Dr. Laura: Is it aging or low B12?

B12 deficiency has been estimated to affect about 40% of people over 60 years of age, and about 40% of the general population are on the lower end of normal.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can look like the signs and symptoms of diseases that are commonly associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, cognitive disorders, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and other neurological problems; depression and anxiety; cardiovascular disease; cancer; and low libido. If someone you love has these symptoms, best to get there B12 levels checked and supplement if help reduce the symptoms.

Supplementing with an active form of B12 can help reduce inflammation, which has improved symptoms of arthritis and eczema.

Vitamin B12 works with folate to make DNA, red blood cells and the insulating sheath around the nerves to help with nerve signalling. This is why when I inject B12, I always include folate with it.

Causes/Risks of B12 deficiency

  • Vegan/vegetarianism
  • Intestinal malabsorption due to low stomach acid
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Pernicious anemia (an autoimmune condition affecting our ability to absorb B12)
  •  Atrophic gastritis (usually H. pylori infection in the elderly)
  • Long term use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s)
  • People on Metformin therapy

If someone you know or love fall into any of these categories, best they get tested even if they don’t have symptoms, as deficiency can start before the symptoms show up.

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

  • not much if  it’s mild
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • strange sensations
  • numbness, or tingling in hands, legs, or feet
  • difficulty walking such as staggering or balance problems
  • anemia
  • a swollen, inflamed tongue
  • yellow skin
  • jaundice
  • difficulty thinking and reasoning
  • memory loss
  • paranoia or hallucinations

Testing for B12

It is easy to run a B12 test, however there are other blood and urine markers that can provide a more complete picture, such as methylmalonic acid (MMA) and homocysteine. Homocysteine may be more sensitive and accurate for detecting the early stages of B12 deficiency. When I run tests, I look at things from a functional medicine perspective and this may involve the more complete profile.

If there is an absorption issue suspected, we need to identify and correct that, if possible. Further testing and treatment may be required to do that.

The results of the tests are also interpreted differently when you come to see me. I look at things from a functional range – your optimum level of performance- not the point at which you have disease. The conventional medical system in North America regard a low B12 to be below 200 pg/mL. This is the point where irreversible neurological damage can happen. I prefer to go at the guidelines set out by Europe and Japan – somewhere over 550 pg/mL.

Supplementing

Best to get B12 from animal based sources – strongest providers are the organ meats (liver, kidney) and seafood like oysters and clams. To get ahead quickly or to supplement a vegan or vegetarian diet, you will need activated B12, so hydroxy or methyl based cobalamin are the best. If there is intestinal absorption issues, then you’ll need a pill to dissolve under the tongue or an injection to provide the boost. What I carry in the clinic is an activated form of B12/B complex so it absorbs easily and we see good results on the before and after blood work, or we can go for the injection – usually weekly for a month and then once a month for a few months. Then we re-test.

 

Dr. Laura M. Brown ND is a Naturopathic Doctor with a Functional Medicine approach. She is a Certified Gluten Practitioner, A HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is engaged in ongoing education with the Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine.

Friendly Fats

When we talked about fats in the 4380 Fitness Challenge nutrition night, one person asked me if she was eating too much fat. What she actually has found is that, for her, eating more fat actually helps with anxiety. This is a fantastic personal discovery! In the 6 daily diet tips I mention a goal of 6 tablespoons of healthy fat a day. This of course is a general guideline. I cannot tell you how much fat or carbs or protein is exactly right for you. Only you will be able to what is safe and healthy through individual professional guidance and even then, some trial and error.

Also, keep in mind your needs will change with age and season. We all need to eat for the season. When it is cold outside we need heartier, heavier meals. When it is hot and humid, we need light and refreshing sustenance to fuel us without weighing us down. Babes need higher fat as the brain is rapidly developing and different life situations demand different nutrients.

Time  for an Oil Change?

