Do You Know Nutrition: Stress, alcohol abuse, overcooking foods can be nutrient thieves

Aug. 1, 2011 at 3:01 a.m.
Updated Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:02 a.m.

By Phylis Canion I am a firm believer in taking high-quality supplements after a very stressful event left me very sick. I have improved dramatically, but often wonder what are other nutrient thieves that I need to be aware of, other than the damages of stress?

Nutrients work together in the body as a team. Optimal intake of all vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other essential nutrients are the foundation for excellent nutrition.

Here are some of the most common nutrient thieves that can rob your body and compromise your health.

Overuse of alcohol, destroys a variety of essential nutrients.

Antacids can deplete your system of vitamin D.

Caffeine pumps vitamins and minerals through the system too fast for optimal absorption.

Over cooking or cooking foods with high temperatures in water, speeds up nutrient loss.

Diuretics pull water and water-soluble vitamins out of the system, as well as electrolytes, such as potassium and magnesium.

Oil-based laxatives can leach vitamins A, D, E, and K from the gut. Overuse of laxatives can accelerate how fast food moves through the system which in turn will limit nutrient absorption.

Long term use of medications can deplete the body of certain vitamins, minerals and enzymes, by interfering with absorption and inhibiting transportation or metabolism, leaving an impaired immune system.

Pollution can speed up cell damage as well as smoking.

Smoking increases your need for vitamin C, however, taking additional vitamin C increases the nicotine output in the urine, and that in turn increases how much nicotine the body needs to satisfy the nicotine addiction.

And perhaps the real "nutrient vampire" is stress. Stress can be defined as a type of change that can result in emotional, physiological or emotional upset or strain.

The different types of stress that we encounter are eustress - racing to meet a deadline; acute stress - short term; episodic acute stress - a way of life full of chaos; and chronic stress - termed as inescapable.

When faced with chronic stress and an over-activated autonomic nervous system, conditions that can arise include depression, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, obesity, obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety disorder, sexual dysfunction, tooth and gum disease, ulcers and possibly cancer.

NOTE: Next free nutrition class will be Monday at Organic Emporium, 2918 N. Laurent St. Call 361-576-2100 to book your seat.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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