Supplements for anxiety address the underlying causes of anxiety and do so in an effective, non-addictive fashion.
Unlike prescription meds for anxiety, anxiety supplements are virtually free of side effects. In addition, many provide secondary benefits for the heart, bones, brain, and more.
There are scores of different supplements on the market today claiming to deliver anxiety relief. After many long hours of research, we determined that the following are the best supplements for anxiety of 2020.
1. Nature Made Super B-Complex
Nature Made is a mainstay of the supplement industry. For decades they have produced some of the most effective dietary supplements found anywhere. Their Super B-Complex leverages the power of B vitamins to neutralize feelings of anxiety.
What we like: There is a ton of research verifying the efficacy of B vitamins in relieving anxiety and enhancing mood. Nature Made is a rock-solid producer of high-quality supplements. Put the two together, and you have our #1 choice.
Flaws: The taste is not going to win over a lot of people.
2. NOW Supplements L-Theanine
NOW Supplements L-Theanine elevates serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, providing non-drowsy relaxation while sharpening the mind. Here they pair it with the B vitamin inositol to ramp up the relaxation.
What we like: L-theanine is an essential amino acid that is well-known for generating those relaxing feelings people get from green tea. Here you get a double shot of L-theanine along with inositol in a vegan capsule that is easy to swallow.
Flaws: Not the cheapest supplements on the market.
3. Solgar Magnesium Citrate
Solgar Magnesium Citrate delivers 420mg of magnesium citrate in each capsule to calm the mind and relax the body. Solgar has been producing high-quality supplements for more than 70 years and has an unassailable record.
What we like: Magnesium is an effective muscle relaxant that has similar effects on the nervous system. After a couple of weeks of Solgar Magnesium Citrate use, you should begin to feel much calmer both mentally and physically.
Flaws: These pills may be too large for those with difficulty swallowing.
4. Gaia Herbs Ashwagandha Root
Ashwagandha has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for more than a thousand years. It is well-known and appreciated for its ability to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote restful sleep. Gaia Herbs Ashwagandha is certified organic and vegan.
What we like: The adaptogenic herb ashwagandha has been used for centuries to restore emotional balance and calm frayed nerves. Gaia Ashwagandha is certified organic, free of allergens, and certified vegan.
Flaws: Ashwagandha may interact with medications intended to regulate immune system response.
5. Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets
A lack of melatonin can cause major disruptions to your sleep cycle. That, in turn, can cause you to feel anxious. Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets get right to work filling the melatonin gap and restoring your natural circadian rhythms.
What we like: Natrol Melatonin is a safe and effective relaxant that will have you sleeping better in no time. These capsules are quickly absorbed by the body creating the closest thing you will get to immediate relief in an anxiety supplement.
Flaws: Contains the sweetener xylitol. Must be kept in a cool dry place.
6. Carlyle Valerian Root Capsules
Valerian root has been shown to mimic the effects of melatonin in the brain. This means it can help you get to sleep easier and make you feel more at ease during your waking hours. Carlyle Valerian Root Capsules are pure, potent, and free of food allergens.
What we like: Carlyle Valerian root is potent and pure and free of objectionable ingredients. Take it on a regular basis and you should start sleeping and feeling better.
Flaws: The odor is pretty strong and not particularly pleasant.
7. Sports Research Omega-3 Wild Alaskan Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to effective nervous system function. Sports Research Fish Oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Taking it can help reduce anxious feelings caused by compromised neural pathways.
What we like: Omega-3 Fish Oil produces multiple benefits for the nervous system, brain, bones, and more. We appreciate that SR’s Fish Oil is sustainably sourced and produced, that it is virtually free of toxins and that it is remarkably affordable.
Flaws: Contradictory label information suggests it may not be 100% Alaskan fish oil.
8. Garden of Life Probiotics
Prescription drugs seek to overwhelm anxiety symptoms. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and the like address obvious underlying causes. Probiotics, like these from Garden of Life, address digestive deficiencies that may lead to disruptions in the nervous system.
What we like: Probiotic supplements represent a long-range approach to reducing anxiety. GoL Probiotics gradually restore efficiency to your digestive tract, which leads to more effective digestion, better overall health, and reduced susceptibility to stress.