Did you know that the human brain is nearly 60 percent fat? Getting the right fats in your diet is the most crucial way to boost your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required for optimal message conduction not only in the brain, but across every cellular membrane in the body. 

More of these

If you are sensitive to a food like dairy or nuts, then you need to look at the other alternatives of healthy fats on the list.

  • Fish oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocados & their oil
  • Small amounts of real butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • Oils found in nuts in seeds
  • Fats found naturally in whole dairy
  • Fats found naturally in responsibly raised poultry & meat

Supplemental Fish oil (3rd party tested and cleansed of heavy metals):

  • Reduces cholesterol:
    • reduce triglyceride levels by 20% to 50%
  • In those with coronary artery disease: Heart attacks reduced risk by 20% and sudden death by 30% (better than statins alone)
  • Improves symptoms of depression and increase length of remission
  • Reduces symptoms of psychosis, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • Reduces inflammation and severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoporosis, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Behcet’s syndrome, and Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Helpful in weight loss
  • Reduces muscular soreness after exercise

Are saturated fats bad for you?

Yes and no. Too much of anything is not good for you. So, yes trim excess fat off your meat and avoid too much chicken skin, however, eating marbled meats and full fat dairy, coconut products and egg yolks will help  incorporate calcium into the bones, protect the liver from damage by alcohol and medications like acetaminophen, has beneficial effects on cardiovascular function, deliver fat soluble vitamins.

Less of these

  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanuts, and peanut oil
  • Safflower Oil

Not all fats are created equal.

Industry seed oils are those made from the seeds of corn, cotton, sunflower, safflower or a hybrid called canola. A small amount of these oils is not an issue, as we do need some omega 6 fats in our diet. Problem is with the North American tendency to eat fast food, restaurant food, processed and packaged foods, we tend to get way too many of these and not enough omega 3 fats. This tips the scale towards inflammation. Industry seed oils are easily oxidized and oxidized fats is a leading contributor to modern inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimers, non alcoholic fatty liver disease and fibromyalgia.

 

Never these

  • Transfats
  • Super heat vegetable oil (fried foods)
  • Rancid oils

Trans fats that are manufactured by hydrolyzing an natural fat tends to do all the wrong things to cholesterol. Trans fats raise LDL and triglycerides and lower HDL.  Not good.

Rancid oils, or fats that are past their shelf life will contribute to oxidative stress in your body. This means aging!

Anything eaten in excess can be converted and stored in the body as fat. That includes protein and carbohydrates. Did you know one of the main reasons for young people today being diagnosed with non alcoholic fatty liver is the excessive sugars in their diet?

Friendly Fat Facts

  1. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) must be taken in the diet as they can not synthesized by the body. It is often necessary to supplement. Fish oil that is third party tested and cleansed of heavy metals in either a gel cap or, more economically, liquid, is best.
  2. Fats are required to help us absorb fat soluble vitamins  (A, D, E & K)
  3. Healthy fats consumed earlier in the day (breakfast) will help curb afternoon cravings.
  4.  Naturally occurring saturated fats that marble meat or as a part of dairy have benefits when consumed in moderation

This means

  1. Breakfast: could include your dose of fish oil (EFA’s) and vitamin D, a handful of nuts, or simply a tablespoon of coconut oil in your cup of coffee.
  2.  Lunch & Supper: Salad or vegetables could be complimented with either 2 TBSP of olive oil, 1/4 avocado or  some omega-3 rich fish like sardines, salmon, herring. Even lamb or chicken – light or dark meat or strips of steak will help get the most out of all your nutrients.

From the research and mind of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

 Reference:
Kresser, Chris. 2014. The Paleo Cure. Eat Right for Your Genes, Body Type, and Personal Health Needs — Prevent and Reverse Disease, Lose Weight Effortlessly, and Look and Feel Better than Ever. Little, Brown & Company. New York.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Fish Oil monograph accessed Dec 30, 2014. Full monograph available upon request.

 

Fatigued? Could your Iron be low?

