Best GABA Supplement

We’ve laid out the pros, cons, and details of the best GABA supplements you can take in 2024 to manage stress, sleep, and more.

by
Last updated: Dec 26th, 2023
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Best GABA Supplement

According to Gallup’s annual Global Emotions Report, over 40% of adults worldwide reported experiencing record-high stress levels in 2020. That number might be elevated because of the pandemic, but it’s been steadily increasing since 2015. Americans, in particular, have incredibly high levels of stress. And with chronic stress comes problems in nearly every part of your body, dramatically affecting your quality of life.

In times of chronic, low-level stress, whether it’s from a busy job or lack of sleep, you can turn to GABA, one of your body’s own best building blocks. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is an amino acid and the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain. It’s taken as a supplement for many reasons, with the overarching goal of helping you feel more centered throughout your day. We’ve found the top GABA supplements and tested and reviewed them so you can discover what will help you the most.

If you’re in a hurry, check out our top recommendations for the best GABA supplements below.

Summary of recommendations

Our Top Choice

PharmaGABA's all-natural ingredients are scientifically backed and have the strongest efficacy.

Thorne’s ingredients are free of gluten, soy, and dairy. They’re trusted by many third party groups like the Mayo Clinic. Choose between two dosage options.

FREE Shipping from Thorne

Table of Contents

In this Review

Why you should trust us

Your brain is a delicate organ, and there are hundreds of supplements on the market that all claim to improve its functioning. We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing supplements that claim to alter your mental state, including nootropic compounds with dozens of ingredients and specialized products like GABA. For this review alone, we read more than 50 scientific studies looking at the safety and efficacy of synthetic GABA and its oft-partnered ingredients.

Like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. We’ll keep an eye on the latest science and shifting product options for GABA supplements to ensure this guide stays up-to-date.

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles.

How we evaluated GABA supplements

To best understand how GABA supplements compare, we judge them all in four categories: how well they work, how much they cost, how safe they are, and if they include any additional ingredients that can boost efficacy or help you relieve stress and sleep more soundly. Effectiveness is the most important factor to us — nothing else matters if a supplement doesn’t work — followed by safety, since supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA in the same way as prescription medications. Cost and additional ingredients are important to consider, but most GABA supplements cost between $20 and $30, and additional ingredient lists are slim, so they aren’t as make-or-break for our decisions.

For us, Thorne’s PharmaGABA is the best GABA supplement for most circumstances. It hosts multiple successful studies on its well-tolerated effects without any extraneous ingredients, and it’s transparently created at two appropriate doses (most GABA supplements are only available in one strength). We also consider it a close runner-up in our safety category, as its manufacturing practices aren’t quite as transparent as Nutricost’s GABA powder. This powder also wins our consideration for cost, as it provides 1,000 decently dosed servings (or more than three years’ worth of GABA) for less than $30, which is more than five times cheaper than the next lowest-cost alternative. It’s a pure GABA powder, though, so if you’re looking for something with added ingredients for a more holistic improvement to your anxiety and insomnia, Source Naturals’ GABA Calm lozenges provide the best ingredients to improve how much GABA your body absorbs, as well as some that boost its general calming effect.

Effectiveness

Winner: Thorne PharmaGABA

When it comes to efficacy, we want to know how well the supplement does what it’s supposed to do. We look at the quality of ingredients, safety, how well it’s likely to be used by the body, proper dosage, and delivery method when deciding a supplement’s efficacy. Essentially, does this supplement do what it promises quickly and easily?

Thorne’s PharmaGABA is the gold standard. The company uses a form of GABA made from fermentation using Lactobacillus hilgardii, and Thorne’s website clearly explains where and how the supplement is made. This particular form is regularly used in several successful clinical studies, ranging from its effects on helping you get to sleep faster to its use in a case study, calming someone who was suffering from bipolar disorder with psychotic features and suicidality. It’s the only product on our list that’s available in more than one dose (either 100mg or 250mg per capsule) to provide options for seasoned users and people who are just starting to try GABA supplementation.

Cost

Winner: Nutricost GABA Powder

The total cost, cost per unit, and product quality are all important when it comes to the cost of a supplement, but we also consider the availability of subscription programs or bulk deals, shipping charges, and return policies — anywhere you might save or lose a little more money with every order.

