Gold Member Badge
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

Vitamins That Deplete Under Stress

by
author image Alicia Richardson
Alicia Richardson, a Dietitians of Canada member, has been writing for over 24 years for such publications as Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital's newsletter, "Canadian Gardening" and "The Georgian." A diabetic and patient-expert learned in lifestyle medicine, she holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and health administration.
Vitamins That Deplete Under Stress
Vitamin C in oranges and juice replenishes vitamin C depletion caused by stress Photo Credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Stress is a threat to a person's well-being. Acute illness such as trauma, infection, inflammation, burns, surgery; chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease; smoking; and exercise trigger stress. The body handles stress by means of an elaborate system involving enzymes and dietary compounds including antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Antioxidant Vitamins

Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds.
Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Only two vitamins have documented antioxidant properties against stress: vitamin C or ascorbic acid, and vitamin E. An antioxidant is a substance that decreases the side effects of free radicals. Free radicals, or pro-oxidants, are highly unstable and reactive molecules that can undermine the body's ability to defend itself -- a process called oxidative stress.

Vitamin Depletion

Vitamin C fights free radicals in body tissues and blood plasma, while vitamin E protects fat-rich molecules.
Vitamin C fights free radicals in body tissues and blood plasma, while vitamin E protects fat-rich molecules. Photo Credit: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

In healthy people, free radical production is minimized by the body's natural defense system and dietary anti-radical substances. Free radicals are natural byproducts of cell metabolism. However, under stress, pro-oxidant levels exceed antioxidant concentrations. To reestablish health and balance, vitamins C and E are mobilized from body stores to neutralize free radicals. Vitamin C fights free radicals in body tissues and blood plasma, while vitamin E protects fat-rich molecules, such as LDL and HDL cholesterol, and fat cells from oxidation. This effort results in the depletion of vitamin C and E in body stores.

Vitamin C and Infection

A study published in a 2005 issue of the "British Journal of Surgery" reports that acute infection results in lower plasma vitamin C levels. To determine the effect of severe infection -- acute pancreatitis -- on vitamin C stores, the authors recruited 30 healthy volunteers, 29 patients with acute pancreatitis and 27 patients with other abdominal illnesses. Results showed patients with acute pancreatitis had the lowest vitamin C levels, compared with patients with other abdominal crises. Healthy controls had normal vitamin C values. The authors concluded that abdominal stress reduces vitamin C levels.

Vitamin C and Smoking

Schetman and colleagues investigated the effect of smoking on the vitamin C status of 11,592 subjects. They found that people who smoked 20 cigarettes every day, had the lowest vitamin C levels, compared to subjects who smoked fewer than 19 cigarettes daily and non-smokers. The study was published in a 1989 issue of the "American Journal of Public Health."

Vitamin E and Smoking

Smoking causes rapid vitamin E depletion from the blood.
Smoking causes rapid vitamin E depletion from the blood. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

An investigation released in a news report in 2004 issue of the "Linus Pauling Research Institute" found that smoking causes rapid vitamin E depletion from the blood. Furthermore, vitamin E disappears faster when vitamin C levels are low.

Vitamin C and Exercise

Exercise-induced oxidative stress causes vitamin C exhaustion.
Exercise-induced oxidative stress causes vitamin C exhaustion. Photo Credit: Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

In a 2004 interview, Dr. Bruno of the Linus Pauling Research Institute stated that exercise-induced oxidative stress causes vitamin C exhaustion. However reductions in vitamin C levels are temporary in trained athletes, because vitamin C concentrations normalize after a few days.

Tips

Eat a balanced diet with five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Eat a balanced diet with five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Photo Credit: Todd Warnock/Photodisc/Getty Images

Eat a balanced diet with five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day to obtain maximum levels of dietary antioxidants. To boost your vitamin E levels, include whole grains, nuts and seeds, egg yolks and vitamin E- fortified foods in your diet. Consult your doctor about vitamin supplementation.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Demand Media