It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re feeling anxious and caught in worry loops. To help you cut through the confusion, I’ve put together my top 10 nutrients for supporting your mood and emotional wellbeing in turbulent times.
To be clear: this isn’t about adding another thing to the mental list of “I should….”. You probably have more than enough of those already.
Instead, this is about putting you back in control of your health with simple choices.
When you choose foods that nourish your body rather than deplete it, you’re sending your nervous system a powerful signal of safety.
It’s a bit like telling yourself “I’ve got this” at a cellular level. And when your body feels supported, it’s much easier for you to feel grounded and calm.
Food vs supplements
I’ve included easy food sources of all nutrients. While supplements can be helpful, I always start with food when I’m working with my clients. That’s because natural, whole foods are ready-made packages of bioavailable nutrients.
This means you’re benefiting from a much broader variety of vitamins and minerals in a form your body recognizes, so it can use this incredible nutrient fuel much more efficiently. Plus, food tastes good!
Without further ado, here are my top 10 nutrients to consider when you’re anxious so you can start feeling calmer, clearer and back in control.
My top nutrients when you’re feeling anxious
This balancing mineral supports restful sleep, reduces tiredness and encourages a brighter mood and sense of wellbeing. 
Find in: dark green leafy vegetables (eg. bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress, rocket, parsley), pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, dark chocolate, salmon, coriander, artichokes, cashews, figs, apricots
Helps regulate high cortisol levels, reducing that panicky, “tired but wired” feeling. It also builds resiliency to stress by supporting adrenal function. 
Find in: red/yellow peppers, broccoli, berries, oranges, kiwis, lemons, mangoes, asparagus, tomatoes plus any brightly coloured fresh vegetable or fruit
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Long known as an “anti-stress” vitamin, B5 is a tonic for the adrenal glands, encouraging a healthy stress response. 
Find in: organic liver, wild fish, free-range chicken, turkey, mushrooms, pecans, buckwheat, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, lentils, cashew nuts, chickpeas, lentils, broccoli, hazelnuts, avocado
Folate (vitamin B9)
Supports mental wellbeing, healthy hormone balance and brain function. Folate is what I call a Goldilocks vitamin when it comes to anxiety: you want to get the levels just right. Too little can leave you feeling tired and drained, too much can make you feel more anxious.  That’s why I recommend starting with food instead of supplements, unless you’re working with an experienced practitioner and/or you’ve had a blood test to determine your baseline level.
Find in: dark green leafy veg (see list above for magnesium), broccoli, Brussel sprouts, organic liver, oranges, beans, avocados
Essential for optimising energy levels and supporting a balanced mood. There is some incredible research behind this vitamin for improving anxiety and depression.  It’s especially important if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, as you can only get bioavailable B12 (the type your body is able to use) through meat, fish and eggs. If you’re plant-based and feeling low or anxious, you might consider getting your B12 levels tested to determine if supplementation is right for you.
Find in: grass-fed beef and lamb, wild fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon), eggs, feta cheese
Omega-3 fats have been well studied for depression and may also reduce the symptoms of anxiety by supporting HPA-axis function.  Omega-3s can also help regulate cortisol production and support a healthy hormonal cycle, so particularly useful if you suffer with PMS and mood swings leading up to your period.
Find in: eggs, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds
Low selenium diets are correlated with higher levels of anxiety and depression.  Selenium is also needed for healthy thyroid function, which is particularly important during times of stress or when you’re feeling anxious.
Find in: most abundant in Brazil nuts (aim for about 2-3 nuts per day). Other sources include eggs, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, chard, spinach, grass-fed beef, brown rice, sardines, free-range poultry
Tryptophan is a building block for serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. It’s an essential amino acid which means your body doesn’t make it, so getting enough in your diet is important. Studies show tryptophan can be useful for restful sleep, anxiety, low mood and memory.  
Find in: free-range eggs, spirulina, wild fish, free-range poultry, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, walnuts, grass-fed beef and lamb, wholegrain oats, brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, bananas
Zinc helps to support your gut-brain connection and has been shown to help with anxiety. 
Find in: pumpkin seeds, oysters, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, cashews, lamb, chicken, mushrooms, shrimp, flaxseeds
Technically not a vitamin at all, but a hormone. The growing body of evidence behind vitamin D shows that optimal levels can support everything from memory and cognition to healthy hormone function, seasonal anxiety and low mood.    As such, it’s something I check with all my clients as a matter of course, especially if they report feeling anxious.
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, with only limited amounts found in food. So, this is one instance where supplementation can be helpful straightaway if you’re suffering with mood swings, hormonal issues like PMS, poor immunity and low energy. Ideally, get your vitamin D tested to establish what’s right for you. Generally, a dose between 2,000IU – 4,000IU per day is considered safe in winter.