Anxiety and Panic Disorders: The Connection to Vitamin B6 and Iron Levels
According to a study conducted by Okayama University in Japan in 2013, low levels of serum vitamin B6 and iron are linked to anxiety and panic disorders. Although this study is a bit outdated, it is still relevant.
The researchers studied 21 hospitalized patients, 10 of whom experienced panic attacks, and 11 of whom experienced hyperventilation. Blood work revealed that their vitamin B6 and iron levels were significantly lower than those of a healthy control group.
The researchers suggest that serotonin plays a role in anxiety disorders and that vitamin B6 is required as a coenzyme for tryptophan to generate serotonin in the brain. Iron, on the other hand, is a cofactor for aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, which helps synthesize serotonin. Low levels of either of these nutrients can impede serotonin production, which may contribute to anxiety and panic disorders.
Foods high in vitamin B6 include (2):
- Beef liver
- Organ meats
- Starchy vegetables
- Non-citrus fruits
- Fortified cereals
- Foods that are rich in iron include (3):
- Red meat
- Organ meat (such as liver)
- Fish or shellfish
- Dried fruit
- Wholegrain breads and pasta
- Fortified breads and cereals
- Beans and legumes
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
While more research is needed to confirm the link between vitamin B6, iron, and mental health, individuals with low levels of these nutrients may consider dietary changes and supplementation to boost their levels. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include fish, beef liver, potatoes, non-citrus fruits, and fortified cereals. Foods rich in iron include red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and leafy green vegetables.
In addition to natural remedies and supplements, individuals should seek professional medical care for severe anxiety and panic episodes. Yoga and meditation may also help relax the body and mind and reduce the occurrence of these episodes. However, it is essential to consult a doctor before beginning any supplement regimen, as an overdose of supplements like 5-HTP may have adverse effects, particularly if one is already taking medication for depression.
While a well-balanced diet may help prevent anxiety and other illnesses, it is crucial to seek medical advice before swapping prescribed drugs for “natural solutions” or taking supplements. This article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.