Stress has become so prevalent in most people’s lives that we have become ‘numb’ to it and assume it’s just ‘the norm’. Even though ‘stress’ and busy lives may be common for most, it’s anything but normal. Our bodies cannot handle day in and day out unrelenting stress without rest.
When stress dominates our body loses essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Stress will cause an increase in adrenal output of mineral corticoids. Stimulation of the adrenal glands tend to increase the secretion of hormones that cause a loss of minerals. Mineralocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones characterized by their influence on salt and water balances, which also has a relationship with calcium. The primary mineralocorticoid is aldosterone.
When the stress response is ongoing other minerals can actually build up in the body, such as potassium, sodium and phosphorous. This is due to a change in intestinal absorption (since digestion takes a back seat when we are in fight-or-flight mode) and re-absorption by the kidneys of these elements. This is how some types of high blood pressure can flare up, due to stress and the increase of sodium with a corresponding loss of calcium and magnesium. Prolonged stress can result in severe mineral deficiencies.
Stress also changes your metabolism and causes the body to retain minerals that are needed to stimulate, while at the same time lose nutrients/minerals needed to help calm the body. Eventually, if the stress continues the body will slowly lose it’s ability to adequately store sedative minerals. One such mineral would be magnesium. Magnesium is particularly sensitive to stress. Emotional stress and alcohol consumption are the two main ways people in this culture lose magnesium. Sugary diets are another big factor for magnesium loss. Excessive exercise, pregnancy, breast feeding, medication, frequent infections also deplete magnesium. The problem is the more magnesium that is depleted the less able one is to deal with stress since magnesium is a natural sedative. The edgier you are the more likely it is you are depleted in magnesium.
Chromium is another mineral that is affected due to stress, either physiological or emotional. Excess sugar in the diet can increase the need for chromium at the same time as create a greater stress on the body, creating a vicious cycle. It is not uncommon for people to develop blood sugar problems following a stressful event, or even a traumatic event. Why is that so? Chromium works with insulin, helping the cells to absorb and use glucose. Chromium deficiency has been known to produce increased insulin requirements. So, it’s a vicious cycle -stress depletes chromium, the cells can’t get the glucose they need so more insulin is required thereby increasing the blood sugar. In order to store insulin plenty of zinc is required as well.
Stress also depletes zinc status. Under-active adrenal glands (also due to stress) can create a relative deficiency of zinc (as zinc is found in the adrenal glands). So, another vicious cycle ensues. Stress depletes zinc, the adrenals need zinc and are bombarded by stress then can’t function in full because they are lacking a key nutrient imperative to their optimal function. We can have an increased need for zinc as well as an increased loss of the mineral -all due to stress! Another thing to point out about zinc and stress is actually digestion. Since digestion can’t take place when the body is in sympathetic mode, eating during stress will be compromised. We need zinc to make adequate hydrochloric acid to properly pull our minerals from our food to begin with. Yet another vicious cycle -when does it end? When we are stressed we won’t make the HCl needed to uptake our zinc or other minerals.
How To Combat Mineral Loss
I highly recommend that everyone and their mother take minerals supplementally. Either that or drink at least a quart of bone broth a day -which isn’t likely to happen for most people.
So my simplest suggestion is to get a hair tissue mineral analysis done so you are not just guessing at what minerals you should be supplementing with.
Please do not attempt to supplement with single minerals on your own without proper testing. It can do more harm than good.
A client decided to supplement with extra zinc after self diagnosing pyroluria, thinking it would be a good idea.
Problem is…..if you take Zinc supplements alone, your sodium levels drop, and copper levels also drop.
Then what happens is, toxic heavy metals will get displaced and enter the blood stream, causing a detox reaction, which can make you feel quite ill.
All minerals have effect on other minerals – it’s a fine, intricate balance that you cannot understand unless you know what is really going on inside your body.
That’s where a hair analysis test can come in handy.
If you are deficient in any one of the macro minerals it’s likely you are deficient in trace minerals as well, so a full spectrum approach specific to your unique body chemistry is necessary.
Factors that help you actually assimilate your minerals are; adequate stomach acid (read more here) and adequate fatty acid intake (more on What Fats Should You Be Consuming ). Excess sugar and a low fat diet will only make your mineral depletion worse. Also, even if you can’t consume a quart or so of bone broth daily -try to use it regularly and daily if possible. Another good source of minerals would be nettle tea and other herbal teas, produce raised in mineral rich soil (which is hard to come by today, but any good CSA or biodynamic farm should have good soil), zinc is found in most meats namely beef and some seafoods like oysters.
Again, the absolute best way to find out how out of balance your own minerals are is to test. It will help you to know what foods you need and what foods to avoid and the exact supplements that are right for your body.
More On Minerals
- The Role of Minerals In The Body
- Factors That Deplete Minerals
- 8 Signs & Symptoms of Mineral Deficiencies
- Are You Zinc Deficient?
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