6 Scientifically Proven Supplements to Relieve Anxiety; Use Kava with Caution

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Anxiety symptoms have become an everyday struggle for many. According to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 6.8 million adults are grappling with anxiety. While traditional treatments like therapy and medications are still widely used, there’s a growing number of folks looking for more natural and healthier ways to ease their worries. But with a sea of supplements out there, how can you tell which ones are truly backed by science and are both safe and effective?

This article will delve into 6 scientifically-backed supplements proven to help with anxiety, as well as one natural ingredient that carries significant risks. We’ll give you the nitty-gritty on the research, effects, and recommendations to consider when shopping for these products. But before diving in, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before trying out any supplements.

MegaFood Vitamin D3

MegaFood Vitamin D3 is a supplement designed for easing anxiety symptoms. This unique blend combines Vitamin D with Vitamin K, two nutrients known to maintain healthy Vitamin K levels and further promote heart and bone health.

Each capsule delivers a solid 5,000 IU of both Vitamin D and Vitamin K, covering 100% of the daily recommended intake. This makes it a great pick for folks running a bit low on Vitamin D. However, it’s worth noting that for those seriously deficient in Vitamin D, higher doses might indeed be necessary. But for simply keeping Vitamin D at healthy levels, a daily dose of 1,000 to 2,000 IU should suffice.

One thing to keep in mind: while Vitamin D doesn’t likely interact with anti-anxiety medications, it might interfere with other prescription drugs. So, it’s a smart move to consult with a doctor before diving in.


*Available in 3 pack sizes: 30, 60, and 90 tablets.
Recurring shipments can be set up on the official website.
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Potential Role of Vitamin D in Anxiety

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays a pivotal role in mood regulation and the health of our nerves and brain. Studies have indicated that those with compromised mental health, including those with anxiety, often have insufficient or deficient levels of Vitamin D.

  • A 2017 study found that supplementing Vitamin D in women with type 2 diabetes not only improved their depression symptoms but also alleviated their anxiety symptoms. [1]
  • Other research suggests that for those with anxiety disorders, including individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), consuming higher doses of Vitamin D can effectively reduce the severity of anxiety symptoms. A 2020 study involving 106 patients with depression found that after 6 months of taking 1600 IU of Vitamin D daily, there was a significant improvement in anxiety symptoms compared to the control group. [2] Trusted Website NCBI, US National Center for Biotechnology Information, is a trusted source of biotechnology and biomedicine information. Open the link →

However, the research on the relationship between anxiety and Vitamin D isn’t always consistent.

The primary source of Vitamin D is exposure to sunlight on the skin. People can boost their intake by spending more time outdoors, eating foods rich in Vitamin D (like oily fish such as salmon and mackerel), or taking Vitamin D supplements. Yet, for vegetarians or vegans, getting enough Vitamin D from their diet might be more challenging, as very few plant-based foods contain Vitamin D.

Pure Encapsulations Glycinate Magnesium

Pure Encapsulations Glycinate Magnesium is a highly absorbable form of magnesium, making it an excellent choice for those with anxiety. This supplement has been certified by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), an independent non-profit that sets strict standards for the identity, quality, and purity of dietary supplements. In addition to third-party lab testing, Pure Encapsulations’ Glycinate Magnesium also boasts gluten-free and non-GMO certifications. Each capsule contains 120 mg of magnesium.

It’s worth noting that while magnesium intake is generally considered safe, excessive consumption can lead to some adverse reactions, like diarrhea.


*Available in 3 pack sizes: 90, 180, and 360 tablets.

Potential Role of Magnesium in Anxiety

The potential benefits of magnesium for mental health, particularly in relation to anxiety, are quite noteworthy. Several studies have suggested that magnesium may play a significant role in the treatment of anxiety.

  • A systematic review from 2017 covered 18 studies on the relationship between magnesium and anxiety. While the quality of these studies leaves room for improvement, the majority of initial findings indicate that taking magnesium supplements might be beneficial for those with anxiety. [3] Trusted Website NCBI, US National Center for Biotechnology Information, is a trusted source of biotechnology and biomedicine information. Open the link →
  • These findings are further supported by another study involving 112 patients with depression, which discovered that a daily intake of 248mg of magnesium supplements significantly improved symptoms of both anxiety and depression in the participants. [4] Trusted Website NCBI, US National Center for Biotechnology Information, is a trusted source of biotechnology and biomedicine information. Open the link →
  • A 2016 study found that those with anxiety related to premenstrual syndrome seemed to benefit from magnesium intake. This further underscores the potential value of magnesium in anxiety treatment. [5] Trusted Website NCBI, US National Center for Biotechnology Information, is a trusted source of biotechnology and biomedicine information. Open the link →

However, for those looking to up their magnesium intake, supplements aren’t the only option. Foods such as whole grains, spinach, quinoa, and dark chocolate are all good sources of magnesium.

