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10 Deficiencies That Cause Anxiety and Depression

Being anxious and depressed is a difficult state to be in. Knowing these 10 common deficiencies that cause anxiety and depression can help you get on the right track to feeling better. Become calmer and happier with a better-balanced body.

Deficiencies that cause anxiety

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If you are living with anxiety, depression, or both, then you need to know about deficiencies that lead to the cause of these problems or make your anxiety or depression worse.

Anxiety and depression often times couple each other, therefore, listed are deficiencies that affect one or the other if not both. Finding out if you have one of these most common nutritional deficiencies when it comes to anxiety is vital and will help you figure out the underlying cause to your anxiety or depression.

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 healthcare professional.

10 Deficiencies that cause anxiety and depression


The essential minerals below are important in combating anxiety and depression. Balancing and maintaining healthy nutrient levels can be impactful in people with mental health conditions, panic disorder, and chronic stress.

#1  Iron

Appropriate iron levels help with memory, focus, and emotions. When iron levels get low, according to this science article, then neurotransmitters Glutamate and GABA get out of balance which create anxiety. The basal ganglia houses a lot of the iron, therefore, deficiencies in iron affect this area of the brain which in turn affect the emotions, motor actions, cognitive functioning, and mental health of an individual.

"Iron-deficient children have increased anxiety and/or depression with social and attentional problems." is stated in the above mentioned article. This statement supports the importance of iron levels related to anxiety and depression. Iron deficiency anemia is possible when levels are low enough.

Iron is a tricky nutrient because an individual may have enough iron but not be processing it correctly. Therefore, substituting in iron may not be needed. Instead the body may need other areas corrected. It is important to have iron levels checked and then seek help of a knowledgeable professional specifically in this field.

#2  Selenium

Another mineral that correlated with low levels and increased anxiety and depression is selenium. This small study of 50 subjects shows an association between taking selenium and better mood with less anxiousness. Another larger study of 831 children also showed a correlation between 6 different types of anxiety being more problematic when selenium levels were lower.  

Selenium helps with oxidative stress which is associated with different ailments, two being increased anxiety and depression. Low selenium levels have also been associated with thyroid issues.

Additionally, problems with thyroid health is linked to anxiety and depression. Therefore, getting selenium through food is very helpful and should be considered.

#3  Zinc

Zinc is another mineral that is known to interfere with anxiety and depression levels. Lower zinc levels mean higher copper levels because these two minerals balance one another. Depression, irritability and anxiousness can be triggered by a zinc deficiency. Also, zinc is another mineral that decreases when oxidative stress is a factor. GABA levels are therefore affected. As stated above, lower GABA levels triggers anxiety.

#4  Magnesium

The last mineral on the list that has gained a lot of interest over the years is magnesium. With it playing a role in approximately 3/4 of the tasks that the body performs, it is not a surprise that it is beneficial in fighting anxiety and depressive symptoms.

According to Dr. Chandra, an integrative medicine psychiatrist, magnesium attaches to receptors in the brain that trigger a state of calmness. Also, neurotransmitters that trigger brain function are decreased with magnesium intake, and cortisol levels are better controlled. It is important, however, that the appropriate form of magnesium is taken for a person to absorb this mineral properly.

Magnesium supplements are one way to try and increase levels. Consuming foods high in magnesium as whole foods or in juice form may be effective as well.

Vitamin Bs

Nutrients that may be lacking in people experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, mental health issues, mood disorders, and depression are B vitamins. Properly absorbing the right type of vitamin B is important. Seek professional assistance for guidance and getting a blood test to check levels is a good idea to see if there is a vitamin deficiency.

We have observed the positive effect vitamin B has had on our own health. Vitamin B is water soluble, not fat-soluble, so whatever is not used will leave the body. Psychiatric disorders and vitamin B levels are explored further below.

B6-for -histamine-intolerance

#5  Vitamin B6

Vitamin Bs play an important role in a healthy nervous system as well. If a nervous system has imbalances, a domino effect will happen in other areas of the body including the brain. This study shows the positive effects that vitamin B6 and B12 both have on the neural activity involved with better inhibition and less overstimulation.  This vitamin also helps with the synthesis of the calming neurotransmitter GABBA.

#6  Vitamin B1

Studies have shown that taking vitamin B1 at specific doses have resulted in patients experiencing a decrease in anxiety. This specific study shows scientific evidence of this vitamin lessening or alleviating anxiety symptoms in almost 3/4 of the patients in the study. some of the symptoms that decreased or were alleviated included nightmares, depression, headaches, and chest pain, headaches, or chronic fatigue.

#7  Vitamin B12  

Another form of vitamin B connected with anxiety and depression symptoms is vitamin B12. A study of over 450 people showed results of vitamin B12 specifically lessening anxiety levels, concluding that increased studies in this area would be beneficial. This vitamin supports nerve and red blood cell function, which is also important for a healthy nervous system.

