April 19 2017

Anxiety: Are Nutritional Deficiencies a Common Cause?

By Mark Sisson
66 Comments

Inline_Anxiety_Nutrient_DeficienciesAs big-brained hominids, humans have the unique ability to think about the future. The very fact that we can perceive and plan for the time ahead has allowed us to conquer the earth, but it comes with a downside: anxiety. If extreme rumination on past events characterizes depression, worrying about imagined future scenarios describes anxiety.

This inherent capacity and human tendency to think ahead must be reined in and controlled. One way we can do that is make sure we’re getting enough of the nutrients that studies indicate may play an etiological role in anxiety.

This is different from supplements with various ingredients that treat or help anxiety. There’s obviously overlap, and some of the deficiencies mentioned today can be corrected by supplementing, but I’m focusing on essential nutrients—vitamins, minerals, and other food-borne compounds—that play important roles in regulating anxiety levels.

Magnesium

This is the part where I’m supposed to say something about magnesium regulating over 400 physiological processes. Instead, I’ll skip that and go with this: Magnesium is incredibly important, seems to play a big role in anxiety, and most of us don’t eat enough of it.

Magnesium supplementation reduces subjective anxiety (the only kind that matters) in the “mildly anxious” and women with premenstrual syndrome.

Omega-3s

Studies in substance abusers find that supplementing with enough fish oil to raise serum levels of the long chain omega-3 fatty acid EPA reduces anxiety, whereas increases in DHA (the other long chain omega-3) reduce anger. Rising EPA levels after supplementation predicted the reduction in anxiety.

In healthy young medical students, omega-3 supplementation (2 grams EPA, 350 mg DHA) lowered inflammation and anxiety. Follow-up analyses revealed that reducing the serum omega-6:omega-3 ratio also reduced anxiety scores.

And in early pregnancy, high DHA levels predict low anxiety scores.

Choline

Older adults with low choline levels have a higher prevalence of anxiety (but not depression), while higher levels appear protective. This doesn’t prove causality—people with psychiatric disorders might eat different diets lower in choline—but I strongly suspect it. Choline and anxiety may have a trans-generational relationship, too, as animal studies show that choline supplementation during pregnancy reduces the chance that offspring will develop anxiety disorders.

Egg yolks are the single-best source of choline. Liver isn’t too bad, either.

Carnosine

Carnosine acts as an antioxidant in the brain, trapping free radicals and lowering inflammationWe know from the omega-3 section that oxidative stress in the brain is linked to, and maybe necessary for, anxiety. Sure enough, there’s a carnosine supplement called chicken extract that can enhance mood and reduce anxiety, and speed up recovery from stress-related fatigue.

Carnosine comes in meat, any meat.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency keeps showing up in people with anxiety, like Chinese males or AmericansThis one always surprises me because oysters—the densest source of zinc on the planet—are such shut-ins. When the going gets rough, they really clam up. They practically live in a shell, they’re so anxious. 

Is this just a correlation? Probably not. From a follow-up with the anxious Americans, increasing zinc intake to fix the deficiency helps resolve the anxiety.

Selenium

In 1991, researchers split 50 Brits into two groups. One group received 100 mcg selenium each day, the other got a placebo. The subjects’ diets were used to estimate selenium intake. Those who started out with the lowest selenium intakes had the most anxiety, but 5 weeks of 100 mcg/day reduced it.

Selenium is easy to get if you know where to look. Brazil nuts, wild salmon, and pastured eggs are my favorite places to get it. A Brazil nut or two is plenty, if all you care about is the selenium.

Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid we use to make GABA, the rest-and-relax neurotransmitter that inhibits the activity of the excitatory glutamate. People with anxiety tend to have lower levels of GABA, and both prescription anti-anxiety meds like Xanax and over-the-counter ones like scotch on the rocks act on the brain’s GABA receptors.

The best sources of taurine are animal foods, particularly beef and lamb hearts (lungs are actually somewhat higher in taurine, but they’re harder to procure and eat).