Fatigued?

Low iron could be part of the root cause of your fatigue. It could be a matter of absorption, health of the red blood cell, or compounding factors like thyroid, poor sleep, and related heart issues. ™There is preliminary evidence that iron supplementation might improve unexplained fatigue in non-anemic women. Low iron is one of the top reasons for fatigue, but it is not the only reason. Dr. Laura M. Brown ND can help you dig into the root cause of your fatigue.

Get help now.

Who is at Risk?

  • menstruating women
  • vegan and vegetarians
  • high performance athletes
  • those with Celiac, gluten sensitivity, Crohn’s or colitis
  • long term use of proton pump inhibitors
  • H.Pylori infection
  • internal bleeding of any kind

Food Sources of Iron

™Food Sources: meats of all kinds, liver and organ meats (animal sources best absorbed), kelp, legumes, tofu, whole grains, molasses, nuts and seeds, wheat, millet, dark leafy greens, sardines, prune juice and oysters.

Iron Absorption

Iron absorption depends on proper stomach acid and the ability for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to absorb. The body will only absorb what iron it needs, and pass the rest along in the stool. Animal based heme (iron) is best absorbed. Vegetable based iron sources are absorbed at a fraction of animal based sources. If there are stomach acid issues, like an H.Pylori infection or prolonged use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s), or issues with the GI lining like in Celiac, Crohn’s or Colitis, then absorption of iron and other vital nutrients may be impaired.

Your iron could be low if you have these symptoms:

™Fatigue, weakness

™Dizziness, especially on rising quickly

™Shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain

™Headache

™Coldness in your hands and feet

™Pale skin, tongue, conjunctiva

™Brittle nails

™Swelling or sore tongue, cracks at side mouth

™Enlarged spleen, frequent infections

Why do I feel this way?

™Iron is also a cofactor in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. This is why low iron has the potential to contribute to low mood.

Iron deficiency may affect selenium absorption, which could then affect thyroid hormone production. Low thyroid function can can contribute to a state of fatigue.

™Iron deficiency can also cause restless legs, contributing to poor sleep, which means less healing in sleep, more hormonal imbalance and compounded issues of fatigue.

If you don’t have enough hemoglobin-carrying red blood cells, your heart has to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through your body. This can lead to arrhythmias, murmur, enlarged heart, or even heart failure.

Iron is used to make the hemoglobin complex on the red blood cells.

™If your red blood cells are breaking down or not enough are made, you will not have the ability to use the iron to make the hemoglobin.

™There are four “parking spots” for Oxygen and carbon dioxide on your red blood cells – this is the iron binding capacity or “TIBC” you see on your blood work.

™When the TIBC is high you iron might be low.

Sometimes serum iron is fine but the ferritin is high. The body squirrels away iron when there is an infection. This is because virus and bacteria use iron to help replicate. What a smart body we have!  Inflammatory factors of infection and low iron contributes to fatigue.

 

Diagnosing Low Iron

Clinical presentation (your signs and symptoms) are the first clue to low iron. A simple blood test including a CBC and Iron Panel will help dig into the root cause of your fatigue. Further exploration and tests may be required to diagnose other contributing factors of health as mentioned above. A naturopathic doctor is always on the look out for the true root cause of your health concerns.

™CBC – complete blood count

–Number, size of red blood cells (RBC) (iron def. anemia red blood cells are smaller than normal)

–Number, size of white blood cells

–Number of platelets

–Reticulocyte count – immature RBC – tells if bone marrow production rate of RBCs is normal

–Hemoglobin- iron rich protein on your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues and carbon dioxide away

–Hematocrit – measures how much space your red blood cells take up in your blood

™Serum iron – amount of iron in your blood. Not always indicative of the total amount of iron in your body.

™Serum ferritin – think tin is something you store things in– this is your iron storage.

