Key nutrients to heal anxiety, depression and burnout

  • Thu, 10/21/2021 - 12:53
  • Key nutrients to heal anxiety, depression and burnout
  • by IMI health

When it comes to mental health, it’s often easiest to take small steps towards recovery.

One simple way you can support your mind is by ensuring it has the correct levels of key nutrients, so that it has a solid foundation from which to blossom.

Nutritional imbalances can have a negative impact on your mental health. Low levels of magnesium, omega 3 and vitamins B, C and D have all been proven to contribute to anxiety, depression and sleep problems.

Think of daily supplementation as piecing together the sides of the jigsaw puzzle for better mental health. Undoubtedly, other things will be necessary to complete the picture, but creating the framework is a great place to start.

Omega 3

Research shows that supplementing with omega 3 can bring you back from burnout, decreasing emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation.24 Essentially, omega 3 supplementation helps you come home to yourself.

If you’re not getting your twice-weekly portion of oily fish, like salmon, sardines or mackerel, then a supplement is the simple way to ensure you’re meeting the required dose of omega 3 to keep your brain happy.

Aside from stress and low mood, signs of omega 3 imbalance include small bumps on the back of your arms, fatigue, poor memory, mood swings, and dry skin.

When looking for an omega oil, make sure you choose one that's quality. Key signs that an omega oil is quality are packaging (which should be either dark or opaque to prevent oxidisation) brand reputation, price (you get what you pay for with omegas) and whether it's recommended by practitioners. Triglyceride forms are also good to look out for, as these are absorbed better.

B vitamins

Studies have made clear the link between low levels of vitamin B and mood disorders. B vitamins can relieve stress and promote happier, healthier moods.25

Low B9 and B12 levels are clearly linked to depression. Conversely, countries with high consumption of folate (B9) have fewer instances of major depression.26

They’ve also been cited as a potential treatment for burnout and stress in the workplace, with preliminary studies showing a clear reduction in symptoms when supplementing with B vitamins.27

Vegetarians, vegans and those with chronic conditions (particularly digestive and immune) are at higher risk for developing vitamin B imbalance. Alongside irritability and depression, low levels can cause yellowing of the skin, a sore tongue and pins and needles.

B complexes support the production of neurotransmitters which regulate our mood and stress levels, lifting moods and keeping fatigue at bay.

When buying a B complex, it's essential you find one with active Bs. Around a third of the population has the MTHFR mutation, meaning that they can't absorb B vitamins unless they're in the active form. 

Vitamin C

Low vitamin C levels are commonly associated with high stress levels. Also a key nutrient for your immunity, which is more at-risk when you’re stressed, vitamin C imbalances are important to correct during the winter months when your immune system and mental health are more susceptible.

You might be more at risk of vitamin C imbalance if you smoke, have a poor diet, or drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

Other signs of low vitamin C levels include rough, dry skin, slow healing wounds and easy bruising.

If you have a sensitive stomach, look for a non-acidic or buffered form of vitamin C.

Vitamin D

It’s not called the sunshine vitamin for no reason! Vitamin D helps lift mood and ease stress and low levels are associated with both depression and anxiety.28 29

Though we’d like to think we get all the vitamin D we need from our food, this sometimes isn’t possible due to low quality soil, pesticides and long-term refrigeration during transit which causes fresh produce to lose its nutritional value.

If you’re using sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun, then you’re potentially at risk for vitamin D imbalance. Those with darker skin tones are also more likely to have low levels, as melanin limits the production of vitamin D from sunlight exposure.

Other signs you may have insufficient vitamin D levels are fatigue, achey bones and weakness in your muscles.

Vitamin D3 is the better absorbed and more beneficial form of vitamin D. Look out for formulas which provide it with vitamin K (another way to improve absorption) or supplements that provide it in 'nano particles'. Sprays are also good for boosting bioavailability, as they are absorbed by the lining of your mouth, which is more permeable that the lining of your gut.


Magnesium stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) the system which is activated during meditation, in which deep healing can take place. Magnesium supplementation stimulates the vagus nerve, which signals to the brain that it’s time to unwind.

Magnesium also promotes production of GABA and other calming neurotransmitters which are key to unlocking better mental health.

Signs that you may have insufficient levels of magnesium include muscle tension, fatigue and loss of appetite.

For relaxation, look for forms like Magnesium glycinate or malate. Check which magnesium formula is right for your needs

Best for tests

If you've witnessed a change in your mental health lately and would like to rule out nutritional factors, we can test for any imbalances.This way, you can be sure that you’re giving your body exactly what it needs.

A well-rounded approach

This shouldn’t be the only stop on your path to healing. Though nutritional factors support your mental health and can put you on the road to recovery, anxiety and depression are complex conditions, and often there’s more beneath the surface that needs to be explored.

We recommend an integrated approach when it comes to anxiety and depression. In-clinic we can offer counselling and psychotherapy services, as well as a range of other therapies and treatments which can bring you back into balance.

Contact us for more information.



[1] L Jahangard, M Hedayati, R Abbasalipourkabir, M Haghighi, M Ahmadpanah, M Faryadras, T Mikoteit, D S Bahmani, S Brand, Omega-3-polyunsatured fatty acids (O3PUFAs), compared to placebo, reduced symptoms of occupational burnout and lowered morning cortisol secretion, 2019.
[2] L M Young, A Pipingas, D J White, S Gauci, A Scholey, A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals, 2019.
[3] A Coppen, C Bolander-Gouaille, Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12, 2005.
[4] C Stough, T Simpson, J Lomas, G McPhee, C Billings, S Myers, C Oliver, L A Downey, Reducing occupational stress with a B-vitamin focussed intervention: a randomized clinical trial: study protocol, 2014.
[5] R E S Anglin, Z Samaan, S D Walter, S D McDonald, Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis, 2018.
[6] L Kelley, A F P Sanders, E A Beaton, Vitamin D deficiency, behavioral atypicality, anxiety and depression in children with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, 2016.