Nutrients Depleted When You Are Stressed (and What to do About It)

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

Biotics Research Article

It is almost an understatement to say that 2020 has been a stressful year. A pandemic, financial worries, and an inflammatory political drama have all significantly increased the stress we are dealing with every day. You might find yourself emotionally and physically exhausted by these demands.

Although your brain may definitely need a break, your body is probably depleted as well. Mental and emotional stress deplete many of the critical nutrients your body needs to function at its best, even if you have a perfect diet. If you are feeling particularly drained, increasing your intake of specific vitamins and minerals can help.

Nutrients Depleted When You Are Stressed

During times of stress, your body is doing its best to maintain homeostasis or balance. It is trying to work efficiently, while attempting to reduce the effects of stress. This means it uses greater quantities of specific nutrients to stay in balance.

Here are a few of the key nutrients that may end up depleted during times of stress:

Magnesium. Magnesium is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in the body. One of these is helping increase your level of a neurotransmitter called GABA, that plays a role in managing stress and anxiety. Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to depressed mood and increased stress. During periods of physical or mental strain your body uses up magnesium to try to combat the negative emotions, depleting this important nutrient.

B-vitamins. Although the 8 B-vitamins play a variety of roles in the body, they are essential to producing certain neurotransmitters that help with mood and stress management. They are also required for a properly functioning nervous system. B-vitamins are water soluble, which means your body doesn’t store them. Therefore, once they are used up, you must replenish them with food or supplements.

Iron. Iron’s primary role in the body is in the red blood cells that help carry oxygen. A lack of iron causes fatigue, shortness of breath, and thinning hair. Excessive stress has been shown to deplete iron levels. Women, children, and vegetarians are particularly at risk for iron depletion caused by stress.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that helps mitigate the effects of free radical damage and oxidative stress. When cortisol, the stress hormone, is high vitamin C is depleted. This puts you at greater risk of illness and long-term damage caused by oxidative stress.