Vitamin C helps manage stress
Vitamin C helps manage stress
Stress is part of life but an ongoing stress can take a toll on the body. It can lead to digestive problems, weight gain, poor memory, fatigue, moodiness, muscle pain, and headaches. High levels of stress can increase the risk of heart attack and diabetes. Reducing stress provides a good way of staying healthy, increasing productivity and enjoying life more. When the stressed person lacks enough instruments and emotional support, they must device more practical ways of reducing stress. The good news, however, is that consuming certain foods and nutrients, at the right amount and time, can help in dealing with pressure and feel better.
Vitamin C, also referred to as ascorbic acid is a soluble vitamin that the body requires for various vital metabolic reactions. It is not naturally found in the body, yet Vitamin C is essential for the formation of connective tissue, collagen, and immune system factors (Smedberg & Sandmark, 2012). It is the only found through eating food high in Vitamin C or by supplements. Research has indicated that Vitamin C can reduce stress in the body. Stress can directly manifest through its damaging effects on the body, and indirectly augment health problems. In addition, numerous harmful physiological changes come due to stress (Tobin et al., 2013). Stress also compromises the ability of humans to make healthy food choices.
According one of the pioneer researchers examining stress, it refers to “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Stress manifests itself in different forms ranging from moderate stress that challenges the ability of individuals to accomplish certain tasks to extreme levels of steady stress leading to chronic diseases. According to Smedberg & Sandmark (2012) the three types of stress include physical stressors, metabolic stressors, and psychological stressors. From an integrative perspective of medicine, stressors include not only psychological elements but also include factors such as environmental changes, pathogens, and metabolic stressors that include direct and indirect damage to the body (Pescosolido et al., 2012). The ability of Vitamin C to participate in numerous biological reactions, suggest that it be important for almost all body processes (Tobin et al., 2013). The only proven role of the vitamin is in prevention or treatment of scurvy.
Research suggests that consumption of foods rich in Vitamin C, such as oranges, can reduce stress and boost the immune system. The vitamin also helps lower levels of cortical, a stress hormone, and blood pressing during situations of high anxiety. Numerous studies how found that levels of Vitamin C in blood and plasma to be diminished in athletes. Studies by (van Haselen & Jütte, 2013) found that an athlete who receives one-gram vitamin C supplement showed increased level of participation. Another study provided evidence that supplementation for a longer period did not produce any significant effect on blood levels of the vitamin. However, the study found that women had significantly higher levels of vitamin C in their blood compared to the male population. Additionally, this study found that levels of vitamin C in plasma could remain elevated after for 24 hours after strenuous exercise (van Haselen & Jütte, 2013).
A recent meta-analysis indicated that the vitamin C has a positive impact to individuals whose immune system was weakened due to stress, a condition that is very common in the modern society (Pescosolido et al., 2012). He adds that since vitamin C is one of the nutrients that have proven sensitive to stress, and the first nutrient to be depleted in smokers, alcoholics, and obese individuals, it makes it an ideal marker for overall health. Other studies have also observed an increased risk of respiratory diseases in people engaging in heavy exercise. They have also shown that vitamin C affects some parts of the immune system, which makes it biologically logical that it produces effects on the increased incidence of respiratory infections caused by heavy physical stress.
However controversial, vitamin C helps reduce both psychological and physical effects of stress on people. People with a high level of vitamin C do not experience the expected physical and mental signs of stress when subject to serious psychological challenges. Additionally, they have the ability to recover from stressful situations faster compared to people with low levels of the vitamin in their blood and plasma. Some German researchers subjected 120 subjects to stressing situations (van Haselen & Jütte, 2013). Half of the subjects were given supplements of vitamin C and they found that signs of stress were significantly greater in those who did not receive the supplement while those who received the vitamin felt less stressed.
Our daily efforts to reduce the risk of heart disease require regular exercise to ensure a healthy lifestyle. It increased delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the tissue forms a vital part of the process, but it can also cause harm to the body. When I started taking morning and evening jogs around my neighborhood last year, I experienced much physical pain in my muscles, which made life more stressful rather than enjoyable. I decided to stop exercising but when I started consulting with a fitness expert, she advised me to consider eating more fruits and taking vitamin C supplements twice a day to help me recover from an unaccustomed bout of physical exercise (Pescosolido et al., 2012). After two days, I started experiencing less muscle soreness and better muscle function. However, I was not sure whether I copied because of the supplements or acclimatization to the exercise.