Antioxidant Compounds

In official circles, antioxidant compounds—polyphenols, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients—aren’t considered essential. Soylent, the “perfect” human food replacement powder that optimizes your day so you don’t have to cook or spend more than a minute in the bathroom, omits them from their formula. I disagree. They are essential. They have been a constant presence in the human diet for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s only in the last hundred years or so that the rise of processed, refined, industrial food has allowed the widespread consumption of low-or-no-phytonutrient diets.

Consuming antioxidant compounds is the historical norm. Our bodies “expect” them. They improve our endogenous antioxidant defenses. They interact with our gut bacteria to form more potent and bioavailable antioxidant complexes. And they help protect us against the kind of oxidative stress that’s been implicated in anxiety disorders.

Combinations

Zinc and magnesium work better against post-partum anxiety than either alone. Same goes for vitamin B6 and magnesium—combining the two does more to reduce PMS-related anxiety than just magnesium. This shouldn’t surprise you. Foods are what we eat, and many foods contain large whacks of multiple anxiety-relevant nutrients at once.

Consider oysters, with zinc, omega-3s, taurine, and selenium.

Consider liver, with zinc, taurine, carnosine, and choline.

Consider spinach, with magnesium and antioxidants.

Consider any colorful plant food with a wide range of antioxidant compounds.

It’s almost like broad-spectrum, naturally-sourced nutritional supplements—AKA foods—are the best way to go….

If these nutrient-anxiety relationships pan out, and I think they will, it’s easy to understand why almost 20% of American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder. People are eating less red meat, oysters are hard to open, and they’re still scared of egg yolks. And unless they’re eating at innovative (and expensive) restaurants, most people probably aren’t touching any liver. Potatoes and corn remain two of the most popular “vegetables” in the average diet, and people aren’t eating enough fatty fish. 

Nutrient deficiencies aren’t everything. They probably aren’t the main determinant of anxiety. But they do matter. They’re low-hanging fruit—small changes you can make with major impacts.

I’m sure I’ll come back to this topic. Anxiety is a big issue with many causes. For now, though, it’s productive to explore the nutrient deficiency angle.

I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’ve dealt with anxiety.

What foods or nutrients have you used to help address anxiety? Do you notice any common triggers?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.

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66 thoughts on “Anxiety: Are Nutritional Deficiencies a Common Cause?”

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  1. Cross posting this to my FB. My niece and several of her friends deal with anxiety on a regular basis.

  2. When I fall off the Paleo wagon and eat lots of GF treats I get anxiety. I feel like crap and it is so hard to stop sugar once you start.

    1. I’ve noticed this as well. Ate like crap last week and experienced some serious anxiety attacks as a result. I also notice it happens when I stop taking my fish oil, so nice to see that confirmed here.

      1. This is very interesting as I also experienced quite bad anxiety following a holiday a couple of years ago. We were all inclusive and I had been eating paleo up until our week away. The hotel food was totally processed and I ended up falling off the wagon and eating a ton of sugar! The week after I had a panic attack. I always wondered if this could have been a trigger

  3. Thank you. I’ve been battling some OCD/anxiousness, especially lately. Stuff like “maybe I just touched that contaminated thing, so I should wash my hands”, and sometimes it’s easier to control my compulsion to wash my hands, and I would think that what I eat, influences that. Kind of like how diet probably plays a role, if I have a day where I feel full of energy.

    How about glycine, as in bone broth? In Chris Kresser’s recent article on the stuff*, he writes that glycine can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.

    Regarding the related (as I see it) sensitive issue of anorexia, I’ve also thought about, whether it would not make much more sense to focus on an anxiety-reducing diet than one that has a minimum of calories. I.e., feed them liver, kale and bone broth, instead of making sure they choose whole milk over skimmed.

