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Don't Panic!

Woman smiling holding her hands together

Do you ever have bouts of anxiety or panic attacks accompanied by hyperventilation? If so, then you might be interested in the results of this study: researchers found that among participants who had panic or hyperventilation attacks there was a corresponding lack of both vitamin B6 and iron. On the other hand, those who were in the “healthy” group, who didn’t suffer from panic or hyperventilation attacks, had adequate levels of both vitamin B6 and iron.

Those findings make sense, too, since B vitamins and iron are required for the synthesis of tryptophan into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, mental stability, sleep and cardiovascular function.

The authors of the study concluded, “These results suggest that low serum concentrations of vitamin B6 and iron are involved in PA (panic attacks) and HVA (hyperventilation). Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms involved in such differences.”

And although this study didn’t examine the correlation of coming up short on other B vitamins and overall mental health, it’s important to know that keeping your stores of B vitamins full is part of ensuring a healthy brain and bodily functions.

The truth is that B complex vitamins are necessary for the nervous system to function properly and for your body to handle stress effectively.  In fact, during times of stress, your body uses B vitamins up quickly, so it’s important to keep especially vigilant during stressful times.

Incidentally, the B vitamin thiamine, which is also known as vitamin B1, is called the anti-stress vitamin because it can help support the body’s resistance to stress, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. What’s more is that a shortfall of B vitamins can result in irritability, depression and fatigue—all of which can exacerbate anxiety, panic and hyperventilation issues.

Then there’s iron. Interestingly,, a web site sponsored by the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center, says that a deficiency in iron can result in outcomes similar to that of a panic attack. Iron deficiency or anemia can lead to light-headedness, heart palpitations, breathing problems and a rapid heartbeat.

And while we’re on the topic of vitamins and other nutrients that can help with stress and anxiety, let’s not forget about vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.

Vitamin C is rapidly depleted in times of stress, too, and is necessary for a strong immune system. Taken in larger doses, vitamin C can help fight off anxiety symptoms and acts as a natural, mild tranquilizer.

A calcium or magnesium deficit can also increase the chances of panic attacks because these two minerals help to regulate the nervous system, immune system and your ability to relax. Just as calcium and magnesium go hand-in-hand for bone health, the same holds true for calcium and magnesium and nervous system health. It’s also important to note that vitamin B6 regulates how much magnesium is absorbed by cells.

So, don’t panic! Among other things, make sure you get enough vitamin B6, iron, other B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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