Living with anxiety can be immobilizing. It’s difficult to navigate your day if you don’t know when or where your next panic attack may occur. Even though anxiety is often seen as a mental issue, one forgets that neurotransmitters and steroid hormones largely influence our mental state. Even though it is important to look at changing our stress patterns in life, biochemical support can provide the foundation to make such changes. Here are the 5 essential nutrients we recommend you try to relieve anxiety and that boost your health.
Magnesium is mineral of many actions it is used by almost every organ and system of the body. It nourishes and calms the nervous system allowing for smooth processes. This is vital for sleep and to prevent as well as relieve anxiety, fear, nervousness, restlessness and irritability. (1) Magnesium is essential for good heart health, strengthening of the arteries and balanced blood pressure. It helps to balance reproductive hormones and therefore reduce PMS. It is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions, including the formation of bone and protein synthesis. It helps to balance the blood glucose levels by playing a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, energy production and insulin sensitivity.
Magnesium is found mostly in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, kale, rocket and bak choi. Magnesium is also found in fish, seafood, broccoli, bananas, seeds, nuts, beans, buckwheat, oats, quinoa and millet. The best supplemental form is chelated magnesium in a topical spray or colloidal drops. (2) Epsom salt baths are a fantastic way of absorbing a large magnesium boost.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for serotonin and melatonin production as well as balancing our steroid hormone system, all of which play a vital role in preventing and relieving anxiety. Plus vitamin D is also important for immunity, bone, reproductive and heart health, and it’s essential for protection against cancer.
Vitamin D is a hormone created from your skins direct contact with sunlight (sunblock free). This by no means you need to lye in the sun for five hours a day to prevent anxiety, 20 minutes each day will allow your vitamin D levels to increase at a healthy rate. On those cloudy days the ultraviolet rays that you need – UVB – still travel through cloud cover.
The body can absorb small amounts of vitamin D3 from certain fatty foods like eggs, fatty fish such as tuna and mackerel, and supplements such as cod liver oil.
Recent research on vitamin D indicates that many people are deficient in this key vitamin, whether they live in a sunny country or not. (3) Spending our days in the office, in the house and using constant sunblock has created a rapid reduction in global vitamin D levels. To boost your levels one can take transdermal vitamin D3 patches or vitamin D3 oil.
3. Vitamin B’s
Vitamin B’s are essential for DNA methylation (detoxification). (4) Even though each vitamin B has a specific role in the body these vital nutrients work best as a team.
Inositol – has been found to support panic disorder, OCD and depression.
Vitamin B1 – is important for blood sugar control as it metabolizes carbohydrates and creates energy production. A common cause of panic attacks and anxiety is low glucose levels. It is crucial for a health nervous system, optimizing brain function and reducing depression. Found in egg yolk, nuts and beetroots.
Vitamin B3 – is used in the conversion of food to energy. It also promotes functioning of the nervous system and has a role in the production of serotonin, your happy hormone and is involved in many enzymatic processes. Foods high in B3 are tuna, rice bran and mushrooms. (5)
Vitamin B5 – has an important role in the production if adrenal hormones and therefore supports our ability to cope with stress and relieve anxiety. It is also needed for communication within the nervous system. B5 is also essential to gain energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins as well as make cholesterol for steroid hormones. All of which is essential to reduce anxiety. It’s commonly found in mushrooms, rice bran and cauliflower.
Vitamin B6 – supports the immune system and today we know the immune inflammatory response plays a major role in depression and anxiety. B6 also helps break down carbohydrates and fats to produce energy, thus stabilizing the blood glucose levels. It is vital for the female reproductive system, helping increase progesterone, preventing PMS and reducing hormonal anxiety. And it is important for normal nerve function. Common foods include bananas, chickpeas and spinach.
Vitamin B12 – helps cells metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It makes DNA and is essential for healthy nerve function, brain health and cardiovascular health. Mostly found in dark oily fish, seafood and egg yolk. (6)
Folic Acid – is involved in the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin needed to regulate appetite, mood and sleep. It plays a role in energy production from protein synthesis. Commonly found in dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli and beetroot.
If you choose to supplement make sure you only buy whole-food bio available vitamin B’s, not the normal synthetic version. If it isn’t from a natural source your body doesn’t recognize.
Our brain needs lots of omega-3 to function at optimum levels and relieve anxiety. It supports healthy dopamine production, increases neuronal growth, and increases cerebral circulation. It is also essential for heart health and as an anti-inflammatory agent in the immune system, which explains why omega-3s (EPA and DHA) are effective in alleviating depression.
Dark fish such as tuna, sardines and mackerel are the best source. When it comes to supplementation make sure you get high quality capsules or oil that have taken great care to prevent rancidity, such as Nordic Naturals. (7)
L-theanine, is an amino acid commonly found in green tea extract. It is the precursor to the neurotransmitter GABA, which can reduce physiological responses to stress, and calm the nervous system and relieve anxiety. It also has properties that offer protection against environmental neurotoxins. Viridian make a good quality l’theanine supplement. (8)