NutriFact: Stress - How does stress affect health?
The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds.
Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress -- a negative stress reaction. Distress can disturb the body's internal balance or equilibrium -- leading to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.
Consider the following facts:
? Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
? Seventy-five to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
? Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. In terms of lost hours due to absenteeism, reduced productivity and workers' compensation benefits, stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
? The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
Physical Warning Signs
Chronic stress can wear down the body's natural defences, leading to a variety of physical symptoms, including the following:
? Dizziness or a general feeling of "being out of it"
? General aches and pains
? Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
? Increase in or loss of appetite
? Muscle tension in neck, face or shoulders
? Problems sleeping
? Racing heart
? Cold and sweaty palms
? Tiredness, exhaustion
? Weight gain or loss
? Upset stomach
? Sexual difficulties
The Unbeatable B's. The Ultimate Stress Nutrients.
Few of us realize that the stress and anxiousness we feel is often the result of acute vitamin B deficiency. Although our hectic schedules combined with environmental toxins and daily pressure at work, play a role in our stress levels; much of this can be avoided with adequate supplies of vitamin B. The key to understanding Vitamin B's role in preventing stress is in the realization that a deficiency can cause over-tiredness and anxiousness that leads to increased stress levels. The primary reason is that the individual B vitamins play some of the most critical roles in the systems in your body responsible for producing energy.
Most of us will benefit from the addition of B-Vitamins in our daily supplement program. Without the Vitamin B family, our bodies cannot maintain healthy nerves, skin, hair, eyes, and liver or muscle tone. Nor can they utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins adequately. The Vitamin B family is an important group of nutrients, each with its own biological role to play. As a group, the B's work together in the body and can be found in the same foods. Because of this "togetherness?, they are called the B-Complex vitamins. Since B-Vitamins are water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body for long periods, they must be replaced daily. Here is an overview of the Vitamin B family:
Vitamin B-1 (thiamin)
? Functions as an enzyme compound.
? Supports energy production, carbohydrate use, and nerve cell function.
? Promotes strong mental health.
Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin)
? Plays a crucial role in energy production.
? Maintains healthy eyes, skin, and mouth tissues.
Vitamin B-3 (niacin)
? Promotes healthy cholesterol levels.
? Supports energy production
Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic acid)
? Plays a key role in adrenal functions and in producing red blood cells.
? Helps maintain ideal cholesterol levels and helps utilize fats and carbohydrates for energy production.
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine)
? Plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of over 60 different enzymes that help repair and replace cells.
? Supports immune system, as well as keeps mucous membranes and skin healthy.
? Provides support vital for healthy pregnancies.
? Can be linked to proper formation of red blood cells.
? May decrease risk of atherosclerosis by blocking the action of homocystein, an undesirable form of the amino acid cysteine.
Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin)
? May decrease risk of atherosclerosis by blocking the action of homocysteine, and undesirable form of the amino acid cysteine.
? Supports energy metabolism, as well as immune and nerve functions.
? Promotes strong healthy nail and hair formation.
? Maintains production of scalp oils, promoting a healthy scalp.
? Helps the body convert simple sugars to glucose, for energy reserves.
? Helps produce fatty acids, essential energy nutrients.
? Required in protein synthesis and red blood cell formation
? Believed to reduce the risks of some birth defects when taken before and during pregnancy.
? Promotes a healthy heart by maintaining healthy homocysteine levels.
? May decrease risk of atherossclerosis by blocking the action of homocysteine, an undesirable form of the amino acid cysteine.
Choline and Inositol
? Involved in the body's use of fats and cholesterol, Choline in the use and storage of fat, Inositol in making large key molecules.
? Called phospholipids, these large molecules, aid in digesting and using fats.
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)
? Works concurrently with other nutrients in the body to perform a variety of different tasks.
? Helps in formation of folic acid and use of protein to repair and regenerate the body.
? Supports healthy intestinal flora.
Remember... B vitamins are best taken with food to both increase absorption and to eliminate the possibility of causing upset stomach.