Anxiety is becoming more and more of a common issue, not just because of the trying times we all face at the moment but because of our eating and drinking habits. Chronic ongoing anxiety really does get in the way of life and can stop us from doing so many things. If you want to improve your health and lose weight, you need to be motivated, calm and focused and anxiety will stop you before you even started so it’s really important to focus on fixing it first.
Anxiety is caused by an imbalance of the neurotransmitters dopamine, GABA and serotonin. The root cause of anxiety can be from one of a combination of the following:
Gut-related issue due to the connection between the gut and brain via the vagus nerve. Over 75% of our serotonin, the happy hormone is produced in the gut.
Excess stress in the forms of perceived stress (the unpredictability of future events), poor blood sugar control, disrupted sleep patterns and inflammation can alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and burn through the nutrients you need for your central nervous system to handle stressors.
Nutrient deficiencies such as B vitamins, zinc, copper, EPA and DHA from fish oil, vitamin D, choline.
Today I focus on B vitamins but as already mentioned there can be other contributing factors to anxiety. B vitamins are water-soluble which means they are easily excreted from the body in the urine. B vitamins are easily ‘burnt through’ and used as energy when you are experiencing a lot of stress. If you drink a lot of tea or coffee known as diuretics that make you urinate more or regularly drink alcohol, you may be excreting them even more.
Interestingly, scientific evidence and health practitioner case studies are now documenting the importance of B vitamins in helping reduce the severity of COVID-19 and long COVID. Anxiety, inflammation and fatigue are some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and long COVID (not experienced by all) and it is thought that the depletion of B vitamins by the virus could contribute to those symptoms.
B vitamin levels are an important factor in anxiety and stress. These levels can be checked by a Nutritional Therapist or health practitioner with an Organic acids test. Recipes for anxiety-supporting meals can also be provided by a Nutritional Therapist.
To obtain more B vitamins from food see the below food lists. If you are vegetarian or vegan you may need to consider a B-complex vitamin supplement on the advice of a health professional.
- Vitamin B1 – pork, fish, nuts and seeds, beans, green peas, brown rice, squash, asparagus and seafood
- Vitamin B2 – chicken, flax seeds, turkey, salmon, eggs, organ meats, lean meats, green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and spinach
- Vitamin B3 or Niacin – duck, turkey, beef liver, pork, venison, halibut, liver, chicken, veal, chili powder and sun-dried tomatoes have some of the highest amounts of niacin per gram. Other niacin-rich foods include baker’s yeast, paprika, espresso coffee, anchovies, spirulina, duck, shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce
- Vitamin B5 – beef, poultry, seafood, organ meats, eggs, mushrooms, avocados, potatoes, broccoli, peanuts, sunflower seeds, chickpeas and brown rice
- Vitamin B6 – chickpeas, buckwheat flour, chestnuts, turkey, beef, chicken, wild-caught salmon, sweet potatoes, potatoes, sunflower seeds, pistachios, avocado, spinach and banana
- Vitamin B7 – egg yolks, organ meats, yeast, soybeans
- Vitamin B8 or Inositol – wheat germ, brown rice, nuts, bananas
- Vitamin B9 – spinach, okra, fresh, raw, organic leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli, asparagus, spinach and turnip greens, and a wide variety of beans, especially lentils, but also pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, navy and black beans
- Vitamin B12 – Pollock, crab, herring, oysters, clams, trout, sardines and avocados, vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal tissues, including foods like beef and beef liver, lamb, snapper, venison, salmon, shrimp, scallops, poultry, eggs and dairy products.