Best Amino Acids for Depression and Anxiety (15+ List)

This is an extensive list that covers a variety of amino acids that help with depression and anxiety. We will start by first explaining what an amino acid is and how it functions. Then we will discuss several amino acids that improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

What are the Best Amino Acids for Depression and Anxiety?

There are plenty of amino acids that help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Studies have also proven that these oral supplementations are safe and effective treatment options. Here are some amino acids that help:

  • Taurine
  • SAMe
  • Methionine
  • L-Citrulline
  • ALCAR
  • L-Citrulline
  • Phenylalanine
  • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
  • 5-HTP
  • GABA
  • Glutamine
  • L-Arginine
  • Theanine
  • Leucine-Histidine
  • Cysteine

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are organic compounds made of three parts, an amino group, a carboxyl group, and a side chain. They are the building units of proteins and are needed for healthy growth and development. 

Amino acids combine to form peptides, peptides combine to form proteins. Some amino acids are produced inside the body. Others need to be consumed through external sources and are called essential amino acids. 

High-protein foods like animal meats, soy, and quinoa have all nine essential amino acids. The body must be supplied with these organic compounds for it to grow healthily.

How do Amino Acids Help?

There are a large number of bodily processes that require amino acids. These functions include building muscles, immunity, transportation of nutrients, and important chemical reactions. 

An imbalance of amino acids disrupts these processes leading to bodily dysfunction. These could be problems like infections, indigestion, reduced cognitive ability, depression, slowed growth, and fertility issues. Amino acids not produced in the body need to be taken through food.

Can Amino Acids Improve Mental Health?

Many of the neurotransmitters inside us are made of various amino acids. Our protein intake affects the production and activity of neurotransmitters, which act like a messenger system in our body. 

These neurochemical reactions have a direct impact on our brain functioning and mental health. The right balance of these neurotransmitters is fundamental for good mental health. 

Sometimes, genetic or environmental causes disturb this balance making one more susceptible to mental illnesses. Incorporating the right amino acids in our diet can restore this balance and reduce the intensity of the illness.

Which Amino Acids Help with Depression and Anxiety?

For mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, one needs to take a holistic approach to recovery. These thought disorders need a primarily cognitive approach augmented with body-focussed treatment plans. 

Careful nutrition can help restore the balance of certain compounds in the body to make it more conducive for recovery. Amino acid supplements are one such way to improve the body’s physical health and consequently hasten mental health recovery.

Here are some amino acids that researchers are interested in for the treatment of depression and anxiety:

Taurine

This Korean study demonstrated how dietary taurine intake helped prevent depression in 130 female college students. This suggests that promoting physiological wellbeing can be a primary prevention technique to lower the prevalence of this leading disability. 

Taurine supplements have been in demand for their other health benefits like healthy metabolism. Now, they are suggested to be good for mental health too.

Our top 3 Taurine Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
Source Naturals240 Capsules1 gView Here
The Vitamin ShoppeContains RiceContains GelatinNon-VeganView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here

SAMe

SAMe stands for S-adenosyl-L-methionine. This amino acid is involved in the synthesis of various neurotransmitters in the brain. Mischoulon and Fava (2002) found remarkable results for the use of SAMe in the treatment of depression. 

Their research shows that SAMe is safe and superior to placebo in its antidepressant properties. In fact, it had a faster onset of action than conventional antidepressants.

Our top 3 SAMEe Recommendations

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Doctor’s BestSoy FreeGluten FreeVegetarianView Here
Nature Made36 Enteric Coated TabletsNo Artificial FlavoursGluten FreeView Here
NowNut FreeGMO FreeDairy FreeKosher CertifiedEgg FreeVeganView Here

Methionine

A 2020 research study looked at effective amino acids that can be added to diet for depression treatment. Methionine shows promising results on this front. It can be derived from meat, fish, and dairy products and is instrumental in preventing liver damage. 

Methionine also assists healing from physical wounds. As many scientific papers are confirming the role of methionine in ameliorating depressive symptoms, the demand for supplements is rising.