    * https://chriskresser.com/the-bountiful-benefits-of-bone-broth-a-comprehensive-guide/

  4. I read this post with interest, since I have suffered from anxiety at various times in my life, and I have definitely seen improvement with nutrition (although I agree with Mark that it is certainly not the only factor). I’ve always been a happy person with a positive outlook, but started feeling some anxiety during my senior year in college. It would come and go thru my adult years. It reached an all time high during my early 40’s. I had been a vegetarian most of my life, and at this point was mostly raw vegan. I eventually transitioned to a paleo/primal diet to heal my severe cystic acne, but after several months I realized my anxiety was gone. I really credit it to my increased fat intake, particularly saturated fat. I’m not saying that being vegetarian or vegan caused my anxiety, just so we are clear. Coffee used to trigger it, but now that I blend my coffee with butter or coconut oil, no problem. I’m also able to focus better, which helps me be more productive, which in turn makes me less anxious. Every now and then it returns…the main trigger for me seems to be lack of sleep. I agree with the dietary recommendations in this post. Eggs, fatty fish and even Brazil nuts are a big part of my diet. I do supplement with Magnesium (Natural Calm) before bed. I definitely think it helps me sleep, but other than that doesn’t seem to have much of an effect. Diet is not the whole thing. I mentioned sleep is a trigger for me. I also need to have some quiet time in my day to feel centered. I am busy and very outgoing, but start to feel out of balance if I don’t start my day with a little bit of quiet time. The great thing is, as you become more self aware, you are able to get things under control before they really spiral. This comment is much longer than I would usually post, but I’m hoping it might be helpful to someone.

    1. What an awesome response. I’m glad you took the time to share your experience as it mirrors mine. I have trouble sleeping and find it really hard to get back to sleep if I wake between 2 and 4 am. Diet keeps me balanced but I notice sleep and sugar, missing gym sessions triggers anxiety. Once in an anxious state it’s hard to get in control again. I’ll try magnesium at night to see if that helps.

    2. I noticed anxiety while eating vegetarian. (There were food intolerances , wheat and dairy at play as well but I didn’t know it at the time and yes I was tested for them) but eating meat protein calmed my nervous system. Vegetarianism has been linked to depression but I wonder how much has been studied linking it to anxiety.

      1. I would second this! As a vegan for 6 months I initially felt great, but eventually felt very emotionally weak… fragile per say. Once I added back in animal fat specifically I felt much more calm. I thought it was tied to hormonal regulation from the animal cholesterol but regardless I make a point to eat red meat more often than white primarily for this reason.

  5. Is there a relationship between excessive caffeine or coffee intake and anxiety?

    1. I have noticed that excessive caffeine causes my anxiety to sky rocket!!!

    2. I’ve noticed if I intake enough caffeine – like two pots – I get extremely wired. Excessively perky and somewhat nervous. It’s not quite the same as anxiety though, a different feeling.

    3. I suspect that ones caffeine sensitivity would play a big role in how much caffeine would be considered excessive, and how much it affects anxiety. If I have, say, 4 cups of coffee before lunch, I might get a little jittery. As a general rule, I find a cup of coffee to be calming. But then I seem to have a pretty high tolerance for caffeine.

  6. What (and how) we eat has a huge impact on mental-emotional wellbeing – thanks for such an important post!

    I especially appreciate the emphasis on eating real, whole, nutrient-dense foods containing various components that work together synergistically. Taking supplements – even good ones – is nowhere near the same.

    Though I sometimes prescribe quality, whole-food-based supplements to clients with anxiety, the biggest shifts come from changes in eating patterns. A nutrient-dense, real-food focused diet featuring plenty of protein and fat works wonders.

  7. Anxiety is very common these days and any food or supplement that would help to reduce it would be welcome. But lets not forget exercise and running in particular.

    By the way, does it matter if you take Zinc and magnesium at the same time, or is it OK as long as you take them on the same day? I normally take zinc during the day (not every day anymore) and Magnesium before I go to bed.

    Also, I guess lungs are an acquired taste but if you get a hold of them, cut to cubes, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and grill over an open fire. The people of Yemen, are famous for a spicy lungs stew, that include many spices (Turmeric one of them). And while time consuming to make, it’s also quite tasty.

  8. Sugar and processed food definitely seem to trigger anxiety. I’d love to read any studies done on this. Including artificial ingredient-dyes, flavor, etc…this is especially important for parents to consider because of the sheer amount of it fed to children at school, parties, and holidays.

