Can Vitamin Deficiency Cause Anxiety?
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Vitamin deficiencies cause a host of problems. Anxiety is one of them. Sometimes it is as simple as supplementing. Other times it is a puzzle pieced together little by little.
I know for us it has been a puzzle that we are still figuring out but have made great progress with. Finding out what vitamins are not being properly absorbed into the body is the beginning. Then you can dig further into the reasons causing the problems.
As stated in other posts, anxiety varies on many levels. Anxiousness a way of letting the body know there is a problem. However, uncontrolled and constant anxiety is a problem that should be dealt with and often times can be without medication.
This Post covers vitamin deficiencies and nutritional deficiencies that are linked to anxiety.
Disclaimer: No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor, a qualified clinician or other qualified health care professional.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is when the body responds to a situation with fear, uncertainty, nervousness, worry, and or rapid heartbeat. According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety becomes a disorder when this fear and worry is constant and interferes with everyday life for an extended period of time. Anxiety disorders fall into categories such as social, separation, generalized, phobic, panic, etc.
Additionally, anxiety may be triggered and not be appropriate for the situation. A person may avoid doing certain activities or going certain places due to fear or excessive worry. Panic attacks can be triggered also which are sudden onsets of fear and worry that escalate in a small amount of time.
This type of anxiety makes it difficult in everyday situations. Trying to get regular things done can be a bigger task than needed when anxiety is out of whack. It is frustrating for the individual and sometimes for the people around them.
What are Symptoms of anxiety?
The following are possible anxiety symptoms. Several may be experienced at once or many of these may occur at the same time. Anxiety can become a disorder if these symptoms occur chronically.
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Profuse sweating
- Avoidance of activities and places
- Extreme or imbalanced fear
- Constant and obsessive worrying
- Chest Tightness
- Mood Swings/emotional imbalance
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, or recalling information
Can Vitamin Deficiency Cause Anxiety?
There has been a direct link between nutrient deficiency and mental health. For instance, according to the journal of Affective Disorder, there is a connection between the lack of vitamin B intake and healthy cognitive function.
Additionally, oxidative stress is a problem for many people and affects mental health and anxiety problems. Certain antioxidants, which are discussed further below, fight against oxidative stress. Anxiety and stress can occur if these antioxidants are not received by the body.
As stated in this recent journal article: Diet is a modifiable risk factor that may contribute to the pathogenesis or treatment of anxiety, depending on diet quality. Although the biological mechanisms by which food, specific nutrients, and nutraceuticals impact mental health are not completely understood, implicated pathways include inflammation, oxidative stress, brain plasticity effects, mitochondrial dysfunction, and neurotransmitter metabolism.
Vitamin deficiency is linked with anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental and mood disorders. There are problems that arise in the body which create these deficiencies. If neurotransmitters are not functioning the way they should be, anxiety many times will become problematic. Therefore, vitamin deficiency can cause anxiety to occur. However, the root cause as to why the vitamin deficiency is occurring may be deeper.
Vitamin and Nutritional Deficiencies That Cause Anxiety
Amino acids play an important role in the proper functioning of the body. These amino acids all play different parts which include hormone, energy, and neurotransmitter production.
Mental health problems have been helped through balancing amino acid production in the body according to different studies. Mental disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, as well as anxiety disorders were shown to be helped with proper amino acid intake and usage as shown here.
Amino Acids come in the form of essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The molecules make up proteins which take on a different role in the body. If you do not have enough amino acid to create a proper protein chain, then the body will not properly perform a necessary function.
For instance, if the body does not have enough Tyrosine, the person is at greater risk for anxiety-like symptoms or depressive symptoms. A nutrition article from BioMed Central is quoted below:
It has long been postulated that the dysregulation of neurotransmitters may be a cause for anxiety. These neurotransmitters include GABA, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Amino acids such as L-tyrosine and L-tryptophan are known precursors for specific neurotransmitters. Recent studies in animals have identified two other amino acids, L-lysine and L-arginine, which may influence neurotransmitters involved in stress and anxiety.
We have had personal experience with several amino acids that have helped our family immensely. Testing was done to show what amino acids we needed balanced.
5-HTP is a wonderful supplement that bypasses the liver and is a precursor to the production of serotonin. However, it is also important to keep in mind that dopamine levels may be effected if 5-HTP is taken for a long period of time. Testing may be beneficial.
These amino acids are good ones to reference if you need to supplement. You should check with a medical professional to see if one if right for your body.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Another deficiency that should be considered is vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D supplements are often given to people who have a compromised immune system. Many mental disorders show low levels of vitamin D. As stated in this health article, vitamin D is an antioxidant which assists oxidative stress in the body.
Taking vitamin supplements and eating food specific for vitamin D intake is especially necessary in months of less sun. Sun is the best form for getting vitamin D for most people, but here is another option for those suffering from seasonal affective disorder or those unable to get enough sunshine.
Vitamin D has been found to lessen anxiety. Although this is the case, according to a doctor I have seen in the past, a sufficient amount of vitamin D is optimal to protect against immune disorders. It makes the body more susceptible to health and mood disorders such as anxiety when one is vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin B is critical for healthy brain functioning and mood stability. The regulation of the neurological nervous system is important for healthy anxiety levels. Often times a vitamin B complex is offered by doctors, but it is important to note which type of vitamin B is best for you. Certain vitamin Bs react with mold issues in the body and certain people are not able to methylate correctly.
Biotin was found in this study to decrease both anxiety and depression. Another study showed B6 assisted GABA increase, which in turn lowered anxiety levels. The below statement from this article states the importance of vitamin B supplementation or intake on neurotransmitter functioning.
Through their role in one-carbon metabolism, B vitamins act as cofactors in the synthesis and regulation of dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmitters. Both of these neurotransmitters are implicated in the regulation of mood, as well as clinical depression and anxiety.
Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin. This means excess vitamin B is disposed from the body through urination. Additionally, this vitamin has many roles in the body. However, the role it takes in neurotransmitter functioning may be very helpful to anxiety issues.
Another nutrient that is important for the body is magnesium. Magnesium supports the uptake of vitamin D and certain minerals, assists the mitochondria, helps calm the central nervous system through supporting chemical reactions, and is needed for proper glutathione production.
Glutathione is important for detox reactions. Nutrient deficiencies alter the effectiveness of the antioxidant glutathione. This can create oxidative stress which increases anxiety levels. Magnesium plays a vital role for overall health and supports many reactions in the body.
Magnesium is an essential mineral. It is included separately from the essential elements list because of its function. Lacking magnesium may not be a direct cause of anxiety, but appropriate magnesium levels have been shown to improve anxiety symptoms and stress levels.
Magnesium can be obtained through foods such as dark chocolate, almonds, dark green vegetables, beans, and nuts. However, some of these foods often trigger problems in people with compromised immune systems. In this case, it is highly beneficial to supplement with a magnesium supplement such as the one below.
Essential minerals such as selenium, zinc, copper, and iron all have a potential impact on anxiety levels. Supplementing with the right trace minerals can reduce anxiety and positively impact the health of the brain.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that has been associated with less anxiety. Selenoproteins, which selenium is found in, play roles in development of the brain and protects cells from oxidative stress and is anti-inflammatory.
This study is one of several that indicate the positive effects selenium levels have on anxiety including panic disorders.
Copper and Zinc
Zinc and copper need to be in balance for best results. The essential mineral zinc helps balance the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. Also, too high of levels and too low of levels of copper have been associated with anxiety disorders.
Another essential element that needs to be absorbed and utilized properly by the body is iron. Too high of iron levels or too low of iron levels both can cause anxiety. Additionally, anxiety can be sufficient in the body but not properly used by the body. Therefore, it is vital to be examined by a doctor prior to supplementing with iron.
This journal article is highly beneficial in explaining how iron deficiency can effect anxiety as well as other aspects of life such as learning and mental functioning.
