamins can ease mood-related symptoms. For now, supplements just may be a helpful complement to anxiety treatment.