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Research Review: Stress and supplements |

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Since as many as 20% of us experience excessive or chronic stress, and 17% of us are deficient in their supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s important to understand the underlying reasons for these deficiencies. This article will discuss the health benefits of supplementing with omega-3 fats, and the studies conducted to explain why so many are deficient in this important nutrient.

Stress is something which everyone experiences in some form, and it is a universal problem. It can lead to a variety of physical and mental issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression. The good news is that there are ways to combat and treat it.

We know that overworking yourself can lead to mental and physical health issues. The term “Cognitive Distraction” refers to the psychological effects of being overworked. The best ways to prevent this from happening is to evaluate how much work you’re doing and how much effort you’re putting into it. If you’re not working hard, you can’t be overworked.

Many of you may have heard that stress causes your body to release cortisol, which causes your beer belly. Perhaps this explains Santa Claus’ chubby figure.

After all, you’d be stressed out if you had to handle the needs of hundreds of millions of children, deal with elvish labor issues, and wrangle numerous wild monsters during your annual commute.

So, what are your options for you and Santa? How do you manage your stress? Should you resign your job, divorce Mrs. Claus, and sell your children, reindeer, and elves? Do you want to relocate to a tropical island? (Who knows, maybe Santa is currently detoxifying in the Caribbean.)

Aauugh! So much paperwork!

Aauugh! There’s so much paperwork!

It’s possible that the island utopia will function… until the next cyclone. You’d be stressed, squirting cortisol into your veins, and replacing your compact spare tire with a tracker-sized spare tire. Whether we’re at the North Pole or the Equator, it appears that most of us can’t resist feeling stressed at some point.

If you can’t halt stress, try the next best thing: reduce cortisol levels to cease the stress reaction. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands (which are located on top of the kidneys). Cortisol weakens the immune system, but it can also increase blood glucose levels and prevent bone resorption, as well as protein and collagen formation. We need cortisol, but too much of it for too long might be harmful.

Question for investigation

Phosphatidylserine, a substance that lowers belly fat, has been touted as a cortisol suppressor in recent years. Charles Poliquin, to give credit where credit is due, was one of the first to encourage phosphatidylserine in his Biosignature course to specifically target “umbilical” fat, or fat around your belly button.

But first and foremost, let’s talk about the basics. Before we get too excited, we need to know if phosphatidylserine genuinely decreases cortisol in a stressful setting like exercise. This takes me to the topic of this week’s study review…

Michael Starks, et al. Phosphatidylserine’s effect on the endocrine response to moderate-intensity exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 5, no. 11, is a publication of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2008).

Methods

Participants

The study included a modest number of participants: ten young healthy males who were:

• 26 and a half years old • 89.3 4.7 kilograms (about 195 lbs on average) • 176.8 2.7 cm (about 5’8′′ on average)

The subjects of this study, like many others that look at supplements in a non-disease state, were university age — most likely graduate students. Why? Recruitment is simple.

Because the investigations are frequently led by graduate students, who invite their peers to participate in their research. In exchange, the researchers will take part in the research of the other graduate students. This indicates that the same group appears in nearly all of the studies conducted by that department during that time period. Needless to add, the findings may not be applicable to all situations.

Testing

Step 1: Establish a starting point.

Before starting the phosphatidylserine treatment, the researchers used a bike to evaluate all of the subjects’ maximum ability to consume oxygen, or VO2 max. This is a typical test that involves participants riding a bike or running on a treadmill while a gas collection device measures how much oxygen they use. The offered exercise begins easy and gradually becomes more challenging until the subjects are unable to continue. The data is then analyzed to determine the maximum amount of oxygen consumed. For the study, the exact number isn’t necessary; rather, it’s a tool for determining the optimal level for activity testing. It’s analogous to a one-rep maximum in strength training in certain ways.

For those curious, the average VO2 max for the individuals was 29.02.2 ml/kg/min, which isn’t really noteworthy. (It appears that this set of graduate students had more intellect than brawn.)

As an aside, many people believe that it is because of the VO2 max test that so much more study has been done on aerobic exercise rather than resistance exercise. How much you want it or how motivated you are has no bearing on your VO2 max. You can detect if someone hasn’t pushed themselves hard enough with testing, but not with resistance exercise.

