We often have a habit of getting confused between anxiety and stress. Both might be a direct response to an external trigger, but while stress is mostly external, anxiety is often an internal response to the danger around us.
According to the World Health Organization, anxiety is marked by excessive fear and worry expressed via behavioral disturbances. It could be a response to an upcoming event, past trauma, or a sudden external trigger.
But what’s fascinating to know is that certain nutrients can also have a potential influence on our anxiety levels. This article will discuss the top nutrients contributing to one’s anxiety levels and how you can manage them more efficiently.
In this Article
- 1 Understanding Anxiety and the Impacts of Nutrients
- 2 What are the Top Nutrients that Affect Anxiety?
- 3 Foods that Reduce Anxiety
- 4 FAQs
- 5 Conclusion
Understanding Anxiety and the Impacts of Nutrients
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders that affects around 7.3% of the world population.
Described as an umbrella term, anxiety can be further broken down into different types, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder,
- Social anxiety,
However, one thing constant in all these cases of anxiety is the symptoms people deal with. Anxiety often inflicts signs of worry, tension, and nervousness in the individual. While medication is an effective route to diagnose and manage anxiety, in some cases, determining the nutritional deficits can also help manage the symptoms of anxiety.
Studies indicate that the lack or deficiencies of certain nutrients in the body could directly trigger anxiety responses in individuals.
What are the Top Nutrients that Affect Anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental health disorder; however, what you eat and the kind of nutrition entering your body can significantly influence your anxiety levels.
So, if you are noticing an elevated level of anxiety, even due to the smallest trigger, it could be a sign that your body isn’t getting adequate levels of certain nutrients.
Following are the top seven nutrients that influence your anxiety:
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an integral role when it comes to one’s mood and mental well-being. Some studies indicate that Vitamin D deficiency could be a primary trigger in the development of symptoms of anxiety and depression.
A study conducted in 2017 found that the participants who took Vitamin D supplements witnessed significant improvement in their anxiety symptoms. However, the study cohort was quite small, and further and large-scale studies need to be conducted to reach a better conclusion.
Besides Vitamin D3, even reduced levels of Vitamin K2 in the bloodstream are associated with elevated risks of anxiety. So, if you live somewhere with very little sunlight, you might have to discuss your symptoms with your doctor to get supplementation to manage those levels better.
2. Vitamin B Complex
B-complex consists of eight different nutrients, which work in synergy to maintain various physiological functions in our body.
Studies have found that individuals suffering from Vitamin B deficiency have an elevated risk of developing anxiety and depression.
Furthermore, studies claim that people who add Vitamin B enriched food, including Marmite, etc., have a better score when it comes to managing their anxiety symptoms. Since all the nutrients in the Vitamin B complex aren’t always available via dietary sources, your doctor might prescribe supplementation to combat the deficiency better.
Vitamin B1 and B2 are derived from animal sources; hence, vegan or vegetarian people might have to consider supplements to overcome the risks of deficiencies in the body.
Taking Vitamin B supplements won’t hinder its bioavailability or functions if you are already on anxiety medications. However, the supplements might interfere with a few other prescription medications, so ensure that you are discussing your options with your doctor.
The influence and need for magnesium in our body are quite diverse. It supports the normal physiological functions in the body and is also responsible for regulating one’s emotional well-being.
Several studies have found a direct relationship between magnesium and anxiety. If you are an individual who is at risk of developing anxiety, getting magnesium supplements can effectively help in managing the symptoms and helping individuals overcome their vulnerability to this disorder.
Furthermore, women who often experience anxiety symptoms during the premenstrual period also benefit from magnesium supplementation. Inadequate magnesium levels in the body are directly related to increasing the risks of anxiety in individuals.
If you have low zinc levels in the blood, it could worsen the symptoms of anxiety. Studies indicate that the lack of proper zinc levels in the body is associated with emotional instability, which could be a potential trigger behind the signs of anxiety.
Besides that, low zinc levels are also associated with concurrent oxidative stress, which further triggers anxiety symptoms in patients.
Hence, increasing your daily zinc intake, especially via dietary sources, can help you manage the symptoms better.
Unlike zinc, elevated copper levels in the blood are associated with signs of anxiety and depression in individuals.
Studies have found that elevated copper levels in the blood directly impair the neurotransmitter functions responsible for the secretion of dopamine in the body. Instead, elevated copper levels increase the levels of norepinephrine in the blood, which is one of the biggest triggers of anxiety.
Since copper is a stimulant, it triggers the brain and constantly keeps it in a fight or flight mode, eliciting symptoms of anxiety in the person.
Often low zinc and high copper levels happen together in the body, leading to symptoms of anxiety in an individual.
Evidently found in green and black tea, L-theanine is a type of amino acid. Having low levels of this amino acid in the body could be a trigger behind anxiety.
Studies even found that supplementing individuals with L-theanine had potentially rewarding results in reducing anxiety since this amino acid is a mild sedative with anti-anxiety properties.
Besides anxiety, the condition also reduces stress levels in the body. Side note, only take L-theanine supplements if your doctor prescribes them. These supplements can interfere with the functions of certain medications.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Not consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, is associated with elevated risks of anxiety in individuals.