Other Nutrient Deficiencies

#8  Vitamin D

A vitamin D deficiency is common in people that have immune system disorders.  It is needed for overall health including mental well-being, energy levels, mood swings, and physical health. Vitamin D levels can be easily checked and monitored. Vitamin D levels have been shown to possible improve anxiety levels according to studies.

Taking vitamin D supplements with vitamin K is recommended for the best absorption rate and can help greatly for those sensitive to seasonal affective disorder during the winter months.

vitamin D for anxiety

A Vitamin D Supplement with Vitamin K.

#9  Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another essential nutrient which has been shown to be beneficial in fighting anxiety and depression. It is an antioxidant. Maintaining a balanced diet plentiful in this vitamin can prove beneficial to one experiencing high stress levels.

#10 Amino Acids

Additionally, amino acids are extremely important in the balancing of anxiety and depression levels as well. Specifically, the amino acids 5-HTP, GABBA, and L-Tryptophan. They are the building blocks of protein, and protein help regulate blood sugar levels. This is extremely important for balancing anxiety disorders and mental health problems.

5-HTP is used in the production of serotonin, a happy chemical. If this amino acid is not at an appropriate level, then depressive behavior can be triggered and anxiety can occur.


GABBA is another amino acid that balances the stimulating amino acid Glutamate. If you do not have enough GABBA, glutamate levels become overstimulating causing anxiety.

L-Tryptophan is a useful amino acid too for treating depression and bipolar disorder, cognitive functioning, and anxiety. This nutrient is needed for the production of serotonin as well which is the neurotransmitter that regulates one's mood. 

Lastly, L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid shown to be helpful in balancing the mood. The effectiveness of this supplement is dependent on one's needs. It is important for regulating the neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

What teas soothe anxiousness?

Tea For Anxiety and Stress

Frequently Asked Questions About Anxiety:

How Do I permanently Stop Anxiety?

Finding a doctor, preferably a naturopath, who understands how to balance the body is an important factor in alleviating anxiety symptoms. Taking anti-anxiety medication is necessary for some to begin, however, this is not going to get to the root cause of the problem and balance vitamin deficiencies. Fixing underlying conditions in the body naturally should give you a better sense of calm and a stabilized mood.

How Can I increase Serotonin and Dopamine naturally?

Balancing the above vitamin and mineral levels will help increase and stabilize serotonin and dopamine naturally. Additionally, consuming these nutrient-rich foods will also help to achieve this.

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Sardines
  • Sweet potato
  • Squash
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Chicory root
  • Turmeric

This post gave the 10 most common deficiencies that cause anxiety and depression and how getting those nutritional deficiencies in balance will lead to less anxiousness and a better mood.


  1. Lanciego, J. L., Luquin, N., & Obeso, J. A. (2012). Functional neuroanatomy of the basal ganglia. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine, 2(12), a009621. https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a009621

    Kim, J., & Wessling-Resnick, M. (2014). Iron and mechanisms of emotional behavior. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 25(11), 1101–1107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.07.003

    Benton D, Cook R. The impact of selenium supplementation on mood. Biol Psychiatry. 1991 Jun 1;29(11):1092-8. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(91)90251-g. PMID: 1873372.

    Jill Portnoy, Jessica Wang, Fenfen Wang, Phoebe Um, Sharon Y. Irving, Laura Hackl, Jianghong Liu,

    Lower serum selenium concentration associated with anxiety in children, Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Volume 63, 2022, Pages e121-e126, ISSN 0882-5963, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2021.09.026. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0882596321002943)

    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



    Mahdavifar B, Hosseinzadeh M, Salehi-Abargouei A, Mirzaei M, Vafa M. Dietary intake of B vitamins and their association with depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms: A cross-sectional, population-based survey. J Affect Disord. 2021 Jun 1;288:92-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.03.055. Epub 2021 Mar 26. PMID: 33848753.


    Field DT, Cracknell RO, Eastwood JR, Scarfe P, Williams CM, Zheng Y, Tavassoli T. High-dose Vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and strengthens visual surround suppression. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2022 Nov;37(6):e2852. doi: 10.1002/hup.2852. Epub 2022 Jul 19. PMID: 35851507; PMCID: PMC9787829.

    Cornish, S., & Mehl-Madrona, L. (2008). The role of vitamins and minerals in psychiatry. Integrative medicine insights, 3, 33–42.

    Zhu, C., Zhang, Y., Wang, T., Lin, Y., Yu, J., Xia, Q., Zhu, P., & Zhu, D. M. (2020). Vitamin D supplementation improves anxiety but not depression symptoms in patients with vitamin D deficiency. Brain and behavior, 10(11), e01760. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1760


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