We covered what anxiety is and how to avoid basic triggers in part 1 of this series. In this second part,
we are going to talk about the best supplements for anxiety. These help decrease anxiety symptoms and make them more manageable.
What are the Best Supplements for Anxiety?
Magnesium helps regulate nerve function. It is our “calm” switch when calcium acts in sync, as our “excitement” switch. Without enough magnesium, the nerves can fire without being able to activate that calm switch (with the aid of magnesium) when needed. In times of high stress, your body releases lots magnesium through your urine. It’s part of the fight or flight response. This means people with chronic stress tend to be constantly low in magnesium. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting enough daily, from either foods high in magnesium or supplements. 500mg daily is the typical suggestion.
Foods high in magnesium are: (according to the NIH)
- Cooked Spinach: 156mg in 1 cup
- Black Beans: 120mg in 1 cup
- Cooked Brown Rice: 82 mg in 1 cup
- Almonds: 80mg in 1oz
- Cashews: 74mg in 1o
- Avocado: 44mg in 1 cup cubed
- Whole wheat bread: 42mg in 2 slices
- Soy milk: 61mg in 1 cup
- Licorice root: 321mg in 1oz of root
- Nettle: 286mg in 1oz of herb
It’s always ideal to get your nutrients from food sources. Your body recognizes and metabolizes them better. However, it’s not always possible to get all of your nutrients through food due largely to today’s farming practices. (Simply put, our produce just isn’t as nutrious as it used to be.)
Magnesium supplements can be taken a few different ways. If your relying on the supplement route it’s good practice to rotate your supplements. You can buy a regular mag supplement in pill form which I sometimes take. You can get Natural Calm. It’s vegan and Non-GMO. Two big wins in my book. I really enjoy the raspberry-lemon flavor. Mix it with a little hot water at night and you have a calming wind-down drink that even helps you sleep. Magnesium helps you sleep better too!
Keep in mind, that if you take magnesium orally, it will increase your GI motility. Meaning, you’ll have to go to the bathroom more. As long as your not over doing it, this should be fine, and may even help keep you regular.
You can also go the skin absorbing route and just add plain old Epsom salts to a warm bath. Make sure to relax at least 20 minutes to absorb a sufficient amount. (This is a great way to get magnesium into your kids too!) You can also try magnesium in an oil form if you’re not really into a daily bath. SImply rub it into your skin and get your dose of magnesium.
When I found out that flaxseed oil helped anxiety I was a bit skeptical. Then I started adding a tablespoon to my morning smoothie and I noticed my anxiety decreased drastically in only a couple of days.
Omega 3 fatty acids, like those found in flaxseed oil, help the brain to process serotonin and dopamine. These help the brain to have those “feel good” feelings. One study on medical students showed that taking omega 3 supplements helped decrease anxiety by an overall 20%. I honestly felt that it helped me a lot more than 20% sounds. Seriously, this was probably the single best intervention for me personally. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt.
This is the flaxseed oil I’ve used but you can probably find it at your local grocery store for a bit cheaper. I recommend the oil vs capsules due to the dosages needed. You would have to take quite a few capsules to get a full tablespoon.
Going back to what I’ve said before. Most people are not getting the nutrients their body requires due to current farming and food processing. This includes vitamin C. Nobody ever thinks of vitamin C when it comes to decreasing anxiety, but it can help!
The people at Mental Health Food reference a study in which mice were deprived of vitamin C
The deprivation caused depressive and submissive behaviors as well as an increased preference for sugar. More importantly, there were decreases in dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Low levels of dopamine and serotonin are linked to high levels of anxiety and depression in humans as well as mice.”
The same site goes on to talk about a study in India where adult psychiatric patients who were experiencing anxiety and depression were given supplements of vitamins A, E, and C. All nutrients in which they were deficient in. The study showed that after 6 weeks of supplementation the patients experienced drastic decreases of depression and anxiety.
Personally, I’m a big fan of vitamin C. It has helped me avoid viral infections, and has been a big help in reducing the effects of cold sores. Which is a viral infection. You can take an oral vitamin C supplement, but there have been some associations with vitamin C in high doses and kidney stones. Supplementing with 500mg orally is typically recommended and considered safe. I personally take a much higher dose than this. But I do try to get as much as I can through diet. And No, snacking on oranges here and there is not enough. Try to find foods high in vitamin C and incorporate them often into your daily diet.
Foods high in vitamin C (According to the NIH)
- Red Bell Peppers
- Green Peppers
- Tomato juice
- Brussel sprouts
My personal favorite source of vitamin C are rose hips. I often make a pitcher of rosehip and hibiscus tea (both are very high in vitamin C) to sip on through out the day. Mix it with raw honey and some lemon juice and it’s delicious. I even make vitamin C popsicles similarly that my toddler loooves.
Vitamin B 12
Deficiency in Vitamin B12 can also trigger anxiety and long-term deficiency can lead to neurological damage. This article explains how B12 affects the brain and hormone regulation, which directly affects anxiety. Basically, B12 helps to ensure the brains myelon sheaths are healthy and functioning. These myelin sheaths act as nerve buffers and insulators, allowing the nerves to send and receive signals properly. Without enough B12 in your diet, your brain will not be able to continue functioning.
Most sources of B12 are animal-based and tend to be in meat and eggs. If you are looking for plant-based options to get enough vitamin B12 you can check out these vitamins. This is my favorite vitamin brand. These are vegan and plant-based sources of B12.
This is part 2 (The Best Natural Supplements for Anxiety) in a 3 part series on dealing with anxiety
Part 2: Dealing with Anxiety: Best Natural Supplements for Anxiety
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