Category Archives: Nutrition

Vitamin B12 – The Nutrient Critical to Good Health

Vitamin B12 – The Nutrient Critical to Good Health

Vitamin B12 plays an essential part in our health, and deficiencies can lead to severe issues. But what exactly does B12 do and how common are deficiencies? The answer may surprise you.

Known also as Cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that plays a crucial role in nerve function, , cognitive health, the production of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis. Low levels can lead to fatigue, brain fog, hormone imbalance, mental health problems, and physical disability.

Severe, longstanding deficiencies left untreated can lead to permanent brain and nerve damage, and even death. Sometimes this is caused by Pernicious Anemia, which is an Autoimmune B12 deficiency, where the body attacks the Intrinsic Factor in the gut necessary for proper absorption of B12.

B12 cannot be made by the body and so must come from the foods we eat, or supplementation. In addition, plants do not make B12, only animal products like meat, eggs and dairy which naturally contain B12. Most people are aware that people who eat vegetarian or vegan diets are at a higher risk of developing a B12 deficiency as this nutrient is often lacking in their diets. However virtually anyone can acquire a B12 deficiency, even if their diet contains foods plentiful with it.

Why is this? It is because there are many things that can prevent the body absorbing B12 from nutrients within food. For example, taking certain pharmaceutical drugs like antacids which suppress stomach acid but also block nutrient absorption within the stomach, in addition some anti-biotics, diabetic treatments, and anesthetics like nitrous oxide.

What are some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency?

 

  • Poor memory
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anemia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Neuropathy

These are just a few of the many potential symptoms of a B12 deficiency. B12 deficiency left untreated can also mimic other illnesses, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, MS, hypothyroidism, and heart disease. B12 deficiency can literally cause multi system failure at its most severe and is frequently inadequately tested for and missed as a potential cause for symptoms which mimic these diseases.

How can we test for B12 deficiency?

The most common test for B12 is the Serum B12 test which will essentially tell you how much B12 is within your blood stream. However, this test alone is not enough to establish or rule out a deficiency.

B12 serum test only tells you how much B12 is in your serum, not if the B12 is being absorbed and utilized by the body, which is far more important. For this we need an additional test, the MMA (Methylmalonic acid) test which looks for a of buildup of methylmalonic acid which is a strong indicator that your body is not absorbing B12 effectively.

The downside is that this test is expensive to run, and doctors may resist ordering it and instead rely only on serum B12. Testing Homocysteine levels can be another helpful indicator of B12 deficiency, as homocysteine levels will often be high in the bloodstream if there is B12 deficiency. To rule out Pernicious Anemia, an Intrinsic Factor antibody test needs to be performed.

Pernicious Anemia is the Autoimmune form of B12 deficiency and means the person will require B12 injections for the rest of their life because their body does not have enough Intrinsic Factor to sufficiently absorb and utilize the B12 that they are consuming through their diet or supplements.

A common approach is to supplement with B12 based on symptoms of a deficiency rather than testing, since B12 is nontoxic, and any excess is easily excreted in the urine, so it is difficult to have too much.

How to treat a B12 deficiency.

For mild cases and for people who are generally healthy without digestive issues and wish to prevent a deficiency, eating a diet with plenty of meat, dairy and eggs is ideal.

For those that wish to consume more, eating beef liver on a regular basis is ideal as this food is loaded with natural B12. For people with a severe B12 deficiency, or worse still, Pernicious Anemia, the best treatment is intramuscular B12 injections which can be obtained through a health professional or an online pharmacy.

B12 can also be purchased as a dietary supplement, usually in 1000-5000mcg pills taken sublingually, although if you have Pernicious Anemia even the sublingual supplement will not be enough to alleviate symptoms and injections are necessary.

To recap; B12 is an essential vitamin that we all need to survive, and deficiencies left untreated can cause severe physical and metal issues that are often mistaken for other diseases. Treatment is usually simple, but diagnosis can be a challenge.

Should You Avoid Gluten? Your Thyroid Says YES!

Should You Avoid Gluten - Your Thyroid Says YES

There are many reasons to be wary of modern gluten, but is going gluten free best for your thyroid? Most of us are aware that people who suffer from celiac disease must avoid gluten as eating it can cause a severe (even fatal) reaction. There is also an increasing awareness of how gluten can affect the thyroid, and those with an auto-immune thyroid disorder. In this article we’ll look at why this is and the benefits of avoiding gluten altogether.