™Transferrin – trans for transfer – this protein carries iron in your blood

™TIBC – measures how much of the transferrin is around and not carrying any iron

Dr.  Laura M. Brown, ND 

Psoriasis and other Autoimmune Conditions

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disorder typically identified by reddened dry skin that becomes progressively flaky and scaly as well as painful and itchy. Usually the plaques are found on extensor surfaces such as elbows, knees and scalp.

psoriasis medscape

The immune system is involved in this inflammatory condition. Quite often once one autoimmune disease is had, others will evolve as well. Autoimmune means that the body’s defense system is attacking the body it lives in. It is hypervigilant. There is likely some genetic susceptibility in the individual, followed by an incident where the immune system launched a defense against a foreign molecule that had some resemblance to the molecules of the body. Now, when the immune system sees that near match it sends out its troupes and ends up destroying the tissues of its own body.

Autoimmune diseases can affect the heart, brain, nerves, muscles, skin, eyes, joints, lungs, kidneys, glands, the digestive tract, and blood vessels. Among others, it is the underlying mechanism of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Celiac, Crohn’s, Sjogren’s, Type I Diabetes and Psoriasis.

On Wednesday, July 27 at 6:30 in the Goodness Me! classroom at the corner of Gordon and Wellington St. in Guelph, join Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND to learn some of the underlying mechanisms of autoimmune diseases and the natural approaches for treatment. In this session, Dr. Laura M. Brown ND, will share her experience with research in Iceland’s geothermal psoriasis treatment centre and will address natural treatments options for those suffering with autoimmune diseases.

Register here.

picture from Medscape.com

Is Your Pooh Normal?

What does the state of your stool say about your health?

Our bodies are ultimately a manufacturing facility… food, nutrients absorbed and waste out. What our stool (medical term for pooh) tells us about the state of our bodies can be very informative. Take the Bristol Stool Chart, shown below, for example. The seven types of stool can tell us a lot about what’s going on. Lovely you say? Well, it can speak volumes to a naturopathic doctor on what to do to help you uhm.. move on… so to speak.

BristolStoolChart 

Get the SCOOP on your POOP!

If you are mostly a Type 3 or 4, way to go! You are likely getting enough water, fibre, eating a balanced diet and have a strong microflora (good bacteria in the gut). You likely have no underlying factors of disease affecting your intestinal tract.

Type 5? Likely need to pay attention to the right kinds of fibre, maybe some dietary tweaks, a proper probiotic and adequate fluid intake.

If you are Type 1 – 2 OR 6 – 7, then we need to get you more water and the right kinds of fibre and look for any neurological upset, food sensitivities, or medication side effects. Also to be considered are things like thyroid function, diabetes, calcium levels, dietary habits, supplement dosages, Celiac disease, bowel obstruction, endometriosis or even possibly cancer. Stress, depression and anxiety can also be a factor in alternating constipation and diarrhea.

As a naturopathic doctor we look to the root cause of the issue, remove anything that may get in the way of healing, and then look to what needs to be changed or added in order to restore the natural balance of the body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Laura M Brown, ND will find gentle ways to stimulate your healing within and restore your natural equilibrium.

Call now for an appointment at 519.826.7973

 

 

Do you need more vitamins?

What drug should you avoid taking with vitamin C? Why could your feet be tingling? Long term use of Metamucil make you deficient in a what B vitamin? Easy bruising and bleeding could be a sign of what vitamin deficiency?  What vitamin is made by bacteria?

This is Part 2 of 2 on vitamin deficiency. It covers information on vitamins B5, B6, B12, C, D,E, & K.

nutritionbig

Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid (B5) is used in metabolic cycles is key to the body’s production of energy, cholesterol, heme and acetylcholine. Cholesterol is used as the back bone of many hormones. Heme is used to carry oxygen in your blood. Acetylcholine is controls involuntary functions mediated by the activity of smooth muscle fibers, cardiac muscle fibers, and glands.