NOW Foods Omega-3 Fish Oil

NOW Supplements’ Omega-3 Fish Oil is a great value-for-money product. Each capsule contains 1,000mg of fish oil concentrate, of which 360 mg is EPA and 240 mg is DHA. While its EPA and DHA content might be slightly lower compared to some other brands, it fully meets daily requirements. The product is packaged in the U.S. The recommended dosage is two capsules, twice daily, taken with meals.

It’s important to note that Omega-3 fatty acids might interact with blood thinning medications.


*Available in 5 pack sizes: 30, 100, 180, 200, and 500 capsules.

Potential Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Anxiety

Omega-3 fatty acids, predominantly found in foods like fish and flaxseed, play a crucial role in brain health.

However, our bodies can’t produce these fats on their own, so we have to get them from our diet. As research has evolved, there’s mounting evidence suggesting that Omega-3 might be beneficial for those with anxiety.

  • A systematic review and meta-analysis in 2018, covering 19 clinical trials, indicated that taking Omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil, might be helpful for those with anxiety. This review also noted that significant anti-anxiety effects were reported only in studies where participants consumed at least 2,000mg of Omega-3 daily. [6]
  • Another review suggested that a deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acid intake could elevate the risk of anxiety and depression. Moreover, supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids might assist in preventing or treating these conditions. [7]

However, taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements isn’t without risks. They can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners. So, if you have health issues or are on prescription medications, it’s wise to consult with a doctor before adding Omega-3 supplements to your regimen.

Doctor’s Best L-Theanine

Doctor’s Best L-Theanine is a supplement specifically designed for those looking for L-Theanine. Each bottle contains 90 capsules, with each capsule delivering 150 mg of L-Theanine, an amount recommended for daily consumption. L-Theanine is the same compound found in green tea. According to Doctor’s Best, this supplement can help promote relaxation, focus, and enhance memory. It’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans and is free from GMOs, gluten, and soy.

It’s worth noting that L-Theanine might interact with certain drugs, such as Midazolam. It’s also not recommended to be taken in conjunction with other sedatives. Furthermore, as per the manufacturer’s indication, this product should not be consumed by pregnant or nursing women.


Potential Role of L-Theanine in Anxiety

L-Theanine is an amino acid primarily found in green and black tea. Studies suggest that L-Theanine has calming and anti-anxiety properties.

  • In a 2016 double-blind study, researchers found that participants who consumed a beverage containing 200mg of L-Theanine showed a significant reduction in stress response and cortisol levels after completing a challenging task, compared to those who consumed a placebo. [8]
  • A 2020 review analyzed 9 independent studies and found that daily intake of 200-400mg of L-Theanine significantly reduced stress and anxiety in individuals facing stressful situations. [9] Trusted Website PubMed is a data base from US National Institutes of Health. It’s a trusted source of health and medical information. Open the link →
  • The benefits of L-Theanine aren’t just limited to general anxiety relief. Other research has shown that L-Theanine also has positive effects on individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and major depressive disorder, demonstrating its potential in alleviating anxiety symptoms across a range of mental health conditions. [10] Trusted Website PubMed is a data base from US National Institutes of Health. It’s a trusted source of health and medical information. Open the link →

Considering dosage and safety, when using L-Theanine as a supplement, it’s recommended to start with the lowest effective dose, typically 200mg, and the total daily intake shouldn’t exceed 400mg.

Nature’s Way Chamomile

Chamomile is well-known for its notable calming properties. Research indicates that chamomile has both anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. Nature’s Way Chamomile tablets are gluten-free and have passed TRU-ID certification, meaning both their ingredients and final product have undergone DNA testing to ensure authenticity without adulteration. Every two tablets of Nature’s Way Chamomile contain 440mg of chamomile flower and 250mg of chamomile extract. It’s recommended to take 3 servings daily, two tablets each time, with food.

It’s important to note that chamomile might interact with medications used to treat anxiety. Pregnant women, or those allergic to plants like chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies in the Asteraceae family, should exercise caution when using chamomile products.


Potential Role of Chamomile in Anxiety

Chamomile, a flower that closely resembles daisies, is widely recognized for its unique calming properties. While it’s most commonly consumed as a tea, chamomile supplements have also garnered attention in recent years for their potential benefits in alleviating anxiety. Research suggests that chamomile has both anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects.

  • A study involving 93 individuals with moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) found that participants who consumed 1,500mg of medicinal-grade chamomile extract daily for 26 weeks showed significant improvements in their anxiety symptoms, outperforming those in the placebo group. [11] Trusted Website PubMed is a data base from US National Institutes of Health. It’s a trusted source of health and medical information. Open the link →
  • In another study from 2016, participants who took 1,500mg of chamomile extract daily for 8 weeks experienced a significant reduction in GAD symptoms. [12] Trusted Website ScienceDirect.com is a trusted database of scientific and medical publications. Open the link →

Life Extension B-Complex

Life Extension B-Complex vitamin contains all eight B vitamins, with the added bonus of inositol. Compared to similar products, this product boasts a higher concentration of B vitamins. It’s recommended to take 2 tablets daily with food.

