3 Best Nutrients To Help With Stress

The stress epidemic in 2020-21 is growing. Many people have lost loved ones, work, homes or friends due to the current pandemic. 

When I say the word “stress” people quickly think of mental or emotional stress. 

Certainly, that’s the main form of stress in our current climate. 

Where uncertainty reigns supreme. 

Stress can also be physical, for example, an accident, or a toxic burden.

Environmental stress is also a very real phenomenon and can occur due to light, insects, poor air quality, loud noises, war or natural disasters. 

Stress increases the body’s requirement for nutrients, as vitamins and minerals get used up quickly in stressful situations. 

Four of the most important nutrients that get used up fast during acute or prolonged stress – are vitamin C, B complex, zinc and magnesium. A prolonged stress response both depletes nutrients and suppresses the immune system.

Chronic stress is a serious problem in modern society because stressful triggers are persistent. Unlike the fleeting stress triggers of the past. This stress can lead to anxiety, depression and other preventable chronic diseases. In 2018, a massive 74% of UK adults say that they felt so stressed that they were unable to cope at some point in the last year. 29% of 18-24-year-olds said that they had self-harmed due to stress.

We need to understand how emotion and stress impact our lives. So that we can take measures to boost overall health and reduce the impact that stress has on our lives.  

Stressors and Stress Tolerance Varies from Person to Person

Your “Stress Tolerance” refers to how much stress you can manage. You can think of your stress tolerance as your ability to stay relaxed and composed when faced with difficulties.  We can all tolerate a different amount of stress before excreting additional adrenal hormones. 

To reduce stress and be able to manage our ability to adapt to stressors, we must consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins (tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and theanine) vitamin C, iron, vitamin B, magnesium, and selenium. Exercise is another way to boost your tolerance to stress. 

Modern Lifestyles Often Reduce Nutrient Intake

The modern sedentary lifestyles, led by many in the West, doesn’t require much energy. Plus, people often consume convenient nutrient-poor “processed foods”. The act of processing foods significantly reduces the nutrient density of the end product. For example, white bread used to be healthy food before modern processes of creating GMO seeds that resist pesticides stripped the bread of healthy omega-3’s. Today bread is a stodgy resemblance of a food product that used to be healthy.

Because of the significant decrease in nutrition in our food supplies, it’s important to take measures to increase nutrient intake. Focusing on the three best nutrients to help you cope with stress and foods that contain that nutrient in sufficient quantities. 

Nutrient #1 | Vitamin C

Vitamin C is required to protect the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin C aids in the removal of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are toxins that build up and cause disease. Vitamin C assists in many bodily processes including repairing body tissues after exercise or extreme conditions. Vitamin C works together with other molecules in the synthesis of adrenaline, which is produced in high quantities during a fight-or-flight stress response. In one study, stressed humans suffering from sepsis were given vitamin C and their survival rate increased. 

Vitamin C plays a key role in the creation of a healthy brain, body tissues – like skin and muscle, and protects our central nervous system. Studies have shown that taking a vitamin C supplement can improve mood, lowering anxiety. 

6 Foods Bursting with Vitamin C

If you’d prefer to consume vitamin C via your diet, here are the top 6 foods that are bursting with vitamin C:-

  • Guava. 1 fruit: 377 mg (over 628% DV)
  • Black Currant. 1 cup: 203 mg (over 338% DV)
  • Red pepper. 1 cup raw: 190 mg (over 317% DV)
  • Kiwi. 1 piece: 164 mg (273% DV)
  • Green peppers. 1 cup chopped, raw: 120 mg (200% DV)
  • Orange. 1 large: 82 mg (over 163% DV)

Nutrient #2 | Natures Chill Pill

We’ve known that magnesium supplementation modifies the stress response since 1981. Magnesium (Mg) is the fourth most abundant element in the body, and 325 enzyme reactions in the body require Mg. Making magnesium critical not just for stress reduction but for overall health. Mg deficiency reduces our ability to tolerate secondary stress. Explaining why people reach a tipping point, unable to take it any more. A lack of magnesium can also reduce serotonin levels. 

For all of these reasons, Mg is regarded as “nature’s chill pill” and it plays a key role in the HPA-axis (stress response system of the body). Getting overly stressed quickly depletes magnesium reserves. Lower magnesium levels in the blood have been associated with a wide range of symptoms, including chronic fatigue syndrome, headache, and fibromyalgia. During the stress response, magnesium levels increase in both the blood and urine. This shift in location from inside cells to an external protective role is useful in the short term. When prolonged magnesium deficiency can develop, meaning your body can no longer function properly.

6 Foods High in Magnesium

Magnesium can be taken in high doses via supplementation. But if you prefer plant-based versions, here are six great sources of magnesium:

  • Tempeh
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Cashews
  • Flaxseed
  • Spinach

Nutrient #3 | Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are essential in the production of nerve and brain cells. ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA somewhat inefficiently, in the liver. It’s estimated that just 0.5-5% of ALA is converted into EPA and far less into DHA. 

DHA is an important part of cell membranes (especially in the brain). It also helps turn on the genes that make Serotonin in your gut. Oxidative stress is reduced when DHA is consumed in adequate amounts. Protecting your brain and central nervous system from free radical damage.

6 Foods High in Omega-3

Omega-3 was traditionally obtained in the diet via fish. However, due to unsustainable fishing practices, mercury toxicity and a wealth of other issues surrounding eating fish, it’s best to get omega-3 fatty acids first hand. What do I mean by this? Fish get omega-3 fatty acids by eating algae, therefore if you go straight to the source or eat some of the other foods outlined below, then you’ll be getting your omega-3s first hand, instead of second hand, filtered through fish.

  • Hemp seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Algae
  • Walnuts
  • Kidney beans

The Bottom Line

Stress is unavoidable and it affects everyone differently. Lifestyle factors and dietary choices can play a massive role in reducing the negative effects that stress can have on our bodies. Why not try adding these three stress-busting nutrients into your diet today and see how they help you relax after a few days or weeks.