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Anxious and On-Edge? Doctors Share the Best Supplements to Tame Stress Naturally

MD says *this* supplement works like meditation to calm the mind

You know the feeling: You start to worry, your body tenses up, you get restless. Whether you have chronic anxiety or experience stress flare-ups on hectic days or during the holidays, you don’t have to let tension sap your joy. And that doesn’t mean you need to turn to prescription medications (which can have unwanted side effects) either. Here, doctors reveal the best vitamin for anxiety to tame stress naturally. Plus they weigh in on more natural supplements that help you keep your cool no matter what life throws at you.

What is anxiety?

More than 30% of adults in the US will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. Anxiety is a feeling of panic, fear or uneasiness. Symptoms may include sweating, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath. These are typical physical reactions to a stressful situation. But if you feel like you’re on edge all the time, an anxiety disorder could be the culprit.

Anxiety disorders are more prevalent in women than men, and anxiety symptoms may get more intense as we age. In a study of women between 40 and 60 years old, researchers found that women over 50 were more likely to report moderate or severe anxiety symptoms than their 40-something counterparts.

While medication for anxiety disorders can help, for some people, they can also bring unpleasant side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and constipation. The good news: If your anxiety is less intense and you’re interested in giving natural remedies a try first, there is a wealth of vitamins and supplements that can help. In fact, experts have pinpointed the best vitamin for anxiety, plus six more vitamins, minerals and supplements that tame tension.

A blonde woman in a striped shirt and jeans sitting on a couch while dealing with anxiety

How a vitamin can help with anxiety

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options. But for occasional bouts of stress and worry, some of the best natural remedies for anxiety can be found right in the vitamin aisle at your supermarket.

“Regarding anxiety, there are three types of supplements: those that can help correct deficiencies, those that support the body’s physiology, and supplements that assist the nervous system to calm and rebalance,” says Jacques Jospitre, MD, board-certified psychiatrist and co-founder of SohoMD. “Time and time again, we have seen patients get the right vitamins to help them feel more balanced and less stressed.” (Interested in more natural ways to beat stress? Click through to learn how vagus nerve exercises erase chronic anxiety.)

The best vitamin for anxiety: Magnesium

It turns out the best vitamin for anxiety isn’t actually a vitamin at all but a mineral. And the experts we spoke with were unanimous: It’s hard to beat magnesium for anxiety. Magnesium plays a key role in the body’s stress response. It can help manage anxiety by regulating the feel-good hormone serotonin and improving brain function.

“Magnesium, a natural calming agent, acts as a key in unlocking the body’s ability to manage stress and anxiety, fostering a sense of tranquility and mental clarity,” explains Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LPC, BCN, an integrative mental health expert. “Beyond its calming effects, magnesium plays a crucial role in supporting neurotransmitter functions, essential for maintaining a balanced and healthy mental state.”

For best results, Dr. Capanna-Hodge recommends a type of magnesium known as magnesium L-threonate. This highly bioavailable form of magnesium can enhance cognitive function, helping you to feel less overwhelmed. One to try: Double Woods Supplements Magtein Magnesium L-Threonate (Buy from Amazon, $29.95).

Caplets of magnesium, the best vitamin for anxiety, shaped to form the letters MG on a pink backround

More supplements that ease anxiety

While magnesium may be the best vitamin for anxiety, there are other supplements that — when paired with a balanced diet — can work wonders at helping you feel at ease. “It is well known that higher nutrient intake levels in general are associated with better mental health,” Dr. Jospitre says. Here, the best supplements to tame anxiety naturally.

1. Vitamin D3

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, “vitamin D is important for overall brain health, including emotional well-being,” says Menka Gupta, MD, a certified functional medicine practitioner and founder of Nutranourish. The vitamin plays a role in the synthesis of serotonin, she adds. And its anti-inflammatory properties can help to alleviate chronic inflammation that has been linked to anxiety.

There’s also a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and health issues like depression and anxiety. In a study of 290 people who were receiving inpatient or hospital care for mental health, researchers reporting in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that 272 of them — more than 93%! — had low levels of vitamin D. And a study in Brain and Behavior of people with depression and anxiety found that supplementing with 1,600 IU of vitamin D per day significantly improved anxiety symptoms.