  9. I struggled with insomnia for years and then after each of my pregnancies, had severe postpartum anxiety and had to take SSRIs to get it under control. Between the second and third kid, I started reading this blog and the perfect health diet and made a lot of changes. For me, fish oil supplements do not seem to have an effect but eating lots of sardines and wild salmon works really well. I also supplement magnesium daily, eat tons of egg yolks, order oysters from time to time.

    It’s like a miracle. I no longer have any insomnia, don’t take any SSRIs or have episodes of anxiety any longer.

    Now, my only problem is my 8 year old daughter is also prone to anxiety but will not eat fish …

    1. So helpful! Thank you for sharing. I have high anxiety and thought it was my TBI. Reading this and hoping to see some changes from diet. Appreciate your opening up. Thank you.

  10. Anxiety rears its ugly head if I don’t get enough sleep or get dehydrated. Sugar always makes it worse. I’ve read that GABA supplements help, but then I read that they don’t cross the blood-brain barrier, but that the Passionflower herb has GABA and it does cross it, so I’m not sure. Probiotics help with both anxiety and depression, I think.

    1. I’ve tried GABA lately and didn’t notice any effect on my anxiety. I was taking 700mg, morning and night. Might simply not work, or maybe it is my own chemistry…

      1. Look into L-Theanine as opposed to straight GABA. It has been shown in studies to increase GABA. “Which is better for anxiety – GABA or Theanine?
        GABA is found naturally in your brain, and low levels seem to be related to some types of anxiety. So it makes sense that you would want to increase your GABA levels if you are suffering from anxiety…. and in fact, some people do have great results from taking a straight GABA supplement. Problem is, it doesn’t cross into the brain very easily, so most of the GABA you take might not get to where it’s needed, and it’s hard to regulate your brain levels this way.

        On the other hand, Theanine does cross the blood-brain barrier quite well, so it is a sneaky way to boost brain GABA.”

        http://overcomingyouranxiety.net/naturalanxietyremedies/theanine-for-anxiety/

        1. Hi Mike,

          I’ve tried virtually all the “alternative” remedies so far. L-Theanine didn’t seem to do anything either, but it could have been the form that I was taking (spray under the tongue and then chewables). I always wonder if a nasal inhaler might be better (if such a thing exists).

          Thx.

  11. What about ways to help with obsessive thoughts and OCD? My teen daughter deals with both and we have yet to find something that helps. She also has anxiety but it is hard to tell if the anxiety triggers the OCD or if the OCD causes her so much frustration that it causes her anxiety. Any suggestions?

    1. She needs to get into a good counselor she trusts so she can learn to recognize triggers and learn coping mechanisms.

      She also needs to be eating those foods above as well as foods high in good fats that fuel the brain (giving her her best chance to manage the stress).

      I’d always had OCD tendencies (stress management behaviors that are unhealthy but they serve to manage stress and I didn’t see them as unhealthy), but I spiraled out in college after a bad situation. I wish those things had been taken seriously in my youth, so I could have learned to modify my behavior and articulate/advocate for myself earlier in life.

    2. Meditation can be a huge help to this kind of condition – might be tough to get a teenager to start though. FWIW I can recommend Chade-Meng Tan’s book ‘Search Inside Yourself’. HTH.

    3. I’d say that OCD and anxiety are part and parcel of the same condition. We all show anxious qualities in different ways (e.g., poor sleep, phobias, biting nails, obsessive, circular thinking). OCD is merely a symptom of anxiety, albeit a very persistent and challenging one. One aspect of treatment that has been super effective for the kids I work with has been the introduction of medication. I’d love to take full credit for success for these kids (through exposure, response prevention, CBT, etc.), but honestly finding a good medical provider can make a world of difference. I realize that there might be resistance here to this recommendation, and I certainly would suggest dietary changes, coupled with exercise and the above therapies; it’s just that experience has humbled me in regard to the temporary use of anti-anxiety meds to help kids build new links between thoughts and behaviors. Once behaviors have stabilized, meds can be dialed down. Just my two cents.

  12. Personally, I would throw the “dumb phone” away and get out in nature for more walks. Unplug and disconnect, which is really re-connecting.