Our top 3 Methionine Recommendations

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Earthborn ElementsPureNon-GMOGluten FreeUS-MadeView Here
Earthborn ElementsPureNon-GMOGluten FreeUS-MadeView Here
Source NaturalsAdded ZincVegetarianView Here

L-Citrulline

Decreased levels of L-Citrulline are associated with the occurrence of major depressive disorder. This amino acid is medically used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, heart disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction. 

Citrulline supplements are also common in the bodybuilding industry. Perhaps now, dietary L-Citrulline production can be used to prevent depression as well.

Our top 3 L-Citrulline Recommendations

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NowNut FreeGMO FreeDairy FreeKosher CertifiedEgg FreeVeganView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here
Kaged MusclePowder FormUnflavouredCruelty FreeView Here

ALCAR

ALCAR is short for Acetyl-L-Carnitine, an amino acid taken through meat, dairy, or dietary supplements. It is an effective complementary treatment for long-term anxiety. 

A 2010 paper also reported that ALCAR can reduce depression and improve quality of life as well. Since ALCAR supplements are safe, accessible, and support mental health, we think they are worth a shot.

Our top 3 Acetyl-L-Carnitine Recommendations

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NowNut FreeGMO FreeDairy FreeKosher CertifiedEgg FreeVeganView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here
Nature’s BountyContains GelatinVegetable CelluloseVegetable Magnesium StearateView Here

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is one of the main ingredients in the synthesis of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Dopamine stimulation is associated with the reward centres of the brain. When we get a dopamine rush, we feel content. 

A 2017 study found that phenylalanine also has a relationship with anxiety. Similar studies have also found that oral phenylalanine supplementation reduces depressive symptoms.

Our top 3 Phenylalanine Recommendations

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Doctor’s BestSoy FreeGluten FreeVegetarianView Here
BluebonnetGluten FreeNon-GMONo SoyKosherVeganView Here
SolarayContains GelatinNon-veganView Here

L-Tryptophan

Adding tryptophan to your diet has been shown to decrease anxiety in healthy young adults. The body uses tryptophan to make important molecules like serotonin and melatonin. 

These two play an important role in mood changes and sleep, symptoms highly prevalent in depression and anxiety.Taking tryptophan orally could add to other psychological interventions from therapy.

Our top 3 L-Tryptophan Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
Source Naturals120 Capsules1.5 gView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here
Jarrow Formulas60 Capsules500 mgVegetarianView Here

Tyrosine

A 2010 article in the journal, Molecular Brain discovered a link between phosphorylation of tyrosine to anxiety attenuation. Other research publications also talk about the reduction of depressive symptoms after oral tyrosine intake. Taking tyrosine orally may be a solution to these conditions.

Our top Tyrosine Recommendation

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5-HTP

5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan, also known as oxitriptan. This is a naturally occurring amino acid and is a precursor to serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for mood. 

Back in 1984, it was established that 5-HTP plays a role in the mediation of anxiety. Serotonin production is also negatively correlated with many psychological disorders including depression. 

Our top 3 5-HTP Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
NatrolUnflavouredGMO FreeAdded CalciumView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here
Jarrow Formulas60 Capsules500 mgVegetarianView Here

GABA

GABA is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter that causes feelings of relaxation. γ‐Aminobutyric acid (GABA), when administered orally, displayed immunity-enhancing abilities. Abdou et al (2008) confirmed this with a study of oral GABA intake in humans. 

Depression is a common comorbidity of anxiety and can also benefit from a more relaxed self. GABA supplements can also counter the attack of these disorders on our immune system.

Our top 3 GABA Recommendations

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NowNut FreeGMO FreeDairy FreeKosher CertifiedEgg FreeVeganView Here
Source NaturalsUnflavouredDairy FreeEgg FreeGluten FreeSoy FreeView Here
Superior SourceContains MilkNatural Flavours100 mg CapsulesView Here

Glutamine

Scientists have found that glutamine administration can significantly increase GABA levels. Glutamine is a prerequisite to synthesise this neurotransmitter. Even when administered orally, it can increase GABA synthesis in our muscles.

Since glutamine and GABA are both accessible supplements, it is wise to consult a doctor or nutritionist for doses. They will look at your medical history and set appropriate quantities.

