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    Can multivitamins cause anxiety & panic attacks?

    I have had two experiences in the past 3yrs where I have taken multivitamins to boost my wellbeing at the time, and then about a week into taking them started to have very out of character anxiety levels and panic attacks. I correlate these attacks to the use of the multivitamins because both times I forgot to take the capsules for a week and suddenly the symptoms stopped. Is there something specific in the multivitamin I could be reacting to or would I need to do an allergy test?

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    Leanne Hall

    Psychologist

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    Clinical Psychologist, Health Coach & Personal Trainer in private practice. I have expertise in assessing and treating a range of disorders and conditions; depression, anxiety, ... View Profile
    It is highly unlikely that your anxiety & panic are the result of multivitamin use, however it would be a good idea to stop taking multivitamins and visit a GP for further assessment.

    In fact B Complex vitamins have been referred to as the “anti-stress vitamins” due to the positive effect they have on the central nervous system. Some studies have found that patients taking these supplements experience a reduction in panic and anxiety.

    It also depends on what type of multivitamin you are using. Many have binders and fillers, such as sucrose, lactose & stearic acid - however only in very small amounts, not enough to trigger an intolerance/allergy reaction unless you were taking mega doses!! Others do not necessarily have the right combination of vitamins etc…(many vitamins compete with each other for absorption when consumed together).

    It's also important to note that multivitamins can interact with other types of medications. For example benzodiazepine's such as Valium or Xanax can inhibit the transport of calcium into nerve cells which can lead to increased feelings of panic, anxiety as well as muscle cramping.

    I would advise that you consider a visit to your GP - a simple blood test will help determine what, if any, vitamin deficiencies you may have. The only “allergy” as such which at times can trigger anxiety/panic is hayfever, which would be unrelated to your multivitamin use. 

    A dietician or nutritionist may also be able to help you work out what you are missing from your diet, and suggest ways you could obtain additional nutrients through the food that you eat.

    If you still find that you are experiencing anxiety and panic, then a GP referral to a Clinical Psychologist would help you learn strategies to manage your anxiety and panic.

    I hope this helps! 
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    Joanna Sochan

    Naturopath · Nutritionist · Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner

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    Joanna is a Natural Medicine Practitioner (Naturopath, Herbalist and Nutritionist) who offers an integrative and holistic approach to health and wellbeing. She applies a number ... View Profile
    First of all we need to remember that each of us is biochemically unique and thus has different nutritional needs requiring individual assessments. Most people take multivitamins to make sure they get all the nutrients their diet may not provide. As such, many multivitamins provide the total recommended daily intake of each vitamin and mineral (or close to it). That means that amounts of nutrients per pill are usually low and thus safe for the majority of the healthy population. Unfortunately, the more ingredients are present in a single formula, the higher the chance of side effects. To overcome this, you need to find the formula that works for your particular health situation and lifestyle. Needless to say, this is not an easy task with so many different brands of vitamins to choose from these days! Getting sound advice on an optimal formula for you is well worth considering.

    It is well known that deficiencies or excess amounts of certain vitamins and minerals can cause symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Most vitamins and minerals are harmless and if you get more than you need, the extra just gets excreted, mainly via urine. However, there are some minerals such as copper, manganese and selenium that are stimulatory in excess and can cause neurological symptoms (again levels are different for each person). Vitamins B-complex are also stimulating and may cause anxiety and even panic attacks in some people taking higher doses. In addition, certain herbs such as Panax ginseng, guarana, licorice root or kola nut are stimulatory and can cause similar symptoms.

    Importantly, some medications may interact with multivitamins, especially the ones also containing herbs (these are becoming more common now). This can be problematic and lead to marked symptoms. For example St John’s wort herb should not be taken together with antidepressants, oral contraceptives and warfarin, to name a few, but people generally are not aware of these interactions and they buy OTC supplements that not are suitable for them and thus may experience adverse symptoms. It is worth noting that separating doses of medications and vitamins by a few hours may resolve this in some cases.