  13. I’ve dealt anxiety my whole life. A few years ago, I decided to try a “21 day challenge” promoted by this guy Mark Sissons in hopes to knock off a few pounds. Didn’t lose any weight, but the anxiety melted away and I felt SO much more relaxed. There were other positive changes too that helped me stick with it. I still haven’t lost all the weight I’d have liked to, but I will never go back to gluten and industrial oils.

  14. I broke down and started taking liver pills. For the first time I stopped struggling with anemia and I think my night time anxiety wasn’t near as bad or even bad as it has been in past pregnancies. It was still there, but hypnotic birth mp3s would work like a charm and knock me out. And my last two labors and births were nearly painless (and I’ve experienced both back labor about a 5-8 on the pain scale, and an ectopic pregnancy which I’d call a 12 on the pain scale since I prayed for death as a mercy).

    I have a cat with what turned out to be a
    congenital heart arrhythmia. That kitty ended up going into heart failure – he was pulled out of it and was prescribed blood thinners. He…shall we say…refused the pills since they made him dizzy and sick. My solution was to feed him raw gizzards. Fix a bad heart by eating hearts. He has now survived a few more years past his original MAX life expectancy. He jumps around and appears healthy. I believe it was a taurine deficiency exacerbated by being a kitten to a malnourished stray mother and being loaded down with fleas.

  15. I sometimes have anxiety and it’s always, always connected to my monthly cycle. I’ll try to get more oysters in, I have them but I never seem to eat them..

  16. Eating those types of foods has been instrumental for me in managing my symptoms (long story but was diagnosed with PTSD and OCD in 2005). Food has become my first line of defense in managing the anxiety.

    Avocado, MCT oil, egg yolk, walnuts and Brazil nuts, leafy greens, grassfed beef- those are my go-to’s!

  17. I’ve struggles with anxiety for several years now. I definitely can correlate prolonged bouts of falling off the paleo wagon (a week or more) with increased anxiety. I haven’t looked into particular nutrient deficiencies but after reading this, I think I’ll make sure I eat more salmon and oysters.

    Outside of exercise and diet, the MOST effective thing I have done to curb my anxiety is take up a meditation habit. I began using Headspace (an app for guided meditation, I highly recommend) about 1.5 years ago and have had a lot of success in being able to better manage anxious thoughts and sensations. I believe that learning how to “retrain your brain” and developing more positive and mindful thought patters is the best and most effective method for making long term and lasting progress on anxiety. Anyone else have experience with meditation for anxiety?

  18. I know from personal experience that when I changed my nutritional and dietary habits, remarkably and unexpectedly, my social anxiety went away. Apart from the physical and cognitive improvements, my wife and I never imagined how much an impact nutrition would make. With my wife being in behavioral health we discuss such things frequently and she looks to see how she can work in proper dietary habits with med management.

  19. I suffer from panic disorder. Take anxiety and multiply it by 1000 if you want to know what a panic attack feels like. You are convinced that you are going insane and you are going to die, both at the same time, regardless of how many times it has happened to you or how high your IQ is or how much of a rational, science-based person you are. Read any panic disorder blog and the symptoms described by people are eerily similar, so at least you know you are not alone. My diet is uber clean, the amount of supplements I take to help stay healthy overall and mitigate the panic and anxiety would blow most people’s mind. However, the supplements, diet, deep breathing, positive affirmations, private therapy sessions, group therapy sessions and the whole nine yards did not seem to make a dent. I only take one pharmaceutical at age 64, an SSRI (and it took several tries to get the right one) that greatly helps, I very rarely get full blown panic attacks these days. It seems I need the SSRI to transport serotonin to the appropriate receptors. You can flood your body with serotonin (which can be dangerous) but if you can’t utilize it, it does you no good. If it’s a placebo it is a very powerful one as far as my reaction. So as much as I am anti-pharmaceutical I try not to get too uptight about it (feeding into the anxiety LOL). Thanks for another great article Mark! Sorry if this was TL;DR

    1. Would you mind sharing what SSRI? Just curious as I’ve tried many of them… they really seem dependent on your own bio-chemistry.

