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5 Vital nutrients depleted by stress

Running late to an important meeting? Or about to pitch a proposal to your team? We all know that feeling. Stress is an inevitable—and very familiar, part of our everyday lives.

Thankfully, most stressful situations are temporary. But when we experience chronic stress, it can significantly impact our body and mind.

And it’s not only energy or mood that is getting zapped by stress, it can also be vital nutrients that we need in order to function. Let’s take a closer look.

How does stress affect health?

Stress can have long-term health effects because of how our bodies react to it. When we feel stressed, our fight-or-flight response kicks in and leads to the release of stress hormones, triggering an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and the tightening of muscles.

When it’s temporary, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol will eventually get back to their normal ranges. But long-term stress keeps our bodies in a prolonged fight-or-flight state, keeping these hormones elevated, suppressing the immune system, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, causing fatigue, anxiety and depression, and even accelerating the aging process.

As if that wasn’t enough of a toll on our bodies, stress can also deplete vital nutrients. And when we look into the nutrients affected, we see that they are also ones our bodies need in order to combat stress in the first place!

Why does stress cause nutrient deficiencies?

During periods of stress, our bodies use up nutrients more rapidly. As stress increases the metabolic needs of our bodies, the demand for nutrients increases. These consistent spikes in cortisol can also lead to cravings for comforting calorie-rich low-nutrient foods, such as processed and sugary treats. While these foods may bring comfort in the moment, consuming them on a regular basis due to stress can leave us missing out on the nutrition we would get from wholesome foods.

Which nutrients are commonly depleted by stress?

While stress can affect many minerals and vitamins, several studies have focused on the connection between stress and the depletion of specific ones—most likely as they are those needed most in times of stress! Let’s look at the 5 key nutrients stress impacts and see why deficiencies are something to be proactive about—rather than stress over!

Magnesium

Magnesium, also referred to as the anti-stress mineral, helps stabilize the membranes of nerve cells, is a cofactor for GABA (an important neurotransmitter that helps us relax), and even promotes serotonin production. So, you can see why this mighty mineral can get depleted in times of chronic stress. Magnesium can be found in foods like beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens. It plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, including aiding in muscle and nerve function, keeping blood pressure regulated, and strengthening the immune system. And the good doesn’t stop there! Magnesium can help reduce stress by promoting a good night’s sleep and a calmer response to stress triggers.

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ZincOrange Naturals Zinc + Vitamin C bottle

Don’t be fooled by the trace amounts of zinc needed by the body. This mighty mineral is necessary for almost 100 enzymes to perform vital chemical reactions, including the creation of DNA, growth of cells, wound healing, and supporting a healthy immune system. Zinc can help regulate cortisol levels over time, reducing anxiety and improving our overall stress response. This mineral can be found in oysters and other seafood, dairy products, beans, seeds, and whole grains.

 

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that does so much more than promote healthy bones and teeth. It also plays anOrange Naturals Vitamin D3 2500IU bottle important function in blood clotting, muscle contraction, and keeping our heart rate and nerve functions regulated. When it comes to the stress response, calcium aids in the tightening and relaxing of blood vessels, contributing to a healthy blood pressure. Calcium can be found in dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, beans, and seafood. In addition to adding these calcium-rich foods into your rotation, it’s also important to make sure you have adequate vitamin D levels–another important nutrient that helps regulate calcium levels in the blood.

 

Iron

Iron is needed for growth and development, and our bodies use it to carry oxygen from the lungs to all other parts of the body. Iron is also important for cognitive function and mental health, with deficiencies connected to increased anxiety and stress. Iron can be found in animal protein (particularly red meat), as well as beans, leafy greens, and seeds.

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Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin is a B-vitamin that converts nutrients into energy and creates and repairs DNA. It can also protect brain cells from both stress and injury, with a deficiency being associated with cognitive decline. Niacin can be found in animal protein, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes.

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Managing stress

Stress impacts so many aspects of our lives, including our nutrient stores. To avoid deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals, it’s important to manage stress itself in the first place!

Lifestyle

Whether it’s in the form of deep breathing, meditation, journaling, yoga, or a combination—find what works for you to help manage your response to stressful situations. These activities can help slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and shift perspective, but don’t expect them to be a one-time solution! Experts note it’s the consistency in doing these activities that matters and leads to health benefits including reducing stress.

Diet

Nutritious food

Aim to eat a variety of healthy whole foods to help ensure that even when the going gets tough, nutrients affected by stress are still in regular rotation in your diet. Since these nutrients also help support the body and mind from stress, it’s all the more important to pay attention to them.

Supplementation

In addition to healthy eating, you can also opt to supplement with nutrients like magnesium or B-vitamins to avoid deficiencies. There are also incredible herbs that can help support our bodies when dealing with stress, including turmeric, ashwagandha, and Siberian ginseng. You can help increase resistance to stress and anxiety conveniently with capsules packed with the goodness of ashwagandha and L-theanine or with a tincture combining the best of the herbal world to help renew our bodies after exertion

While we cannot eliminate stress entirely from our lives, we can certainly work on how we manage and respond to it. Make sure to support your body and mind by adopting habits that will equip you for anything life throws your way!

Sources
The Effects of Psychological and Environmental Stress on Micronutrient Concentrations in the Body: A Review of the Evidence
Stress and Health
Magnesium
Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited
Niacin – Vitamin B3
Zinc
Hemoglobin and Functions of Iron
Calcium
Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress

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