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Manage Holiday Stress with Nutrients

Holiday StressJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yes, the holiday season is once again upon us, and many might be singing, or grumbling, along with the music but with slightly different lyrics. Something more to the tune of “It’s the most stressful time of the year!” Holidays and stress seem to go hand in hand these days when we are under pressure to get home and hearth ready for guests and family celebrations. Shopping, planning decorating, baking, celebrating and traveling all take their toll on physical and mental health, as well as our checkbooks. Stress not only increases appetite by raising cortisol and insulin levels, it can also negatively affect our food preferences and sleep patterns. In fact, it’s not just the abundance of holiday sweets that tempt us to overindulge. Studies have shown that physical or emotional distress appears to influence our food choices, increasing the likelihood of consuming foods high in sugar, fat or both.

During the holidays we tend to exercise less, guzzle more alcohol and often mindlessly devour plenty of delicious but not so healthy foods, often leading to stress-related holiday weight gain. The more we are exposed to stressors, the more intense and frequent the body’s physiological reactions become, leaving us constantly on edge and influencing the quality and quantity of food consumption. When not properly managed even short-term stress can lead to negative psychological and physical responses. These can include agitation, irritability, muscle tension, disturbed sleep, anxiousness, mood swings, lack of focus, appetite fluctuations, food cravings, poor digestion, increased heart rate, higher blood pressure levels and more. Over time stress can become chronic, which can seriously harm health and wellbeing. Long-term conditions including depression and type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and bowel issues may result.

Chronic stress can weaken the immune response, leaving one more susceptible to illness or infections. Stress creates demands for more energy, oxygen, and vitamin and mineral metabolic cofactors. While stress is a complex phenomenon and each individual has a unique level of tolerance, those who consume a healthy balanced diet are often more able to cope with stressful situations, aiding better physical and emotional health. Stress depletes certain vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and zinc. As stress and diet are inextricably linked, a nutritious diet can provide powerful stress-reducing benefits that aid brain functioning, lower blood pressure, support immune function and reduce the levels of stress hormones.

  • Healthy serotonin levels are key to stress management. Whole grains will help to enhance serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood, happiness and relaxation. Low levels of serotonin are linked to anxiety and depression as well as poor quality sleep. Plus, complex carbs help to stabilize blood sugar levels, balancing out highs and lows.
  • The brain requires essential fatty acids for the formation of healthy nerve cells. Omega-3 fatty acids help to moderate the effects of physiological and physical stress by aiding more balanced cortisol levels under stressful conditions. DHA, an essential component of brain cell membranes, supports stress reduction by turning on the genes that produce serotonin.
  • Proteins, specifically the amino acids tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine and theanine, are all vital to neurotransmitter production. Tryptophan works synergistically with niacin, magnesium and vitamin B6 to synthesize serotonin. Along with the vitamin C required to metabolize phenylalanine and tyrosine, these nutrients promote alertness and help increase antidepressant neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Theanine has the ability to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition and boost mood. Theanine also helps to reduce stress and anxiety by relaxing the mind without inducing drowsiness.
  • Stress depletes vitamin C levels in the body, reducing the body’s resistance to illness and increasing the likelihood of further stress. When vitamin C intake is increased, the harmful effects of stress hormones are reduced, and the body’s ability to cope with the stress response improves.
  • B-complex vitamins help to maintain proper blood glucose levels and help to keep energy and mood stable. Vitamin B5, known as the anti-stress vitamin, helps support adrenal function, improving coping mechanisms. B vitamins are necessary for proper nervous system function and maintenance. Deficiencies increase the risk of developing stress-related symptoms of irritability, low energy and depression.
  • Magnesium is needed for numerous tasks including muscle function, fatty acid formation and heartbeat regulation. Magnesium increases GABA, which encourages relaxation and restful sleep and plays a key role in modulating the body’s stress response. Magnesium deficiency is associated with heightened stress and anxiety.
  • An adequate amount of calcium in proper balance with magnesium is key to a healthy stress response. Together they help to nourish the nervous system, helping to prevent anxiety, restlessness and irritability. Important for mood regulation and stress reduction, calcium works closely vitamin D, potassium and magnesium to maximize its nutritional benefits and calming effects.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of overall healthy function:

Cal/Mag (malate) 2:1Cal/Mag (malate) 2:1 by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formulation combines di-calcium malate and di-magnesium malate, fully chelated minerals, for dual support of healthy bone metabolism as well as numerous biological functions. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

B SpectrumB Spectrum by Professional Supplement Center®: ON SALE  B Spectrum provides the entire spectrum of activated, bioavailable B vitamins in support of adrenal, neurological and stress-related functions. Free of wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, soy, dairy, animal products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Non-GMO formulation.