Humans have eaten gluten containing foods like wheat, barley, and rye for thousands for years and for the most part it has sustained us pretty well. That is until modern farming and hybridization radically changed the grains we eat into something very different, and made many people sick in the process. Many people experience this as gluten sensitivity and symptoms can range anywhere from a mild stomach upset to chronic inflammation, heart palpitations, and severe brain fog among others. However, if you have an auto-immune related thyroid condition like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Graves’ Disease, eating gluten can exacerbate symptoms and even increase the damage to your thyroid.

The reason for this is that the protein within gluten (gliadin) is very similar in structure to those produced by the thyroid gland and if these gluten proteins manage to enter the bloodstream via a leaky gut (which can actually be caused by eating gluten) – an immune response is triggered which may then cause the body to attack the thyroid. The link between eating gluten and thyroid damage has been studied extensively, and it has been shown that some thyroid conditions can be improved or potentially reversed by excluding gluten from the diet.

For example, one “study found that when most of those with subclinical hypothyroidism were placed on a gluten free diet, their thyroid function normalized! 71 percent of people who had subclinical hypothyroidism (a mildly underactive thyroid) and who had strictly followed a one-year gluten withdrawal (as confirmed by intestinal mucosa recovery) saw a return to normal thyroid function.”

 

How easy is it to quit gluten?

The answer is, not as easy as it sounds. Most people are aware that wheat products like bread contain gluten, however gluten is threaded throughout much of our modern diet and is hidden in many packaged foods and drinks. For example, many ingredients listed as ‘flavor’ or ‘spices’ may contain gluten, soy sauce contains gluten (Whereas gluten-free tamari does not), even oats often contain gluten as most are processed in the same equipment as wheat, so unless the oats are certified gluten-free you should consider avoiding them. The most effective way go gluten-free is to radically simplify your diet, eating mostly foods which you have made yourself, or that you know have been made using basic ingredients that you can identify, and are sure contain no gluten.

Is Keto Good for Your Thyroid?

Is Keto Good for Your Thyroid

In recent years the number of health advocates promoting low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets have exploded, offering simple ways to lose weight, reduce inflammation, and control blood sugar. But are low carb and keto diets good for people who have a thyroid condition like Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s? The short answer is no, but let’s look at why this is.

For a long time, we were told that carbs were good and to avoid saturated fat as this lead to disease. But as saturated fat consumption went down and chronic disease rates skyrocketed, it became clear that the science on this was wrong and consumption of the right fats was actually good for you, and perhaps the over consumption of carbs, especially sugar was more of an issue. While there is a large degree of truth in this, the current trend of cutting almost all carbs from the diet is presenting a new set of problems.

Drastically reducing carbs has been shown to be an effective way to control weight, blood sugar, and help reduce the symptoms of some disease. When carbs are reduced to such a level that the body must find another energy source, this is called ketosis – where the liver converts fat to ketones, and this in turn is used by the body and especially brain as an alternative source of energy.

Getting the body to switch fuel sources in this way has shown great results in the control of epilepsy, and certain other diseases. The other added benefit- weight loss. Sounds great right? Well not so fast. Even though the body can and will use fat as a primary energy source, it only does so when carbohydrates are not available – your body prefers carbs as a fuel source over fat. When adequate carbs are not available, this creates a mini crisis in the body which stresses the adrenals, and down regulates the thyroid which in turn produces fewer thyroid hormones.

“Your body prefers carbs as a fuel source over fat. When adequate carbs are not available, this creates a mini crisis in the body which stresses the adrenals, and down regulates the thyroid which in turn produces fewer thyroid hormones.”

The thyroid is responsible for hormone production and regulation, it affects your mood, your body temperature, and plays an important role in metabolism and reproductive health. As many of us know, a poor functioning thyroid can affect just about every aspect of your health and life. In order for the thyroid to function correctly, and especially convert T4 into T3, it requires glucose, but when this is limited by a low carb or ketogenic diet, the thyroid in turn will produce less thyroid hormones and can potentially increase the level of Reverse T3, exacerbating any existing thyroid condition.