      1. I panicked and posted it as a separate post instead of as a reply here LOL.
        So just to be sure here you go Jon: Lexapro (escitalopram)

        1. Ah, thanks. Took that for seven years. Killed the anxiety but I was fat and had no sex drive. Always some sort of side effects!

  20. I definitely noticed that when I have processed sugar I have anxiety issues.

  21. Absolutely Jon: Lexapro (escitalopram)

    All the best, George

  22. Great article! I starting eating liver about a year ago to raise my iron levels, but also noticed a calming effect. I have noticed the same effect from herring, but not every time. Perhaps just when I do have a deficiency.

  23. I used to have this anxious habit of crossing my legs when sitting in the passenger seat of a car due to a fear of accidents. A friend once teased me, as I leaned away from a passing semi-truck on the freeway, that crossing my legs and leaning sideways wasn’t going to save us if he decided to drive under that truck. Crossing the mountain on Hwy 17 between Santa Cruz and San Jose always brought my legs up into the seat. It was an odd way to feel somewhat in control of the situation. I could understand that it was a rather absurd habit when I thought about it. An odd thing happened when I stopped eating gluten though–the random anxiety habits just seemed to stop one day. Even my husband noticed that I was more likely to keep my feet on the floor. It is likely true that food intolerances were creating nutrient deficiencies in my body and once I removed offending foods (gluten and bananas!), my anxiety-driven habits decreased.

  24. I don’t know about foods that are absent that cause anxiety, but I am certain that when I’m in a low carb mode, that a nuclear bomb going off over the horizon doesn’t make me flinch, whereas when I am not in a low carb mode, if The Mrs. says “hello” in the wrong pitch I begin to wonder if there’s an issue.

    I drink ALL the caffeine (I use it for mouthwash, deodorant, and rub the grinds in my hair – JUST KIDDING!) and have several pots a day (not kidding). Zero impact on anxiety and mood.

    A Milky Way?

    Who is out to get me?

    1. Yep – that sounds like me too! I know I’m the best when I stick to the Primal way. However so many of us (when we first start out) are out of touch with the reactions going on in our bodies that it takes time and testing to understand what’s going on!

  25. Sometimes we have a reason for being anxious. Diet and exercise definitely help how we deal with stress and anxiety, but pinpointing the source might help even more. Take a few minutes and examine the situation. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling anxious? Is there a reason?” Anxiety that isn’t caused by nutritional deficiencies or mental issues is almost always rooted in fear, sometimes to the point that we avoid trying to find the cause because it’s just too scary and upsetting to contemplate.

    The next step, which takes a bit of practice, is to get outside of yourself in order to see the matter from a different perspective. This means letting the light in and viewing the problem from an intellectual rather than an emotional standpoint. Worrying about something that might happen at a future date is a good example of emotionally-based anxiety. Ask yourself, “How likely is it that this really could happen? If it does happen, what’s the worst case scenario?” Learn to see things for what they are, not what you’re afraid they might be.

    I think a combination of excellent diet, exercise, and learning how to unmask and neutralize the demons that lurk in our minds eliminates most anxiety pretty effectively.

  26. I’ve had chronic anxiety since 2012, which suddenly appeared in my previously care-free life after 2 weeks of fast-food binging and poor health habits. It all started with a heart palpitation during exercise, and rather terrifyingly transformed into a monster that hung over my head 24/7, all in such a short space of time. It quite literally ruined my life – the health implications were far-reaching. I have tried various treatments, including month’s of therapy, but my personal experience has shown that going Paleo is simply the only thing that truly keeps me on my feet. And it’s not just diet – it’s exercise, meditation, plenty of sleep – all the things MDA readers consider normal and vital. When I slip off the track for a prolonged period of time, my anxiety always returns, and I slip off more than I like to admit. It’s really the ultimate paradox for me – I know full well the ramifications of poor eating etc., yet I struggle to stay afloat. Most of the time I kid myself into saying things like ‘I don’t have time to cook and exercise,’ but really when somebody tells you they ‘don’t have time for something,’ what they’re really telling you is ‘that’s not a priority for me.’ And therein lies the paradox.