Some body signals that you are low in B5: burning, numbness or tingling in the feet, muscle weakness, swollen tongue (glossitis), cracks at the corner of your mouth (chilosis), recurrent upper respiratory tract infections (colds), fatigue, postural hypotension, hypochlohydria, GERD/heartburn, and depression.

Sources of B5:  whole grains, broccoli, kale, cabbage family of vegetables, mushrooms, legumes & lentils, avocado, eggs, milk, poultry and organ meats.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine/pyridoxyl/pyridoxamine) is involved in over 50 enzymatic reactions and potentially effects the function of cardiovascular, skin health, blood production, nerve function, healthy pregnancy, blood sugar regulation and cognitive function. Signs of deficiency include anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, confusion, abdominal pain, weakness, seizures, anemia, and poor immune function. There is even a rare form of B6 deficient epilepsy.

B6 requirements increase with diseases that affect absorption such as Celiac disease. The increased prevalence of hydrazine and hydrazide compounds as found in aerospace fuels, anti-toxicants in the petroleum industry, plating materials in metal manufacturing and ripening agents used on plants. B6-zapping hydrazine is also found in tobacco smoke, tartrazine (FD &C yellow food dyes). There are numerous drugs that deplete B6 and lead to common sides effects such as neuralgias, depression and anxiety.  Those with Parkinson’s disease should consult a medical expert before supplementing with B6 as it can interfere with L-dopa when taken without carbidopa.

Food sources of B6 include potatoes, bananas, meat, poultry, fish and whole grains.

Vitamin B12: Methyl or Hydroxyl cobalamin. Measured via B12 serum levels. Falsely elevated B12 levels may exist in those with renal failure or hepatitis. Those with vegan diets are at increased risk of deficiency as major food sources are animal based.

Pernicious anemia is the result of loss of intrinsic factor, a protein that is excreted by the stomach and helps B12 absorption in the small intestine. If the stomach has low acidity as in long term use of proton pump inhibitors (a lot of medications ending in “-prazole”, presence of H.pylori, aging or damaged parietal cells as in autoimmune disease, or the small intestine mucosa is damaged as in Celiac or Crohn’s disease, B12 absorption will be reduced. Additionally those on long term use of psyllium (Metamucil) will be at increased risk of B12 deficiency. Large amounts of orally dosed B12 may help compensate by allowing for absorption by diffusion. Intramuscular injection (IM) of B12 (available with Dr. Laura) by passing the need for intrinsic factor. IM or intravenous B12 is also more helpful than oral supplementation for those with a defect in the transportation system of B12 to the brain or a an accelerated breakdown of B12 in the brain tissue. Signs of B12 dependency are dementia, depression, headaches, insomnia or chronic fatigue.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is important in immune function, collagen formation (for skin and connective tissue), neurotransmitter formation, plays a role in fighting viruses and bacteria and is a key anti-oxidant. Scurvy is the severe form of vitamin C deficiency. Fatigue, depression and anxiety of health are acute signs preceding the diagnosis of scurvy. Signs are bleeding abnormalities due to poor connective tissue formation and possible vitamin C deficiency include bleeding nose, easy bruising, bleeding gums, bone pain, osteoporosis, arthralgias (pain stiffness and joint swelling), myalgias (muscle aches and pains), edema (swelling), and symptoms of suggestive of cardiovascular disease or mimicking peripheral vasculitis, or venus thrombosis.

Dose limiting symptoms of vitamin C are diarrhea and cramping.  Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron this is good for those with low levels of iron/anemia. Vitamin C also seems to help the absorption of aluminum, which isn’t so good as it builds up in the bone, brain and liver and may contribute to the development of osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Avoid taking vitamin C at the same time as antacids, or aluminum hydroxide compounds. Chewable vitamin C may erode your dental enamel (it is an acid). Vitamin C supplementation can help or hinder the function of various medications; check with your medical practitioner for details.

Good sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, potatoes. Vitamin C is lost in high temperature and prolonged cooking.

 Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunshine or ultraviolet light. About 20 min of unprotected exposure mid day in the summer months in Ontario will produce about 1000IU of vitamin D. Small amounts may be found in food sources such as fish, egg yolk, beef liver, however, when sunlight is inadequate (no exposure or seasonal variance), supplementation is essential.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, builds bone mineral matrix, helps the nerves and muscles function, boosts the immune system, and modulates autoimmune diseases. When the supplemental D3 taken with K2, vitamin D helps get calcium out of the blood stream and into the bones. Vitamin D deficiency can be suspect in multiple sclerosis, cancer, pancreatic deficiency, Crohn’s, Colitis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic low back pain, or severe muscle weakness. You may purchase D3+K2 drops at Forward Health.

Vitamin E: There are 8 different kinds of vitamin E – each a different type of tocopherol. Vitamin E is known as an antioxidant and the most potent, bioavailable form is alpha-tocopherol. When supplementing it is best to have a mixed or blend of tocopherols. Vitamin E is also involved in anticoagulation (inhibits platelet aggregation), is anti-inflammatory and stabilizes the cell membrane. Those with fat malabsorption issues at risk for deficiency. Vitamin E is also depleted in those with a high consumption of fatty foods, as thermally oxidized vegetable oil depletes vitamin E status. Good food sources of vitamin E include almond oil, wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, whole grains, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin K: There are actually four different kinds of Vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is what is often tracked so closely for those on warfarin because warfarin is an anticoagulant and affects the INR – the measurement we use to factor coagulation, or thickening of blood. Vitamin K1 is found in lots of leafy greens. K1 is also given to newborns to help prevent hemorrhage; a newborns’ intestinal tract is not yet making its own Vitamin K. K2 is made by some bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, and by bacteria in some foods, like brie cheese. K2 helps Vitamin D3 get Calcium into the bones, so is useful in those suffering with osteoporosis or steroid induced bone loss and also can help lower total cholesterol in people on kidney dialysis. K3 and K4 still have much research pending. Those with Celiac disease not on a gluten free diet, chemotherapy, anticonvulsants or antibiotics may be at risk of vitamin K depletion, most likely due to the disruption in the bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract.

Good food sources of Vitamin K include dark leafy greens and to maximize absorption are best eaten with a source of fat (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados). Olive oil actually is a source of vitamin K1 so it’s on double duty! Cheese, especially brie, egg yolks and fermented soy beans (natto) are also sources of Vitamin K.

Again, emphasize a diet with a full variety of  fresh wholesome foods, rather than supplementation. There are cases however where supplementation for the short term, and sometimes even the long term, is necessary for optimum health status. A naturopathic doctor has the training and resources to help you decide what is best for your individual requirements.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Source:

Gaby, A. (2011) Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing. Concord, NH.

Vitamins: Could you be deficient?

Habitual eating habits that lack variety, medications or certain medical conditions  put us at risk for nutrient deficiency. A medical expert review of your current health condition, medications and diet diary is key to screening and finding potential changes that could be a substantial difference in your health and well being. This short review may provide some reminders and insight. Daily requirements for any vitamin vary on age, gender and current system demands. Some supplementation of one vitamin can mask a deficiency of another.

This and more will be covered in Dr. Laura M. Brown’s next complimentary talk entitled Food or Mood at Goodness Me! in Guelph on January 13th, 6:30pm. Register here.

Part 1 of 2:

Part 1: Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3 and Folic Acid

Vitamin A: Conditions that may be associated with Vitamin A deficiency include hypothyroidism (thyroid plays a role in converting beta carotene from our diet to vitamin A), liver disease, alcoholism, gastric or intestinal surgery, intestinal parasites, other gastrointestinal disturbances that cause malabsorption like Celiac, Crohn’s or food sensitivities. Increased levels of inflammation in the body will also decrease your vitamin A status.