Nutricost’s GABA Powder comes in a large tub with its own scoop like a traditional protein powder might. This bucket holds one thousand servings of pure GABA — or about three years’ worth of 500mg servings — for $28.95. Though that number’s gone up from $22.95 in our last review, it’s still only about three cents per serving, which is an outstanding value in our book. And, since it’s pure GABA, there are no extraneous ingredients to worry about interfering with your supplemental GABA intake.

Ingredients

Winner: Source Naturals GABA Calm lozenges

Typically, the fewer ingredients in a supplement, the more likely you will have a high concentration of just the vitamin, mineral, or herb you’re looking for. It gets a little more complicated when it comes to GABA supplements since we don’t know if they can truly pass the blood-brain barrier. There are a few other amino acids and vitamins that can help the body create and enhance the effects of GABA, including:

  • Glutamate (which makes GABA)
  • Vitamin B6 (which helps turn glutamate into GABA)
  • L-Theanine (a precursor to serotonin, which helps to regulate neurotransmitters)
  • Glycine (a fellow inhibitory neurotransmitter)
  • Taurine (a GABA agonist)
  • L-Tyrosine (a precursor to dopamine, which boosts the cognitive effects of GABA)

So, when a GABA supplement has any (or multiple) of these ingredients — especially when they’re high-quality — they’re likely to have a ripple effect. Many GABA supplements are great at having pure GABA since it’s easy to make from lactic acid; the supplements that take things a step beyond and introduce some of these additional ingredients to ensure the most comprehensive package are those we consider the best.

Source Naturals’ GABA Calm lozenges not only have 125mg of GABA — an ideal amount based on scientific research studies — but they also contain:

  • Glycine (50mg)
  • L-Tyrosine (25mg)
  • Taurine (20mg)
  • Magnesium (5mg)

This sublingual lozenge was designed for the best possible GABA uptake. Combining GABA with glycine maximizes the amount of inhibitory action you’ll see. The addition of L-tyrosine improves the level of dopamine (the “happiness chemical” that also assists with focus and concentration), and taurine supports GABA’s calming effects. Source Naturals provides a holistic backdrop for your GABA supplementation without any negative side effects or rocketing your GABA levels sky-high, which increases the risk of side effects.

Since this supplement contains tyrosine, you should not add it to your daily regimen if you take an MAO inhibitor (a classical antidepressant). Combining tyrosine and an MAOI often leads to a large spike in blood pressure, which can induce a heart attack or stroke.

Safety

Winner: Nutricost GABA Powder

Runner-up: Thorne PharmaGABA

You can't be too careful when adding a supplement designed to change your brain chemistry. Supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, so there isn't a reliable validation process they have to go through before hitting the shelves — we have to rely on the safety information that the company shares.

When we look at the safety of these supplements, we’re checking to make sure that each company uses:

  • GMP-certified (compliant with Current Good Manufacturing Practices) and FDA-regulated laboratories (meaning they’re made in safe environments)
  • Third-party testing, which provides an unbiased peace of mind that supplements are pure
  • High-quality ingredients with a dose in an appropriate therapeutic range

Four of our favorite GABA supplements are GMP compliant. Only one outright states that an independent third party tested it: Nutricost's GABA powder. This powder has strong guarantees and plenty of testing and certifications to ease a worried mind.

However, we’re hesitant to give it our full stamp of approval as the safest GABA supplement because of its powder formation. While they provide an appropriately-sized scoop to measure out your servings, it’s considerably harder to consistently give yourself the same amount of GABA even if you’re careful. Other formulations with set dosages, like pills and lozenges, are safer to dose.

So while Thorne’s PharmaGABA might not advertise third-party testing, they are used regularly in research studies with transparent information about how they sourced the GABA in their supplements. One 2014 study of PharmaGABA in rats found absolutely no ill effects nor any signs of toxicity, and while it’s always possible things have changed since then, it bodes very well for Thorne’s GABA supplement. Plus, Thorne uses cGMP-compliant facilities and provides a healthy range of doses you can quickly dial in to fit your needs best.

How our top recommendations compare

To help you understand the minute differences between our favorite GABA supplements, we’ve put together a quick chart breaking down some of the most important aspects of each supplement.

One of our past recommendations — Frunutta GABA, which were low-dose sublingual tablets — is no longer being made, so we’ve removed it from our list.

