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Vitamin C for Anxiety & Brain Health

Vitamin C Mental Health Cognition

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Vitamin C for Anxiety

Guest post by Catherine Moore

The importance of vitamin C in our diets isn’t news but it may have more benefits for our brains than we knew.

A healthy body equals a healthy brain — focus, memory and cognitive processes all start with proper nutrition. Whether we suffer from anxiety, poor memory, or we have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, natural food and a healthy dose of vitamin C can do wonders for our minds.

We have known the importance of vitamin C since the days when sailors got scurvy from diets completely deficient in this essential nutrient.

Now, we know that its antioxidant properties neutralize free radicals and protect our DNA. Vitamin C also helps iron absorption which prevents anemia. During cold and flu season, some people believe it helps to increase our intake of vitamin C to help keep respiratory illnesses at bay.

People with cancer may benefit from taking vitamin C, though further research is needed in this area.

Vitamin C, Mood, and Brain Function

In terms of mental health and cognitive ability, the benefits of vitamin C are notable.

Vitamin C protects the nervous system which leads to emotional stability, better memory, a sense of calm and higher IQ.

Here’s how:

Our bodies require antioxidants such as vitamin C to keep free radicals in check. When there are more free radicals than antioxidants, oxidative stress occurs.6

Oxidative stress can cause neuropsychological disorders like anxiety.

One study of high school students showed a significant decrease in anxiety after taking vitamin C for 2 weeks. The study also suggested that the decrease in anxiety led to improved academic performance.7 Those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD often have anxiety and vitamin C may improve symptoms.

That’s because vitamin C plays an integral role in brain and nerve cell development and myelin production, both of which are necessary for the protection of the nervous system.8

According to Alison Smith Ph.D., vitamin C helps convert dopamine into norepinephrine which is essential for focus, memory performance and emotional calm. In fact, those with ADHD may have low norepinephrine.

Better memory performance is also associated with a high level of vitamin C in blood serum. Those of us who are ageing need vitamin C because it supports cognitive function.9

How Much Vitamin C Do We Need?

Vitamin C in Oranges and Lemon for Anxiety

If our diets are varied and include lots of fruits and veggies and few processed foods, we are likely getting enough vitamin C. According to Health Canada, the daily amount of vitamin C for adults is 60 to 90 mg and 15 to 50 mg for kids. 

Dieticians say the upper limit is 2000 mg of vitamin C per day.1 It is important to note that physical activity helps our body’s response to vitamin C. 2 (NCIB 2017 Mar 29)

We find the highest concentration of vitamin C in fruit and some vegetables. These foods contain the most vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet peppers
  • Guava
  • Tomatoes
  • Brussel Sprouts
In supplement form, vitamin C is known as ascorbic acid.

Lack of vitamin C can lead to:

  • Joint pain
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Fatigue
  • Cardiovascular disease
 

Some people may need more vitamin C than others. Those at risk of inadequate vitamin C are:

  • Smokers
  • Infants who are not breastfed or fed with fortified formula
  • People with chronic diseases that hinder absorption5

Vitamin C & Magnesium 

As you may know, magnesium is another nutrient that can help with mood. Specifically, magnesium calms the nervous system.

Magnesium is also required for absorption of many nutrients, and conversion of some nutrients into forms usable for your cells. Vitamin C appears to be one of the nutrients that depends, to an extent, on the presence of magnesium.

In a study on the anti-cancer effects of adding magnesium supplements to vitamin C therapy, the researchers found that “cellular uptake of vitamin C and ROS generation increased with magnesium supplementation. Magnesium supplementation enhanced the uptake of vitamin C into cells”.

Most people do not get enough magnesium from diet. If you would like natural support for mood, focus, and overall health, consider adding a highly-absorbable magnesium supplement along with vitamin C.

Natural Calm is an award-winning magnesium citrate supplement backed by tens of thousands of five-star reviews from customers around the world, many of whom use Natural Calm for mood support.

About the Author: Catherine Moore is a freelance writer in Toronto with a background teaching English and developing curriculum. 

Sources

1. Alison Smith Ph.D., Dietary Supplements in relation to Mental Focus and Memory

2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

3. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/vitamin-c.html/

4. https://www.supplementhq.com/vitamin-c-supplements-and-benefits/

5. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/vitamin-c.html/

6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26353411

8. Alison Smith Ph.D., Dietary Supplements in relation to Mental Focus and Memory

9. Alison Smith Ph.D., Dietary Supplements in relation to Mental Focus and Memory

10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6940627

 

Vitamin C and Anxiety FAQs

Have you ever wondered if there is any link between vitamin C and anxiety? Indeed, a growing number of people are struggling with anxiety, and any natural supplements to help combat this could be helpful. Studies have found some correlation between vitamin C supplements and patients’ reported feelings of anxiety. As such, it’s worth considering whether vitamin C supplements could be beneficial for your own mental health.

If you have been looking to take vitamins to combat your feelings of depression, anxiety, and poor mental health, then vitamin C could be a good option to consider. Vitamin C has been found, in studies, to help reduce patients’ feelings of stress and anxiety, making it a potentially beneficial vitamin to take for anxiety. Other effective vitamins for reducing anxiety include calcium, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.

While some studies have considered the potential for vitamin C to trigger neuropsychological disorders due to its role as an antioxidant, there is also evidence that taking Vitamin C supplements – along with other minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins – could help reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and low mental health. As such, if you’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety, vitamin C supplements could be a good option to consider.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant compound. Despite this, studies appear to indicate that taking vitamin C supplements – even if you are not necessarily deficient in vitamin C – can help reduce the feelings of stress, poor mental health, anxiety and depression, and general brain fog. Similar results may also be achieved by taking multivitamins containing a good dose of Vitamin C alongside other vitamins and minerals.

Beating anxiety without medication is entirely possible, however, it’s important you give your body what it needs to recover. Ensuring a healthy diet with a good balance of vitamins and minerals – in particular, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins – is a key step for this. However, if you are severely struggling with anxiety, depression, or poor mental health, rapid intervention with help from medications is crucial. Always consult your doctor for further advice on healing from anxiety.

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