Perhaps one of the most serious implications of stress may be in conjunction with a magnesium deficiency. Stress increases the need for magnesium. An article appearing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (1994;13(5):429-446) states that when stress causes the release of catecholamines and corticosteroids, can increase a magnesium deficiency. Stress and magnesium deficiency can lead to vasoconstriction and platelet aggregation. This can increase the risk of damage to the heart, cardiovascular disease, arrhythmias and even sudden cardiac death. Depleted magnesium levels due to stress can play a role in eclampsia in pregnant women. It can also be an aggravating factor in asthma.
Omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in mitigating stress. A prospective cohort study involving nearly 8,000 subjects was published in the European Journal of Nutrition (2007; 46(6): 337-46). The authors concluded that there is taking omega-3 fatty acids may be of benefit to a variety of mental disorders including anxiety, depression and stress. Other research appearing in the journal Hypertension (November 1, 2004;44(5):732-738) found that DHA supplementation reduced vasoconstriction due to psychological stressors.
Studies have shown that vitamin C may increase tolerance to stress. An animal study appearing in the Medical Tribune (September 23, 1999;40(16):4) found that rats given vitamin C, when stressed, produced less corticosterone (a stress hormone in rats) than rats not given vitamin C. The supplemented rats also had higher immune function, larger thymus glands and had their adrenal glands became less enlarged than rats not receiving vitamin C. Older research supported the idea that vitamin C (as sodium ascorbate) can be beneficial to allergy patients—and the mechanism may be through supporting the adrenal glands. A review article appearing in the American Journal of Digestive Disorders (September 1947;302-306) states that between one and two grams of sodium ascorbate per day is beneficial to allergy patients. The sodium ascorbate plays a role in adrenal function. One study involving 50 subjects with asthma, whole adrenal gland extract in conjunction with a high salt intake resulted in improvement of symptoms in 42 of the subjects. Sodium ascorbate both supports the adrenal gland and addresses the sodium/potassium imbalance caused by stress.
Research appearing in the Journal of International Sports Nutrition (2008; 5: 11) shows that phosphatidylserine may reduce stress hormone levels. The study was a small, double-blind crossover design study that found that supplementation with phosphatidylserine supplementation for 10 days reduced exercise induced stress and reduced mean peak cortisol concentrations from moderately intensive exercise.