Flaws: Makes a lot of claims that are virtually impossible to verify or debunk.
9. Source Naturals Serene Science GABA
Amino acids play many roles in the body. One of them, gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, influences neurotransmitters in the brain. A shortage of GABA can cause disruptions in neurotransmission we experience as anxiety.
What we like: GABA helps straighten out the kinks in neural transmission that are often behind anxious feelings. Source Naturals provides a robust dose of 750mg of GABA per capsule, and that is it. No fillers. No artificial anything.
Flaws: GABA seems very much a hit or miss supplement. Works great for some, not at all for others.
10. Doctor’s Best L-Tryptophan
There are decades worth of clinical evidence to support the notion of L-tryptophan as the ultimate ‘chill pill’. Doctor’s Best provides 500mg of tryptophan in easy to swallow capsules that are certified vegan and free of GMOs.
What we like: Doctor’s Best L-Tryptophan is free of common food allergens and superfluous ingredients. You get 500mg of tryptophan per capsule that helps take the edge off of things so you can reset your relationship to the world in a healthier way.
Flaws: L-Tryptophan has quite a few potential side effects including headache, drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, and more.
Who Needs an Anxiety Supplement?
If you find that anxiety is interfering with your quality of life, you should consider anxiety supplements. If you find yourself lying awake at night worrying about this or that or dreading the future, you should consider anxiety supplements. And if you feel yourself beset with anxiety as a result of recent events, you may well benefit from an anxiety supplement.
One of the many great things about anxiety supplements is that you do not need to make a special trip to the doctor to ask them to prescribe one for you. They are safe and legal and can be purchased online or in scores of brick and mortar retailers. Because of that, there is no need to wait for things to get out of control before you seek help.
So, if you find yourself unusually distressed for whatever reason, keep in mind that there is probably an anxiety supplement that can help you regain emotional equilibrium.
How We Ranked
When it comes to anxiety supplements, there is only one way to discern their effectiveness, and that is this: do they work for the people that use them? As such, job one when formulating our rankings was to sift through literally thousands of user reviews to try and arrive at a consensus about each type of anxiety supplement until we had a couple of dozen contenders.
We sought to include a variety of different supplement types for our ranking, because what works for one person may not work for another. Among the various supplement types (magnesium, B-vitamins, tryptophan, etc.), there was also the issue of which brand was generally considered more reliable and effective.
Beyond that came other considerations including possible drug interactions, the size of the capsule or tablet (and how easy they were to swallow), and whether a particular substance was more likely to produce side effects than others. In addition, we took off points if a supplement included food allergens, artificial ingredients, or genetically modified ingredients. Since most anxiety supplements hover in the same basic price range, cost was not a major consideration.
Supplements for anxiety may help you sleep better. There have been numerous health studies in recent years that have put the above-listed supplements to the test. Most have been found to be genuinely useful in helping people get to sleep. L-tryptophan, for instance, has been subjected to dozens of clinical studies (1), with researchers concluding there is a wealth of evidence to support its effectiveness.
Supplements for anxiety enable you to stay centered during troubled times. With all that has been going on in the world recently, if you are not feeling a bit anxious there might be something wrong with you (2). These are extraordinary times, and people need all the help they can get to stay centered and focus on providing for themselves and their loved ones. Supplements for anxiety can help you do that.
Supplements for anxiety often work indirectly. Supplements for anxiety are not like prescription drugs that dull your senses, or reduce your anxiety by simply knocking you out. Most supplements for anxiety take a holistic view of treating anxiety. That is, they help you sleep better because proper sleep is crucial to establishing an emotional even keel. Or, like omega-3 fatty acids, they address the overall health of your nervous system (3).
Supplements for anxiety do not all make you drowsy. Anxiety supplements have a reputation for drowsiness. But not all of them work that way. Some provide amino acids like L-theanine that increase dopamine and serotonin production (4). This has the effect of stabilizing nervous system output without inducing drowsiness, which makes it an ideal anxiety supplement for those who want to maintain an active lifestyle.
Supplements for anxiety are safe. When taken as directed, the vast majority of people will suffer no ill effects from taking anxiety supplements. In cases where an individual exceeds the recommended dosage of something like magnesium, they may experience nausea or diarrhea. And excessive amounts of ashwagandha may have the effect of lowering blood sugar levels (5).