  27. Food really effects my anxiety, if I don’t get enough protein I get anxious due to the blood sugar levels. I can’t tolerate coffee or other stimulating things. The annoying thing is that I need the magnesium but whenever I have taken it, it has gone right through me, apparently this is common for a lot of people. I try to get it in bath salts and things like that instead.
    The weather also affects my anxiety. Luckily we live in Australia so it doesn’t affect me as much as it did when living in the UK but I am so sensitive to change that I could tell you what the weather is going to be like before I have opened the curtains and got out of bed! If it is sunny my anxiety goes away…!

    1. If magnesium goes right through you, try magnesium bisglycinate. This form is highly absorbable and does not tend to cause digestive distress. 200mg and I immediately feel calm before bed – it’s incredible! Metagenics has a good product in a pill form, or NOW makes a powder (but I don’t like the taste).

      1. Thanks so much for this Catherine, I didn’t know that and will give it a try…. 🙂

  28. I struggled with intense anxiety from adolescence to my mid 20s. I credit my primal diet, along with a consistent exercise routine and meditation practice, with helping to get it under control. Looking back, my most extreme times of anxiety were definitely coupled with an absolutely horrid diet.

    This was a really interesting read to put some context and extra info behind how diet can help!

  29. Anxiety is a definite issue I deal with. Caffeine is a big trigger – I’m a coffee addict and sometimes have to chose between feeling anxious and feeling awake. Exercise definitely helps as does meditation or breathing exercises. Kava is wonderful – both Yogi Kava tea and Kava prepared the traditional way from Kava root. Eating right is a component of managing anxiety for me, but combining the exercise, meditation, and judicious use of Kava really seems to work.

  30. Mark, forgot to mention – the Trauma Release Process by David Berceli – a series of exercises that promote trembling in muscles which releases tension have also been a lifesaver. Not sure if you’re familiar with this process or concept, but it’s pretty interesting and I believe tied to our ancient roots. For example – imagine a zebra who has been chased by a lion, but managed to escape. Once safe, the animal trembles which rids the body of stored stress, fear, etc. from the trauma of the life and death experience. As humans, we store stress and are often unable to release it. The TRP is a series of leg exercises that fatigue muscles to the point where they tremble. During this time, pent up fear, etc. is physically released. I’ve been doing this periodically for a while now and can attest to the fact that it works. I feel incredibly relaxed and refreshed after completing the exercises. It’s safe and effective and can be done by almost anyone in the comfort of their own home. Might be interesting for you to look at for a post….

  31. What Vitamin B2? I have heard great things about B2 helping with OCD, anxiety and depression.

  32. I have found that eating low carb, almost ketogenic is very beneficial to reducing my anxiety, and depression. However, this all may be due to eating more of the above foods. That said, before going primal my consumption of assorted greens, and other veggies was as hi as it is now.
    In conjunction, through counciling, finding the root cause of my anxiety and depression I am able to manage much better.
    I think that diet, exercise, lifestyle, and self awareness all have been instrumental in this.

  33. I notice no one has mentioned pyroluria, a genetic predisposition where the body dumps B6 and zinc so the person needs way more of it to compensate. Causes deep anxiety which I suffered from for many years. Daily supplementing with B6 and zinc (and evening primrose oil) has gratefully “cured” the condition. Learned about it from nutritionist Trudy Scott who learned from Julia Ross and her work/book, “The Mood Cure.” Trudy has more info on her website and a questionnaire to help determine if that is the cause of your anxiety. VERY helpful!

  34. Has anyone tried the chicken extract? Seems like chicken bone broth would be just as effective? I struggle with anxiety quite a bit – I know vitamins and eating healthy are a big part of it, and when I offroad the anxiety seems worse.

  35. I believe that any anxiety I end up having is nutrition-related. And it’s self-perpetuating, meaning the worse my diet becomes the worse the anxiety becomes. I’ve found that drinking water with electrolytes helps pretty dramatically, as well as eating eggs. I do supplement, though, especially when I am anxious. As weird as It sounds, drinking some Emergen-C mixed with water seems to help very well.

