Part of the human experience is dealing with stress during periods of life that involve difficult or demanding situations. Feeling under pressure or fearing failure are among the main causes of stress. We’ve all been through it, so don’t sweat it!
When in a stressful event, a ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered. This prepares the body to take action against whatever threat is being faced, where hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released. This effect of stress on the body leads to a sped-up heart rate and heavier or quicker breathing (1).
During these times, the level of a person’s stress depends on how they perceive, react or deal with the particular situation at hand. If the amount of stress being experienced is greater than what we are capable of dealing with, some bodily functions are impacted more than usual.
The effects of stress on the nervous system
The effect of stress on the body includes structural changes in certain parts of the brain (2). Chronic stress may lead to the atrophy of brain mass, which can decrease its overall weight (3). These changes affect how a person deals with stress, especially in connection to their cognitive functions and memory.
Both long-term memory and short-term memory depend strongly on the hippocampus, a part of the brain with a high density of glucocorticosteroid receptors, which are affected by stress (4). When stress becomes overwhelming and affects this part, memory loss and disorders can occur.
The effects of stress on the immune system
People who experience stress frequently are more likely to suffer health conditions. Overwhelming amounts of stress can weaken the immune system’s resistance, making the body susceptible to various conditions, including affecting cardiovascular systems (5)
This happens due to stress affecting the functions of the central nervous system and the neuroendocrine system. Neural and neuroendocrine responses release stress mediators, but too much stress may decrease the capabilities of these mediators (6).
The effect of stress on the body may lead to malignancy, as the immune system becomes suppressed and compromised. This means that growth hormones may be held back, and certain hormones being suppressed can disrupt how the immune system’s balance functions (7).
The effects of stress on the cardiovascular system
Whether or not the stress a person is experiencing is chronic or acute, it has the ability to significantly impact the cardiovascular system and how it functions (8). Stress can affect heart rate, contraction strength, and makes the veins narrow further (9).
At times, a large amount of stress can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to stimulating the limbic system. This negatively affects heart rhythm and blood pressure, thus increasing the risk of heart attack (10). The demand for oxygen and increased heart rate also makes it difficult for the cardiovascular system to function properly.
How supplementation can help with stress management
Certain nutrients can help you deal with the effect of stress on the body. While most of these can be taken in through a healthy diet, supplements can be consumed alongside it to ensure that you are receiving sufficient amounts. Couple that with a healthy workout routine, and you’re halfway there.
Natural, herbal-based vitamins like Ashwagandha and Ginkgo Brahmi can help enhance your body’s adaptation to stress as well as help minimize the effects of mental health problems.
Ashwagandha works as a stress relief agent hrough its moderating effect on the hypothalmus-pituitary-adrenal axis. It has been shown to reduce the effects of chronic stress (11). Ginkgo Brahmi have also been shown to reduce stress and mild anxiety (12).
B-group vitamins, calcium, and magnesium can also help support a healthy stress response in the body.
The B group of vitamins or B-complex supports a healthy stress response in the body by supporting the nervous system and restoring nutrient levels during times of stress (13).
Calcium has a role in regulating muscle contraction, heartbeat, nerve conduction, and immune function, which may all be affected by stress (14). Calcium also helps neutralise the pH balance of cortisol, the hormone released during stressful periods (16).
Studies have also shown that magnesium can help with alleviating stress (15).
Stress can cause the high-functioning systems in the body to malfunction. A good way to support the body during stressful periods is through a monthly vitamin subscription which can accompany a healthy diet. Get the supplements you need from the best vitamin packs by Vitable today. Our personalised vitamins in Australia even comes with vitamin delivery service which brings your custom pack right to your doorstep.
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- HealthDirect. Stress. HealthDirect. Published September 2019 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/stress. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Lupien SJ, McEwen BS, Gunnar MR, Heim C. Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. National Institutes of Health. Published June 2009 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19401723/. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Sarahian N, Sahraei H, Zardooz H, Alibeik H, Sadeghi B. Effect of memantine administration within the nucleus accumbens on changes in weight and volume of the brain and adrenal gland during chronic stress in female mice. National Institutes of Health. Published 2014 on https://biot.modares.ac.ir/article-30-7153-fa.pdf. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- de Kloet ER, Oitzl MS, Joëls M. Stress and cognition: are corticosteroids good or bad guys? National Institutes for Health. Published October 1999 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10481183/. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Khansari DN, Murgo AJ, Faith RE. Effects of stress on the immune system. Published May 1990 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2186751/. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Glaser R. Stress and immune function in humans. Published 1991 on https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F0022-006X.70.3.537. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Rivier C, Vale W. Effect of the long-term administration of corticotropin-releasing factor on the pituitary-adrenal and pituitary-gonadal axis in the male rat. Published February 1985 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2982917/. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Engler MB, Engler MM. Assessment of the cardiovascular effects of stress. Published October 1995 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8537831/. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Herd JA. Cardiovascular response to stress. Published January 1991 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1986391/. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Cohen H, Benjamin J, Geva AB, Matar MA, Kaplan Z, Kotler M. Autonomic dysregulation in panic disorder and in post-traumatic stress disorder: application of power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability at rest and in response to recollection of trauma or panic attacks. Published September 25, 2000 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10980322/. Accessed September 25, 2021.
- Vitable. Ashwagandha Plus. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/ashwagandha-plus. Accessed October 2, 2021.
- Vitable. Ginkgo & Brahmi. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/ginkgo-brahmi. Accessed October 2, 2021.
- Vitable. B Complex. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/b-complex. Accessed October 2, 2021.
- Vitable. Calcium Plus. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/calcium-plus. Accessed October 2, 2021.
- Kabir-Ahmadi, M., et. al. Superiority of magnesium and vitamin B6 over magnesium alone on severe stress in healthy adults with low magnesemia: A randomized, single-blind clinical trial. PLOS Global Public Health. Published December 18, 2018 on https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0208454. Accessed October 2, 2021.
- Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan. Stress and Osteoporosis. Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan. Published November 2017 on https://www.oamichigan.com/stress-and-osteoporosis/. Accessed October 2, 2021.