Approximately 40 million adults in the United States experience anxiety each year. There are many theories regarding the root cause of anxiety, including brain chemistry, genetics, environmental factors or other medical factors/or disease, however, there is not yet a definitive answer to the root causes of anxiety.
A study out of Japan may provide an important insight into the connection between nutritional deficiencies and mental health. This study reveals that low levels of vitamin B6 and iron may actually trigger the chemical changes in the brain responsible for panic attacks, hyperventilation and other forms of anxiety.
The research team analyzed the nutritional levels of 21 participants with varying levels of anxiety, panic attacks and hyperventilation episodes. While some experience minor attacks, manageable at home, other attacks resulted in emergency room visits. The participants were tested for a number of different nutritional deficiencies or abnormalities in the hope of identifying a pattern. At the same time, they ran a similar set of tests on a control group of 20 people, and compared the two.
The data showed that those who were experiencing anxiety were found to have lower levels of B6 and iron than those in the healthy control group. This is important due to the fact that one of the most accepted theories regarding the development of anxiety is that it is caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, with serotonin seen as a key player. Serotonin is one the “happiness hormones”, responsible for triggering the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. Serotonin is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan, and both iron and vitamin B6 play an important role in this process. An absence of these nutrients, therefore, can cause a decrease of serotonin levels. As a fact, many of antidepressant drugs work on the same theory; boost serotonin levels to regulate mental health.
“These results suggest that low serum concentration of vitamin B6 and iron are involved in panic attacks and hyperventilation. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanism involved in such differences’
Those struggling with chronic anxiety may wish to have their B6 and iron tested, and if low, consider consuming foods high in B6 and iron, take high-quality supplements, and reach out to LisaMarie for a health consult.