Total cost per bottle
Servings per bottle
Cost per serving
GABA dosage per serving
Other ingredients
Bulk or subscriptoin discounts?
Free shipping?
Thorne PharmaGABA
$29-$53
60
$0.47
100mg or 250mg
Subscription
Free to contiguous U.S.
NOW GABA Supplement
$14-$26
100, 200
$0.14-$0.13
500mg
Vitamin B6
Over $50, otherwise $6.95
Source Naturals Serene Science GABA Calm lozenges
$5-$30*
30, 60, 120
$0.16-$0.17*
125mg
Glycine, L-tyrosine, magnesium, taurine
Variable*
Variable*
Pure Encapsulations GABA
$19-$33
60, 120
$0.31-$0.27
700mg
Vitamin C
Free
Nutricost GABA Powder
$29
1,000
$0.03
500mg
Subscription
Free over $59, otherwise variable
Quicksilver Scientific GABA + L-Theanine
$37
25
$1.48
60mg (240mg)
L-Theanine, phosphatidylcholine, vitamin E
Subscription
Free over $50, otherwise variable by location

*Note that you can’t order Source Naturals’ Serene Science GABA Calm lozenges through their website, so you’ll have to order through a third-party provider. Costs, subscription programs, bulk order capabilities, and shipping prices vary depending on which platform you use.

What is GABA?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid and the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain. It’s found in up to 50% of all neurons across the brain, central nervous system, and peripheral nervous system.

Our neurons send information across our brain through action potentials, which are electric charges that zip down a neuron and tell it to open its sodium and potassium channels. All neurons can be adjusted to be either more likely (excitatory) or less likely (inhibitory) to set off an action potential by opening or blocking ion channels. GABA is responsible most of the time when a neuron is inhibited, quieting the amount of information thrown around your brain.

Since GABA inhibits information across your entire brain, this means it has a wide range of effects on all aspects of your life, such as:

  • Stress management
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms
  • Memory
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood
  • Pain perception
  • Growth hormone levels
  • Protein synthesis
  • Blood pressure
  • Lipid levels
  • Cancer cell proliferation

Anxiety disorders, epilepsy, and insomnia are common disorders related to having too little GABA in your body. When you have too little, your neurons may fire irregularly, causing seizures. Your brain may also have insufficient receptors to pick up enough GABA, leading to a lack of control in firing rates, often a biological cause of generalized anxiety disorder.

GABA-based medications and drugs

Increasing the amount of GABA in your brain isn’t a new idea. Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), hypnotic, sedative, and anti-epileptic prescription medications often increase your total GABA to work. Some examples of these medications include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Secobarbital (Seconal)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Valproic acid (Depakote)
  • Vigabatrin (Sabril)
  • Gabapentin (Gralise)

Alcohol also acts on GABA receptors — and so do some illegal drugs like gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). These drugs’ influence on GABA receptors often explains many of their behavioral effects, like a lack of inhibition and lower perceived stress levels. If it has a sedative or “depressant” effect, there’s a good chance it works by increasing the amount of GABA in your brain.

We can't state enough that you should not take a GABA supplement if you take another medication or recreational drug that influences GABA unless you're under medical supervision. Too much or too little GABA circulating in your brain can lead to lots of problems; your brain also gains tolerance to GABA relatively quickly, which means it stops making as much naturally because you're supplementing it with an outside source. Off-kilter GABA levels can lead to low blood pressure and hypersomnia or daytime sleepiness. It can cause strokes, seizures, and difficulty taking in enough oxygen to meet your cell's needs in extreme cases, leading to death.

If you think that you have an anxiety disorder and want to take a GABA supplement to help improve your symptoms, we recommend doing so under the care of a psychiatrist or other medical professional familiar with psychiatric concerns.

Creating GABA

GABA is naturally made by your body from glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter, using vitamin B6. However, you can get GABA from outside sources other than supplements too.

Fermented foods are a great source of dietary GABA; the average person ingests 80 to 120mg of GABA from food sources alone. Specifically, GABA is created as a byproduct from foods that have been fermented with Lactobacillus bacteria. This genus of common probiotics creates large amounts of GABA as a protective feature to maintain their productivity in high-acidity environments. (This also might explain why GABA is so prevalent in the gut; Lactobacillus is one of the most common GI and vaginal bacteria.) These types of fermented foods include non-pickled items like:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Cocoa
  • Kefir
  • Tempeh

Valerian root, a cornerstone ingredient in many calming teas, is also thought to work through similar mechanisms with GABA receptors.

How does GABA affect your body?

