Sub-clinical Vitamin Deficiencies and AFS
With the increase in processed foods, the reliance on fast-food chains, and restaurants to prepare meals, and the constantly rushed lifestyle, sub-clinical vitamin deficiencies are only becoming more and more widespread. If your body is depleted of the proper nutritional foods, it could drastically affect your physical and mental health in a myriad of ways.
This is a state where the body is deprived of the optimum dose of nutrients, but illness has yet to arise. It can be considered a “grey zone” between wellness and sickness.
Being deficient in vitamin D, more than five of the B vitamins, and even calcium can impact your mood or even lead to depression. Additionally, having a diet extremely poor in essential vitamins and minerals can impact your health, if not instantly than unquestionably in the long-run.
Vitamin deficiencies can be worsened by the demands placed on the body by stress, and stress, in turn, can worsen vitamin deficiencies.
When your body is experiencing prolonged stress, juggling a never-ending task list, work, children, or school, it continues releasing adrenaline and cortisol hormones into your bloodstream to combat the stress.
Experiencing emotional distress, such as ongoing anger, fear, anxiety, or uncertainty, can impact your cognitive and physical health tremendously. Your body releases adrenaline and cortisol hormones. If this is chronic, you’re putting pressure on your system and causing a steady flow of hormones into your bloodstream.
With time, your heart rate increases, along with your blood pressure, and it can even elevate your triglycerides. While one stressful day may not impact you, when it is prolonged, disruption of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system leads your body to Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
In this stressful environment, eating a diet bursting with vitamins and mineral from whole foods not only boosts your mood. It grants you vitality and stamina and decreases your risk of countless health conditions down the line. It will also aid you considerably in better managing your AFS and being healthier and happier on a day to day basis.
Sub-clinical Vitamin Deficiencies and AFS
Dealing with AFS means feeling weakness and fatigue often, finding it difficult to get out of bed or complete everyday errands, having headaches, having a higher frequency of catching the flu, experiencing a reduced libido, and undergoing unexplained hair loss.
Essentially, due to the excessive stress, your metabolic system, hormonal system, reproductive system, digestive system, and other bodily systems are not properly functioning. When your digestive system slows down during stress, you are not able to properly digest your food, and thus your body is not suitably processing vitamins and nutrients.
Over time, this could lead to vitamin deficiencies, low energy, hair loss, mood swings, and a weakened immune system. Consuming processed food, excessive sugar, alcohol, coffee, and other junk food will not improve your condition. On the other hand, properly fortifying your body with whole foods, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, beans, good-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals, will aid you in recovering from AFS.
How to Increase Your Energy Levels Naturally
Having gross vitamin deficiencies is rare in the modern world. Diseases such as scurvy, due to extreme lack of vitamin C, or rickets, due to severe lack of vitamin D, are almost unheard of. However, sub-clinical vitamin deficiencies, before the deficiency is severe, can reduce optimal body function. They can directly affect your energy levels in various ways, including making managing AFS difficult.
Vitamin D deficiency is widespread, especially in areas with very little sunshine and longer winters. In fact, about 75% of U.S. adults face this deficiency. If children become critically undersupplied, they can develop a condition that leads to soft and weak bones, known as rickets.
This remarkable vitamin can improve symptoms of depression, boost your mood, and is an excellent choice to improve hormonal synthesis in your body. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, and even obesity. Moreover, vitamin D works with calcium to ensure you build strong and healthy bones, and it assists you in regulating your immune system. Vitamin D is stored in your body when you are exposed to the sun and can be found in fortified foods such as whole milk and other dairy products. Vitamin D can also be taken in the form of a good quality supplement, and is a worthy investment, as it has incredible anticancer effects.
Vitamin E is another vital nutrient that could aid you on your journey to managing AFS, and it helps provide your body with plenty of energy too. It functions as an antioxidant that helps your body make red blood cells, prevent damage from free radicals, and even use the vitamin K you consume. Vitamin E is involved in over six enzymatic responses in your adrenal cascade and can be supportive with AFS management. You can get vitamin E from nuts, eggs, wheat germ, sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts, sunflower seeds, liver, yams, asparagus, extra virgin olive oil and some other cold-pressed oils.
Getting adequate chromium is imperative for the hormone insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels, which directly impact your energy levels. While it’s rare to be deficient in chromium, it can lead to increased blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Cheese, lean meats, some spices, and whole grains are excellent sources of chromium.
Iodine, another essential mineral, aids in regulating your thyroid hormones, and a lack of it in your system leads to fatigue, enlarged thyroid glands, and weight gain. Consume sesame seeds, garlic, lima beans, fish, and kelp for a sufficient iodine intake, and more energy.
