Stress: The Nutrient Thief


The mere mention of it stresses me out.

Our stress today is rapid fire, move at the speed of light stress.  It’s fleeting and ongoing all in the same moment, crazy stress. Our 21st century health is in major decline due to stress.  

It used to be that humans were at risk of attack by wild beasts or the hostility of a neighboring clan.  The stress response ” fight or flight” refers to heightened state of readiness.   In other words you had to be ready to put your dukes up or be prepared to quickly skedaddle.

This stress response remains in full practice today.  Our stressors of course are slightly different.  Our saber tooth tigers might be our mother in law and our flight might be the panic we feel when we’ve run 1/2 a block only to miss the morning train. Today we can add hurricanes, financial worries, illness, and toxicity of the world around us.

Our body can manage acute stress. It adapts quickly and our normal physiology will return when it’s happening just occasionally. However if stress is prolonged or chronic, our health will suffer. More of us today fall into the chronic stress category. Would you agree? 

Certain Body Systems are Affected

Blood Vessels: Repeated or continuous high pressure can cause blood vessels to harden.

Digestive System: Stress chemicals increase gastric acid to speed digestion and to access energy from food. Repeated surges of excess acids can lead to ulcers. Digestion can also be completely halted by stress.

Heart: The heart beats much faster during stress, sometimes even skipping a beat.

Blood Pressure: Stress raises blood pressure. Chronic high blood pressure can lead to damaged arteries, set up conditions for heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Stress releases fats into the blood-stream for quick energy. Clotting agents are also released to protect the blood in the case of injury. These fats can build up in the blood vessels making them narrower, clotting agents make the blood thicker, thereby increasing the risk for heart attack.

Lungs: Breathing quickens to improve “fight or flight” response.

Muscles: Chemical and nervous reactions to stress tense the muscles. Repeated tensing leads to muscle tension headaches, backaches and muscle soreness, as well as knots and cramps throughout the body.

Immune System: Stress is thought to lower immune function and increase the risk of immune – related conditions.

Hormones: Stress disrupts hormones that regulate menstrual cycles causing missed, shortened or lengthened periods.

sourced from materials from nutritionist barbara lagoni

Under stress the body will actually steal nutrients as a coping strategy.

Below are the most common nutrient deficiencies related to stress:

B Vitamins: what stress robs, B’s restore.”

B’s are water soluble, and are lost very easily from foods and the body. B’s must constantly be replenished. B’s work more effectively when all eight are present and in balance. Stress, refined foods, sugar, alcohol, steroidal medications and birth control pills, all deplete B’s. To get all the necessary B’s, you must eat a variety of whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables, each and every day. If you don’t, supplementation is highly recommended.

Symptoms of B deficiencies:

Mood changes, irritability, nervousness, fatigue, depression, mental confusion, headaches, dizziness, trembling, loss of appetite, insomnia, stress, hypoglycemia, anxiety attacks, cracks at the corners of the mouth, low immunity, hair loss, anemia, food cravings, blood sugar irregularities.

Benefits of Vitamin B:

converts food to energy, alleviates sugar cravings, assist in formation of protective antibodies and healthy red blood cells, needed for normal growth in children, reduces the risk of heart disease, brings benefit to those who suffer from PMS, morning sickness, anemia, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression and hearing loss, helps prevent birth defects, cervical dysplacia and colon cancer. Needed to reduce homocystiene levels.

Vitamin C: the infection fighter.

Stress, extremes in temperature, smoking, alcohol and birth control pills deplete Vitamin C.

Symptoms of C deficiencies:

Bruise easily, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, varicose and spider veins, slow healing of wounds and fractures, chronic infection, shortness of breath, allergies and asthma, frequent colds and flu, prickly heat, swollen glands, anemia, weakened immune system, polyps in colon.

Benefits of Vitamin C:

Helps the body absorb iron and calcium, natural antihistamine, helps allergies, reduces the risk of heart disease up to 40%, reduces the risk of cancer. Powerful antioxidant, used in prevention and treatment of the common cold, reduces the risk of cataracts, increases resistance to ligament and tendon injury, protects from radiation from xrays.

Zinc: healing nutrient.”

A study of oral zinc for the treatment of acne showed an 85% decrease in acne scars in 4 weeks. It assists all other nutrients in the body.

Symptoms of Zinc deficiencies:

White spots on the nails,
loss of taste, smell and appetite, slow healing, prostate problems, acne, fertility problems, nerve damage, cataracts, zinc loss occurs when one perspires.

Benefits of Zinc:

Promotes healing of wounds and burns, protects eyes, improves prostate health, necessary for alcohol detoxification, essential during pregnancy and lactation, decreases premature delivery, improves common cold and sore throat.

Calcium: natural muscle relaxant.

Symptoms of Calcium deficiencies:

Muscle cramps, leg cramps, joint pains, osteoporosis, arthritis, PMS, insomnia, arrhythmia, headaches and irritability, poor teeth, restlessness, numbness or tingling in the extremities, backache, menstrual problems.

Benefits of Calcium:

Helps build strong bones and teeth, natural tranquilizer, promotes colon health, builds peak bone mass, prevents polyps and colon cancer lowers blood pressure, reduces lead toxicity, regulates heart beat, protects the heart, promotes restful sleep, essential for blood clotting, reduces the many symptoms associated with PMS.

Not all nutritional supplements are created equal. You want nutrients that are sourced from clean raw materials, that have rigorous quality control standards and products that assimilate well into the body.

stressed flickr image credit

K a r e n     H a n r a h a n
Wellness Educator/Nutritional Consultant
Mentoring YOU to Health Success

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