Often you can tell if you are deficient if you have mild follicular hyperkeratosis – often felt at the back of the upper arms as you run your hands along, skin has multiple little bumps or feels rough to the touch. Night blindness can also be from Vitamin A deficiency but this can also be from a Zinc deficiency. Vitamin A is best absorbed from your diet and is found in foods like liver, fish liver oils, dairy, eggs. Foods that are high in beta carotene that your body converts to vitamin A are carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe and other fruits and vegetables. Women who are pregnant or are capable of becoming pregnant and smokers should never supplement with vitamin A. Vitamin A can put the baby at risk for birth defects and has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers.

Vitamin B1: Thiamine Conditions associated with psychiatric conditions, aging or insomnia can often be helped with supplementation. A diet low in thiamine can lead to deficiency is as little as 4-5 days. Other triggers can include pregnant women with severe morning sickness including multiple bouts of vomiting, alcoholism, thyrotoxicosis, and major surgery.

Thiamine deficiency is known as “beriberi”. Signs of mild deficiency include fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, vague headaches, pain, and difficulty with mental concentration and memory. Some people also experience weakness, weight loss, peripheral neuropathy, edema, tachycardia. Deficiency can also contribute to congestive heart failure. Severe deficiency is known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy in the early stages and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome in the later stages. Early signs include psychiatric disturbances, ataxia, ocular palsy, nystigmus. Later stages progress to a chronic neuropathic/psychiatric condition.

Good food sources of B1 include whole grains, legumes, nuts, meat, and enriched flour products.

B2: Riboflavin. B2 is important for helping convert B6 to its active form and is active in homocysteine metabolism, something that is important to cardiovascular /cholesterol health. B2 is also used to help prevent or treat migraines, Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis and some myopathies (muscle pain).

Indications that you may be deficient in vitamin B2 include cracks at the corners of your mouth, swollen tongue, changes in personality, anemia, weakness, depression, seborrheic dermatitis (moist, oily flaky skin condition – cradle cap in newborns and psoriasis/eczema mocking skin reaction in adults aged 30-60), excessive tears, inflammation of the clear membrane that lines your eye (results in vision distortion). Good food sources include meat, dairy, eggs, legumes, fish, poultry, green leafy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Vitamin B3: Niacin B3 is critical in supporting health as it relates to cardiovascular, dermatological, hearing, taste, balance, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, ADHD, dementia, schizophrenia, sleep, osteoarthritis, trigeminal neuralgia, diabetes and alcohol addiction.

Classic deficiency is known as pellagra – the “three d’s”: diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis and sometimes the fourth D…. death.

Early signs that you may be deficient include nervousness, headaches, forgetfulness, apprehension and/or gastrointestinal disturbances.

Food sources include meat, chicken, fish, whole grains, legumes and dairy products.

Folic Acid: Known as folate in foods, folic acid in supplements. Folic acid is key to the intrauterine development of the spinal cord. It is also involved in cardiovascular health, dermatological and neurological conditions, psychiatric many other conditions within the body as it is a key methylator to many biochemical transactions.

As adults, folic acids needs stomach acid to help absorb, so if H.pylori present or on a proton pump inhibitor you may be at risk for deficiency. However people with low stomach acid are also at risk for overgrowth of bacteria in small intestine, and these bacteria can make folic acid – so deficiency is not eminent. If you are supplementing with high doses of B12, you may not be able to tell if you have a folic acid deficiency as they present as one in the same – megaloblastic anemia. Other symptoms can be vague or similar to other B vitamin deficiencies: depression, anxiety, headache, fatigue, apathy, confusion, dementia, polyneuropathy, cracks at the corners of your mouth, swollen tongue, brownish pigmented skin, low muscle tone in babies, poor immune response. This is just one of many reasons why it is always advised to seek a medical expert opinion on your supplement regime.

 

From the heart and mind of your local naturopathic doctor, Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND. www.naturalaura.ca www.forwardhealth.ca

 

Source:

Gaby, A. (2011) Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing. Concord, NH.