Published On: June 8, 2022
Reviewed On: June 8, 2022
Updated On: November 15, 2023
Our bodies work endlessly to process and use the nutrients we get from the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. It’s these vitamins, minerals, and other dietary components like fats, sugars, and carbohydrates, that give us the fuel we need to live. It’s also what supports our immune system against disease, repairs cellular damage caused by toxins, promotes faster-wound healing, and even helps our brain to concentrate, remember, and process emotions.
Much research has been done showing a direct link between vitamin deficiency and cognitive decline and emotional challenges. These studies suggest that even beyond physical health benefits, some vitamins like vitamin D and B can be effective in reducing mild symptoms of mood disorder.
If you experience chronic anxiety (long-lasting and generalized) or acute bouts of nervousness (with sudden and intense onset), considering vitamins for anxiety and stress, in addition to other treatment options, is a good decision. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor before starting supplements, especially if you’re taking other medications.
If you were wondering how to treat anxiety with vitamins, some of the best vitamins to help with anxiety include both water-soluble vitamins that dissolve quickly in the body, as well as fat-soluble vitamins that circulate through the bloodstream and are stored by the body when not in use.
Vitamins alone won’t cure your anxiety, but they may help bolster your health and mood overall. A review of 24 studies suggests that herbal and vitamin supplementation can be a beneficial and effective therapy for treating anxiety. Especially when taken in addition to other forms of treatment, like therapy for anxiety, medication, and self-help techniques, vitamins might be an integral component of your overall treatment plan for managing anxiety levels. Read on to learn more about the best vitamin supplements for anxiety.
Water-soluble vitamins are extremely important and can be taken on a regular basis to help support mental health and functioning. While vitamin C and a vitamin B complex can help support brain functioning and regulate mood (decreasing anxiety) and improve symptoms of stress and fatigue, speak with your doctor before you consider taking them.
A vitamin C deficiency can leave you feeling fatigued or depressed. Research shows deficient vitamin C levels can result in cognitive impairment and motor deficit. These studies also show that vitamin C supplements can potentially offer beneficial results in treating certain mental health conditions, like major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety.
It’s one of the best vitamins for anxiety because as an antioxidant, research suggests it might play an important therapeutic role in anxiety treatment by ensuring balance in your nervous system.
Like other B vitamins, B1 supports healthy organ functioning, and thiamine has been found effective in treating a variety of anxiety disorders. It does this by helping to maintain a healthy nervous system which is important for effectively combating high stress levels that can occur with anxiety.
Research on pyridoxine shows it’s successful as an anti-stress therapeutic that can have a significant impact on serotonin and GABA, the neurotransmitters that control anxiety and depression. Many people choose to take a B6 vitamin supplement as it’s known to provide anxiety relief and can help improve brain function.
Vitamins B9 and B12 are both thought to treat symptoms of anxiety.
Folic acid has many uses in the body, and B9 deficiency has been linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression. When taken in conjunction with B12, these B super-vitamins help metabolize serotonin, which is important for mood regulation.
Vitamin B12 is considered an important brain and nervous system micronutrient and is often used for anxiety. It helps to ensure normal function for your nerves, which can help combat physical symptoms of anxiety. Someone with a deficiency in vitamin B12 may experience increased feelings of anxiety and other potential psychiatric symptoms. Therefore, vitamin B12 can be a great supplement to take if advised by a doctor.
Since niacin isn’t stored in the body, many people are likely lacking this all-important B vitamin that helps keep your nervous system, digestive system, and skin healthy. Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) has been shown in animals to work in the brain in ways similar to anxiety medications. While further research is needed, some studies show that this essential vitamin might be beneficial in treating anxiety disorders.
While not technically a vitamin, magnesium is a water-soluble mineral that plays several roles in the body, including supporting optimal nerve and muscle function and energy production. It’s also important for blood pressure regulation. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to anxiety-related conditions, and while more research needs to be done, some studies suggest that increasing your intake can have a significantly positive effect on anxiety symptoms. If you suffer from a deficiency, you might want to consider adding magnesium supplements into your daily routine. Be sure to consult your doctor first.
Many people who have anxiety also have a vitamin A deficiency. Not only does vitamin A promote well-being, it also helps nourish the nervous system and relax muscles. A strong and balanced nervous system helps to minimize stress and when you feel relaxed, the physical symptoms of anxiety may not affect you as much. Sufficient levels of the fatty acids found in vitamin A have been found in studies to help those who suffer from panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
A vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher levels of anxiety. So how does vitamin D help with depression and anxiety? According to a 2015 review study, people with symptoms of anxiety or depression sometimes also had reduced levels of calcidiol (or calcifediol), which is made when vitamin D breaks down in the body. Since so few plant foods contain vitamin D, taking a vitamin D supplement, spending more time in the sun, and eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel can increase vitamin D levels, potentially helping reduce anxiety.
