Anxiety and panic disorders may be aggravated by low levels of serum vitamin B6 and iron.
According to a 2013 study done by Okayama University in Japan, low serum concentrations of vitamin B6 and iron are connected to panic attacks and anxiety. Although the study is a little bit dated, it still holds some water.
Twenty-one hospitalized individuals were the only ones studied by the researchers. Of those patients, 10 experienced panic attacks and 11 experienced hyperventilation.
When they looked at the patient’s blood work, they found that their levels of vitamin B6 and iron were much lower than that of the control group. The control group consisted of healthy adults. (1)
In what ways can vitamin B6 and iron contribute to anxiety and panic disorders?
The researchers believe that this is because of serotonin’s function in anxiety disorders.
Serotonin is generated from tryptophan during the production of serotonin in the brain.
Tryptophan requires vitamin B6 as a coenzyme. Iron is a cofactor for aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase that assists in the synthesis of serotonin.
The body will have problems manufacturing serotonin if either of these is low, but especially if both are.
The researchers did not look into the possibility that low serotonin levels underlie anxiety and panic disorders. They only established a correlation between the two.
A lot more research will be needed before scientists can say with certainty what causes these mental health conditions.
How To Support Natural Serotonin Production
If your vitamin B6 and/or iron levels are low, your first order of business is to raise them. Unless the deficiency is really severe, dietary changes should be the first line of defense.
This refers to consuming more of the foods that are rich in the nutrient in question.
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
Doctors typically recommend iron supplements if absorption is an issue or if a patient has iron deficiency anemia.
This is especially true for vegetarians and vegans.
Vitamin B6 concentrations are highest in meat products, and the iron found in vegetarian food sources is typically more difficult for the body to absorb.
It’s likely that supplementation will be required in such circumstances.
Alternative Natural Methods of Increasing Serotonin
You should see a doctor right away if you’re having severe anxiety and panic episodes.
Natural remedies, dietary changes, and supplements can help, but they are no substitute for professional medical care.Copy
You can improve your ability to deal with anxiety and panic attacks by combining your doctor’s treatment plan with natural remedies and techniques.
Vitamin B6 isn’t the only B vitamin that can help with anxiety; the rest of the B vitamins do, too. Vitamins B12 and B9 (folate) are included in this category.
Griffonia simplicifolia is another herb that might help you feel better naturally. 5-HTP, a precursor to serotonin, is found in this plant. It’s obtainable as a supplement, but you should check with your doctor first.
An overdose of 5-HTP may have undesirable effects. This is especially crucial if you are already taking medication for depression. (4)
Relaxing the body and mind through practices like yoga and meditation is another option. When anxiety or panic attacks do occur, you can control their severity by employing these strategies and deep breathing exercises.
Practices like yoga and meditation on a regular basis have been shown to help reduce the occurrence of these episodes.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin B6 may affect iron levels, according to the results of this study. This was a small study, however, and doesn’t give us any definitive causation.
Anxiety and panic attacks are not necessarily associated with a deficiency in either of these nutrients. The lack of vitamin B6 or iron is not necessarily related to anxiety and panic attacks, and vice versa.
However, this is not the first time that a correlation has been found between dietary habits and psychological well-being. Anxiety is just one of many illnesses that can be avoided with a well-balanced diet.
Never disregard medical advice, swap out prescribed drugs for “natural solutions,” or begin taking supplements before consulting your doctor.
“Low serum concentrations of vitamin B6 and iron are related to panic attack and hyperventilation attack.” PubMed. Yasuhito Mikawa, et al. 2013. (1)
“Vitamin B6.” NIH (2)
“Foods high in iron.” Health Direct (3)
“L-5-hydroxytryptophan alone and in combination with a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor in the treatment of depression.” PubMed. K Zmilacher, ete al.1988. (4)
DISCLAIMER: This is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace the advice, diagnosis, or treatment of a qualified medical professional. If you have questions about your health or the medications you are taking, you should talk to your doctor or another qualified health professional. Don’t put off seeing a doctor or dismiss their advise just because you saw something online.