As the encounter with the sabre-tooth tiger frightened our ancestors in the Stone Age and all reserves were prepared for flight, today stress still puts our body in alert readiness. Stress hormones increase our pulse rate, breathing and blood pressure and they release reserves to deal with the "attack". As a result, our need for vitamins and other nutrients automatically increases. Different than our ancestors, who likely ran foirfor the hills to escape, today we have other – more or less successful – "stress elimination strategies". While some reach for a cigarette, others try to find relaxation with a glass of wine or to suppress their tiredness and to increase their performance through more coffee. And while these strategies continue to increase our already heightened need for vitamins in cases of stress, our diet is often less healthy and lacking nutrients precisely in times of stress – so we eat chocolate to strengthen the nerves or grab some pizza due to lack of time. Both may supply large amounts of calories, but the nutrients for strengthening our nerves are not obtained.
Large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables give us natural vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Your best option is to pick regional and seasonal organic food. This prevents the loss of vitamins through long transportation routes and saves you from some pesticides that would only increase your body’s stress. Another good provider of vitamins and minerals is whole grain products. Whole grain products are a valuable source of B-vitamins, vitamin E, beta carotene (as a preliminary stage of vitamin A), potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Compared to this, refined type 405 flour contains 60-95% less vitamins and 50-80% less minerals – nutrients that we urgently need for our stress management.
With stress, particularly the need for B-vitamins, also known as “nerve vitamins”, increases. This need for vitamin B is additionally elevated through unhealthy eating habits that we readily practice during the day when under stress. The consumption of large amounts of sugar, coffee and alcohol acts as a genuine predator of vitamin B. Therefore, you should absolutely avoid sweets, coffee and alcohol when under stress and instead take a lot of vitamin B. Many B-vitamins are found in fish, liver and dairy products as well as broccoli, spinach or green cabbage. Only vitamin B12 is rarely contained in plant-based foods. If you partake in a vegan or vegetarian diet or simply prefer neither fish nor liver or avoid these due to their high level of contamination through harmful substances, in addition to a balanced diet, vitamin B can also be taken as a dietary supplement.
You are really stressed and wish to take vitamins, minerals or omega-3 fatty acids for dietary supplementation as "stress relief"? Be mindful of the following
- a balanced composition of the dietary supplement adapted to stress,
- a dose of the desired vitamins, minerals, etc. adapted to stress,
- most natural vitamins possible,
- a high level of purity of the dietary supplement – chemical additives signify added stress and most certainly do not provide for strong nerves.
Every day we have to deal with multiple stress factors that can constantly keep us in a state of anxiety:
- Time pressures of all kinds – whether at work or at home – make good time management skills a priority
- Conflicts at work and at home
- Changes in our lives that require us to adapt
- Pressure to perform at work, in sporting activities etc.
We can reduce our stress levels simply by avoiding some of these contributing factors. Other factors are unavoidable and we each have to devise our own ways of dealing them.
Lifestyle plays a big part in managing stress. Options include:
- Sports,¬ as long as it is non-competitive!
- Relaxation methods such as yoga or progressive muscle relaxation
- Getting enough sleep
- Building periods of 'down-time' into your day
- Keeping up with friends and hobbies
- Cutting down on (or cutting out completely) coffee, tobacco and other stimulants
- Eating healthily