    Generally, if your diet already provides enough of required nutrients (unlikely but possible with well-planned, organic diets!), taking more of them every day in a multivitamin could lead to problems. For example if you love Brazil nuts and eat them regularly (around 6 nuts 3-5 days per week) you are likely to have good selenium levels and supplementing additional selenium could lead to developing toxic levels.

    Multivitamins also contain fillers and binders that allow the manufacturer to shape it into a pill and to improve taste. Some of the fillers are dangerous excitotoxins such as artificial sweeteners. Excitotoxins are substances added to foods and beverages that overstimulate neurons in the brain that can cause anxiety and even brain in susceptive individuals.

    In summary, choosing the right multivitamin to get the many benefits and avoid the pitfalls is really important. I recommend you consult a knowledgeable practitioner who understands your needs and will guide you through the multivitamin maze!
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    Angela

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    Thank you! The first sentence of your second paragraph was music to my ears. I know my body and I know for sure that something is just not right when I take multivitamins - it has been too much of a coincidence that I have only experienced these attacks when taking them. I take no medications or drugs. I rarely drink. Since this happened 6mths ago I have concentrated on increased exercise and even better diet choices so I don't feel the need to take multivitamns. I wish more people would take the time to look at what ingredients they react to, everyone is different, what is okay for one person may be really bad for the next.
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    Joanna Sochan

    Naturopath · Nutritionist · Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner

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    Joanna is a Natural Medicine Practitioner (Naturopath, Herbalist and Nutritionist) who offers an integrative and holistic approach to health and wellbeing. She applies a number ... View Profile
    My suggestion for you is not to give up on multivitamins all together as they can make a real difference in overall health and wellbeing. The catch is to find one that is suitable and works for you! The ‘cookie cutter’ approach rarely works, especially when it comes to prescribing any drugs or natural medicines alike.
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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian · Nutritionist · Sports Dietitian

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    Chris is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and Accredited Nutritionist (AN) with the Dietitians Association of Australia and Sports Dietitian with Sports Dietitians Australia. Chris ... View Profile
    I agree with Leanne here. I would strongly suggest that you consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) if you are concerned about missing out on nutrients. APDs are experts in all things food and nutrition and can tailored a plan that work for you and your bodies needs.

    A recent study has confirmed that there are no significant differences between the soils mineral content from the 1980's to now, in fact, some minerals have actually increased! Another recent finding is that organic food is NOT nutritionally different to conventional grown food, and organic grown food still does contain some pesticides and herbicides (in smaller amounts).

    From my professional opinion for the general healthy population, multivitamins are cleverly marketed to suck consumers into a product that they actually do not need. Of course there are people with special requirements or those who cannot meet their nutrient requirements from food alone which require a supplement but thats the exception.

    The best advice I can give you is to seek guidance from your GP or APD. To find and APD near you head to www.daa.asn.au
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    I ABSOLUTELY believe that multivitamins can and do cause panic/anxiety attacks!!!  I have had it happen on several occasions over the past 10 years.  At different times I have tried taking multivitamins to supplement my diet.  Each time with TERRIBLE consequences.  I cannot be just a coincidence.  I have asked doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.  ALL of them said it was very unlikely that vitamins could cause such a reaction. One pharmacist told me to switch brands, so I went to a vitamin store and paid a very high price for new vitamins – SAME RESULT!   I even tried children's multivitamins, and experienced the same result.  I have tried maybe fifteen different brands.  As a middle-aged woman, I believe vitamins would help my hair, skin and nails.  However, I just cannot take them.  The last time I took a women's multivitamin was just a few days ago.  Within approximately 30 minutes I experienced a rapid heart beat, shortness of breath and a horrific sensation of panic.  I used a trick I read online from a panic sufferer which was to grab handfuls of ice cubes, and breathe very slowly.  It worked!  The ice cubes focuses your brain on the cold sensation rather than the panic.  I WILL NEVER TAKE VITAMINS AGAIN!!!  They are not meant for everyone!
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