Peripheral GABA is a term that describes places that can be influenced by or that create GABA outside of your brain. There are GABA receptors in your central nervous system (which includes your brain and spine) and your peripheral nervous system (all nerves outside of your central nervous system). While there's still a lot to learn about how GABA works in our bodies, there are a few areas we know GABA directly impacts.

The GI tract

GABA receptors can also be found in your gastrointestinal system, giving a whole new meaning to “gut feeling.” Research suggests that the microbiota found in your gut can influence your mood, cognitive functioning, and behavior, likely through their interactions with GABA receptors. Some bacteria, like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, can even produce GABA. It’s another reason why your gut microbiome’s health is so important.

If you’re concerned about your GABA levels, you can also test your gut health with one of the best microbiome test kits to see if upping your daily miso, kimchi, or cheese intake could help repair your GABA production at the source.

A recent study looking at supplementary GABA in crabs showed that giving them small amounts of GABA supplements increased their average food intake and improved digestive capacity. This result would likely map over to human GABA supplementation, considering that, while crabs are a very different species biologically, we have similar blood-brain barrier mechanisms and GABA receptor spreads.

We also know that cisgender women who have eating disorders have lower-than-normal levels of GABA. GABA might work alongside other appetite-related signals to regulate our food intake and influence our perception of taste. While there’s still a lot of research to be done, it’s clear that the GI system has a deeply entangled relationship with GABA.

Progesterone

GABA can also influence many cells throughout your central nervous system. A metabolite of progesterone, a hormone released by the ovaries, acts on GABA receptors; the higher your progesterone level, the higher your GABA functioning works. That’s one of the reasons scientists think that PMS and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) happens.

Human growth hormone and protein synthesis

We’ve known since the 1980s that GABA influences how much human growth hormone (HGH) your body makes and how well it processes it. When you have a deep, restful night of sleep, your body is better at making more HGH during the night. Your sleep quality has a significant impact on how much your exercise impacts your body, and since GABA has a huge influence on your sleep, it makes sense that it would also affect how you make HGH. It can also increase the amount of HGH you have circulating in your body during the day.

A study from 2019 found that when otherwise healthy men supplemented 100mg of GABA into their daily diet from supplements along with whey protein, they increased their muscle mass significantly more than people who just took whey powder. Since HGH builds, repairs, and maintains your muscles, it’s obvious that GABA’s influence on HGH means it can help those hoping to get fit.

How do GABA supplements work?

Supplemental GABA almost always comes in an ingestible form: a capsule, pill, powder, or oil. When you take a GABA supplement, it gets broken down by your stomach into its chemical form.

Insider Tip: If you take your GABA supplement sublingually (dissolve it under your tongue), it’s more likely to work faster. This is because it starts the dissolving process more quickly, giving it more time to absorb while in your stomach.

We don’t know exactly how it gets into the rest of your body after being dissolved in your stomach. If GABA works like other ingestible supplements, they are either uptaken by GABA receptors in the GI system or are moved into the bloodstream to cross the blood-brain barrier. However, even that explanation gets complicated fast.

GABA and the blood-brain barrier

In order to protect your brain from outside influences, your body has a highly selective barrier between your blood and central nervous system. This physical barrier in specific blood vessels is called the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier keeps things that don’t need to reach your brain from getting in. It's pretty challenging to pass through unless assisted by a transporter or receptor, which are unique proteins designed to pass one particular kind of molecule up to the brain.

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not GABA passes through the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This means that we don’t really know whether or not GABA works through the brain or central or peripheral nervous system and, to a broader extent, if it really works when taken supplementally.

Are GABA supplements safe?

The FDA and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) — a guidebook describing all drugs, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals — say that GABA supplements are safe. While the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, meaning they can’t be used to treat or cure a medical problem, having a stamp of safety approval from both big organizations is good.

There aren’t clear guidelines around what a safe dose of GABA looks like. The FDA confirms that doses up to 750mg of pharma-GABA (made using a strain of lactic acid bacteria called Lactobacillus hilgardii K-3) are safe to take as a digestible ingredient; USP recommends no more than 125mg of GABA per day for up to 12 weeks. Most supplements come between 100mg and 750mg for a daily dose, which makes sense considering the FDA’s suggested range. Most scientific studies give 100-125mg daily when researching supplemental GABA.