Supplements for anxiety can often bolster digestive health. Some anxiety supplements approach the issue from the angle of digestion. They use probiotics (6) to re-establish a healthy gut biota. This, in turn, enables the body to glean greater nutrient value from food, which increases overall health and reduces anxious feelings and overall stress levels (7). In essence, they create an upward spiral of health that results in a calmer you.
Supplements for anxiety contain natural ingredients. Unlike prescription anxiety medications, anxiety supplements contain natural ingredients that have been in everyday use for centuries. There are no mysteries, and no laboratory-engineered compounds that require a degree in chemistry to understand. Just natural ingredients, responsibly sourced, and provided at an affordable price.
Supplements for anxiety are non-addictive. Most prescription anxiety medications such as Xanax are potentially additive (8). Addiction is an anxiety factory and is the last thing you want to be dealing with if your goal was to reduce your overall anxiety levels. By contrast, supplements for anxiety are completely non-addictive in nature and can be taken safely for as long or short a period as needed.
Supplements for anxiety do not require a prescription. It seems if you want any type of medication that actually works today, you need a prescription for it. Fortunately, that is not the case with anxiety supplements. While not technically ‘medication,’ they nonetheless serve an essential medicinal purpose in helping to alleviate the worst symptoms of anxiety. The fact that you do not need a prescription for them is just icing on the cake.
Supplements for anxiety have other benefits as well. These types of supplements do more than just alleviate anxiety. Unlike prescription medications that are targeted to address specific symptoms, anxiety supplements address a range of other health issues too. For instance, amino acids can also increase insulin sensitivity. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of heart disease (9). And magnesium can provide relief from constipation.
Supplements for anxiety are free of genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are at the center of the contemporary debate about food safety. Big agribusiness depends on genetic modifications to make crops more resilient and to increase yields. But there is precious little clinical data to support the notion that the practice is harmless (10). Fortunately, anxiety supplements contain no GMOs.
Supplements for anxiety may enhance your sex life. Strange perhaps, but true. Researchers have been aware for some time that both dopamine and serotonin play a role in sexual motivation and performance (11). A number of supplements for anxiety promote the release of both hormones as a way to modulate anxious feelings and restore calm. So, if anxiety is interring with your sex life, you might want to try something like L-tryptophan.
Supplements for anxiety can help with your workout. L-theanine is well-known for calming the mind. But it can also help you have a more effective workout. How? When L-theanine is combined with caffeine prior to a workout, it has the effect of clearing your mind. At the same time, it suppresses the jitters many people experience when they drink caffeine. The result is a more focused, more effective workout.
Supplements for anxiety can help prevent muscle loss in older individuals. As we age, our bodies lose muscle mass. No one is quite sure why. It may be a combination of eating less protein and getting less exercise as we age. But whatever the exact cause, there is evidence that amino acid supplementation can arrest the muscle loss trend (12). And it just so happens some anxiety supplements contain amino acids.
Supplements for anxiety may also help those experiencing memory problems. One of the most vexing and, let’s be frank, scary aspects of aging is the possibility of cognitive decline. This mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, affects between 10 and 20% of those over 65. In clinical studies, ashwagandha (already known for its ability to relieve anxiety) has demonstrated an ability to improve both memory and overall mental performance (13).
Supplements for anxiety may improve eye health. Some supplements for anxiety contain melatonin, which acts to calm the central nervous system. But that is not the only benefit of melatonin. Recent studies have indicated that melatonin supplements may also be helpful in treating glaucoma and macular degeneration (14). Even if you do not suffer from those conditions, melatonin can still be beneficial to overall eye health.
Supplements for anxiety may help lower your blood pressure. Some anxiety supplements contain gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA calms the mind and body by eliminating some of the noise in your neural network. But it has also shown promise in treating high blood pressure (15). Just be mindful that, because GABA can lower blood pressure, you should discuss it with your doctor first if you are taking blood pressure medications.
