Vitamins and nutrients that may help decrease anxiety symptoms

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated January 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Psychotherapy and/or medication are commonly recommended treatments for various mental health conditions, including many anxiety disorders. However, a wealth of research supports the idea that various lifestyle changes may also help improve symptoms. Getting adequate amounts of certain vitamins, whether through diet or supplements, may be one. See below for a list of vitamins and nutrients that could help mitigate anxiety symptoms. 

Note that vitamins are not considered a substitute for professional mental health disorder treatment. You should consult with your doctor and/or a qualified nutritionist before you make significant changes to your diet or take any supplements. You should also consult with a medical professional before making any changes to existing prescribed medication regimens.

Getty/AnnaStills
There are multiple ways to treat anxiety

Vitamins and nutrients that may help with anxiety

A study on micronutrient inadequacies in the diets of US adults found many are not reaching micronutrient intake requirements from food alone, “presumably due to eating an energy-rich, nutrient-poor diet”.

Some of these required nutrients can help with symptoms of anxiety and other health issues when consumed in adequate amounts, either through diet or supplements. These vitamins and nutrients include the following.

Vitamins A, C, and E

One study found that individuals who experience clinical anxiety often lack appropriate amounts of vitamins A, C, and E. After taking supplements for these nutrients over the course of six weeks, researchers found that participants experienced a reduction in symptoms. Another study indicates that taking supplements of vitamin C in particular, also known as ascorbic acid, may “produce antidepressant effects and improve mood”.

You can increase your levels of these vitamins through dietary changes, primarily by boosting your intake of fruits and vegetables. Foods rich in vitamin A include potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, broccoli, butter/ghee, and egg yolks. Foods rich in vitamin C include cantaloupe, citrus fruits, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and watermelon. Foods rich in vitamin E include spinach, almonds, avocado, olive oil, and sunflower seeds.

Various B vitamins

B vitamins may also help with anxiety relief. According to research, conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, dementia, and anxiety disorders including panic disorder and phobias have all been linked to deficiencies in various B vitamins. Examples of B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), which helps control blood sugar and B3 (niacinamide), which is responsible for serotonin synthesis. Both also contribute to energy levels and help with mood control. These vitamins are usually found in meat, dairy, eggs, seafood, whole grains, bananas, chilies, legumes, and nutritional yeast.

Vitamin D

This vitamin can help lower blood pressure and decrease cortisol levels. It can also foster brain development, improve muscle function, and boost the immune system because it supports the release of certain neurotransmitters. Several studies have uncovered a link between low levels of vitamin D and various mental health disorders, including the following:

  • Anxiety disorders

One study found that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to various anxiety disorders

  • Seasonal affective disorder

Various studies have linked a vitamin D deficiency to the development of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that typically occurs or worsens during certain times of year—usually when there’s less sunlight.

  • Schizophrenia

According to studies from Aarhus University and the University of Queensland, vitamin D deficiencies may also be linked to higher rates of schizophrenia.

It’s estimated that over 40% of US adults are vitamin D deficient, so asking your doctor to test your levels may be worthwhile. If you’re deficient and experience symptoms of anxiety, incorporating more of this vitamin into your daily life could help.

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for the well-being of your brain and for maintaining a healthy nervous system overall. It can help create a sense of calm and relaxation that activates GABA receptors, which are the same receptors that anti-anxiety medications target. A review of studies on the topic found that magnesium supplements can benefit those who experience subjective anxiety. This nutrient can be found in legumes, beef, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, bananas, watermelon, figs, potatoes, and green beans.

Getty/PeopleImages

Chamomile

The nutrients in chamomile, a flower often included in herbal teas, has been connected to a reduction in symptoms of some mental health conditions like anxiety as well. In one study, researchers found that individuals with generalized anxiety disorder who took chamomile daily for eight weeks experienced a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, which include eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found in fish oil. They act as anti-inflammatories that may help ease symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Research suggests that inflammation can increase stress and anxiety levels, which is why boosting your intake of omega-3s may help decrease symptoms and improve mood overall. A 2011 study demonstrated that healthy individuals who were supplemented with omega-3s experienced a significant reduction in both inflammation and anxiety levels. Foods rich in omega-3s include mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, herring, oysters, sardines, anchovies, caviar, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.

Zinc

Zinc is another supplement that affects the functioning of the nervous system—specifically the release of neurotransmitters. Studies have uncovered a potential link between zinc deficiency and anxiety, as well as a reduction in symptoms of anxiety with zinc supplementation. Natural sources of zinc include mushrooms, spinach, cashews, pumpkin seeds, beef, beans, and grains.

Treatment methods for anxiety disorders

Again, dietary changes are not considered to be a replacement for professional treatment for any mental health condition, and you should consult your doctor and/or nutritionist before making significant changes to your diet. If you’re experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder, you may benefit from meeting with a qualified mental health professional. They can evaluate your symptoms along with your medical and mental health history to ascertain whether you may have a diagnosable clinical mental health disorder. From there, they can help you learn strategies and techniques for managing your symptoms, which may include psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes.

Ilona Titova/EyeEm
There are multiple ways to treat anxiety

Psychotherapy is one of the most commonly recommended forms of treatment for a variety of anxiety-related conditions, from generalized anxiety disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to social anxiety disorder. In many cases, it can be effectively delivered either in person or virtually. Those who are looking for a more cost-effective treatment option may prefer online therapy, since it’s often more affordable. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can attend virtual sessions with a licensed therapist via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging for a cost that’s comparable to most insurance co-pays. A review of studies on the topic suggests that online therapy can be effective for treating anxiety in particular, stating that it was “as effective as face-to-face interventions” on average. See below for client reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

Takeaway

Regular intake of certain vitamins and nutrients may decrease symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety. You should consult your doctor or nutritionist before making significant changes to your diet. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition like an anxiety disorder, it’s generally recommended that you consult with a mental health professional for treatment.

Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started