On the other hand, some researchers suggest that you can take up to 5g (5,000mg) of GABA without experiencing adverse side effects (though consumers report that side effects start at 1g or less daily). One study gave people up to 18g of GABA and GABA-creating compounds for four days to see what would happen. Though participants experienced breathlessness, burning sensations in their throats, blunted HGH levels, and increased prolactin, none experienced “overdose” symptoms. (We seriously recommend against taking anything close to this much GABA unless explicitly directed to by a doctor.)

When it comes to figuring out your ideal dose, know you’ll have to experiment to find the right amount for you. Though GABA is a relatively safe supplement, taking too much can be uncomfortable, so start at the lowest recommended dose (or, if you’re sensitive to medications, half). Like all supplements, this should be done under the supervision of a medical professional who will have decent judgment about how much will be the right dose for you.

Potentially dangerous situations

If you take hypertensive medication for high blood pressure or have low blood pressure, you should be careful about taking GABA supplements. GABA can have hypotensive effects even at low supplemental doses, dropping your blood pressure and slowing your heart rate. No studies have shown any serious harm to people because of this, but low blood pressure can be deadly.

Sometimes, supplemental GABA can make breathing feel difficult. This might feel like tightness in your chest, burning feelings, or overall shortness of breath. Experiencing problems breathing is often a sign you’re taking too much GABA because of how GABA interacts with your peripheral nervous system. For the most part, it goes away quickly but is an important — and somewhat distressing — sign to pay attention to.

It’s generally unsafe to take a GABA supplement if you:

  • Regularly drink alcohol or plan to while you use the supplement
  • Take anti-anxiety or anti-epileptic medication
  • Take depressive party drugs like GHB

The interaction between GABA supplements and these drugs can be unpleasant at best. No matter what you’re taking, it’s always a good idea to start a new supplement under the direct supervision of a medical professional.

Are GABA supplements a good option for you?

If you’re struggling with mild amounts of chronic stress or sleeplessness and need a bit of a nudge in a calmer direction, a GABA supplement might be the right move for you. For people who struggle with mild anxiety or depression and don’t want to begin an antidepressant just yet, your medical provider might recommend a GABA supplement. However, you should always start a supplement under the eye of a medical provider since there are hundreds of ways that medications and supplements can interact.

Other people who might benefit from trying a GABA supplement include:

  • People with intense PMS or PMDD
  • People with chronic pain
  • Hardcore athletes

Pregnant and lactating people should avoid GABA supplements since GABA has a direct effect on HGH, progesterone, and prolactin levels, which can impact the growth and development of a fetus or infant. Children should never take GABA supplements because of potential interference with their growth and development through HGH.

Likewise, regular alcohol users, people who use illegal depressive drugs like GHB, and those taking anti-epileptic or anxiolytic medication (such as Xanax or Lamictal) should stay away from GABA supplements to avoid compounding too much GABA in their system.

Thorne PharmaGABA

Best overall

Pros

  • Available in two strengths
  • Flexible dosing regimen for people who need more
  • Commonly used in research studies
  • Transparent ingredient sourcing
  • Reasonably dosed without excess ingredients
  • Contains no allergens or artificial ingredients

Cons

  • Some find it too strong
  • On the expensive side
  • Stronger dosage is almost twice the price

Thorne PharmaGABA is a preferred GABA supplement of researchers for a reason. While most studies won’t name-drop Thorne, this supplement uses PharmaGABA, a synthetic GABA commonly used in research studies, as the only ingredient in each capsule. It does contain magnesium citrate and calcium laurate, but these inactive ingredients are used to ensure there are no clumps for proper absorption. There are no major allergens or artificial ingredients, which is not uncommon for GABA supplements but certainly appreciated.

The one thing they aren’t entirely clear about is their quality testing process. While we know that Thorne has partnerships with research groups like the Mayo Clinic and the Hypertension Institute — and PharmaGABA is the go-to kind of GABA supplement for many research studies — there’s not any obvious information that PharmaGABA has been quality-tested by a third party as an ingredient or as a supplement. For your peace of mind, this is something that Thorne should be doing (or acknowledging on their website if it’s something that happens behind the scenes).

You can get PharmaGABA in two doses — 100mg or 250mg per capsule — and each bottle comes with 60 capsules. One serving ranges from one to three pills daily, which is the broadest range among our top GABA supplements.

These prices have gone up in the last year, but only by $1, which is less than most other price increases. You can still save up to 20% by getting a subscription (10% off if you subscribe to 1-3 Thorne products, or 20% if you get four or more) every one to three months. All orders to the contiguous U.S. get free shipping, and you’ll have 60 days to try and return the GABA supplement if you don’t like it for any reason.

