Stress Reduction in Women Through Supplementation with Vitamins B and C, Zinc, Magnesium, and Essential Fatty Acids
As a condition that most people experience often throughout their lifetimes, but few view as a medical condition, stress inflicts numerous negative physiological responses in the body. Societal pressures and heightened workloads have deemed stress as a seemingly everyday part of life. The etiologic factors relating to chronic stress can be derived from a myriad of mental states. Feelings of hopelessness, inability to cope with circumstantial instances, or the feeling of not enough time induce anxiety and depression in the human mind. These reactions trigger chemical processes in the brain, characterized by an inflated production of stress hormones such as cortisol. Increased concentrations of cortisol hormones in the brain teeter the mental equilibrium, further exacerbating mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. In this pathway, chronic stress is a precursor for mental health disorders.
Associations have been observed in the form and coping mechanisms of stress in regards to gender. Men are more external with their stress mechanisms through outlets such as alcohol consumption and aggression. Women are more commonly internal with their emotions, sparking mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic, and insomnia. Chemical and hormonal mechanisms for this differential risk of mental disorders have yet to be explained in the literature. Other confounding factors in the association between gender and mental disorders include socioeconomic status, violence, employment, and other cultural factors that may heighten stress levels. The demanding roles of women as matriarchs and supporters of the family and household have been proposed to place them at higher risk of developing stress than men.
Physiological biomarkers are relevant to measure stress levels within the body and link this mental condition with other disorders. As previously mentioned, cortisol levels indicate high stress responses in the brain, and cortisol levels also increase with depression, causing a linkage between the two disorders. Furthermore, high blood pressure may result when individuals are under stressful circumstances caused by increased cardiac output and blood vessel narrowing. Additional responses discovered include weight gain, fatigue, and gastrointestinal dysfunction.
In order to suppress these adverse responses to stress and general prevalence of stress, proper nutrition is essential. Nutrients work to support brain activity, proper hormone levels, and attenuation of stress reactions. The most essential nutrients to this process include vitamin B, vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium, and essential fatty acids. The vitamins have been proven to regulate hormone production, even extending to serotonin production for a calming effect. Essential fatty acids play a more distant role from the direct causal pathways of stress development, but these nutrients mediate cellular function through structure and energy production in the brain. A deficiency of fatty acids can translate to an inability to manage with stress because of reduced neural structure. These fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6 are categorized as “essential” because our bodies do not produce them. Cumulatively, all of these supplements support cognitive abilities by hormone and neurotransmitter production to manage stress responses.
The role of stress in instigating depression places it at high risk for clinical disease burdens. If unaddressed, this mental instability will create high relevance of disability burden in women of diverse countries and social strata. The utilization of natural supplementation via the diet is a safe and efficacious method to combat stress levels in the body. Vitamin B can be consumed in the diet through meat, beans, yeast, and whole grains. Vitamin C is found in countless fruits and vegetables, but at highest levels in oranges, lemons, and strawberries. Magnesium is found in dark leafy greens, nuts, and fish. Zinc can be consumed through wheat, nuts, and seeds. Essential fatty acids are most prevalent in oils and fish. All of these nutrients and fatty acids can be taken in supplement form as well to promote cognitive well being and stress reduction.
Delia McCabe, Mark Colbeck. The effectiveness of essential fatty acid, B vitamin, Vitamin C, magnesium and zinc supplementation for managing stress in women: a systematic review protocol. PROSPERO 2015:CRD42015025509 Available from http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record.asp?ID=CRD42015025509