Also important in controlling anxiety levels are antioxidants. Antioxidants are needed to balance free radicals in the body. Free radicals are needed in the body to protect the body from infection, however, they cause additional damage to the body when not managed properly.
Vitamin C is beneficial for those with anxiety. The antioxidant fights against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in the body leads to chronic stress on the body which leads to chronic anxiety.
In studies such as this one, vitamin C was shown to have the possibility to reduce anxiety. More studies should be done to further confirm to what extent vitamin C plays in anxiety reduction. Interestingly, lower levels of vitamin C in recent years has been linked low vitamin D deficiency.
Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for aiding in brain function, the nervous system, and neurotransmitter functioning. Therefore, getting enough of this essential nutrient through taking an Omega-3 supplement or a through safe oily fish source is highly beneficial.
For those sensitive to histamines, it is best to take a specific omega-3 supplement. A histamine imbalance in the body can also trigger anxiousness.
A study was done of 1203 individuals with clinical anxiety symptoms. It showed that these fatty acids have a high potential of influencing anxiety relief.
Fish oil contains 2 essential fatty acids known as EPA and DHA. An article from Dr. Weil explains the EPA and DHA ratio as well as the Omega-3s dosage that best impact anxiety reduction. This is according to a group of researchers from Japan.
Fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, fish can be heavily contaminated. A great source to get your fish from is linked below. Also included is a highly recommended supplement that we personally take.
This Post covered vitamin deficiencies and nutritional deficiencies that are linked to anxiety.
- Koochakpoor, G., Salari-Moghaddam, A., Keshteli, A.H. et al. Dietary intake of branched-chain amino acids in relation to depression, anxiety and psychological distress. Nutr J 20, 11 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-021-00670-z
- Lakhan, S.E., Vieira, K.F. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J 9, 42 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-42
- Akpınar Ş, Karadağ MG. Is Vitamin D Important in Anxiety or Depression? What Is the Truth? Curr Nutr Rep. 2022 Dec;11(4):675-681. doi: 10.1007/s13668-022-00441-0. Epub 2022 Sep 13. PMID: 36097104; PMCID: PMC9468237.
- Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9050429
- Baharak Mahdavifar, Mahdieh Hosseinzadeh, Amin Salehi-Abargouei, Masoud Mirzaei, Mohammadreza Vafa,
Dietary intake of B vitamins and their association with depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms: A cross-sectional, population-based survey, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 288, 2021, Pages 92-98,
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- High-dose Vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and strengthens visual surround suppressio
David T. Field, Rebekah O. Cracknell, Jessica R. Eastwood, Peter Scarfe, Claire M. Williams, Ying Zheng, Teresa TavassoliFirst published: 19 July 2022
- Rajkumar RP. Selenium and Its Compounds in the Treatment of Anxiety and Related Disorders: A Scoping Review of Translational and Clinical Research. Future Pharmacology. 2022; 2(4):608-624. https://doi.org/10.3390/futurepharmacol2040037
- Russo A. J. (2011). Decreased zinc and increased copper in individuals with anxiety. Nutrition and metabolic insights, 4, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.4137/NMI.S6349
- de Oliveira IJ, de Souza VV, Motta V, Da-Silva SL. Effects of Oral Vitamin C Supplementation on Anxiety in Students: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Pak J Biol Sci. 2015;18(1):11-18. doi:10.3923/pjbs.2015.11.18
- Bettina Moritz, Ariana E. Schmitz, Ana Lúcia S. Rodrigues, Alcir L. Dafre, Mauricio P. Cunha,
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- Shah, H. E., Bhawnani, N., Ethirajulu, A., Alkasabera, A., Onyali, C. B., Anim-Koranteng, C., & Mostafa, J. A. (2021). Iron Deficiency-Induced Changes in the Hippocampus, Corpus Striatum, and Monoamines Levels That Lead to Anxiety, Depression, Sleep Disorders, and Psychotic Disorders. Cureus, 13(9), e18138. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.18138
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