Source Naturals Serene Science GABA Calm

Best with additional ingredients

Pros

  • Comes in both peppermint and orange flavors
  • Contains both GABA and GABA-supporting ingredients
  • Taken sublingually for best absorption
  • One of the least expensive options per serving

Cons

  • Not available in every dose and flavor from one main retailer
  • Cannot be used if you take MAO inhibitors
  • Lozenge takes a while to dissolve
  • Difficult to change the dose

This Source Naturals lozenge has the best range of well-tested ingredients that provide GABA to your body and give it the building blocks it needs to support GABA in your system. With L-tyrosine to stimulate dopamine production, taurine to boost GABA's calming effects, and glycine to help GABA build strength as an additional inhibitory neurotransmitter, your body will have everything it needs to help you stay calm, maintain focus, and relax into a good night's sleep.

The lozenge comes in two flavors (orange and peppermint) and three sizes (30, 60, and 90 lozenges per bottle), all with the following ingredients:

  • GABA: 125mg
  • Magnesium: 5mg
  • Glycine: 50mg
  • N-Acetyl L-Taurine (NALT): 25mg
  • Taurine: 20mg

If you want more than 125mg of GABA, it’s difficult to change the dose because of this supplement’s lozenge form; holding two or more in your mouth at once is hard or takes upward of ten minutes to dissolve if you take them one after another, staggering the onset time. If you know you need a larger dose, we don’t recommend starting with this GABA supplement. Even considering the range of bottle sizes, it’s not especially convenient.

Another major inconvenience is that Source Naturals doesn’t actually sell any of their GABA Calm supplements directly. You’ll have to go through a third party — like Target, iHerb, Vitacost, or Amazon — to purchase these supplements. And, of course, nowhere offers every single size and flavor. We found that Amazon and iHerb generally have the best prices and availability, but it’s worth a quick Google search to guarantee before you purchase. This also means it’s a little harder to know for sure that you’re getting a safe product, which is less than ideal, though the lozenge form protects against that concern by making the formula difficult to mess with (unlike capsules).

Source Naturals does have recommended prices listed on their website; most retailers stay within $5 of these recommendations:

  • 30 lozenges: $7.25
  • 60 lozenges: $14.25
  • 90 lozenges: $26.98

Nutricost GABA Powder

Best for bulk purchases

Pros

  • Bargain price with premium quality
  • One bucket contains almost three years’ worth of high-potency GABA
  • Made in a cGMP-compliant, FDA-registered facility
  • Third-party tested

Cons

  • Powder form can be inconvenient and difficult to dose consistently
  • Easy to take too much

Nutricost's GABA powder is one of the most unique options on the market for your GABA supplementation. It takes a note from great workout supplements and comes in a large tub with a pre-portioned scoop so you can always pull 500mg of GABA. Of course, much like workout supplements, you'll have to mix this into some kind of liquid to ingest the amino acid.

Another plus side of this powder is that it contains 1,000 servings for only $28.95. The price has gone up $6 (from $22.95 last year), which is a relatively large increase compared to other GABA supplements, but it only increases the price per serving by one cent, from $0.02 per serving to $0.03 per serving. It’s still a phenomenal value for what you’re getting. Considering that some equally strong competitors cost almost $1.50 per serving, Nutricost’s GABA powder is a total steal.

Insider Tip: It isn't always easy to dose the powdered supplements, as human error introduces variation in how much you’re getting per scoop. Using a kitchen scale to validate the weight — not just the scoop size — all but guarantees you’re getting the same amount every time.

The powdered form, while convenient, does take a few extra seconds to make sure you're grabbing as much as you think you are. However, that means you have total flexibility over how much you take (and it comes with an appropriately sized scoop). With almost three years worth of servings per container, you can customize this dose to your liking with some experimentation over time.

Nutricost also has some of the most robust safety precautions, using a cGMP-compliant and FDA-registered facility to make their GABA powder. They are the only GABA supplement on our list that outright states that they were tested by an independent third party that used ISO-accredited labs, going above and beyond to ensure that you’re getting high-quality GABA.

Shipping is free on U.S. orders over $59, but if you’ll only be ordering one container of GABA powder, shipping costs are variable depending on where you’re ordering from. However, they have an exceptionally flexible 60-day money-back guarantee, where you can get all of your money back within 60 days whether you’ve tried it or not (though you won’t get refunded shipping costs either way).