Studies indicate that consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can effectively reduce the signs of anxiety and manage the symptoms a lot more efficiently.
Further studies need to be conducted to understand how omega-3 fatty acids influence the symptoms of anxiety and alleviate them.
Foods that Reduce Anxiety
When it comes to the prevention of anxiety disorder, food and your diet play a crucial role in the process. Not only do they support brain function, but they are also responsible for stabilizing one’s mood, which could be why you struggle with anxiety.
The following are the top foods that reduce anxiety:
Eating salmon supplements you with multiple nutrients at a time, including Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids at the same time.
Both of these nutrients are responsible for regulating brain health and optimizing the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin. Having these particular neurotransmitters instill feelings of calmness and relaxation, which further alleviate the anxiety symptoms.
Besides that, eating salmon also reduce inflammation and brain cell damage, which are common anxiety triggers.
The use of chamomile in reducing anxiety is not folklore. It genuinely helps reduce anxiety symptoms and enables individuals to have a better quality of life.
Studies have found that chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, both of which reduce nerve damage and reduce the risks of anxiety in individuals.
Similar to salmon, even the consumption of chamomile in tea form boosts the secretion of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, alleviating the symptoms.
Patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) benefit a lot from drinking chamomile tea. Besides anxiety, chamomile is also associated with better management of depressive symptoms in patients.
The active compound in turmeric, Curcumin, has promising benefits in boosting one’s brain health and reducing the risks of anxiety disorders.
If you are at risk of developing anxiety due to chronic inflammation and brain cell damage, consuming turmeric can alleviate those risks to a great extent.
Consuming turmeric also elevates the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to DHA, thereby reducing anxiety symptoms quite effectively. If your symptoms are too drastic, your doctor will most likely prescribe a curcumin supplement instead of asking you to consume turmeric to get adequate curcumin levels.
4. Dark Chocolate
You can never go wrong with dark chocolate, especially when it comes to managing the symptoms of anxiety.
Dark chocolate is enriched with flavonoids, which help alleviate oxidative stress in the body, which contributes to anxiety.
Besides that, these flavonoids in dark chocolate effectively improve brain function and improve blood flow to the brain, thereby reducing the risks of anxiety.
If you are constantly triggered and experiencing symptoms of anxiety and stress, popping a square or two of chocolate can better stabilize your mood and reduce the risks of anxiety.
If you thought yogurt was only good for your gut health, you are mistaken. Consuming yogurt is also associated with improving one’s mental well-being, and that includes managing your anxiety symptoms too.
Since yogurt is enriched with probiotics, they reduce inflammation in the body, thereby reducing the risks of anxiety and depression to a great extent. It boosts the levels of serotonin in the blood, alleviating anxiety symptoms.
Even studies indicate that consuming yogurt has beneficial impacts on women struggling with post-menopausal anxiety, stress, and depression.
6. Green Tea
We discussed the role of L-theanine in managing anxiety. This amino acid is abundantly found in green tea. Hence, when it is managing anxiety issues, it isn’t surprising that green tea plays a very significant role in the process.
Studies have confirmed that green tea helps improve brain health and reduce the risks of anxiety.
Furthermore, green tea also improves the levels of GABA in the brain, stabilizing mood and reducing the risks of brain cell damage, which often contributes to symptoms of anxiety and stress in individuals.
We have grown up hearing that eating almonds is good for our brain health, and it’s true. Almonds are enriched with Vitamin E and healthy fats and significantly improve brain function.
Studies also suggest that consuming almonds reduce stress and inflammation in the body, which further alleviates the symptoms of anxiety.
Besides that, almonds also have mood-stabilizing properties, which are beneficial in keeping one’s anxiety and sudden outbursts in check.
Much like green tea, even blueberries are enriched with flavonoids, which alleviate the symptoms of oxidative stress in the body.
Proper management of stress and inflammation regulates brain function, thereby reducing the risks of brain cell damage and anxiety in individuals.
Not just anxiety studies also indicate that consuming blueberries has proven benefits in reducing the risks of depression in people struggling with mental health disorders.
There need to be more studies to indicate the correlation and mode of action between blueberry consumption and anxiety. However, current studies report a potential benefit in including this fruit in your diet if you suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Does eating chia seeds relieve anxiety?
Chia seeds are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, all of which have promising benefits in reducing the risks of anxiety in certain individuals. However, don’t rely solely on chia seeds for anxiety management since it isn’t enough.
Does nutrition affect anxiety?
Deficiency or toxicity of certain nutrients can lead to emotional instability, impaired secretion or neurotransmitters, and even brain cell damage, all of which directly contribute to anxiety and depression. If you are not consuming the right balance of nutrients, be assured that the same will contribute to elevated risks of anxiety.
What vitamin deficiency is anxiety?
A deficiency of vitamins B, D, and K can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders in individuals. Hence, getting tested and taking supplements (per the doctor’s prescription) is crucial.
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, kindly remember that your diet can play a crucial role in its development. Hence, prioritize what you are eating and see a doctor to get a confirmation of what’s contributing to your recurring anxiety symptoms. Once you have a confirmed diagnosis and understand what’s wrong, it becomes easier to address the issue and get the anxiety treatment you need to fix the problem.