Multiple vitamins are basically a shotgun approach to nutritional supplementation. We know that a number of vitamins and minerals are useful for basic processes in our body. A multiple vitamin brings them all together (at least the ones we know about) and gives you some of each.
But do you really need a multiple? And will it help your anxiety? Well, you know that when your nutrients are low, your mood goes south. The standard American diet that many of us use to keep our bodies nourished is woefully low in vegetables and whole foods. As a result, you become deficient in the things you really need. For example, quality protein breaks down into amino acids. Amino acids like tryptophan are the building blocks of neurotransmitters—our molecules of emotion. Without protein, our neurotransmitter levels suffer.
I Don’t Need A Multi - I Eat A Very Healthy Diet
You might say, “That doesn’t apply to me. I eat a very healthy diet.” Maybe you do. Consider this: the most complete studies on the subject show that, unfortunately, even people who think they eat a healthy diet are in trouble. The American Dietetic Association reviewed seventy dietary analyses of over twenty different diets from a cross section of people, ranging from elite athletes, to people who had phenomenally healthy food intake, to non-exercisers ate poorly. What was shown was that no diet, even among the people who ate well, contained 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of needed nutrients. And guess what? The athletes were the most deficient of all.
Research on Multiple Vitamins and Anxiety
Researchers out of Australia gave fifty healthy men (aged fifty to seventy) either a multiple vitamin or a placebo. They found the men who took the vitamin had lower stress and more energy. As a result, they got more done. Meta-analysis out of the United Kingdom in 2013 looked at 8 previous works, and also showed that a good multiple vitamin helped mild mood problems and was associated with lower stress and increased energy. It found that the multiple reduced the levels of mild psychiatric symptoms, perceived stress and anxiety, as well as lowering fatigue and confusion.
How to Dose a Multiple Vitamin
I always tell my patients to pick a good quality multiple vitamin in capsule form (which means it has powder in it – versus a tablet, which is hard, and typically harder for the body to break down). The average dose for a quality capsule is three to six per day, with food. I know that sounds like a lot, but it is usually necessary in the beginning—after all, you need to replace lost nutrients from years of anxiety. After a few months you can bring the dose down to half, and few months later to a quarter (if your whole food intake is high).
Of course, it is best to also start bringing healthy foods like vegetables and fruits to continue on with the best form of all the nutrients in the long term. While vitamins are supportive and helpful, nothing replaces good quality food.
Please known that anxiety is caused by many factors. Balancing sleep, foods, lifestyle in addition to the right nutrients is the best prescription for anxiety. A good multiple vitamin can help this process.
About the Author: Peter Bongiorno, ND, LAc, is author of How Come They’re Happy and I’m Not? The Complete Natural Guide to Healing Depression for Good. His newest book is Holistic Therapies for Anxiety and Depression by Norton Press. More about Peter can be found at drpeterbongiorno.com and innersourcehealth.com, @drbongiorno and on Facebook.
Please listen to Dr. Bongiorno and many other wonderful speakers at the Anxiety Summit to learn more about how you can control anxiety and panic attacks.
The 2013 U.S. Preventive Task Force Series study [RL4] [pb5] shows side effects or toxicity associated with multiple vitamins. Trials of over 27,000 people suggest less cancer in people who take a multi-vitamin.
Misner B. Food Alone May Not Provide Sufficient Micronutrients for Preventing Deficiency J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006; 3(1): 51–55
Harris E, Kirk J, Rowsell R, Vitetta L, Sali A, Scholey AB, Pipingas A. The effect of multivitamin supplementation on mood and stress in healthy older men. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2011 Dec;26(8):560-7.
Long SJ, Benton D. Effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on stress, mild psychiatric symptoms, and mood in nonclinical samples: a meta-analysis. Psychosom Med. 2013 Feb;75(2):144-53