Life Extension’s B-Complex uses a formulation called “BioActive,” which is a combination of B vitamins that are more bioactive and can be more effectively absorbed and utilized by the body. The product is suitable for vegetarians, gluten-free, non-GMO, and is designed to boost energy, promote a healthy metabolism, and support brain, cell, and organ health.


Potential Role of B Vitamins in Anxiety

Research suggests that B vitamins have a significant connection to mood disorders, especially anxiety and depression.

  • A 2017 study indicated that individuals with lower levels of vitamin B12 are more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression or anxiety. This provides a clue to the potential link between B vitamins and mental health. [13]
  • A study in 2018 further substantiated this observation. The research found that people who regularly consumed foods rich in B vitamins, such as yeast-based foods like Marmite and Vegemite, scored better in terms of anxiety and stress than those who didn’t consume these foods as frequently. Interestingly, the effects were more pronounced when these foods were fortified with vitamin B12. [14] Trusted Website ScienceDirect.com is a trusted database of scientific and medical publications. Open the link →

To ensure the body gets all the essential B vitamins, many people opt for B-complex supplements. However, obtaining vitamins from food is always the preferred method. That said, some B vitamins, like B12 and B2, are primarily found in animal-based foods, which means vegetarians or vegans may need to find alternative means to get these crucial nutrients.

Use with Caution: The Benefits and Risks of Kava

Let’s dive into a health supplement ingredient you should approach with caution: Kava. The following information is sourced from an article by the Cleveland Clinic.[15]

Kava, extracted from the shrub Piper methysticum, has been used in religious ceremonies in the South Pacific for centuries. The roots of this plant can be turned into a calming beverage or dried powder, aiding in stress and anxiety relief.

Often dubbed “Nature’s Valium,” the primary ingredient in Kava, “kavalactones,” has been shown to have mild sedative effects on the central nervous system, leading to profound relaxation. It alters the way signals are transmitted in the brain, helping alleviate anxiety and promote sleep. Kava’s mechanism is similar to NDRIs, a type of antidepressant medication, impacting neurotransmitters related to mood regulation like norepinephrine and dopamine.

In the US, Kava is legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s without risks. In countries like the UK, Australia, and Canada, Kava faces stricter regulatory oversight, primarily due to its potential hazards:

  • Drug Interactions: When mixed with alcohol, anti-anxiety medications, or Parkinson’s disease drugs, Kava might lead to adverse reactions.
  • Liver Risks: Certain components in Kava can be toxic to the liver, resulting in potential long-term damage.
  • Other Side Effects: These can include drowsiness, headaches, indigestion, and loss of appetite. However, the WHO notes that these symptoms may disappear after discontinuing use.

Like other unregulated herbal supplements, the exact ingredients and origins of Kava are often unknown. Especially without FDA oversight, consumers should be extra cautious. It’s worth noting that there are over 200 varieties of Kava, and some of these might carry higher risks.

15 references

[1]. Sue Penckofer, et al. Vitamin D Supplementation Improves Mood in Women with Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2017.

[2]. Cuizhen Zhu, et al. Vitamin D supplementation improves anxiety but not depression symptoms in patients with vitamin D deficiency. Brain Behav. 2020.

[3]. Neil Bernard Boyle, et al. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017.

[4]. Emily K. Tarleton, et al. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLoS One. 2017.

[5]. Laura Blancquaert, et al. Predicting and Testing Bioavailability of Magnesium Supplements. Nutrients. 2019.

[6]. Kuan-Pin Su, et al. Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms. JAMA Netw Open. 2018.

[7]. Thomas Larrieu and Sophie Layé. Food for Mood: Relevance of Nutritional Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Depression and Anxiety. Front. Physiol. 2018.

[8]. David J. White, et al. Anti-Stress, Behavioural and Magnetoencephalography Effects of an l-Theanine-Based Nutrient Drink: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Nutrients 2016.

[9]. Jackson L Williams, et al. The Effects of Green Tea Amino Acid L-Theanine Consumption on the Ability to Manage Stress and Anxiety Levels: a Systematic Review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2020.

[10]. Shinsuke Hidese, et al. Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017.

[11]. Jun J Mao, et al. Long-term chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2016.

[12]. John R Keefe, et al. Short-term open-label chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) therapy of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2016.

[13]. Aleksandar A. Todorov, et al. Correlation between Depression and Anxiety and the Level of Vitamin B12 in Patients with Depression and Anxiety and Healthy Controls. Journal of Biomedical and Clinical Research. 2017.

[14]. Kathleen Mikkelsen, et al. Yeast based spreads improve anxiety and stress. Journal of Functional Foods. 2018.

[15]. When It Comes to Kava, ‘Natural’ Doesn’t Mean Safe. Clevelandclinic.org. 2023.

Angela Liu

Love reading, love running, love binge-watching shows, love vegetarian food.

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