Our top 3 Glutamine Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
Optimum NutritionContains GelatinNon-VeganView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here
Jarrow Formulas35.3 OzPowder FormView Here

L-Arginine

People suffering from major depressive disorder are susceptible to cardiovascular disease. On examining the cause behind this, pharmacologists found that low levels of L-arginine may explain this. 

Sufficient levels of arginine in our systems can improve the prognosis of depression. L-Arginine is also a good amino acid for dealing with symptoms of anxiety.

Our top 3 L-Arginine Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
NowNut FreeGMO FreeDairy FreeKosher CertifiedEgg FreeVeganView Here
Source NaturalsUnflavouredCitrullineView Here
NutricostPowderUnflavouredGluten-freeNon-GMOView Here

Theanine

Another helpful amino acid for major depressive disorder is theanine. A 2016 investigation confirmed that theanine oral supplements are safe and have shown significant improvement in many psychological issues. 

Theanine can help with sleep disturbances, cognitive impairments, anxiety, and depression. It has also been shown to have comparable effects with Alprazolam, a psychiatric drug meant for anxiety.

Our top 3 Theanine Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
Nature’s TroveVegetarianKosherUS-MadeView Here
Natural FactorsChewableTropical Fruit FlavourContains SugarView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here

Leucine-Histidine

An Japanese lab tested the effect of oral administration of leucine-histidine dipeptides on behaviour in mice. The experimenters measured anxiety-like and depression-like behaviour using the Tail Suspension Test (TST). 

It was found that the leucine-histidine intervention suppressed the activation of biological processes that lead to emotional disturbances. The authors of this publication recommend the use of oral leucine-histidine dipeptides as a preventive measure for psychiatric diseases.

Our top 3 Leucine Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOVeganView Here
Earthborn ElementsPureNon-GMOGluten FreeUS-Made500 mgView Here
Source NaturalsNo YeastNo DairyNo GlutenNo StarchUnflavouredView Here

Cysteine

The amino acid cysteine is involved in the normal growth of hair, reducing effects of aging, and healing after surgery. It also contributes to the burning fat and increasing muscle mass.

Cysteine is also one of the building blocks of oxytocin, the neurotransmitter released when we feel love and affection. Chakraborty et al (2020) illustrated how chronic N-acetyl cysteine treatment can undo the cognitive damage caused by depression.

Our top 3 Cysteine Recommendations

BrandProduct Details
NowNut FreeGMO FreeDairy FreeKosher CertifiedEgg FreeVeganView Here
NutricostGluten FreeNon-GMOView Here
Life-ExtensionUnflavouredGMO FreeVegetarianView Here

Conclusion

This is an extensive list that covered a variety of amino acids that help with depression and anxiety. We started by first explaining what an amino acid is and how it functions. Then we discussed several amino acids that improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Our list included the amino acids taurine, SAMe, methionine, L-citrulline, ALCAR, phenylalanine, L-tryptophan, tyrosine, leucine-histidine, and cysteine. While some of these have sufficient evidence for their effectiveness, others need more research.

FAQs (Best Amino Acids for Depression and Anxiety)

What amino acids help with anxiety?

The best amino acids for anxiety and related symptoms are:

  • L-Lysine
  • L-Arginine
  • L-Tryptophan
  • Phenylalanine
  • Tyrosine
  • 5-HTP
  • Theanine
  • Taurine
  • Glutamine
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine
  • Histidine
  • Glycine
  • Val66Met
  • Threonine
  • Leucine
  • L-Cysteine
  • Proline
  • BCAAs
  • GABA

How much L-Tyrosine should I take for depression?

So far, there is no established appropriate dose for L-tyrosine in the treatment of depression. Some observations note 45-68 mg per pound (100–150 mg per kg) of body weight as a suitable dose. 

This is most effective when taken an hour before a stressful situation. However, it is best to consult a doctor or nutritionist to know which dose works for you.

What vitamins can you take for anxiety and depression?

Anxiety and depression symptoms may fall in intensity and frequency with vitamin supplements in diet. The vitamins you can try for these mental health conditions are:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B Complex

Citations

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