Supplements for anxiety can help prevent migraines. One of the most effective anti-anxiety supplements is magnesium. What a lot of people are not aware of is that magnesium is also considered an affordable, effective way to prevent migraines (16). Being able to fend off migraines will have the added benefit of also removing a major source of anxiety.
Supplements for anxiety can reduce the risk of heart disease. Some anxiety supplements contain B-complex vitamins that are known to relieve stress and improve mood. The benefits of B vitamins go well beyond that, however. Japanese researchers have concluded that B-complex vitamins may reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease (17). More study needs to be done to confirm these findings, but the preliminary evidence is encouraging.
Supplements for anxiety may help improve bone density in older adults. Bone loss is a major concern for people as they age. That concern is particularly acute for women, who tend to suffer from osteoporosis at a disproportionate rate compared to men. The good news is you may be able to help improve bone density by taking an anxiety supplement that contains fish oil that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (18).
Q: Why should I take a supplement for anxiety?
A: The main reason to take an anxiety supplement is to feel better, sleep better and enjoy a higher quality of life. Anxiety supplements are an affordable, effective way to address the everyday stress that often causes sleeplessness and compromised physical and mental performance. Anxiety also tends to undermine our personal and social relationships in ways we are not always aware of (19).
Q: Do anxiety supplements work?
A: They do. But their effect is often cumulative. Prescription anxiety meds like Valium produce an almost immediate effect, which is one reason they are so popular. However, the effect is short-lived, and it is not long before you need another pill. With many anxiety supplements, it may take a week or more to start feeling the benefits. But once they kick in you simply continue to take the supplement as directed to sustain the beneficial effects.
Q: Are supplements for anxiety safe?
A: Health professionals consider anxiety supplements to be generally safe and effective for the vast majority of people. It is possible that some folks, particularly those being treated for specific conditions such as depression or high blood pressure, may want to avoid these supplements until they discuss the matter with their doctor.
Q: Do supplements for anxiety interact with medications?
A: Some supplements may have mild interactions with certain types of medication. For instance, ashwagandha may increase immune system activity which could interfere with certain drugs intended to suppress autoimmune function (20). Other supplements that produce a relaxed, drowsy effect may multiply the effects of sedatives and produce an exaggerated sense of drowsiness that could interfere with activities like driving.
Q: Do I need a prescription for anxiety supplements?
A: No, you do not need a prescription for anxiety supplements. They are freely available online, in most health food stores, in many supermarkets, and over the counter in many drug stores.
Q: What is the best supplement for anxiety?
A: The best anxiety supplement for one person may not be the best anxiety supplement for someone else. Fortunately, anxiety supplements are very affordable, so you can try different ones without breaking your bank. Keep in mind that the effects of anxiety supplements are often cumulative, meaning you should not give up if you do not see instantaneous results. Give it a few weeks before deciding if a supplement works or not.
Q: Are anxiety supplements regulated by the FDA?
A: No, anxiety supplements are not subject to FDA regulation. But the FDA still plays a role in ensuring you are getting a safe product. They have formulated a series of guidelines they call ‘Good Manufacturing Practices’ (21) that supplement makers in the US need to adhere to. They also keep a close eye on the marketing of supplements. If they suspect dishonest or openly fraudulent marketing, they will recall the product in question.
Q: Can a person overdose on anxiety supplements?
A: The amount of vitamin B or ashwagandha or omega-3 fatty acids you would have to consume to produce seriously adverse effects is astronomical. Also, while it is theoretically possible you could consume enough to overdose, it would not be an overdose like you are probably imagining. Instead, it might manifest as severe diarrhea, strong intestinal cramps, nausea and vomiting, and perhaps dizziness.
Q: Do supplements for anxiety create drug interactions?
A: Some anxiety supplements may affect serotonin or dopamine (22) levels in the brain. If you are being treated for depression, you should discuss it with your doctor before taking such a supplement. Other anxiety supplements may reduce blood pressure. So if you are already taking blood pressure meds, you should avoid taking any anxiety supplement that affects blood pressure before discussing it with your doctor.
Q: Are supplements for anxiety addictive?
A: No. Unlike prescription anxiety medications, anxiety supplements pose no threat of addiction. Most provide a combination of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other compounds such as amino acids that address the cause of the anxiety, rather than simply masking over the symptoms the way prescription medications often do.
