For educational purposes only
Anxiety, anger, stomach upset….can all be caused by not having the ability to handle stress. It is how the body response to the mental, physical, or emotional pressures of life. There are chemicals released in the body that cause increased blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and can even increase blood sugar levels. Worry is part of the problem for many people.
Research has been done looking at how stress effects the nervous system for around 50 years. The studies show that stress may effect structural changes in parts of the brain. If stress is not handled properly, it can lead to reduced brain mass, which cause problems with mental function and memory. Stress can lead to feelings of deep depression and physical problems.
The Nervous System
The nervous system is effected by stress in a major way. The nervous system is made up of the central nervous system (CNS)and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS contains the brain and the spinal cord.
Education is important and leads to an understanding of how body systems are effected by stress and what one can do about it.
Some Body Systems effected by Stress
The cardiovascular system – increased heart rate, blood pressure & reduced oxygen to the heart that causes many problems.
- The gastrointestinal Tract – one can experience digestive and elimination problems such as upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or cramping.
- The immune system – there is an elevation in stress hormones that can trigger a response in the body to increased vulnerability to bacteria and viruses.
- The respiratory system – one may experience shortness of breath and increased breathing rate. Reduced exhalation of carbon dioxide occurs that can restrict blood flow to the brain. This can cause physical symptoms such as dizziness and/ or numbness and tingling in the hands or feet.
What can be done to help a person handle stress?
- Spend time outdoors breathing fresh air
- Make a plan to exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes or more. Aerobic exercise helps increase blood circulation and supports the heart and respiratory system (One should check with their doctor first if there is a health concern).
- Learn to eat healthy and cook for yourself and family. This way you know what is going into your body.
- Reduce use of phones and screen time.
- Consider taking a dietary supplement that helps the central nervous system
- Reduce stimulating products that contain caffeine
- Be sure to get enough sleep since when one is tired it makes them less likely to handle stress properly.
- Learn not to lose your temper and create boundaries for yourself.
- Take time through the day to sit and breathe slowly especially when you are feeling stressed.
- Quit smoking cigarettes since it increases heart rate, blood pressure and of course other health related problems.
What type of supplements help the central nervous system and handle stress?
The B vitamins listed below are powerful to help the central nervous system. Some of them are necessary in the body as cofactors to make energy and a few assist in making protein. They are individually important, but they work in harmony together.
Vitamin B-1 (as thiamin) is important in converting nutrients from food into energy. It has been called an anti-stress vitamin because it helps the body handle stressful situations and supports the immune system.
Vitamin B-2 (as riboflavin) works hand in hand with the other B vitamins. It is involved in the conversion of food into energy, but also has other roles. It has the ability to quench free radicals and provides neuroprotective support.
Niacin (as niacinamide) is a B vitamin that works in harmony with the others. It has an important role in cell signaling and for nerves.
B6 (pyridoxine HCL) is involved in the metabolism of amino acids and helping to manufacture brain neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine. These are involved with balancing mood and mental state key for handling stress.
Both vitamin B12 and folic acid are both involved in promoting the production of serotonin and dopamine. They are both necessary for good cognitive function. Older adults need to be aware that low levels of vitamin B12 occur with aging, which can influence mental health.
- Folic acid (folate) is a key B vitamin involved in amino acid metabolism, but also with mood and a healthy mental state.
- Vitamin B-12 (as methylcobalamin) is an essential B vitamin for nerve function and cellular metabolism.
Biotin is necessary for metabolism of nutrients and like the other B vitamins important for mental health. Although, most people do not know this that in women, low levels of biotin have been associated with problems with mood, anxiety and stress.
Pantothenic acid is a B vitamin necessary to manufacture energy, but has other functions in the body. It is essential for the manufacturing of the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved with cognitive function and memory.
Inositol is similar to a B vitamin that is necessary for cell membranes. It is involved in the nervous system via inositol lipid signaling pathways in the brain.
Citrus Bioflavonoids, hesperidin and rutin are important for cellular health since they have antioxidant properties.
Choline is a nutrient needed to manufacture phosphatidylcholine for cell membranes. It is needed by the nervous system and brain for important functions.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) There is research that shows that some individuals that have low vitamin C levels have problems with stress related conditions. Several studies also demonstrate that vitamin C helps to improve one’s mood.
Kava kava Root has been used traditionally in the South Pacific for relaxation and to help individuals handle stress. It has been studied since 2013 demonstrating benefits.
In summary, stress is not good and if one is unable to handle it can cause many health problems, affecting many body systems. There are numerous ways to handle stress with lifestyle changes, diet and supplements.
If you have a health condition and or take medication, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider prior to taking supplements.
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