Step 2: Phosphatidylserine is given to group 1 for the first time.

Researchers gave subjects either 600 mg of soy-based phosphatidylserine or a maltodextrin placebo for 10 days after determining their initial VO2 max, and then evaluated their VO2 max again.

Step 3: Give group 2 another dose of phosphatidylserine.

Participants who were given phosphatidylserine after the first round of testing were given placebo and retested after 10 days, while those who were given placebo were given phosphatidylserine.

This is a “cross-over” study, which means that all participants receive all treatments. Half of the participants receive the placebo, while the other half receives the treatment first, before switching to the other treatment.

Another side note: phosphatidylserine was previously collected from cow brains (bovine cortex), but the industry has switched to soy-derived phosphatidylserine due to health concerns about consuming neural tissue due to mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE). When it came to bovine cortex-derived phosphatidylserine, there was a lot of suspicion that it wasn’t the phosphatidylserine that was reducing cortisol, but rather the contaminated neural proteins. Since then, research has shown that phosphatidylserine generated from soy is efficient at inhibiting cortisol.

Step 4: Re-evaluate your VO2 max.

The subjects biked for 15 minutes after 10 days of supplementation, starting at 65 percent of their maximal VO2 max and increasing to 85 percent VO2 max. This is considered moderate intensity, yet it is enough to raise cortisol levels. 30 minutes and just before exercise, as well as 5, 15, 25, 45, and 65 minutes after exercise, blood samples were obtained.

Cortisol levels in the phosphatidylserine group were lower all the time (before and after exercise), and the peak was attenuated in the phosphatidylserine group.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ve included a graph of cortisol blood levels in both scenarios. As you can see, the placebo group’s cortisol levels are higher throughout the study, with the biggest difference occurring soon after exercise. Phosphatidylserine supplementation resulted in a 35 percent reduction in cortisol, according to mathematical estimates of the area under the curve. Peak cortisol levels were 39% lower than in the placebo group.

Research-Review-Stress-and-supplements

Phosphatidylserine (PS; bottom line) vs placebo: changes in cortisol levels over time (top line).

The testosterone levels of the participants were also measured. Surprisingly, the phosphatidylserine group had higher testosterone levels when the “area under the curve” was compared.

Lactate and growth hormone were also examined, but no differences were discovered.

Conclusion

Exercise-induced cortisol levels are reduced by taking 600 mg of phosphatidylserine each day for ten days.

Oh, you’re itching for more. Okay.

Phosphatidylserine supplementation can be utilized to minimize exercise-induced stress caused by cortisol, according to this study. So, what exactly does that imply? Phosphatidylserine, according to the scientists, could be used to alleviate overtraining.

While this study found that testosterone levels are greater in the phosphatidylserine group, I’d hold off till a few more studies confirm this. Other investigations have found that phosphatidylserine reduces cortisol but has no effect on testosterone. 2

Another significant discovery is dose. Phosphatidylserine was utilized at 800 mg in previous studies, while only 600 mg was used in this one. 2 It turns out that 600 mg of phosphatidylserine is an effective dose for inhibiting cortisol, and since phosphatidylserine is expensive, you can save 25%. Santa will have enough cash to go shopping on Boxing Day.

 

With this free special report, we’ll help you make sense of it all.

It will teach you the most effective diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices – all of which are unique to you.

To obtain a free copy of the special report, please click here.

References

To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

1. P. Monteleone, M. Maj, L. Beinat, M. Natale, and D. Kemali. Stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy males is blunted by prolonged phosphatidylserine administration. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, vol. 42, no. 4, 1992, pp. 385-8. Fahey, TD, and Pearl, M. During two weeks of resistanve exercise-induced overtraining, the hormonal and perceptual effects of phosphatidylserine administration were studied. Biol Sport, 15:135-144, 1998.

It is important to be aware of the role stress has on your body and mind. Stress affects you in a variety of ways, including creating tension and triggering a stress response in the body. Stress is a normal reaction to everyday occurrences, but for people under stress for prolonged periods of time, the response from the brain can be excessive or dangerous.. Read more about vitamins for stress and depression and let us know what you think.

Related Tags

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • vitamins for stress and anxiety
  • best stress relief supplements
  • supplements for stress and anxiety
  • supplements for anxiety and stress
  • supplements for stress and weight loss
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