  36. I struggled with anxiety from my teen years until my late 40s, when I stumbled across the keto way of eating. Once I adapted to it, I had the happy realization that my anxiety dropped significantly. I no longer consider myself an anxious person (or a person with anxiety), and the people around me have commented on my calmness. Occasionally, I’ll go back to eating higher carb, and typically, my anxiety comes roaring back. I’m finding that sticking to mostly primal foods and habits, while I stay in ketosis, adds even more benefit. And I know quite a few people in the online keto communities who have licked depression and anxiety in a similar way.

  37. So glad I read this story of Anxiety, as I have suffered as well as Depression. I’ve been looking for years for causes. Now almost discovering some reliefs, so many to name, but here on one page all my ails & I have many more Gut problems. Which I was tying together with Mental & Gut. WELL today I can say it is all in the DIET. Right from the beginning of my illnesses. Plus this ball tied in with me meeting & marrying two lovely Chinese girls. But SADLY neither one cooked, so for the past 12yrs. I stopped eating Meat & Veggies & stopped working. Then started eating rubbish, changed my sleeping habits or non sleeping. So without a doubt after studying this article on Anxiety diet really proved a point & opened a pathway for me to travel down & use this simple food components listed here to obtain the lacking in vital vitamins etc. I will get back to you in a few weeks or less. thankyou

  38. I’ve not only seen this for myself–watching it over a decade of different phases of food choices, but in my permaculture students (especially vegans–and I do respect that choice–who make changes after their course).

  39. My pre-teen and I both battle anxiety and I am wondering out of these supplements, si there anything safe for him? We will definitely start eating MORE antioxidant rich foods. Thank you.

  40. I recently found out about a condition called Pyrrole disorder caused by a B6 and Zinc deficiency. My doc had put me on P5P (activated B6) for a gut problem and in researching ran across this- the symptoms were so close to what so many people in my family have that I mentioned it to my mom. She started the protocol (P5P, Zinc, Magnesium, Fish Oil) and began to feel better. I feel better. We always knew the issue in my family was genetic- if it’s not Pyrrole, it’s something similar and the protocol seems to work. I have always had anxiety issues, trouble with crowds, sensitivity to noise, quick to anger, etc. All classic symptoms. Symptoms improved greatly after adding in these few supplements.

  41. Thanks, Mark, for sharing this kind of useful blogs. Today anxiety becoming a real health issue around the globe. Many people facing anxiety problems due to their hectic lifestyle and constant thinking or nervousness. So if anyone facing this poor anxiety then your mentioned points and tips can really help them.

  42. How it affected me.

    Nutrients, as a whole, come in many forms.

    Three years ago, John had developed a back injury, couldn’t feel half his body. It was numb until 3 days ago.

    Roughly 10-15 days ago John started feeding many garden plants following Fox Farms Soil feeding schedule.

    John recovered VERY little over the past 3 YEARS. And has had blood tests that came back in good standing.

    While feeding, roughly 4 times so far, he got water on his hands accidentally. The most recent time when doing this he got nauseous, which went away within a couple minutes. He also ate a couple blueberries that had been fed with this nutrient mix.

    Later that evening or the next day thereafter John miraculously had regained feeling in his entire body. This really was a miracle considering how little progress he made and how much he has tried, all the doctors, physical therapists, hospitals, neurologists, everything they thought it was, came back negative.

    Feeling came back when Johns neck cracked. He also has P.T.S.D, and can rarely relax from the amount of stress or anxiety he is experiencing.

    Industrial or neglected foods are not rich in the broad range of nutrients we need, where as when you feed your plants with all the proper nutrients, and ensure their needs are truly met, they can be flavorful and nutrient packed.

    This is by no means recommending you do what John did and dip your hands in water latent with dissolved micronutrients, but a documention of how nutrients MAY be connected to the human body. If more testing were to be done this could be proven valid, that a lack in one nutrient or may cause severe anxiety that restricts muscle use, potentially causing numbness, and how one berry, and accidental contact with nutrient mixes for plants may have correlated to the recovery of such.