Early this year, my mother used to lose her temper in the morning. It was likely that she had an ongoing stress, which means that the body is dealing with major oxidative damages. I advised her to consider taking fruits and one cup of kiwi every morning and within no time, she soon recovered from her high tempers and returned to her normal routine. I had learnt that vitamin C serves as one of the most powerful means of dealing with oxidant damage. Since the body cannot manufacture vitamin C, consuming foods rich in vitamin C helps reduce stress. However, consuming vitamins may only help if the source of the stress is mild. It is not practical to argue that consuming vitamin C can help reduce stress related to issues such as loss of job and financial crisis. In such case, a psychiatrist can provide counseling services to help avert the problem.
Scientific discussion of the placebo effect on stress
A placebo refers to anything that seems a “genuine” medical treatment but it is not. It could be a shot, a pill, or any other source of “fake” treatment. The common feature of placebos is that they do not contain any active ingredient meant to affect health. For instance, some subjects in the study might be given a new drug to reduce stress while other would receive a placebo. The aim of such study is to compare the effect of placebo on the people in the study to determine the effectiveness of the new drug and check for side effects. The placebo effect takes place when a person responds to a placebo and the response can be either positive or negative. For example, a person’s symptoms may improve. Alternatively, a person may experience what appear to be side effects from the treatment.
There are some conditions where placebo can produce results even when people are aware of taking a placebo. Research indicates that placebos can have an effect on conditions such as pain, depression, menopause, sleep disorders, and irritable bowel syndrome (van Haselen & Jütte, 2013). Studies on placebo effects have focused on the relationship between body and mind. In two studies, people who took vitamin C were better able to cope with stressful situations compared to those who took a placebo. Evidence addressing how vitamin C helps reduce stress is plentiful and contradictory. Some studies have found that vitamin C reduces stress while others maintain that the vitamin does not reduce stress, only that it gives them a false sense of healing.
While the importance of vitamin C in reducing stress is debatable, it can still help reduce stress owing to its properties. Studies have shown that vitamin C can affect some parts of the immune system, and accordingly, it seems that it can help reduce stress. Stress causes various health problems and requires attention before it culminates to serious problems. Too much stress can increase the risk of diabetes and heart attack. Research has proved that consuming some foods and nutrients at right times can help avert stress. Vitamin C can help blunt the rise in cortisol during stress, which helps reduce the harmful effects of high cortisol. Some studies show that people with high levels of vitamin C show high level of resistance to stressful situations compared to those with low levels of the nutrient. However, some studies show that the vitamin C has no psychological effect on stress, there is evidence for a strong psychosomatic component in susceptibility of people to stress. In conclusion, vitamin C can help reduce stress depending on other factors such as the cause and level of stress. In addition to fighting stress, vitamin C also boost the immune system thereby improving the health of an individual.
Smedberg, A., & Sandmark, H. (January 01, 2012). Dynamic Stress Management.
Tobin, E. D., Grünbaum, D., Patterson, J., & Cattolico, R. (2013). Behavioral and Physiological Changes during Benthic-Pelagic Transition in the Harmful Alga, Heterosigma akashiwo: Potential for Rapid Bloom Formation. Plos ONE, 8(10), 1. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076663
Pescosolido, N., Malagola, R., Scarsella, G., Lenarduzzi, F., Dapoto, L., & Nebbioso, M. (2012). Oxidative stress in the closed-eyelid test: management of glaucoma. European Review For Medical And Pharmacological Sciences, 16(10), 1453-1457.
van Haselen, R., & Jütte, R. (2013). The placebo effect and its ramifications for clinical practice and research. Villa La Collina at Lake Como, Italy, 4-6 May 2012. Complementary Therapies In Medicine, 21(2), 85-93. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2012.11.005
Relton, C. (2013). Implications of the 'placebo effect' for CAM research. Complementary Therapies In Medicine, 21(2), 121-124. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2012.12.011