9 Essential Nutrients for Anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety, it’s essential that you have adequate nutrients to create calming neurotransmitters and help the body deal with the effects of stress and anxiety.

In this article I’ve put together a list of 9 essential nutrients that can help to reduce anxiety naturally.

Important Note: Nutritional supplements can be helpful for anxiety symptoms but they’re not a cure for anxiety. Please talk to your doctor about treatment options for anxiety.

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Nutrients for anxiety

Here are 9 helpful nutrients that can help to relieve the symptoms of anxiety

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is crucial for hundreds of biochemical processes in the body. 

It’s essential for nervous system function, energy production and muscle relaxation. [1]

Magnesium, along with vitamin B6 is required to convert tryptophan into serotonin.

I like to take magnesium after dinner to help me wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms can include irritability, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, fatigue and insomnia. 

Food sources of magnesium include spinach, cacao, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds and avocado.

If you’re looking for a good quality magnesium supplement, I recommend this one. It contains Magnesium Glycinate, which is easily absorbed.

Cacao nibs

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies have shown that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce anxiety symptoms. [2]

Omega-3’s also help to reduce inflammation, thin the blood and reduce harmful fats in the blood.

Omega-3 deficiency symptoms can include dry skin, lowered immunity and memory problems.

The best food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines and cod liver oil.

If you’re not eating fish a few times a week, you may need a supplement.

This Omega-3 supplement has a special coating that allows it to travel through to the small intestine before opening, so you don’t get any fishy aftertaste.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for serotonin and dopamine production, strong bones and proper immune function. 

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

Some of the symptoms of SAD are anxiousness, irritability, antisocial behaviour, insomnia, low libido, reduced appetite and weight loss.

The sun is the best source of Vitamin D but it’s important to find a balance between sun exposure for Vitamin D and protection against skin cancer. 

Twenty minutes of sunlight during the day is a good target to aim for.

A small amount of Vitamin D is found in some foods including cod liver oil, eggs, salmon and tuna.

I like this Vitamin D supplement because it contains 5000IU of Vitamin D, which helps to top up your Vitamin D level quickly.

4. Zinc

Zinc is essential for the immune system, hormone regulation, brain function and for healthy reproductive organs.

Enzymes containing zinc are necessary for the production of serotonin, so a deficiency of zinc can lead lower serotonin levels and increase anxiety.

Zinc deficiency symptoms can include frequent infections, slow wound healing, loss of taste or smell, white flecks in the fingernails and slow hair and nail growth.

Food sources of zinc include oysters, pumpkin seeds, nuts and meat.

If you think you may be deficient in zinc, a good quality supplement to try is this one. It contains zinc picolinate, which is absorbed much better than other types of zinc.

5. B Vitamins

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is essential for converting food into energy, proper nervous system function and blood sugar control.  Low blood sugar can trigger panic attacks.

Vitamin B1 deficiency symptoms include poor concentration, irritability, numbness in the legs and water retention.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is needed for energy production and for a strong immune system.

Vitamin B2 deficiency symptoms can include mouth ulcers, cracked lips and hair loss.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is required for the release of energy from food and to maintain a healthy nervous system.

Vitamin B3 deficiency symptoms include poor memory, headaches, fatigue, anxiety and eczema.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is crucial for the conversion of choline to acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that carries electrical signals between the nerves and muscles.

Vitamin B5 is also required for adrenal hormone production.

Vitamin B5 deficiency symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, poor concentration, muscle cramps, headaches and tingling hands and feet.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is needed for energy production and to keep the nervous system in good working order.

It also helps to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause, including mood swings and anxiety.

Vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms include anxiety, irritability, muscle cramps and water retention.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is essential for a healthy nervous system and is involved in the production of serotonin and dopamine, the brain’s feel-good chemicals.

Vegans and vegetarians are most at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency which can lead to anemia, fatigue, anxiety, irritability and poor memory.

Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products including seafood, beef, lamb, poultry, milk, eggs and dairy products.

If you’re supplementing with B12, look for methylcobalamin, which is much better absorbed than regular B12.

6. Folic Acid

Folic Acid is a member of the B-complex family and works with the other B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12.

It’s estimated that 40-60% of the population have a genetic mutation called MTHFR, which means that they can’t properly utilize folic acid.

If you have the MTHFR gene mutation you should avoid supplements containing folic acid and instead use 5-MTHF.

Ideally it’s best to take B vitamins as a B complex supplement to maintain the correct ratios.

I like this supplement because it contains activated B vitamins, which means they’re absorbed much more easily than regular B vitamins and they’re safe for anyone with the MTHFR mutation.

7. L-theanine

Green tea is a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants and contains L-theanine, an amino acid that increases serotonin, dopamine and GABA, the calming neurotransmitter.

Matcha is made from green tea leaves that are ground into a fine powder.

Matcha is one of the best sources of L-theanine and one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants.

Matcha green tea

8. L-tryptophan

L-tryptophan is an amino acid that helps with production of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

L-tryptophan also helps with anxiety, depression, insomnia, sleep apnea, teeth grinding, Tourette’s syndrome and attention defecit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

9. L-tyrosine

L-tyrosine is an amino acid that is needed for the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. 

It’s found in dairy products, chicken, fish, bananas, almonds and avocado.

L-tyrosine is also available in supplement form.

Now Foods True Calm helps with neurotransmitter production, reduces anxiety symptoms and encourages a calm response to stress.

It contains Niacin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, GABA, Glycine, Taurine, Inositol and Valerian.

It’s a good idea to discuss any anxiety supplements or herbal remedies with your healthcare provider because some supplements and herbs can interact with prescription medications.

I hope these tips will help you to reduce the symptoms of anxiety naturally.

RELATED ANXIETY POSTS

Have you tried any natural remedies for anxiety? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Natural Treatments for Anxiety and Anxiety & Stress Relief that you may enjoy. You can also find me on Facebook.

Essential nutrients for anxiety

Natural supplements for anxiety

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a qualified Nutritionist and Herbal Medicine Practitioner. I have a passion for all things natural, healthy and holistic. I created this blog to share my knowledge and inspire women who are looking for natural health solutions. Read more

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these! I have bouts of anxiety, and I have a friend who has really bad chronic anxiety. I love the idea of helping to mitigate that anxiety with diet rather than some sort of pill.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I have not used many of these nutrients before. I will try to remember in case I have anxiety in the future.

  3. I love reading about what vitamins provide our body with what! I definitely take my vitamins every day, but try to get it through foods, too! Great post!

  4. Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t realize how good Omega 3 is for you.

  5. Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for explaining the link between food and anxiety in such a simple, informative way. This is really helpful!

  6. What a fab article. I love reading how anxiety can be helped and aided with natural products xx

  7. Thanks for sharing all these information about essential nutrients for calming anxiety. I take all of them by eating everyday meals but never know that they calm anxiety! Learned a lot.

  8. As we age these nutrients become so very important. However we may not really know what nutrients we are consuming and in what quantity through our regular food. Hence these supplements are useful. Thanks for the information.

  9. Anxiety is becoming common these days and this post is helpful in treating symptoms naturally.

  10. I eat foods with lots of Zinc and other multivitamins. It’s good for our body. Examples are oysters for Zinc and lean meat for proteins.

  11. I didn’t know some of those help you with anxiety but it’s good to know. This is such an informative post and is quite helpful especially if you know someone who has anxiety or if you yourself have it.

  12. What a great reminder of what nutrients we need. I will be saving these tips as I always seem to forget and end up eating unhealthy and that of course affects our mood!

  13. This is great information. I’ll have to look at this more. Even if it will help a little it’s worth it.

  14. Thank you for sharing this. This is especially helpful for those having anxiety attacks, knowing that there are natural remedies for it. 🙂 I love the information you have here.

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