Stress is all around us, and the busier we become, the more likely it is that stress will strike. With its mental, emotional, and physical effects, it’s important to protect our bodies at the cellular level.
Stress is a natural part of life, but chronic stress can deplete our energy levels and make us more susceptible to anxiety, depression, illness, and disease. Let’s explore how vitamin supplements can help us stave off the short-term and long-term effects of stress.
Vitamins––can they help with stress?
Nutritional deficiencies and stress
Nowadays, stress is all around us, and for many of us, it feels more overbearing now than ever.
With the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, and its financial burden, plus a new work or school routine for so many families, you may feel as if you’re running on empty.
When faced with stress, our cortisol levels rise. Over a long period of time––as in the case of chronic stress––it can deplete our vitamin and mineral levels (such as Vitamins A, B, C, E, and magnesium, to name a few) and negatively impact how our bodies absorb essential nutrients from our diets.
When this happens, we may feel like a car running on empty. For example, when our magnesium levels are low, we can feel fatigued to the bone. Or when our Vitamin B6 levels deplete, we can experience mood changes.
Vitamins and our mental health
Studies show that a deficiency in our body’s vitamin storage, as is the case with vitamin D, for instance, can harm our mental health.
In particular, when days are shorter during the winter months, less sunlight can result in lower levels of Vitamin D. As a result, we may be more likely to experience low energy or even depression.
Over-the-counter vitamin supplements, such as folate or vitamin B12, may also alleviate the severity and duration of depression symptoms. Our bodies require sufficient vitamin intake to function and thrive normally.
Top vitamins and minerals for stress relief
If you’re looking to tackle your stress levels head-on, the following vitamins and minerals may be able to bring you some relief:
What it does: Also known as Thiamine, or the “anti-stress” vitamin, vitamin B1 is one of the eight water-soluble essential B vitamins our body needs to maintain a healthy nervous and immune system. It also acts as a mood stabiliser and helps improve memory and concentration.
Natural sources: Eggs, pulses, whole grains, whole wheat bread, rice, cauliflower, asparagus, oranges, nuts, beef, poultry, and pork.
If you’re deficient, why you may need it: B1 can help balance your blood sugar levels. If your levels are low, you may experience confusion or weight loss. Supplementing with B1 can also help alleviate irritability and migraines.
Safety considerations: If you consume tea or coffee, it may interfere with the absorption of B1. Also, extremely low levels of B1 may cause Beriberi, a condition where you may experience muscle weakness, fluid retention, fast heartbeat, and low blood pressure.
What it does: Also known as pyridoxine, B6 plays a significant role in the creation of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, GABA, and serotonin, which play a critical part in regulating our mood. It’s also important for transporting hemoglobin, so a deficiency may lead to anaemia (low iron) which can leave you feeling exhausted.
Natural sources: Chickpeas, potatoes, oily fish, bananas, soybeans, whole-grain oats, wheat germ, milk, and poultry.
If you’re deficient, why you may need it: A B6 supplement could reduce symptoms of PMS, improve symptoms of depression, help combat anaemia (which could improve your fatigue or replenish your energy levels), and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Safety considerations: When taking a supplement, be mindful not to take more than 200mg daily, as this could lead to tingling in the arms or legs—known as peripheral neuropathy.
What it does: Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, is a first-string antioxidant that supports our immune system. It can also shield us from cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. It also maintains our skin and may have a positive effect on cognitive functioning, especially with memory recall.
Natural sources: Our five-a-day serving of fruits and vegetables should give us the vitamin C we need. Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and potatoes are but a few resources.
If you’re deficient, why you may need it: A vitamin C supplement could help manage your blood pressure, prevent anaemia ( iron deficiency), which can have a positive effect on your energy levels, and it can protect your memory and executive functioning as you get older.
Safety considerations: If you are undergoing chemotherapy, talk with your doctor before taking vitamin C, as a supplement may interfere with the effectiveness of your chemo treatment.
What it does: Often called the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is water-soluble and plays a significant role in strengthening our teeth and bones, and in maintaining your nervous system, whilst strengthening the immune system.
Natural sources: Sunbathing (safely!) in the spring or summer can be a natural way to absorb vitamin D topically. It also exists in egg yolks, salmon, red meat, liver, and fortified cereals.
If you’re deficient, why you may need it: Not only can vitamin D help lower your blood pressure, but it could also help you manage symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or otherwise known as Seasonal Depression. This is because low levels of vitamin D can negatively affect serotonin. When this happens, we may experience sadness or mood swings.
Safety considerations: Certain antibiotics and seizure medications (i.e., isoniazid and phenobarbital, respectively), may reduce your vitamin D levels.
What it does: Zinc is an essential nutrient and trace mineral that we must consume through our diet or via supplements. It supports our immune system, decreases inflammation, and contributes to normal fertility.
Natural sources: Beef, pork, pumpkin or flax seeds, oysters, baked beans, dark chocolate, eggs, cheese, milk, kale, and potatoes.
If you’re deficient, why you may need it: Zinc deficiency could cause loss of appetite and a compromised immune system. Research even suggests low levels could also “interfere with the processes of learning and memory.” A supplement may bolster your immune system and help reduce oxidative stress.
Safety considerations: In general, zinc is safe for most of us. However, women who are pregnant or nursing are recommended not to take more than 40mg daily.
What it does: Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA, and ALA) are naturally found in seafood, especially in “fatty fish.” Omega-3 can decrease inflammation in the body, lower your blood pressure, and help keep your heart strong and your circulatory system functioning normally.
Natural sources: Salmon, sardines, whitebait, trout, chia seeds, edamame, kidney beans, pumpkin, kale, eggs, and walnuts.
If you’re deficient, why you may need it: An Omega-3 supplement (fish oil or cod liver oil, etc.), may come with a load of benefits. For one, you could lower your triglycerides, fight symptoms of depression, including fatigue, lethargy, and the frequency of mood swings.
Safety considerations: Research indicates that Omega-3 supplements carry “mild, if any” side effects. Of course, anyone who may be allergic to seafood/shellfish should consult their doctor before taking this supplement to avoid a potentially severe allergic reaction.
If you’re taking blood thinners or any other medication that could affect blood clotting, it is important to consult your physician before using Omega-3 supplements.
Looking for a supplement that can help relieve your stress?
Stress can affect our physical and mental health in a myriad of ways. In addition to vitamins and minerals, some all-natural supplements on the market may give us relief from a host of symptoms.
Earths Secret’s Ultimate Complex consists of its three primary, vegan-friendly complexes: Sleep, Calm, and Thrive. This trio boasts a combination of adaptogens, antioxidants, and natural herbs such as KSM-66 Ashwagandha, L-Theanine, and chamomile, etc. which may lower your cortisol levels, and ultimately help fight some of your more severe symptoms of stress like fatigue, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
Sometimes we need a comprehensive stress-relief supplement regime to cover all our bases. In the face of mounting daily responsibilities and stress-inducing situations, often our best line of defense is to equip our bodies with the best armour for all of life’s battles.
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