Ultimately, Nutricost’s GABA powder will be the best option for anyone who needs (or thinks they’ll need) a particularly large dose or for anyone who takes GABA regularly and knows they’ll keep doing so for a while.

NOW GABA Capsules

Best value

Pros

  • Least expensive capsule
  • Contains vitamin B6 to help create more GABA naturally
  • Comes in both 100- and 200-capsule sizes
  • cGMP-certified

Cons

  • High dose with no way to adjust
  • Big capsule
  • No subscription program or bulk discounts

NOW’s GABA capsules are a great option if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to get exactly 500mg of GABA with ease. They’re vegetarian and, like many other GABA supplements, allergen-free.

NOW also adds 2mg of vitamin B6 to every serving to help your body naturally produce more GABA on top of adding some straight to your system. Of course, vitamin B6 isn't the only thing they've added. NOW GABA supplements also have three filler ingredients: rice flour, silicon dioxide, and stearic acid. They aren't bad for you — all things considered, they’re relatively minor additives — but if you're looking for totally pure GABA, this isn't it.

This GABA supplement comes in two different sizes:

  • 100 capsules: $13.99
  • 200 capsules: $25.99

Both bottle sizes have had a price increase of $1 in the last year, which is on the lower side. You’ll only take one capsule for one 500mg serving, and there’s no way to take a lower dose unless you crack open the capsule and split the powder yourself, which we don’t recommend — there are much easier ways to get a 250mg dose of GABA. These capsules are an inch long, which is definitely on the larger side, so it may be difficult to swallow for some.

Shipping is free if you order at least $50 worth of product or $6.95 if you just want one bottle. You can only return unopened packages within 30 days of purchase if you want a refund, though, so you can’t try this and decide you don’t like it. And while it’s relatively inexpensive (the least expensive capsules you’ll find on our list), you won’t get any additional bulk or subscription discounts. NOW doesn’t offer any subscription programs at all, so you’ll have to remember to reorder when you’re running low.

Pure Encapsulations GABA

Strongest option

Pros

  • Strongest supplement
  • Most cost-effective if you know you’ll need a high dose
  • No additives or fillers
  • Includes fat-soluble vitamin C as ascorbyl palmitate
  • Free expedited shipping on all orders

Cons

  • May be too strong for some users
  • Amount of vitamin C per serving isn’t listed
  • Large capsule
  • No subscription program or bulk discounts

Pure Encapsulation's GABA supplement might be your best option if you're hoping to mitigate stress that's gone on for too long. They are the strongest option on our list, dosing at 700mg per serving, which is significantly higher than most studies use but are still within a reasonable limit.

These supplements also include vitamin C. While Pure Encapsulations says it’s used to increase GABA's absorption, it more realistically provides a bonus immune-boosting kick. Since stress often depletes our immune systems, this added vitamin C can help stave off the cold waiting for you once you feel less stressed. However, the ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C) isn't listed under the traditional supplement facts but instead the final ingredient on the "other ingredients" list. We don't know how much vitamin C is in each serving, but it isn't a lot, so any benefits aren't likely to be great.

You can get this supplement in two bottle sizes:

  • 60 capsules: $18.80
  • 120 capsules: $32.75

At first glance, this price is pretty middle-of-the-road. However, they’ve had the smallest price increase in the last year (80 cents and $1.50, respectively), and you’ll get seven times as much GABA per serving as you would in something like Thorne’s PharmaGABA-100 for almost half the price. Pure Encapsulations is easy to find on third-party retailers, but we recommend purchasing this supplement directly from their website, which offers free expedited shipping on every order. However, unfortunately, they don’t offer any subscription programs or bulk discounts.

Quicksilver Scientific GABA + L-Theanine

Most convenient

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Contains L-theanine for added GABA stabilization
  • Minimal taste
  • cGMP-certified
  • Tested allergen free

Cons

  • Oil spritzing mechanism can be awkward
  • Most expensive per serving
  • Contains small amounts of ethanol alcohol

Quicksilver Scientific's GABA + L-Theanine spray has one of the more interesting mechanisms on our list. To take one serving of this GABA + L-Theanine spray, you'll need to spritz four pumps directly into your mouth from the spout. While it may be awkward at first, Quicksilver Scientific has designed this spray to absorb extremely quickly and effectively. With the addition of L-theanine, the amino acid in green tea that counteracts the jittery feelings you might get with caffeine and promotes relaxation, this GABA supplement duel-wields effective amino acids to calm your natural stress response.

