If you suffer from anxiety or develop occasional panic attacks marked by bouts of hyperventilation, you could merely be experiencing the side effects of an underlying nutrient deficiency that is easily correctable. This definitely appears to have been the case with 21 people who participated in a recent study based out of Japan, which identified a lack of both vitamin B6 and iron among participants who experienced panic or hyperventilation attacks.
The relatively small study evaluated nutrient levels among a group of participants with varying degrees of anxiety and frequencies of panic and hyperventilation attacks, some of which resulted in emergency room visits. A control group was also evaluated, and its participants’ nutrient levels compared to those of the primary group.
Upon evaluation, researchers noted that both vitamin B6 and iron were lacking in the subjects with anxiety and hyperventilation issues, while those in the healthy group had adequate levels of these important nutrients. B vitamins and iron are particularly important for the synthesis of tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates not only mood and mental stability, but also sleep and cardiovascular function.
“These results suggest that low serum concentrations of vitamin B6 and iron are involved in PA (panic attacks) and HVA (hyperventilation),” wrote the authors in their study conclusion. “Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms involved in such differences.”
You can read the full study, which was published in the Japanese journal Acta Medica Okayama, here:
Supplementing with whole food-based vitamins may promote better mental health
Though this particular study did not identify a link between general deficiencies of other B vitamins like B2 and B12 and high frequency or intensity of panic attacks, all B vitamins are important for healthy brain and bodily function. A deficiency in any B vitamins, in other words, can lead to mental health problems, which is why it is important to keep your levels in check.
“Chronic stress, poor diet, and certain medical conditions can deplete the body’s stores of vital nutrients,” explains one source about the important of B vitamins. “Many of those who suffer from agoraphobia (fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places) are deficient in certain B complex vitamins, and this may be the case for other anxiety-related conditions as well. Symptoms of vitamin B deficiency may include anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, irritability, and emotional instability.”
If you are looking to supplement with B vitamins, be sure to purchase only whole food-based varieties like those produced by companies like MegaFood and Garden of Life. Whole food-based supplements of any kind are not only better absorbed by the body than their synthetic counterparts, but they are also healthier than standard, run of the mill vitamins and better capable of providing optimal therapeutic benefit.
“Vitamins are made up of several different components – enzymes, co-enzymes, and co-factors – that must work together to produce their intended biologic effects,” explains Dr. Ben Kim. “The majority of vitamins that are sold in pharmacies, grocery stores, and vitamin shops are synthetic vitamins, which are only isolated portions of the vitamins that occur naturally in food.”