Do You Know Nutrition: Stress can rob body of nutrients

By Phylis Canion
Feb. 26, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:26 p.m.

Phylis Canion

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. Overcooking 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 leech 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 or 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, or racing to meet a deadline; acute stress, which is short term; episodic acute stress, in which our way of life is full of chaos; and chronic stress, which is termed as inescapable. When faced with chronic stress and an overactivated 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.

Thought for the week: Be yourself - everyone else is taken.

Call The Cooking Depot at 361-275-2725 to book your seat for cooking class with Dr. Canion and chef Molly Fowler, of Houston. The class is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Cooking Depot in Cuero.

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



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