Whey Protein...Whey Protein Unflavored by Jarrow Formulas®: This natural glutamine-rich, ultra-filtered whey protein concentrate provides 18 g of rBST-free protein including 4 g of BCAA’s per serving. Whey protein provides a natural source of all essential and non-essential amino acids. Gluten, wheat, egg, shellfish, fish, peanut, tree nut and artificial flavor and sweetener free.

 

References:
How stress can make us overeat. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/how-stress-can-make-us-overeat
Nutrient and Stress Management. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/nutrient-and-stress-management-2155-9600-1000528.php?aid=76425&view=mobile
Beating Stress Through Nutrition. https://psychcentral.com/lib/beating-stress-through-nutrition/
Stress. https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/articles/stress.html

MegaFood® – Featured Brand

MegaFoodSusan Brown Health and Wellness EditorEstablished in New Hampshire in 1973, MegaFood® remains committed to producing high quality, authentic whole food supplements formulated to support personal wellness goals. Utilizing a scientific patented Slo-Food™ process, MegaFood® turns farm fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and herbs into bioavailable nutrients guaranteed to deliver the potency and the nourishing health promoting compounds present in the whole food itself. With a goal of creating a world where everyone is truly nourished, MegaFood® partners with a network of trusted farmers who are committed to organic and regenerative agriculture, as well as  demonstrate a passion for the integrity and future of the food chain.

To guarantee the highest level of quality control, safety and potency of their nutritional products, MegaFood® operates their own production facilities. Over one half million pounds of fresh produce is delivered to their back door each year. The food is then ground and dried using their gentle Refractance Window Drying™ technology that uses no heat and preserves all the natural goodness, nutrients, colors and aromas of fresh produce. Each carefully tended batch of nutrients takes 236 hours to produce.

In March 2018, MegaFood® was verified as a Certified B Corporation by B Lab, a global nonprofit organization that recognizes mainly small independent companies that balance purpose and profit by using business as a force for good. B Corporations work toward a more inclusive and sustainable economy by meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance.

All products are Non-GMO, kosher, vegan or vegetarian, gluten, dairy, soy and Certified Glyphosate Residue free, and are tested for more than 125 herbicides and pesticides. Their gummy supplements contain no high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, gelatin, gluten, soy,  dairy or artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors.

To see the full line of products from MegaFood®, please visit professionalsupplementcenter.com. Popular products from MegaFood® include:

Acute DefenseAcute Defense™: This immune defense supplement is formulated as a 5-day intense wellness plan for rapid immune response when most needed. Ingredients include black elderberry fruit, echinacea plant extract, vitamin C sourced from organic oranges, andrographis bitter herb extract and zinc for effective support of healthy immune function.

Turmeric...Turmeric Inflammation Response®:  ON SALE  In support of a healthy inflammatory response, these delicious certified organic gummies combine turmeric root with pure turmeric extract to deliver 85 mg of curcumin per serving. Formula includes black pepper extract to aid absorption of the curcuminoids, as well as carrot and ginger, natural phytonutrients.

Digestive Health...Digestive Health® Probiotic: For maximum benefit, this 13 strain broad-spectrum, acid resistant, shelf stable probiotic formula is guaranteed to deliver 5 billion CFU of live bacteria to the small intestine. These uniquely curated strains support daily digestive health, a healthy microbiome and foundational good health. Other probiotic formulas available to support Mood, Energy, Immune Defense and Women’s Health.

Be Your Best with Vitamin B

Vitamin BJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nutrition is one of the most important modifiable factors involved in the maintenance of good health and proper function. Adequate levels of all micronutrients are essential for optimal physiological and neurological functioning, providing fundamental preventive care and supporting long-term wellness. B vitamins comprise a group of eight water soluble synergistic nutrients, often referred to as B-Complex vitamins. Although each B vitamin performs a unique essential role, all have closely interrelated cellular functions.

B vitamins act as co-enzymes in a wide array of catabolic and anabolic enzymatic reactions, including brain function, energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis and repair, methylation and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signaling molecules. B vitamins help to promote a healthy metabolism and are key components of certain coenzymes that turn the food we enjoy into energy we can use. B vitamins help to support adrenal function, help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system and support healthy digestion.

The need for B vitamins is increased by stress, smoking, alcohol use, illness, and unhealthy diet. Because B vitamins work synergistically, a deficiency in one often signals a deficiency in another. In general, water soluble vitamins are not stored by the body and should be replaced at least every few days. Since very little B vitamins are stored by the body, even those who enjoy a healthy balanced diet may have inadequate intake of certain B vitamins. Individuals whose diets lack sufficient whole foods or healthy proteins, as well as vegans and vegetarians, seniors and those with gastrointestinal disorders are most likely to be deficient in B vitamins.