Q: Can I drive while taking supplements for anxiety?
A: This is a good question, because anxiety supplements that include tryptophan enhance the production of serotonin and cause drowsiness. By itself, the level of drowsiness produced by these supplements is not usually worrisome. However, if you are also taking prescription drugs that cause drowsiness, the effect may be amplified by tryptophan. If you have any doubts, avoid taking such supplements until you discuss it with your doctor.
Q: Do anxiety supplements cure anxiety?
A: There is quite a lot of debate about whether or not anxiety disorders can be cured at all (23). The issue is further clouded by the fact that a certain amount of anxiety in certain situations is absolutely normal. Essentially, it all comes down to the source of the anxiety. If your anxiety is caused by a lifestyle choice or a nutritional shortfall of some kind (say a lack of B vitamins), then you may be able to obtain permanent relief from an anxiety supplement.
Q: Do supplements for anxiety help with depression?
A: Many mental health professionals believe there to be a connection between serotonin levels in the brain and depression (24). And more than a few clinical studies have been conducted that support that hypothesis. As such, anxiety supplements that contain serotonin may well be able to alleviate symptoms of depression to some degree. Keep in mind that there are no guarantees, and you should discuss the matter with your doctor.
Q: Are supplements for anxiety expensive?
A: Not at all. Most anxiety supplements wind up costing just pennies per day. Contrast that to some common prescription medications used to treat anxiety that can cost $5 per pill or more.
Q: Do anxiety supplements contain food allergens?
A: The overwhelming majority of supplement makers today are mindful of food allergens and how they can undermine the effectiveness of their products. As such, most are rigorous when it comes to making sure no common food allergens make it into their products. Most anxiety supplements will be free of gluten, yeast, dairy, and other potentially problematic ingredients. Just be sure to read the label anyway.
Q: Will I suffer withdrawal symptoms if I stop taking anxiety supplements?
A: No, you will not suffer withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking anxiety supplements. There are no opioids (25) in these supplements, and no other potentially addictive substances that could cause withdrawal symptoms. That said, you will likely see a return of your anxiety if you decide to stop taking a supplement that had been working for you. So make sure you give it proper thought before deciding to stop.
Q: Can supplements for anxiety cause me to fail a drug test?
A: The standard 5-panel drug test looks for cocaine, opiates, marijuana, PCP, and amphetamines. You will not find any of those things in an anxiety supplement. Some people worry that anything that releases serotonin or dopamine must show up on a drug test. But that is not the case. L-theanine is not the same as morphine or codeine and will not cause a positive result on a drug test.
Q: Do supplements for anxiety have any side effects?
A: While it is possible that some anxiety supplements may interact with certain prescription drugs, the supplements by themselves are virtually free of side effects. They contain herbs, vitamins, minerals like magnesium, essential amino acids, and other things that are known to be beneficial to the body. So unless you have a specific health issue that may be affected by these ingredients, there is little need to worry about side effects.
Q: Can I take supplements for anxiety with me when I travel?
A: The TSA in the US has no set restrictions on supplements (26). They are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage. They do, however, leave the final decision up to the individual TSA officer. As such, it is always a good idea to bring a new bottle with an unbroken seal as that can dispel any suspicions that the contents may have been tampered with in some way.
Q: How will I know if I no longer need supplements for anxiety?
A: The only way to know for sure is to stop taking them and see what happens. It will likely take at least a few days before some substances are completely out of your system and you can make an accurate assessment. But there is no need to worry. If you find the anxiety returning, there is no reason why you cannot go back to taking the supplements again.
Supplements for anxiety are an affordable, effective way to obtain relief from low-level stress or nutritionally induced anxiety. They are safe, non-addictive, have few side effects, and can provide a wealth of secondary benefits.
Millions of people worldwide rely on anxiety supplements to help them get to sleep, deal with work-related stress and strain, and enhance the quality of their personal relationships. Anxiety supplements can also enable more effective workouts, reduce the risk of heart disease, and even improve your sex drive and performance.
The above-listed supplements are proven effective and safe. They each take a slightly different path to anxiety relief, so you are bound to find one that works for you. Use the above information to make an informed decision.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended supplement for anxiety, click here.