Home' Nova National : NOVA NATIONAL MARCH 12 Contents Research has found that stress, and
stress-related depression, could result
in a lowering of the immune system
functioning, primarily the lymphocyte
activity ("nt" activity) by up to 50% 2. This
is likely to lead to an increase in infections
in the short term and cancer in the long
term. The most significant finding of this
study, however, was that this diminished
lymphocyte activity could be prevented
to a large extent by a diet high in anti-
oxidants. In a follow up study, researchers
found that ascorbate (Vitamin C) inhibited
the stress-related reduction of nt activity
and was shown to reverse the effect 2.
Supplementation with vitamin C blunt-
ed the rise in blood pressure and
anxiety in individuals experiencing acute
psychological stress 3. Subjects in a study
received two 500 milligram sustained
release vitamin C capsules four times a
day for 14 days, before being subjected to
a stressful event -- public speaking. Those
subjects receiving the vitamin C exhibited
significantly lower blood pressure just
before the stress, and up to 40 minutes
after, than individuals receiving a placebo.
Feelings of stress and anxiety after the
event were also significantly lower in
the vitamin C group 3. Moreover, the
report advised that the levels of vitamin C
required to mediate the stress response
were unlikely to come from diet alone,
stressing the need, pardon the pun, for
antioxidant supplementation among
stressed individuals. A number of animal
studies have also strongly suggested that
ascorbic acid supplementation reduces
stress induced cortisol release and other
indices of stress including mortality,
following exposure to a stressor 4,5,6.
Chronic stress results in a lowering of
serum concentrations of the B vitamins,
especially pantothenic acid 7, which can
affect the ability of the adrenal glands to
produce a range of essential hormones 7.
Other B vitamins, such as vitamin B2
(riboflavin) and choline, may also be
depleted through chronic stress, as they
are used by the pituitary gland for the
production of a range of hormones,
which are released during the endocrine
response to stress 7,8. As the vitamin B
complex is synergistic, it is therefore of
greatest benefit to the body when the
entire complex is present. This is why
most vitamin stress formulas include the
whole B complex. The effect of B vitamin
depletion on the body is further amplified
because the B vitamins help the break-
down, absorption and utilisation of food in
the stomach. So, an absence of sufficient
levels of B vitamins may hinder the
absorption and digestion of other essential
nutrients, further impacting nutrition9,
leading to a vicious cycle of nutrient
depletion in stressed people.
In humans, vitamin B5 serves to defend
against a significant rise in the levels of
cortisol in the body. One study's findings
suggest that vitamin B5 will help to prevent
hypersecretion of cortisol, the main stress
hormone, from the adrenal glands 1,10.
Other vitamins and supplements that
benefit those suffering from adrenal
fatigue include vitamins B1 and B12 (used
by the endocrine (hormone) system), fish
oils and "adaptogens." An adaptogen is a
plant which, when taken as a supplement,
must be harmless to the host, has a
nonspecific effect on the host, serves
as a bolster against stressors and serves
as a stabiliser to various systems in the
body 1. Myriad botanicals fall under this
category, including panax ginseng or
Korean ginseng11, withania somnifera
(ashwagandha), Ayurvedic herbs 1, and
licorice, which is used to revive the
production of cortisol after fatigue has
The Stress Cycle
Stress, the malady
of our times,
increases our need
for nutrients and,
at the same time,
depletes those we
already have, says
Peter Dingle PhD.
Stress is a major health problem
linked to most forms of chronic
illness, from Alzheimer's and
ADHD to cancer and cardio-
vascular disease. It is arguably one of the
biggest killers, if not the biggest, in Western
society. An estimated 75% to 90% of
patients visiting the doctor name it as
their primary issue 1 and recently I wrote
on the role of stress in increasing the risk
of heart attack and stroke.
Current research suggests that stress
20 © NOVA MARCH 2012
DAILY ASCORBATE SYNTHESIS
IN MAMMALIAN LIVERS
70 kg body
weight per day)
Rat, unstressed 4,900
Goat, fully stressed 100,000
supplements in reducing the negative
impacts of stress. So if you can't reduce
your stress increase your supplement level.
Vitamin C is one of the first vitamins
to be depleted by stress. Even more
important is how we deal with vitamin
C and stress compared to other animals.
Plants readily produce vitamin C (C6H806)
from the simple sugar, glucose. Humans,
primates, the guinea pig, the red-vented
bulbul, the Indian fruit-eating bat, rainbow
trout and Coho salmon do not produce
their own vitamin C. Most mammals utilise
a four enzyme system in the liver that
enables them to manufacture their own
ascorbate (vitamin C). Humans have three
enzymes in our liver but we're missing
the fourth one, L-gulonolactone oxidase,
thus blocking the production of ascorbic
acid. This means that we can't produce
vitamin C while most other animals do.
They don't need to have it in their diet
every day, but we do.
So an interesting question arises, what
happens to the vitamin C in these animals
when they get stressed? Essentially, the
more stress, the more vitamin C they
produce as shown in the table below.
When stressed, rats and goats increase
their production of vitamin C by three
to seven times -- in the tens of thousands
of milligrams, which is significantly
higher than the 60 or 120 milligrams the
government recommends as an RDA/RDI,
as shown in the table below. Nature knows
how to deal with stress better than our
Table 1. Ascorbate Synthesis in
may play a significant role in increasing
the body's requirement for a range
of nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, E
and B complex, as well as the minerals
magnesium, potassium, zinc and calcium,
and amino acids. It is likely that stress
increases the body's requirements for
almost all nutrients through an increase
in cellular activity, as well as the demand
for specific nutrients used in the stress
response. In addition, there are many
studies supporting the use of nutritional
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