Anxiety attacks affect 40 million people a year, including yours truly. It’s been a less than unpleasant experience where you get to feel tightness in your chest and a whole bunch of fast thoughts zipping through your brain. There's been a bunch of suspected causes, including brain chemistry, the stress of modern life, a lack of good diet and exercise habits, the fact that we’re fragile and finite meat creatures built to be halfway between the falling angel and the rising ape and then turned loose into an uncaring and absurdist universe, and a lack of serotonin (the happy chemical your brain should be making) being produced in the brain.
A new small study out of Japan has shown a link between vitamin deficiencies and anxiety. From the abstract:
Patients undergoing a panic attack (PA) or a hyperventilation attack (HVA) are sometimes admitted to emergency departments (EDs). Reduced serotonin level is known as one of the causes of PA and HVA. Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan. For the synthesis of serotonin, vitamin B6 (Vit B6) and iron play important roles as cofactors. To clarify the pathophysiology of PA and HVA, we investigated the serum levels of vitamins B2, B6, and B12 and iron in patients with PA or HVA attending an ED. We measured each parameter in 21 PA or HVA patients and compared the values with those from 20 volunteers. We found that both Vit B6 and iron levels were significantly lower in the PA/HVA group than in the volunteer group. There was no significant difference in the serum levels of vitamins B2 or B12. These results suggest that low serum concentrations of Vit B6 and iron are involved in PA and HVA. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms involved in such differences.
The 21 participants’ nutrition levels were monitored during different levels of anxiety disorders, including panic attacks that lead to hospitalization. When compared to a control group, it was shown that the anxiety group tested much lower for iron and vitamin B6, which may affect the production of serotonin in the brain.
While it is a small study, I’m gonna be trying this B6 and iron thing. Definitely gonna take a few supplements into my diet.