Nutrition and Supplements for Anxiety
We all have fears and worries but when they begin to dominate our life and our
behavior, and become the focal point in which everything revolves, that's
anxiety. Many factors can contribute; trauma, chemical sensitivity, caffeine,
heredity, drugs, alcohol, lifestyle choices....If you cannot change the
situation that is the focus of anxiety, try to determine a way of trying to
change your way of handling the problem. Relaxation of the mind and body and
stress reduction are key.
Anxiety is often vague and undirected, a sinking feeling that something terrible
is about to happen. Unlike concrete fears (of illness or losing a job, for
example), anxiety often stems from what used to be called borrowed trouble.
Anxious people imagine worst-case scenarios and spend lots of time dreading
things that may never happen. For persistent anxiety, seek professional
counseling. But the natural remedies can help tremendously.
Anxiety disorders are possibly the most common and frequently occurring
disorders of the mind/body. They include a group of conditions that share
extreme anxiety as the principal disturbance of mood or emotional tone. Anxiety,
which may be understood as the pathological counterpart of normal fear, is
manifest by disturbances of mood, as well as of thinking, behavior and
physiological activity. Included in this category are panic disorder (with or
without a history of agoraphobia), agoraphobia (with or without a history of
panic disorder), generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobia, social phobia,
obsessive-compulsive disorders, acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress
Anxiety disorders are ubiquitous across human cultures. The longitudinal course
of these disorders is characterized by relatively early ages of onset,
chronicity, relapsing or recurrent illness and periods of disability. Panic
disorder and agoraphobia are particularly associated with suicidal tendencies.
Add protein and carbohydrates to your diet: Incorporate protein into your diet.
Protein helps to keep sugar levels stable. You can find protein in nuts, yogurt,
beans, fish, chicken, tofu and lentils. Consider eating low glycemic
carbohydrates such as brown rice and yams.
Seek out foods that are high in Omega-3 (fish oil/flaxseed oil): This oil has
been shown in many studies, to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce
plaque buildup in your blood. By reducing your bad cholesterol, you are helping
your body to fight off stress and relieve anxiety, tension and even prevent
heart disease! Fish/Flaxseed that are high in Omega-3 are excellent ways to help
your blood stream. They are two of the greatest hormone regulators, as well.
Folic Acid: Folic Acid (required for energy production) is considered brain
food. The brain needs it to work properly. It helps to prevent anxiety and
fatigue. Folic acid works best when combined with vitamin C, vitamin B6 and
vitamin B12. Much research has indicated that a deficiency of folic acid may
include depression, insomnia, anorexia, forgetfulness, hyperirritability,
apathy, fatigue and anxiety. You can find Folic Acid in the following foods:
Whole grain breads -Fortified cereals -Dried peas- Dried beans -Leafy
vegetables- Fruit. Most multivitamin complexes contain folic acid.
GABA: GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid help reduce anxiety,
allows rational decision making, promotes restful sleep and enhances workout
recovery. It has also been shown to have similar effects as the benzodiazepine
drugs. You will also feel more relaxed and notice that you are sleeping better.
The recommended dose for GABA is 700-750 mg - 3 times daily - talk to a medical
professional about using GABA.
Inosistol: has been shown in studies to have a positive effect in the calming of
the symptoms of panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Taking up to 4
grams daily - 3 times-a-day has shown to be beneficial.
Magnesium: The supplement magnesium has been found to aid in the management of
anxiety symptoms. Taking 200-300 mg of magnesium 2 to 3 times daily has been
shown to help.
Selenium: Selenium, an important antioxidant, is a trace mineral found in soil
and food. It protects neurotransmitters. Deficiency in selenium has shown to
have a negative impact on mood. It also helps to reduce bad cholesterol and keep
the heart healthy. You can get much of your selenium from dietary sources such
as: Alfalfa, fennel seed, ginseng, butter, garlic, liver, Brazil nuts, shellfish
and other fishes. You can find it in sunflower seeds, yarrow, wheat germ and
Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 is also known as "thiamine." In many studies, B1 has
shown to have positive effects on the nervous system and mental well being.
Vitamin B1 is found in peas, soybeans, fortified breads, cereals, pasta, fish,
pork, whole grains and dried beans. Prolonged intake of large amounts of alcohol
depletes your body's supply of vitamin B1. Vitamin B3: (in the form niacinamide)
has been tested in lab animals and seems to work in animals in the way that
benzodiazepines such as Valium� have. *
Vitamin B6: Lack of Vitamin B6 has been known to cause anxiety and depression.
The formation of certain brain chemicals from amino acids requires this vitamin.
It affects the nervous system. The recommended Dietary Allowances for adults
(25+ years) is 2.0 for men and 1.6 for women. The best sources of vitamin B6 are
meats (particularly organ meats such as liver), whole grains and wheat germ.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is needed for energy, brain function and a healthy
nervous system. It helps to combat depression, stabilize PMS and helps to
protect against anemia and it may help fight cancer. The best food sources of
Vitamin B12 are liver, kidney, oily fish, beef, pork lamb, cheese, eggs and
Zinc: and essential mineral, has been found to have positive effects on the
nervous system as well as helping to produce a calming effect. Most
multivitamins contain zinc. Food sources for zinc are Oysters, meat, poultry,
nuts, beans and dairy products.
What You Should Avoid:
What you don't eat may be even more important than what you do eat. Avoid
alcohol, caffeine and sugar, because they tend to worsen anxiety. If you can't
avoid them, then at least cut down.
Avoid Caffeine: Caffeine is something many people in America and Europe are used
to bringing in their daily lives. Though many studies have shown that this
addictive stimulant can help produce symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and the like.
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, many sodas and even certain
medications. Always ask your doctor about a medication before using it. Also,
ask the doctor if there is an alternative medication if your medicine contains
Reduce Processed and Refined Foods:
Processed food can rob your food of nutrients and vitamins that your body needs
to fight off stress and promote good health. Try to buy whole foods, unprocessed
foods and try and stay away from "instant" foods, preservatives, artificial
flavors, saturated fat and MSG.
Reduce Sugar Intake:
Too much sugar can rob our body of essential nutrients. Yet don't be so fast as
to replace the sugar with Stevia the natural sweetener from the Stevia plant.
Artificial sweetener can also cause anxiety as well as other health concerns.
Reduce Alcohol Intake:
In small amounts, alcohol can be good for your heart but too much alcohol is not
a good thing for your body and too large of an intake increases your body's need
for extra vitamins. The body has a harder time using oxygen. As a result, you
can become more sensitive to stress - which in turn can cause anxiety reactions.
It can also cause depression.
The Effects of Alcohol on Anxiety:
How does alcohol contribute to Anxiety Disorders? Research has shown that
alcohol �n high doses has numerous health hazards. As well as many other things
�t can: increase your need for extra vitamins due to disturbed eating patterns
interfere with the body's ability to use oxygen, to process food & absorb
vitamins. As a Result: High alcohol consumption makes you more sensitive to
Chronic abuse of alcohol �s often associated with depression-like symptoms,
which can reduce the ability to solve problems, which �n turn can lead to
anxiety. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to poor work performance,
relationship difficulties & financial difficulties. This can produce stressors
that worsen anxiety.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac