Best GABA Supplements for 2023 – CNET

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$10 at Amazon

Bottle of Source Naturals GABA Calm supplement

Source Naturals GABA Calm Lozenges

Best GABA lozenges

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Bottle of Pure Encapsulations GABA supplement

Pure Encapsulations GABA

Best high-dose GABA supplement

GABA — Gamma-aminobutyric acid — is a necessary amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter to calm the brain. It’s known to play a significant role in our immune and endocrine systems. The deficiency of GABAcould also lead to anxiety, mood disorders and insomnia. That’s where supplements come in. GABA is often an ingredient in stress-relieving and sleep aids, though it’s also available as a standalone supplement. Before we talk about the best GABA supplements, though, a caveat: There’s a lot of debate around GABA supplementation and whether it actually works or provides health benefits.

The research is varied, spanning decades and still without clinical determination. However, GABA supplements are generally considered safe to take. Below are our picks for the best GABA supplement options out there if you want to try them, but remember that it’s best to speak to your doctor before taking any GABA supplement, to ensure it suits your health needs.

How did we choose the best GABA supplements?

This curated list was determined based on company reputation, ingredients, dosage and customer reviews. The price, quality and form of each supplement were also considered.  

Our picks for the best GABA supplements 

Bottle of Thorne GABA Supplement

Thorne

Thorne is one of the most respected brands for supplements, thanks to its independent research, high-quality ingredients and simple formulas that you can trust. That’s because Thorne goes the extra mile to clinically test its products for effectiveness. 

Thorne PharmaGABA includes a natural source of GABA, which is supposed to outperform the synthetic version, according to the clinical research that Thorne references on the website. Though I admit I wish it were easier to find the study to fully investigate, I had to search the site to find citations to the studies; they weren’t on the product page. The site also references an unpublished comparison trial that natural GABA increases relaxation, which I thought was a stretch since customers can’t access the data from that trial. 

That said, there are no fillers in this GABA supplement, and Thorne is transparent about how ingredients are sourced. You can choose from 100 mg and 250 mg dosages. 

Best features:

  • This GABA supplement is free from additives, gluten, dairy and soy. It’s also derived from natural colors and flavors. 
  • Thorne has clinical research that gives consumers extra confidence in what they’re buying. 

Things to consider: 

  • Thorne’s GABA supplement is not a budget choice at $53 for 60 capsules. Assuming you take three capsules daily as the label suggests you can, then that’s only a 20-day supply. Even with only one each day, it’s still considerably more expensive than other options. 

Form: Capsule 

Dosage: 250 mg. Take one capsule one to three times daily

Price: $53 for 60 capsules 

Bottle of NOW GABA supplement

NOW

NOW is one of the most affordable and well-known brands in the supplement industry. It’s what I would consider a no-fuss, budget GABA supplement that you can count on. It includes a big dose of 500 mg of GABA and 2 mg of vitamin B-6, 118% of your daily value. 

This supplement contains some fillers — rice flour, silicon dioxide and stearic acid. None of them are surprising or harmful. They are standard for NOW supplements, but it’s important to know that it’s not pure GABA. You shouldn’t choose NOW GABA if you don’t want any fillers in your supplements.

The dosage of 500 mg is significantly higher than other brands on the list and may be too much for some. The packaging says to take the capsules with water, juice or on an empty stomach. 

Best features:

  • You have a lot of flexibility with the GABA supplement you choose from NOW. There are 500 or 750 mg capsules or chewable tablets, and 100- or 200-count options. 
  • NOW is one of the most affordable brands on the market for supplements.
  • This GABA supplement is both vegetarian and vegan. 
  • NOW GABA supplements are cGMP-certified. 

Things to consider:

  • The NOW GABA supplement has a hefty dose of GABA, which may only be suitable for some. At 500 mg per capsule, that’s nearly triple what other products offer. 
  • This GABA supplement includes nonharmful fillers, but it is something to note. 

Form: Capsule 

Dosage: 500 mg per capsule. Take one to two capsules per day as needed.

Price: $14 for 200 capsules

Bottle of Source Naturals GABA Calm supplement

Source Naturals

If you have difficulty swallowing capsules, you may be looking for a GABA supplement in lozenge form. Lozenges dissolve in your mouth and enter your bloodstream rather than breaking down in your small intestine. This GABA supplement is available in either orange or mint flavors. 

In addition to GABA, you also get a decent amount of other supplements as well, including magnesium as magnesium amino acid complex (5 mg), glycine (50 mg), n-acetyl l-tyrosine (25 mg) and taurine (20 mg). N-acetyl l-tyrosine is the precursor to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps us feel good. While the extras aren’t strictly necessary to make the GABA supplement work, seeing them there is nice. 

However, including tyrosine in this product means that if someone on MAO inhibitors (a form of antidepressant) takes it, they may experience spikes in their blood pressure. It’s best to avoid this product if you are taking MAO inhibitors. 

This GABA supplement has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with nearly 2,000 reviews, many of which praise the effectiveness of this GABA supplement. 

Best features:

  • This GABA supplement is free from major allergens like yeast, dairy, egg, gluten and soy. 
  • Unlike some supplements on the market, this GABA lozenge isn’t very big, about the size of a Skittle.
  • Source Naturals GABA Calm Lozenges are made in the US.

Things to consider:

  • The Source Naturals GABA supplement is in lozenge form, meaning you must hold it in your mouth until it dissolves. 
  • The flavors are orange or peppermint, which aren’t for everyone. 
  • This product can cause blood pressure spikes for those on MAO inhibitors. 

Form: Lozenge 

Dosage: 125 mg. Take one lozenge one to three times daily. 

Price: $11 for 60 lozenges 

Bottle of Pure Encapsulations GABA supplement

Pure Encapsulations

For those who are GABA-deficient and looking for a product with a ton of GABA, consider Pure Encapsulations, with 700 mg of GABA in one capsule. The brand has been around for 30 years and is one of the most trusted supplement brands around. 

Unique to Pure Encapsulations, this GABA supplement includes ascorbyl palmitate, a compound made of vitamin C and palmitic acid. Including this compound in the supplement is intended to help the GABA be absorbed into the body faster and more effectively. We don’t know for certain if that works, but it makes the Food and Drug Administration list of what is generally considered safe

The Pure Encapsulations GABA supplement has 4.5 stars on Amazon, with nearly 1,200 reviews. Many say the capsule is easy to swallow, and the product has helped them manage anxiety or fall asleep faster.

Best features:

  • Pure Encapsulations is a brand known for making high-quality and reliable supplements. 
  • Free of major allergens, GMOs and artificial colors and flavors. 
  • This GABA supplement is vegan and vegetarian. 

Things to consider:

  • The dosage is high on this GABA supplement at 700 mg. That’s considerably more than the average person would likely need. 
  • How much ascorbyl palmitate is in the product isn’t listed. 

Form: Capsule 

Dosage: 700 mg. Take one capsule daily. 

Price: $35 for 120 capsules

Packaging of Frunutta GABA tablet supplements

Frunutta

Frunutta offers a GABA supplement in a quickly dissolving tablet in a natural cherry flavor. Because you place it under your tongue to dissolve, absorption happens faster and avoids entering the digestive system. Unlike the other options on the list, Frunutta’s dosage is lower at only 100 mg. It’s great for people who want a no-fuss option that has a low dose of GABA. Or people who want to take GABA to reduce anxiety throughout the day. It allows you to decide when to take them without worrying about getting too much. 

Best features:

  • Frunutta’s GABA supplement is made in FDA-registered and NSF-certified facilities. 
  • This GABA supplement is free of preservatives, dyes, additives and GMOs. It is also gluten- and sugar-free. 

Things to consider:

  • If you’re looking for a high dose of GABA, this isn’t the product for you. 
  • It’s only $12 for 90 tablets, but depending on how many you take each day, that may not last as long as other budget options with higher dosages. 

Form: Tablet 

Dosage: 100 mg

Price: $12 for 90 tablets 

What is GABA?

GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It attaches to nerve receptors in the brain and changes its ability to take in and send signals. Essentially, it calms us down by blocking signals from excitatory messages from getting to the central nervous system. 

GABA receptors in the brain are targeted by medications that treat mood disorders, insomnia and epilepsy. 

Let me break it down even further: GABA helps calm our nervous system — which can help calm anxiety, stress and help us sleep. It can help us sleep by slowing brain activity and dropping our heart rate and blood pressure. It’s conceptually similar to how alcohol can help you fall asleep; research suggests alcohol can bind to GABA receptors and block signaling. 

Do GABA supplements work? 

Here’s the thing about GABA supplements: The research varies on what they can precisely do. There isn’t a consensus on the effectiveness, how much of the supplement reaches the brain and how long it lasts. There is debate about whether GABA supplements can effectively pass through the blood-brain barrier. Additionally, there isn’t significant evidence that GABA supplements can help treat medical conditions.

However, there are signs that it may help you sleep. A small study investigating GABA for insomnia found that those who took 300 mg of GABA an hour before bedtime fell asleep faster and reported better sleep. However, this study was of only 40 people. 

GABA that naturally occurs in the brain does help you sleep and reduce anxiety. It’s just not yet clear if GABA supplements work in the same way or not. 

What are the side effects of GABA supplements?

Again, more research is needed to determine the potential downsides of GABA supplements. According to a safety review from the United States Pharmacopeia, a clinical study of 120 mg per day of GABA for 12 weeks wasn’t associated with any side effects. Another study in the review found that higher doses of 5 g or 10 g per day resulted in a burning sensation in the throat that went away after a few minutes. 

However, there are common side effects that have been reported. They are as follows:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Drowsiness
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle weakness 

Some research has found that GABA supplements have the potential to interfere with certain medications and supplements that lower your blood pressure, like folic acid or omega-3 fatty acids. Since GABA supplements also lower your blood pressure, mixing the two could drop it too much. 

There’s a lot we don’t know for sure about GABA supplements. Research is still ongoing. Speak to your doctor and review your prescription medications to determine if a GABA supplement is safe for your health. 

What to consider when shopping for GABA supplements

The FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement market as it does medications. This means there are fewer requirements for manufacturers when producing products. That’s why it’s important to watch for key factors that can guide you in choosing the best GABA supplement for your needs.

  • Brand reputation: Many brands are eager to establish trust and bridge the gap between regulations and their practices. Many have in-house research and third-party certifications that can help you feel confident in the product that you’re buying.  
  • Dosage: Different GABA supplements will have different dosages and recommendations. Pay close attention to this, especially if you’re on medications that lower your blood pressure. 
  • Ingredients: You would assume GABA supplements only have GABA in them. However, many supplements may have fillers, allergens and artificial dyes that you may wish to avoid. 
  • Form: Like so many other supplements, there are several forms that GABA supplements come in. The most popular is a capsule, but they’re also available in lozenges or liquid form. Note that the liquid form of any supplement is harder to monitor the dosage you ingest. 

Best GABA supplements FAQ

What do GABA supplements do?

GABA functions in the brain to hinder nerve receptors’ ability to receive and send signals, which results in a calming effect for the body. This is most significant in the help of managing anxiety and stress. However, the best GABA supplements can also help you fall asleep faster at night. 

Do GABA supplements really work for anxiety?

GABA supplements help lower blood pressure, a necessary step in treating stress and anxiety. Small studies support the effects of GABA supplements for anxiety on slowing brain waves. 

What are the negative effects of too much GABA?

Side effects associated with GABA vary depending on your body and how much you take. However, common side effects include a burning sensation in the throat, drowsiness, digestive troubles and fatigue. 

When is the best time to take GABA?

Take GABA supplements on an empty stomach for the best results. If you’re taking it to help you sleep, it’s best to take your GABA supplement about an hour before you go to sleep.

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