By Lisa Pecos
In an age where anxiety and stress disorders are increasing and doctors are prescribing more and more antianxiety and antidepressant drugs than ever before. While this can be attributed to also living in an age where we tend to be busier than ever and stretching ourselves too thin on a regular basis; vitamin deficiencies may be to blame.
Various studies have found links between certain vitamin deficiencies and anxiety disorders. Treating your anxiety may be as simple as having your doctor check for an underlying deficiency and supplementing your diet.
B complex supplements have long been referred to as stress vitamins because of the effect that different B vitamins have been found to have on stress and anxiety. A 2013 study published in the journal, International Scholarly Research Notices, found that a vitamin B complex significantly improved depressive and anxiety symptoms and had a continuous effect on symptoms. Another study found that 18 grams of inositol, which is a B vitamin, taken daily was as effective as anti-anxiety medication with fewer side effects in those with panic disorder, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Researchers have also linked low vitamin B6 and iron levels to panic attacks and hyperventilation attacks. Vitamin B6 and B12 have also been linked to improved stress and anxiety, as well as the anxiety and depression associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Along with a B complex supplement, you can also get more vitamin B by adding certain foods to your diet, such as potatoes, bananas, and turkey.
Vitamin C is well-known as an antioxidant with many health benefits. Not only does vitamin C help protect the immune system and lower the risk of chronic diseases, but it has also been found to play a therapeutic role for those suffering from anxiety.
A 2015 study, which examined the effects of vitamin C supplements on high school students, showed that vitamin C supplementation reduced anxiety levels and may be an effective way to treat and even prevent anxiety.
Though this study used a vitamin C supplement, you can also increase the vitamin C in your diet by eating foods rich in the vitamin. Most think of oranges as the best source of vitamin C, but guava and peppers (red, green, and yellow) have significantly higher levels of this amazing antioxidant.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to poor mood, anxiety, and depression, along with an increased risk of certain cancers and other diseases. Vitamin D has also been found to be key in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depressive disorder associated with the changing seasons.
Vitamin D is found in certain foods, such as salmon, mackerel, and eggs, or in supplements including cod liver oil. Your body can also make vitamin D through sun exposure, which has also been shown to improve mood, anxiety, and depression.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, low magnesium levels reduce serotonin while antidepressants have been shown to raise brain magnesium. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a study found magnesium to be as effective as tricyclic antidepressants in diabetics. Other studies have shown that magnesium treatment leads to rapid recovery in depression and other related symptoms and mental illnesses, such as anxiety, insomnia, and drug and alcohol abuse.
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, it may be worth speaking to your doctor about the possibility of an underlying nutrient deficiency.