A deficiency in Vitamin C means your body has a weaker immune system, which is the opposite of what you need when trying to manage AFS, as your immunity is already frail. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, strengthens your blood vessels, skin health, cartilage, and helps prevent damage from free radicals while repairing and assisting the growth of new tissues. Some forward-looking scientists even argue a coronary artery disease is a sub-clinical form of vitamin C deficiency. Good sources of vitamin C include strawberries, citrus fruit, mango, grapefruit, tomatoes, papaya, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, kiwi, cranberries, leafy green vegetables, and broccoli.
Deficiencies in the B vitamins, like vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), can lead to memory loss in the long-run. A deficiency in vitamin B9 (folate) leads to forgetfulness, mental sluggishness, depression, and improper function of red blood cells. Eating foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, liver, orange juice, avocados, salmon, beets, and asparagus could help you reach a sufficient level of these essential vitamins.
Vitamin B12 is just as critical in strengthening your cognitive health and boosting your mood. Vitamin B12 also helps with a healthy nerve cell maintenance, produces DNA and RNA, and works with vitamin B9 to affect your immunity and mood. You can ensure that you consume enough vitamin B12 from sources like fish, shellfish, good-quality beef, dairy products, eggs, and organic meats such as liver.
Calcium is an essential mineral to ensure your body builds and maintains strong bones, teeth, and aids in the function of your heart, muscles, and nervous system. Being deficient in calcium could lead to osteoporosis, depression, confusion, memory loss, brittle nails, tingling or numbness in your hands, feet, and face, or muscle cramps and spasms. Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, kelp, milk, nuts, cheese, yogurt, sardines, or oysters are all wonderful sources of calcium.
Boosting Your Mood with Food
Just as the food you eat impacts your physical health, it plays a role in the way your cognitive health plays out as well.
Consuming vitamins in the form of a good-quality supplement brings optimum results.
Cutting out alcohol and decreasing, if not eliminating, caffeine from your diet will also improve your mood, sleep, and your stress levels. Both caffeine and alcohol can cause insomnia, counter-effective in properly managing AFS.
Be Cautious When Starting a New Supplement
When it comes to starting a new supplement regimen, keep in mind that not all products are created equally. Purchasing an over-the-counter, generic brand of vitamin C might come along with fillers, binders, coloring agents, gluten, lactose, and flow agents. Be wary that many supplements are not verified by third-party analysis for active ingredients and contaminants, nor are they certified to have good manufacturing practices (GMP). Because of that, you may be consuming more than just the vitamin or herb you were anticipating.
When choosing supplements, look for raw and organic, if possible. Check to make sure the supplement is free of artificial coloring agents, binders, corn, gluten, and various sweeteners.
Fortunately, there are a variety of companies that focus on providing you with good quality supplements that could improve your mood, enhance your vitality, and replenish your body with the fundamental nutrients it requires.
While sub-clinical vitamin deficiencies are typical, it’s also important to properly check your levels prior to supplementing to avoid an overdose. This is especially true if you have AFS and a fragile system. Most importantly, always speak with your doctor or health practitioner prior to starting any new diet or supplement regimen.
It is important to be aware that taking a myriad of vitamins and minerals to manage your AFS may, in fact, backfire instead. Managing AFS with the use of supplements needs to be approved by your physician or experienced clinician.
Advanced AFS and Subclinical Vitamin Deficiency
For those who are in the advanced stages of AFS, it is typical to have a body that is highly sensitive or tends towards paradoxical reactions. Magnesium could be excitatory instead of calming, for example. Small amounts of progesterone could cause excitation typical of the estrogenic effect or exaggerated fatigue.
The body needs proper nutritional supplementation for recovery, but it appears to reject any normal attempts at supplementation. In fact, the harder one tries, the worse it gets. Over time, typically the body will become more sensitive, with a lower threshold for negative responses. Ultimately, sufferers become intolerant of any supplements over-the-counter.
If you are in this category, be very careful of any supplements as they could backfire and make matters worse.
What is needed is a detailed history to find the cause of such behavior. This should be followed by careful qualitative challenges designed provide insight to the body’s specific resilience and nutritional reserve. Finally, the nutrient has to be delivered to the body in very small incremental doses.
Those who have a constitutionally sensitive body and hormonal problems are particularly at risk. Laboratory testing can be helpful but needs to be properly interpreted. Excessive focus on normalizing laboratory values often is a failed strategy and can worsen the overall condition.
Additionally, what is considered the proper dose for one person can be very different for another person. Sometimes, extremely small amount of nutrients to help support the cellular foundation and prime the nutrient pump may be indicated. Ths amount can be many times less than what is commonly available over the counter and considered “normal” for the general public. For example, instead of taking 100-200 mg of vitamin C, one may only tolerate 10-20 mg.
Constant follow up is needed by an experienced professional in sub-clinical vitamin deficiencies to nurture your body properly in a setting of advanced AFS.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
How do vitamin deficiencies impact your mood and energy levels?
The food you consume directly affects the way your body and mind feel. Consuming too much processed food leaves you with vitamin deficiencies that affect your quality of life. With time, you begin feeling moody, exhausted, and lacking the energy to get tasks done.