Can Vitamin Deficiency Cause Anxiety?

Anxiety is often described as a crippling or overwhelming feeling of unease, worry, tension or panic. It is completely normal to experience anxiety at some point in your life, especially during high-stress or high-pressure situations. For example, you may be feeling anxious or worried about an upcoming medical appointment, job interview, or an important exam. However, you may find it hard to control your worries; these feelings of anxiety may be more persistent and can affect your day-to-day life. If you find that your anxiety is not going away and is getting increasingly worse over time, you may be suffering from an axiety disorder.

Being the most prevalent psychiatric disorder.2 the widespread opinion is that anxiety is slowly becoming a characteristic feature of modern times. Positively, there is extensive research on possible causes of anxiety, how to reduce your risk of anxiety, and treatment and remedial options available.3 If you've recognised a potential anxiety disorder in yourself, know that you are not alone in what you are experiencing; an abundance of support is available to help you.

In short, vitamin deficiency is a cause of anxiety.4 With a growing body of evidence, the link between vitamin deficiency and various physical and psychiatric disorders is significant. Some vitamins, namely A, B, C and Dhave been shown to prevent cell damage in the body, protect against oxidative stress, and maintain hormone balance, all of which allow the brain and body to maintain their normal functions and activity.4 A well-balanced diet that provides all your essential vitamins has been shown to help bolster mental health for managing daily life anxiety and stress.5 For clinical treatments, research continues to show that vitamin deficiencies and  a poor quality diet have the potential to induce symptoms of mental disorders and worsen patient outcomes.6 

Vitamin deficiencies and anxiety-related symptoms can be easily managed through lifestyle changes, such as vitamin supplementation, dietary intervention, and stress management techniques. For example, a 2013 study shows that drinking green tea, a source of vitamin B, is associated with the maintenance of brain function and stress management. 

This article will give you an overview of the links between vitamin deficiency and anxiety, self-help to minimise your anxiety risk, and additional treatment options. 

What is anxiety?

In simplistic terms, anxiety is characterised by feelings of worry, tension, or fear, specifically about things that have happened, are about to happen, or what we think could happen.9 It is a natural response when we feel threatened and can be experienced through thoughts, physical sensations, and feelings. Anxiety can become problematic if it interferes with your ability to live your life. It may be debilitating if:

  • You regularly experience common symptoms of anxiety, such as panic or feelings of dread
  • Your worries are distressing and hard to control
  • You avoid anxiety-inducing situations
  • Your fears and worries are  disproportionate to the situation
  • Your anxiety feels strong or lasts a long time

Anxiety manifests in different ways from person to person. You may experience physical or mental effects and impacts in other areas of your life. Some of the effects of anxiety on the body include:10

  • Feelings of light-headedness or dizziness
  • Restlessness or an inability to rest or sit still, as well as sleeping problems
  • Rapid or faster breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating and hot flushes
  • A churning or unsettling feeling in the stomach
  • Needing the toilet more or less frequently

Anxiety can have many effects on the mind, including:10

  • Tension, nervousness or an inability to relax
  • Feelings of dread or fearing the worst-case scenario
  • Feelings of perceived judgement from others
  • Wanting constant reassurance from others or worrying that people are against you
  • Depression and low mood
  • Working about the future - what will happen, things not working out

These symptoms, in turn, can impair cognitive processes such as thinking, decision-making abilities, perceptions of the environment, learning, memory and concentration.

Causes of anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect around one-eighth of the global population.

Many different theories have been proposed to explain the  causes of anxiety disorders.13 These include:

  • Biological causes: heredity, neurotransmitter imbalance, illness, medication use, nutritional deficiencies/nutrient deficiencies
  • Psychological causes: personality traits, low self-esteem, negative emotions, developmental crises
  • Social causes: adverse life experiences, lack of social support, work stress, conflict of societal norms

This article will look at the biological factor of ‘nutrient deficiencies’ in more detail. One of the most common therapies for managing anxiety is nutritional supplementation.15

Vitamin Deficiency 

Vitamin deficiencies have been associated with an increased risk of anxiety.. Individuals with these psychiatric conditions generally have low serum levels of essential vitamins.16 Vitamins have gained widespread attention in recent years for their many functions that go beyond their effects on a physiological level.

List of vitamins 

The following vitamins have been shown in clinical studies to support the therapeutic potential for the management of anxiety disorders:

  • Vitamin A is an antioxidant and vital vitamin that supports psychological function, the nervous system, and promotes muscle function. The nervous system helps to alleviate somatic and psychological stress and anxiety. A study of midlife women showed that women who had lower serum vitamin A levels had a greater chance of anxiety18
  • B vitamins are essential vitamins for human function. There are eight B vitamins, all of which play a role in alleviating anxiety symptoms. A 2018 study found that those who ate vitamin B-rich foods reduced anxiety symptoms and lower stress scores than those who didn’t19
  • Vitamin C: as well as its immune-boosting effects, it is excellent for psychological function and is one of the best vitamins for alleviating stress and anxiety
  • Vitamin D is responsible for absorbing calcium, magnesium and phosphates to maintain bone, teeth and muscle health. A correlation has been shown between low vitamin D levels and a greater incidence of anxiety and low mood disorders28

