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What Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies Cause Anxiety?

author image Nadia Haris
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.
What Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies Cause Anxiety?
Eating a varied and balanced diet should normally give you adequate amounts of nutrients. Photo Credit: hlphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and it can help prompt you to deal with situations in a healthy manner. However, when your anxiety levels are out of control or combined with depression, fatigue or other symptoms they may be caused by poor nutrition. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can affect your energy levels, brain health and the biochemical balance in your brain, leading to or worsening anxiety.

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Vitamin B-1 and Energy Production

Like other B vitamins, thiamine -- vitamin B-1 -- is crucial for energy production and is often referred to as an "anti-stress" vitamin. A study published in "Psychopharmacology" reported that taking 50 milligrams of vitamin B-1 per day for two months helped improve mood and composure in individuals who already had adequate levels of this vitamin. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the recommended daily dose for adults is only between 1.1 milligrams to 1.4 milligrams. Vitamin B-1 is found in almost all foods, particularly in whole grains and legumes, so it is rare to be deficient in this nutrient.

Vitamin B6 and Mood Hormones

Chemical messengers -- neurotransmitters -- carry signals for normal brain function and influence how you feel and when you sleep. Vitamin B-6 is elemental in producing serotonin and norepinephrine, two of the neurotransmitters that help regulate your mood. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a serious deficiency of this nutrient can lead to irritably, depression, nervousness, difficulty concentrating and loss of short-term memory. Adults require 1.3 to 2.0 milligrams of vitamin B-6 per day from foods such as poultry, fish, dairy products, legumes, brown rice, seeds and whole grains.

Vitamin D and Depression

Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" because most people can produce enough of this nutrient just by getting skin exposure to UV light from the sun. However, it is common to have a deficiency if you live in an area with little natural sunlight for much of the year. Research published in the journal "Clinical Rheumatology" found that people with anxiety and depression frequently had low levels of vitamin D. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, you need to get 15 to 20 micrograms of this vitamin from sunlight, supplements or foods such as fatty fish, fish liver oils and fortified milk.

Mineral Deficiencies

Like vitamins, minerals are essential nutrients for healthy brain function and producing neurotransmitters and hormones that affect mental health. A review published in the "Indian Journal of Psychiatry" notes that the mineral zinc helps protect brain cells from toxic damage and can also improve the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Iron is an important mineral for red blood cell production and to deliver oxygen to your cells. Children who have attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorders have been found to be deficient in iron and and low levels are also linked to depression and fatigue, particularly in women.

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