Liposomes are generally used for supplements that your body has difficulty absorbing through the GI tract, like vitamin C. They’re designed to either protect the contents until they’re ready to be dissolved or to help them pass through the thin membranes in your mouth. (This is also why taking some supplements sublingually can help.) While it’s a great idea to do this for GABA, the issue of GABA absorption comes down to the blood-brain barrier, not GI absorption. It’s hard to say just how much more effective this method is than a normal capsule or powder. However, it’s significantly easier to take than something like an inch-long capsule, making it a better option for people who have difficulty swallowing or who don’t want to cart around a pocket full of pills during travel.

One $37 bottle contains only 25 2mL servings. Considering most other competitors provide 30 to 120 at lower costs, this is one of your most expensive options. However, some may find the easy-to-change dosing structure and quick-hitting elixir worth the price (which has gone up $2 in the last year). You can join their subscription program for 10% off every monthly order, which is a decent amount to save (bringing the new price to $33.30).

Quicksilver Scientific also offers free shipping on all orders over $50 to the U.S., and you can return anything you aren’t satisfied with within 30 days of purchase.

Alternatives to GABA

GABA might be your first step toward combating anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It’s important to keep in mind that, as good as it might seem on paper, not every supplement is going to work for every person. Our bodies — and especially our brains — are extremely complicated, and it can be difficult to parse what’s going on exactly.

If you find that GABA isn’t working for you, or if you’ve been trying GABA and are looking for a change, here are a few other options that might work better, depending on your goals.

Amino acids and minerals

Other compounds that are commonly paired with GABA may work better for you on their own. L-theanine is well-known for its calming effects, especially when paired with caffeine, and researchers believe it may have some mild cognitive-enhancing effects too. If you’re still struggling to fall asleep, trying a melatonin supplement at sunset can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythms. Magnesium and some B vitamins — including vitamins B6 and B12 — are also excellent at giving you more energy. Some studies suggest that in combination, they can reduce anxiety by boosting both melatonin and serotonin levels naturally. Magnesium can also decrease your stress-linked cortisol levels.

Botanicals

If you want to take a more natural approach to lowering your anxiety and stress, there are two major ingredients we’d recommend you consider: valerian root and ashwagandha. You might be familiar with valerian root, which is related to catnip and found in many kinds of sleep-inducing teas alongside chamomile, but ashwagandha is becoming increasingly popular for a good reason. Ashwagandha has particularly potent anti-anxiety effects. Look for an ashwagandha supplement that uses either Shoden or KSM-66 extracts in it — they’re the cleanest and most effective. However, ashwagandha isn’t a good choice for you if your sluggishness is a result of a thyroid condition or if you have PCOS or other conditions causing high testosterone levels.

Pre-Workout

There are dozens of fitness supplements, and if you’re one of the many people who want to experience better muscle healing after long trips to the gym, a GABA supplement might not be the most straightforward approach. Pre-workout supplements include a huge range of ingredients, but they generally have some form of caffeine, a host of vitamins and minerals, and amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle. These aren’t going to be the best option if you’re also anxious or experiencing a lot of stress because of their large caffeine content, but if gains are the only thing on your mind, pre-workout supplements may be a better place to look.

CBD

Researchers have spent years determining that CBD is, for the most part, very effective at lowering your baseline anxiety levels. While there aren’t any clear dosing strategies yet, people who take CBD to lower their anxiety generally need higher doses, so finding a high-potency CBD oil will be the fastest way to find an efficient dose. Likewise, you can use one of the side effects — sleepiness — to kickstart your bedtime routine. You can read more about trying CBD for your anxiety or to improve sleep in our guides.

Prescriptions

If you’re experiencing anxiety, insomnia, or PMS that’s actively decreasing your quality of life, it might be prudent to first check in with your doctor. There’s no shame in trying a prescription medication to combat what may actually be a mental health condition like PMDD. Some medications you might run into will fall into several different categories, like anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications ranging from benzodiazepines like Klonopin or antihistamines like hydroxyzine) or tricyclic antidepressants like trazodone, which can both decrease your anxiety levels and make you drowsy. You might be given a sedative medication like Ambien to help you sleep or hormonal birth control to calm PMDD.

FAQ about GABA

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Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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