​Nutrients That Can Help Us Cope with Stress ​Nutrients That Can Help Us Cope with Stress

Dec 12th 2019

​Nutrients That Can Help Us Cope with Stress

Written by Laurel Sterling, MA, RD, CDN

Laurel is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and certified nutritionist and has worked in the natural products industry since 2000. She has a passion for empowering others through nutritional education.

The Thanksgiving dinner and travel rush is behind us, but the December and January holidays are looming. All of the gift buying, holiday decorating, card sending, and food prepping add a tremendous amount of stress beyond our everyday stressors. More traffic, parking congestion, longer lines at stores, and more shoppers can be taxing. Stress is an everyday part of modern living but is heightened at the holidays. Perkins research in 1994 cited in the Harvard Business Review showed that 60-90% of doctor visits were stress related, and The Property and Casualty Insurance Edition estimates that $150 billion in productivity in the workplace is lost due to issues related to stress.

Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress

Is there anyone that’s TRULY stress-free? Probably not, but how we choose to manage stress plays a huge part in how it will affect us. Some people exercise, do yoga, meditate, take a walk, or journal. Some internalize their stress. When our bodies experience occasional stress, they excrete amino acidsminerals, and electrolytes rapidly. And it may not be able to replenish them quickly enough.

A high-quality, well-absorbed multivitamin should be the basis of your supplemental regime. An additional B-complex vitamin is crucial in these higher stress times. B-vitamins replete our adrenals, which use them up at a fast rate. All B vitamins are necessary in a properly functioning nervous system. A well-absorbed B-complex with more pantothenic acid B5) in it would be helpful to take separate from the multi at lunchtime. B5 supports adrenal cortex function.

Magnesium regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body. This mineral is an integral part of the enzymatic activity involved in energy production. It also helps with protein synthesis, nerve signal transmitting, muscle relaxing, and keeping adrenal stress hormones under control.

Vitamin C is essential and key to the synthesis of hormones involved in adrenal gland functioning. It normalizes cortisol in severe stress. Cortisol is a hormone that increases with stress. The adrenals use up voracious amounts of vitamin C in times of great stress.

Our brain is made up of around 60% fat; therefore, it is highly reliant on healthy fats and omega-3s to function optimally. Several studies point at fish oil to promote cognitive health and a healthy mood. Ninety-five percent of serotonin, our “feel good hormone”, is produced in the gut. Studies have shown probiotics help reduce stress hormones and increase the production of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), a naturally occurring amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain. Pharma GABA is a more bioavailable form of GABA. It promotes alpha brain waves to calm and focus, and it supports healthy levels of endorphins and serotonin. GABA promotes a healthy mood, relaxation, and restful sleep.

L-theanine is an amino acid that is found naturally in green and black teas. L-theanine helps create a calm, centered feeling and promotes alpha brain waves, which are associated with a state of wakeful relaxation. Theanine affects the neurotransmitter’s serotonin and dopamine, which influence mood, emotions, sleep, and stress.

Phosphatidyl serine is a naturally occurring phospholipid that is an essential component of our cell membranes, and a vital component of our neural membranes. It promotes inter-cellular communication in the brain. It works by aiding the neurotransmitters involved in mood and protects against stress. Phosphatidyl choline is also a phospholipid found naturally in all cells. It is found in eggs, soybeans, sunflowers, and other foods, and is a component of lecithin.

A busy lifestyle, bad night's sleep, extra activities, holidays, or an unfortunate event can throw off our mind-body balance. Regardless of the cause, we all have days when our bodies need some extra support. Help reset your mindset, promote calmness, add mental clarity, and support a healthier mood by making lifestyle and dietary changes and supplementing with specific nutrients that can help ease occasional nervous tension, stress, moodiness, and fuzzy thinking.