So, if someone already is suffering from low thyroid hormone or their thyroid is being attacked by thyroid antibodies as is the case in Hashimoto’s, drastically reducing carbs is not a great idea and could lead to bigger problems down the road.

Simply put:

  • Carbohydrates are converted into glucose which in turn is used for energy by the body
  • The thyroid needs glucose to function properly and produce hormones
  • Very low carb, or ketogenic diets can negatively affect thyroid function and stress adrenals

In conclusion, although very low carb and ketogenic diets can be an effective way of controlling some diseases, and can provide benefits in certain circumstances, they are not suitable for everyone, especially those who have already have issues with their thyroid or adrenal glands.

Why B-Vitamins Are So Important

Why B-Vitamins Are So Important

Why B-Vitamins Are So Important

You may have heard of both B6 and B12, but did you know that there are 8 B-Vitamins in total? vitamin B is most commonly used to help increase energy, although it plays a significant role in the body’s metabolic and brain function. Taking B-Vitamins regularly can drastically improve your overall health by ensuring your body is working properly at all times.

Types of Vitamin B

With eight main types of vitamin B, it is important to know the difference when choosing a B complex or vitamin regimen that is right for you. The following includes all of the B-Vitamins used to help improve the health of various areas of the body:

  • B1 (Thiamin)
  • B2 (Riboflavin)
  • B3 (Niacin)
  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
  • B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • B7 (Biotin)
  • B9 (Folate)
  • B12 (Methylcobalamin)

Signs and Symptoms of a Vitamin B Deficiency

If you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor about a potential vitamin B deficiency:

  • Skin Issues: You may notice skin rashes without any clear explanation. Scaly lips as well as cracks around the mouth are not uncommon among individuals who are deficient in vitamin B.
  • Swollen Tongue
  • Anemia
  • Extreme Weakness/Fatigue
  • Increased anxiety, depression, and irritability
  • Cognitive impairment/confusion
  • Nausea/vomiting in extreme cases
  • GI Issues: Diarrhea/constipation and sudden bowel changes may occur
  • Stomach/abdominal cramping
  • Tingling and numbness in the extremities (most often involving the hands and feet)

Boost Your Body’s Immune System

Taking B2, also known as Riboflavin, is one way to help boost your body’s immune system by protecting your gut, blood cells, and even your skin in working order. While taking B2 is highly recommended to boost your immune system and to prevent a Riboflavin deficiency, it is also useful for breaking down fats, proteins, and carbs after eating to ensure they are metabolized properly and used as energy. B2 also has the ability to alleviate joint and muscle cramps while improving the overall immune system’s function. Find additional B2 in foods such as meats, dairy products, and leafy vegetables.

Hormonal Health

Not only are B-Vitamins optimal to keep your metabolism in check, but they are also useful for those who are seeking to balance their body’s hormone levels. Hormonal health is extremely important, especially during and after puberty. Vitamin B5, or Pantothenic Acid, helps with growth and the body’s ability to produce hormones. It is also used to facilitate the process of breaking down consumed carbohydrates into viable energy. You can also find B5 in various leafy vegetables, beef, chicken, and eggs.

Reverse and Avoid Anemia

B12 has often been referred to as a vitamin that assists with energy levels. However, B12 also plays an important role when it comes to keeping the body’s cells healthy and in full operation. B12 helps the body to ensure your nerve cells are healthy and that your body is capable of building blood cells. When the body struggles to do so, you may experience anemia. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of anemia may include extreme fatigue, confusion, constipation, a loss of appetite, and even weight loss if the deficiency is not addressed. Vitmains-B12 can only be found in abundance in meat which makes supplementation important for anyone following a plant-based diet. Adding B12 to your daily vitamin regimen is a way to reverse the signs and symptoms of anemia.

Reduce Your Risk for Stroke

While B vitamins are known for helping to boost energy levels while maintaining a healthy metabolism, they are also known for reducing the risk of stroke in individuals of all ages. Vitamin B supplements may have the ability to lower the risk of stroke by protecting the body’s blood vessels from clots or from bursts in the brain itself.

Understanding the importance of taking B-Vitamins is essential, regardless of your age, gender, and current lifestyle. By ensuring your body is receiving enough vitamin B, reap the benefits of increased energy, a level metabolism, and a strong immune system.

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