Nutrient Deficiencies and Anxiety

Other B complex vitamins that play a role in anxiety are:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)—needed for carbohydrate tolerance
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)—needed in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)—needed for nerve cell metabolism

Vitamins C & E

Deficiencies in vitamin C and E have also been linked to a higher risk of anxiety disorders.


Magnesium deficiency also causes anxiety because magnesium is required by the body to clear excess lactic acid. High stress levels can deplete an individual’s reserves of magnesium, which, in turn, could worsen anxiety.

Other Minerals

Deficiencies in calcium caused by either poor intake or a disease called hyperparathyroidism have been linked to a higher risk of anxiety.

Anxiety disorders have also been reported to occur more frequently in people deficient in phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.

Essential Fatty Acids

Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, especially the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Supplementing the diet with fish oils, flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, and/or evening primrose oil may reduce the vulnerability to stress.


Tryptophan (L-tryptophan) is an amino acid derived from protein. It is the dietary precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which controls both our moods and level of anxiety.

Deficiencies in tryptophan can cause low serotonin levels as well as both depression and anxiety. Supplementation of L-tryptophan may reduce or ameliorate most anxiety disorders. An alternative health food store remedy is 5-HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan), which is a metabolite of L-tryptophan that gets converted in the brain to serotonin. For more about 5-HTP, see my next blog.

Tryptophan is very effective for insomnia. I recommend 1000–3000 mg of L-tryptophan before bedtime. 5-HTP is a good alternative, as serotonin helps induce sleep. Foods high in tryptophan include bananas, figs, dates, and nut butters.

Avoid foods high in tyramine as they may prevent sleep by increasing the brain levels of adrenalin. These are cheese, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, sauerkraut, bacon, ham, sausages, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and tobacco.

Toxic Heavy Metals

In my practice, at least 50% of all the cases of chronic immune system and neurological disorders—like anxiety disorders, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple sclerosis, attention deficit disorder, and others—involve toxic heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, and aluminum.

Heavy metals are often ignored causes of serious health problems. They can accumulate and damage the brain, kidneys, and immune system.

Experts estimate that at least 25% of the North American population suffers from some degree of heavy metal poisoning. The best way to find out whether or not your body is contaminated with any of these heavy metals is to get lab testing done.

Next I will discuss more natural anti-anxiety remedies.

By Dr. Zoltan Rona| March 09, 2009
Categories:  Blog

About the Author

Dr. Zoltan Rona

Dr. Zoltan Rona

Dr. Zoltan P. Rona is a graduate of McGill University Medical School (1977) and has a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry and Clinical Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut (1984). He is past president of The Canadian Holistic Medical Association (1987-88) and is the author of three Canadian bestsellers: The Joy of Health (1991), Return to the Joy of Health (1995) and Childhood Illness and The Allergy Connection (1997). He is co-author with Jeanne Marie Martin of The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook (1996) and is the medical editor of the Benjamin Franklin Award winning Encyclopedia of Natural Healing (1998). He has had a private medical practice in Toronto for the past 35 years, has appeared on radio and TV as well as lectured extensively in Canada and the U.S. Dr. Rona currently writes regular articles for Reader’s Digest, Alive, Vitality magazine and for several web sites. His latest book “Vitamin D, the Sunshine Vitamin” was published in 2010. In 2011, Dr. Rona was named Chief Medical Advisor for NAKA Herbs and Vitamins and has developed a line of nutritional supplements (TriStar Naturals) which are sold in health food stores across Canada. He can be found at

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