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The Best Supplements for Anxiety

| By Patrice De La Ossa
The Best Supplements for Anxiety
The Best Supplements for Anxiety Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Individuals who are predisposed toward excessive worry and anxiety have the option of taking supplements to relax the central nervous system and create a sense of calm. Supplements for treating anxiety are used in conjunction with therapy and possibly anti-anxiety medication prescribed by a physician or psychiatrist. Before taking any supplements or medication, consult a physician.

GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid)

GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) is an amino acid that regulates brain excitability. Clinical studies are limited to medications that enhance GABA but, according to a report in the Dec. 19, 2008, issue of "BioFactors," oral supplementation of GABA has been shown to increase alpha wave activity, which occurs when you are in a relaxed state. The report also states GABA helps with relaxation, stress reduction, reduced blood pressure and improved concentration. The natural supplement of GABA has not been shown to have side effects.

Valerian

Valerian, taken from the root of the plant, is used medicinally and dates back to popularity in Europe in the 17th century. Scientifically it is not known how valerian works, but it increases the amount of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) in the brain which has claims to promote a calming effect on anxiety. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that unlike many prescription sleep aids and anxiety reducers, valerian has fewer side effects.

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Magnesium

Stress or anxiety caused by stress can produce cortisol, which can deplete the magnesium in the body.



Author Adelle Davis wrote in "Let's Have Healthy Children" that even a mild deficiency causes sensitivity to noise, nervousness, irritability, mental depression, confusion, twitching, trembling, apprehension, insomnia, muscle weakness and cramps in the toes, feet, legs or fingers. Magnesium supplements are prescribed based on an individual's deficiency. Consult a physician, especially if you suffer from kidney problems, to establish a safe and effective dose. High doses can cause diarrhea, and very high doses can be toxic. Foods high in magnesium include green vegetables such as spinach, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and whole unrefined grains.

Calcium

Taking calcium in conjunction with magnesium can also be beneficial. When calcium is depleted, nerve cells can become overactive, which may cause anxiety. Supplements are available in a variety of doses, and it is best to establish the right dose especially if you do not consume enough Calcium in your diet. Natural sources of calcium include dairy products, eggs and leafy vegetables.

Physical Exercise

A study at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey, found that doing exercise can eliminate anxiety, tension and stress under pressure conditions, according to a report on The Sport Journal website. During physical exercise the body releases feel-good brain chemicals such as neurotransmitters and endorphins. In addition, a moderate-intensity exercise program is beneficial to the immune system while lowering levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Exercise also increases your body temperature, which has an overall calming effect.

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author image Patrice De La Ossa
Patrice De La Ossa is currently finishing her doctoral degree in education specializing in alternative/choice education and resides in Seattle, where she teaches at a local high school and university. Publications range from peer-reviewed journals and The Seattle Times' Newspapers in Education program to blogging as a master teacher and single parent. De La Ossa has attended University of Arizona, Antioch University and Walden University.
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