Other essential nutrients 

  • Folic acid, also called folate and vitamin B9, is one of the essential B vitamins. Elevated homocysteine levels, a marker of folic acid deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiencycause oxidative stress, resulting in neurological damage and neurotransmitter deficiency.38 Folic acid can be taken as a supplement or through naturally-derived food sources like dark green leafy vegetables, beans, pulses, peanuts, sunflower seeds, whole grains, and seafood
  • Magnesium is widely recognised as an anti-anxiety mineral, commonly supplemented to help relieve stress and anxiety. A review of 20 studies found that taking supplements improved all measures of anxiety amongst the participants. (39) As well as benefitting your stress or anxiety symptoms, magnesium can also alleviate symptoms of depression.40 Magnesium is essential for the body due to its role in efficient brain functioning and the regulation of neurotransmitters.41 Magnesium can be obtained through supplements or food sources like nuts, beans, pulses, whole grains, rice, or avocados

How to avoid anxiety

Living with anxiety can be challenging, especially with all the pressures and exposures we experience on a daily basis. However, there are steps you can take to help you with your anxiety:

  • Communicate your feelings to a friend, a family member, a counsellor, or a health professional. There are also online resources and over-the-phone support contacts available. Communicating your anxiety, whilst challenging, will help you realise that you are not alone
  • Gentle exercise that emphasises focus and presence, such as running, walking, or yoga, are all activities that help you to relax or stay in the present moment. This is an excellent way to stop overthinking the past or worrying about the future
  • Maintaining a regular sleep pattern with sufficient resting hours.Increased anxiety levels are a significant consequence of sleep deprivation42
  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with regular meals and plenty of vitamins and minerals helps maintain your body’s energy levels but also helps alleviate symptoms of low mood
  • Although difficult to practice, shifting your focus to things you can control from what you can’t helps focus your energy and time on helping yourself feel better. Worrying about things you cannot control will only lead to overthinking, more stress, and greater anxiety levels

Treatment and home remedies

Anxiety can be treated in many ways, from psychotherapy methods to medication or holistic practices. It would be best if you worked with your medical professional to choose the best treatment for you.

  • Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy”, can be tailored towards your specific anxiety and directed to your needs. CBT is an example of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety. This method teaches you new ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to and about situations that would otherwise make you anxious, helping you feel less anxious and stressed
  • Medication does not cure anxiety but can help alleviate your symptoms. In cases where your anxiety is severe, medication can maintain your rational thinking and allow you to explore other treatment options without feeling overwhelmed. Antidepressants are typically used to treat depression but are also effective for treating anxiety disorders. They help improve the synthesis and regulation of certain chemicals responsible for mood or stress. Anti-anxiety medications can help reduce your anxiety symptoms, precisely feelings of panic, fear, or extreme worry. Support groups allow you to share and communicate your problems and achievements with other individuals who may be going through the same thing as you. They are available online or in person - whichever best suits you
  • Stress management techniques, such as physical activity, mindfulness, gratitude journalling, and meditation, can help reduce anxiety and enhance the effects of medication or psychotherapy methods
  • Nutritional supplements, like specific vitamins and essential minerals, are vital to ensuring your brain is working optimally. . A well-balanced diet with fruit and vegetables is the best way to get your daily vitamins. However, it can be challenging to implement various foods into your diet. In such cases, a high-quality supplement is a good option

When to seek medical attention?

Anxiety is a normal, emotional, reasonable and expected response to actual or potential danger. However, symptoms of anxiety that are prolonged, irrational, disproportionate or severe, occur in the absence of stressful events or stimuli, or interfere with everyday activities are classified as anxiety disorders (APA). If you believe you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, you should speak to a medical professional immediately.


Anxiety is a crippling or overwhelming feeling of unease, worry, tension, panic, or fear that is an entirely normal to experience at some point in your life, particularly in stressful situations. Howevermedical attention should be explored if feelings of anxiety are becoming persistent. Vitamin deficiencies have been shown to cause anxiety, and the link between vitamin deficiency and various physical and psychiatric disorders is growing. Depending on your chosen treatment option, you may want to explore potential vitamins or minerals alongside conventional medicinal or therapeutic approaches to help alleviate your symptoms of anxiety. Please communicate your anxiety to a friend, a family member, or a medical professional, especially if it becomes burdensome to your mental health and a barrier to your daily activities.


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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Cristina Potter

Sport and Exercise Science - BSc, Loughborough University, England

Cristina is highly motivated and an engaging life scientist, with a deep and abiding personal interest in clinical science, functional medicine, health, and medical affairs.
Committed to achieving and exceeding demanding targets and objectives, Cristina aims to optimise patient wellbeing through innovative medicine and extensive scientific research.
A well-rounded writer for Klarity, her knowledge extends from the evaluation of oncology drugs and interventions, to corticosteroid use and non-conventional, holistic approaches to disease.
Cristina aims to complete a Masters in Biomedical Science, with aspirations of working in Medical Affairs for leading Pharmaceutical Companies

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