Did you know that in some cases, anxiety symptoms can be reduced or even eliminated with the right vitamin and mineral supplementation? I recently wrote about treating anxiety without prescriptions, and I want to dig in a little further today about the types of supplements that can help those with anxiety.
Treating Anxiety Symptoms With Supplements
In fact, it might be wise to consider trying supplements, or even getting vitamin levels tested, before choosing to go the prescription medication route for anxiety. Most prescription medications have significant side effects, and dietary interventions and supplementation can be a safer choice.
Here’s a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized 3-month study of 60 people which indicated that B vitamin supplementation could be effective with anxiety symptoms. While it was focused on workplace stress and burnout, there’s reason to believe the results could carry into other areas.
The most common supplements for anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, insomnia, and related issues are the B vitamins, closely followed by magnesium.
The Exact Form Of Vitamin Is Important
However, you’re probably not going to get good results supplementing for anxiety with vitamins you buy at the local drug store. Most grocery and drug store vitamins are made with cheap, synthetic, and less effective forms of the B vitamins needed. For a person with the MTHFR genetic mutations, for example, taking a store vitamin with folic acid instead of methylfolate actually may do more harm than good. Both are types of vitamin B9 (folate), but only one is bioavailable to people with that particular gene mutation.
The same is true of the mineral magnesium. The magnesium oxide commonly available in most on-the-shelf supplements has very low absorption. It’s been estimated that only 4% of what is taken is absorbed, and this is one of the reasons many doctors describe vitamin and mineral supplementation is “creating expensive urine”. However, there are many forms of magnesium available, and finding the correct form for your health issues can make a huge difference. An example is magnesium malate, an excellent form for those having gall bladder issues. The malic acid in the formulation helps keep the gallbladder from accumulating sludge that may form more gallstones.
Other supplements that have provided good results for some people experiencing anxiety include lithium orotate (it works well in conjunction with B vitamins, because it helps with their absorbtion) and L-theanine. The herb holy basil is also frequently mentioned as helpful.
This is why we recommend you consult with a holistic doctor who takes a functional medicine approach, so that your personal issues are addressed with the right recommendations. It’s not a pitch to sell you vitamins – many times we have to send patients to Amazon or other online sources to get the form of supplement that’s right for their particular case.
A Closer Look At Vitamin B12
There are eight different types of B vitamins, but for today, let’s look at just one closely. Vitamin B12 deficiency is always a suspect in the case of anxiety symptoms, as an estimate of between a quarter to almost 40% of the population may be deficient, particularly among the elderly. However, most doctors only test B12 levels when pernicious anemia is suspected. Here are some of the symptoms which may be found in those who are B12 deficient:
- Brain fog
- Memory issues
- Fatigue/low energy
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain
- Sexual problems/infertility
- Digestive issues/leaky gut
B12 is available in 4 forms. Generally, a sublingual (under the tongue) type of B12 is best absorbed. Two types are an active form, bioavailable without further conversion in the body.
- Cyanocobalamin (synthetic, avoid)
- Methylcobalamin (active form, try first with MTHFR, may increase anxiety in a small number of cases)
- Adenosylcobalamin (active form, may help with fatigue, low energy)
- Hydroxycobalamin (try if no result with previous two)
It’s not possible to diagnose your individual issue and suggest corrective actions in a brief article, but if you’re suffering from anxiety symptoms or other challenges, please consider booking an appointment with our office if you’re in Hong Kong. That will allow us to choose a strategy and recommend supplements appropriate just for you, if that’s the best option.