Vitamin E is well known as a beauty drug because it supports healthy skin, hair, and nails. Additionally, depleted stores of vitamin E can lead to more intense anxiety symptoms. Research suggests that vitamin E, which is rich in antioxidants, might help to restore emotional balance and combat the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
A laboratory study showed that high blood glucose levels, memory deficit, depression, and anxiety were all reduced when taking vitamin K. Further, vitamin K has been shown to actually prevent the development of depression and anxiety while promoting a general sense of well-being.
Expert Insight“Vitamins B, C, and (water soluble) magnesium have been impactful for many who have anxiety and depression. It’s important to remember that supplements and medications are proven aids at decreasing symptoms. While they can offer relief and healing when anxiety is problematic, skills like meditation, overall nutrition, and regular exercise can also help close the loop in a holistic way.”
Knowing what vitamins are good for anxiety can help reduce symptoms in some cases, including feeling nervous, restless, or tense. If you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety and it’s interfering with personal or professional relationships, causing persistent sleep problems, or hampering your ability to concentrate, speak with your doctor. They can order blood tests to determine if you have a true vitamin deficiency.
Children, pregnant women, and seniors are the most common populations to suffer extreme consequences from a lack of proper vitamins and minerals. That said, any person, at any age, can experience higher levels of anxiety and depression, which might be due to prolonged deficits of certain vitamins. However, it’s also true that many people experience depression and anxiety without any vitamin deficiencies.
Before starting a daily regimen of supplements, it’s important to talk to your doctor to make sure anything you take won’t interfere with other medications or a current medical issue.
For example, both vitamin A and K can have negative interactions with blood thinners, and too much vitamin D can cause a toxic buildup of calcium in the body.
Vitamins along with other forms of treatment like in-person or online therapy can be extremely impactful when it comes to treating anxiety and depression. While vitamins won’t fully treat or cure your anxiety, they can help bolster your health, improve your energy, and enhance your overall well-being. Dealing with depression and anxiety can be taxing, both emotionally and physically. If vitamins can potentially help, you deserve to know. Your doctor can order a simple blood test to evaluate your vitamin levels and see if you’re deficient in anything that may be contributing to increased levels of anxiety.
Vitamin deficiencies can be caused by certain medical conditions, a lack of good nutrition, or not getting enough water and/or sunshine. If you’re on a highly restrictive diet plan, make sure you’re supplementing with proper dietary substitutions when needed. Adding the right supplements so your body benefits from the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals might make all the difference in the world.
Macpherson, Helen et al. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2016 (2016): 3092828. doi:10.1155/2016/3092828. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Penckofer, Sue et al. Issues in mental health nursing vol. 31,6 (2010): 385-93. doi:10.3109/01612840903437657. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Rao, T S Sathyanarayana et al. Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 50,2 (2008): 77-82. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.42391. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Lakhan, Shaheen E, and Karen F Vieira. Nutrition journal vol. 9 42. 7 Oct. 2010, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-42. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Kennedy, David O et al. Psychopharmacology vol. 211,1 (2010): 55-68. doi:10.1007/s00213-010-1870-3. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Han, Qian-Qian et al. Current medical science vol. 38,1 (2018): 1-10. doi:10.1007/s11596-018-1840-2. Accessed April 4, 2022.
de Oliveira, Ivaldo Jesus Lima et al. Pakistan journal of biological sciences : PJBS vol. 18,1 (2015): 11-8. doi:10.3923/pjbs.2015.11.18. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Cornish, Stacey, and Lewis Mehl-Madrona. Integrative medicine insights vol. 3 (2008): 33-42. Accessed April 4, 2022.
McCarty, M F. Medical hypotheses vol. 54,5 (2000): 803-7. doi:10.1054/mehy.1999.0955. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Young, Lauren M et al. Nutrients vol. 11,9 2232. 16 Sep. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11092232. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Prousky J. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. 2005;20(3):167-176.. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Boyle, Neil Bernard et al. Nutrients vol. 9,5 429. 26 Apr. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9050429. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Gautam, Medhavi et al. Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 54,3 (2012): 244-7. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.102424. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Bičíková, M et al. Physiological research vol. 64,Suppl 2 (2015): S101-3. doi:10.33549/physiolres.933082. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Gancheva, Silvia M, and Maria D Zhelyazkova-Savova. 2016;58(4):264-272. doi:10.1515/folmed-2016-0032. Accessed April 4, 2022.
Licensed Talkspace Therapist, Elizabeth Keohan has enjoyed working with clients in communities from Washington DC through rural Maine over the course of her career. While she has worked extensively with those experiencing anxiety and depression, she embodies a unique comfort working with the bereaved. Elizabeth combines a compassionate, holistic approach with Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT), to help clients counter their somatic response to stress, anxiety, mood, grief and loss.