While your body naturally makes vitamin D when sunlight strikes your skin, it’s not always possible to soak up enough sun (about 15 minutes midday sans sunscreen), especially on cloudy days or during winter. That’s where a vitamin D supplement can help. One to try: NatureWise Vitamin D3 (Buy from Amazon, $14.49). (Click through for more of the best vitamin D supplements for women over 50.)

2. Vitamin C

Research suggests that oxidative stress, an imbalance between harmful free radicals and helpful antioxidants, may trigger mental health disorders such as anxiety. That’s why vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is another one of the best vitamins for anxiety. Researchers found that folks who took 500 mg of vitamin C daily reported lower anxiety levels than those who took a placebo.

Vitamin C also supports adrenal function, which helps regulate production of the stress hormone cortisol, says Tara Scott, MD, FACOG, FAAFM, NCMP, medical director at Forum Health in Akron. “It is also involved in the production of serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter,” Dr. Scott adds. One to try: Nature Made Vitamin C (Buy from Amazon, $22.27).

3. Vitamins B6 and B12

These two B vitamins are crucial for making mood-boosting brain chemicals. “B vitamins — especially B6 and B12 — play a role in neurotransmitter synthesis, including serotonin and dopamine, key mood regulators,” Dr. Gupta says.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause distressing neurological symptoms, including anxiety and mood swings. And research in the Annals of Medicine and Surgery suggests that vitamin B6 can significantly reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Since B vitamins work best together, look for a B-complex vitamin that contains B12, B6, niacin and folate. One to try: Life Extension BioActive Complete B-Complex (Buy from Amazon, $9).

4. L-theanine

If you haven’t quite mastered the practice of meditation to quash anxiety, this amino acid is the next best thing. “Found naturally in green tea, L-theanine helps promote the alpha wave state — a calming state in the brain that is often achieved with meditation,” Dr. Jospitre says. “A higher level of calm brings better sleep, and better sleep is associated with less anxiety and even enhanced focus and attention.”

Research suggests 400 mg of L-theanine daily is the ideal amount to reap the benefits. One to try: Horbaach L-Theanine (Buy from Amazon, $21.96).

A cup of green tea next to a teapot and bowl of loose green tea leaves
L-theanine is found naturally in green teaGetty

5. Probiotics

You likely know of probiotics as the “good bacteria” that help to keep your gut balanced and digestive system running smoothly. And it turns out that can have a positive impact on your mental well-being, too. “There is a strong connection between digestion and the brain, referred to as ‘the gut-brain axis,’” Dr. Jospitre says.

In particular, he explains that probiotics can help with the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect. And a review of studies in BMC Psychiatry suggests probiotics can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. One to try: Physician’s Choice 60 Billion Probiotic (Buy from Amazon, $21.97). (Tip: You can also get probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt. Click through to learn how to make probiotic-rich yogurt at home.)

6. Ashwagandha

Also known as Indian ginseng, this evergreen shrub is used in Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to help the body adapt to stress. “Ashwagandha stands out in the realm of natural stress relief,” Dr. Capanna-Hodge says. “This powerful adaptogen is celebrated for its capacity to calm the nervous system and reduce the body’s production of stress hormones, thereby alleviating anxiety and stress-related symptoms.” According to a review of research, ashwagandha significantly reduced stress and anxiety levels when compared to a placebo. (Click through for more supplements that reduce the stress hormone cortisol.)

Ashwagandha can also help to combat the catch-22 of anxiety and sleep: Anxiety can disrupt sleep, but sleep deprivation can make anxiety worse. Ashwagandha contains compounds called withanolides that can help to fight insomnia and keep your inner body clock on track. To maximize the anxiety-relieving benefits, aim for 500 mg per day. One to try: Best Naturals Ashwagandha (Buy from Amazon, $9.99).

Ashwagandha root next to plant leaves, one of the best vitamins for anxiety

For more ways to ease stress naturally, click through:

This Ancient Herb Can Ease Anxiety, Improve Sleep, Boost Weight Loss and More

Revolutionary ‘Tapping’ Technique Dials Down Anxiety By 67% in 10 Minutes, Says Study — MDs Weigh In on Whys and Hows

MDs: Anxiety Is a Key Symptom of Long COVID — The Natural Remedy That Helps 84% of People Feel Better

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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