In the hectic times we live in it’s all too easy to let our health and nutrition slip. But letting those go for a bit actually makes your stress worse. For example, if you’re not getting the right nutrients that help you focus, you’ll find yourself unable to complete tasks in a timely manner. Then you’re missing deadlines or staying up late to get a project done.
If you’re not getting the nutrients you need to recover from the effects of stress, you won’t have what you need to combat the next dose. Plus that next dose of stress (political news, evil coworker, job loss, health problems, you name it) will seem worse if you’re tired, irritable and depressed because of nutrient deficiencies.
The great news is getting back on nutrition is a delicious endeavor.
Magnesium is needed in over 300 functions in the human body, thus deficiency comes with some hefty consequences. Since many of magnesium’s key roles take place in the bones and muscles, deficiency can present as feeling sore and tender all over, as well as muscle spasms, cramps and even high blood pressure. Deficiency can also contribute to anxiety and depression.High consumption of coffee and sugar deplete magnesium, both of which are go-to items when stressed. It’s easy to see how a negative loop could begin.
Sources: The most magnesium rich foods are seeds, nuts, and beans. Other sources include leafy greens, including herbs like parsley, and whole grains. Pumpkin seeds are the most concentrated source offering 50% of the RDA in 1 ¼ serving.
Like magnesium, zinc is needed in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body. Zinc plummets when you’re stressed and low serum levels of zinc are associated with depression. Because our body’s don’t have zinc storage, we got to regularly consume zinc rich foods and a little more of them when we’re dealing with something stressful. Zinc is predominately found in animal proteins and thus vegetarians may not regularly get enough and may need to supplement.
You may have been overlooking the signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency including depression, ingrown hairs, ridged and/or cracked nails, trouble focusing, frequent colds and infections.
Sources: Oyster, beef, spinach, lamb, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, cashew, and shrimp.
Calcium is known for its importance in our bones, which is true as 99% of the calcium in our body is in our bones. Don’t underestimate that 1% though. If you’re not getting regularly enough calcium bones suffer because your body pulls the calcium out of your bones to keep your heart pumping. Calcium is one of the key minerals involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, thus is needed to pump the heart. What’s more that 1% also is needed for nerve function and blood clotting. Because of its roles in bones, joints and muscles, too little calcium can make for sore, tight muscles and joints.
While dairy may be the richest source of calcium, it’s not for everyone. Fret not, there are over 50 non-dairy sources of calcium that can boost the flavor profile of many dishes.
One sneak calcium depleter is consuming too much salt. With its negative effects on minerals, bones, blood pressure and weight, salt is one to watch out for.
Sources: Dairy, leafy greens, sesame seeds, tofu, navy beans, black beans, herbs, sardines and canned salmon with the bones in.
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) may be the most well-known nutrient deficiency. IDA can have you feeling cold, tired, irritable and chronically ill. All that can easily make you feel overwhelmed. The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people worldwide have IDA.
Iron comes in 2 forms: 1.) heme/meat 2.) non-heme/plant based. If you’re a vegetarian, vegan or eat very little meat, you can still have healthy iron levels by regularly eating foods rich in non-heme iron along with foods rich in vitamin C. An example of this would be iron rich black beans with vitamin C rich bell peppers.
Sources: Beef, eggs, black beans, cumin, cinnamon, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and lentils.
Sheila Amir is the owner, author and Sheila of NutritionSheila.com,/ a website dedicated to bring you health, wellness and nutrition information you can actually use.
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