Functions of B vitamins

B1 Thiamine – Thiamine acts as a precursor for carbohydrate, fatty acid and branched chain amino acid metabolism. It plays a role in nerve transmission, muscle function, proper digestion, cognitive activity and brain function, and has a positive effect on energy, growth, normal appetite and learning capacity as well. As thiamine works synergistically with magnesium, high coffee and tea consumption, as well as low magnesium intake, can result in thiamine depletion. Thiamine can be found in meat, dairy, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

B2 Riboflavin – Found in most animal and plant tissues, riboflavin supports growth and normal adrenal and cellular function. It helps to calm and maintain a healthy nervous system and facilitates key metabolic processes, such as energy production. Riboflavin acts as an antioxidant helping to control free radical proliferation, thereby supporting healthy aging. Seniors, those who are chronically ill, individuals who take birth control pills or consume alcohol in excess are particularly susceptible to deficiencies. Thiamine can be found in dairy foods, meats, fish, poultry and dark green vegetables.

B3 Niacin – Essential for proper circulation, healthy skin and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, niacin is involved in hormone synthesis and the normal secretion of digestive fluids. Niacin, or nicotinic acid, supports healthy cholesterol levels and healthy circulation, as well as healthy cognitive and memory function. Niacin is found naturally in oily fish, whole grains, leafy vegetables, legumes, mushrooms and nuts.

B5 Pantothenic Acid – Vital for metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, pantothenic acid is known as the “anti-stress” vitamin for the vital role it plays in adrenal function. Required by all bodily cells, pantothenic acid is involved in many necessary metabolic functions, including vitamin utilization, energy production and maintenance of healthy mood. Pantothenic acid is found in small amounts in whole grains, eggs, meats, legumes and avocados.

B6 Pyridoxine – This possibly lesser known but vitally important nutrient affects both physical and mental wellbeing. It is necessary for absorption of fats and proteins, red blood cell formation and fluid balance. Pyridoxine is required for proper brain and nervous system function, normal cellular growth, enzyme activation and DNA/RNA synthesis. Good sources of pyridoxine can be found in brewer’s yeast, legumes, dairy, sunflower seeds and spinach.

B7 Biotin – A necessary cofactor for enzymatic processes, biotin aids in the utilization of other B vitamins and supports a healthy intestinal tract and proper blood glucose levels, as well as healthy nerve tissue, bone marrow, skin, hair and nails. Biotin aids cell growth and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and may be helpful in decreasing insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance. Foods rich in biotin include organ meats, diary, egg yolks, soy, wheat bran, mushrooms, nuts and potatoes.

B9 Folate – Folate is essential for human growth and development, healthy cell division, and normal nerve and brain functioning. It is also vital for DNA/RNA synthesis, energy production, red and white blood cell formation and proper immune function. Folate is important for the regulation of healthy homocysteine levels, embryonic and fetal nerve cell development, and may also aid healthy mood, address anxiety and slow memory decline associated with aging. Fortified foods, legumes, melons, asparagus, spinach, green vegetables and bananas are good sources of folate.

B12 Methylcobalamin – B12 is a complex of essential biological compounds known as cobalamins. Highly absorbable methylcobalamin is active in the growth and protection of the nervous system and the neurological deterioration associated with aging. It is essential for protein synthesis necessary for healthy cardiovascular function, the development and maintenance of red blood cells, iron utilization, healthy sleep, and the production of neurotransmitters involved in memory and learning. B12 is required for proper digestion and absorption of foods, and aids in cell formation, cellular longevity, the production of DNA and RNA as well as the protection of normal myelination (covering) of nerve cells.

B vitamins work individually, as a group and in concert with other vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. When supplementing,  most individuals should consider the full range of B vitamins found in a complex. B vitamins play a vital role in the maintenance of good physical and mental health and wellbeing. As the building blocks of a healthy body, B vitamins directly impact energy levels, brain, cardiac, cellular, muscle and nerve function, hormone production, digestion and absorption of nutrients and healthy cell metabolism.

Professional Supplement Center has developed a highly effective B vitamin complex.  In fact, we believe it’s the only B vitamin you’ll ever need.

B SpectrumB Spectrum by Professional Supplement Center®:  ON SALE  This non-GMO synergistic formulation provides the full complement of activated B vitamins in support of adrenal, neurological, cardiovascular and stress-related functions as well as healthy mood. Free of wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, soy, animal and dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

 

References:
B Vitamins, Homocysteine and Bone Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425139/
Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Fifth Edition 2010. Penguin Group
Thomas G. Guilliams, Ph.D. Supplementing Dietary Nutrients.2014
Dietary B Vitamins and a 10-Year Risk of Dementia in Older Persons. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188416/