Posted on July 10 2018
By Dr. Ayla Hopkins of Voda Health
Health can be hard; between ‘Doctor Google,’ the omnipresent social media scene, and your very well-meaning Aunt who has a friend, that has a brother, who knows a lot about health… you’ve got a lot to sort through.
I get it. Navigating the abundance of information out there can be overwhelming and often contradictory. As a Naturopathic Physician, I help guide my patients in making decisions about their health that will lead to the best possible outcome, in spite of the numerous routes one potentially could take.
Hands down, the greatest successes in treating any health complaint come from ensuring the foundations of health – sleep, diet, digestion, movement, and mental/emotional health – are established and well-supported. My go-to recommendation is one with the ability to enforce and strengthen all of these foundations.
B’s get it done
B vitamins improve energy, mental clarity, support mood, and enhance sleep quality. They are integral to the proper functioning of many bodily systems – the brain, nerves, hormones, DNA/RNA, blood cells, and liver. Although all B vitamins are essential, and their benefits can overlap, I focus on Vitamin B12/cobalamin (think neurological support), Vitamin B9/folate (think mood support), and Vitamin B6/pyridoxine (think hormonal support).
Lack of proper B vitamin levels can lead to disastrous outcomes that are often overlooked due to vague symptomology, and therefore forgotten as a part of treatment. This may include fatigue, insomnia, mood disorders, hormonal imbalance, heart disease, poor recovery, anemia, weight gain, memory issues, weakness, autoimmunity, poor immunity, and numbness/tingling to name a few - phew!
Could this B you?
There are multiple factors at play in attaining proper levels of these crucial vitamins. Let’s focus on vitamin B12, as I find this to be the most prevalent, as well as the most detrimental of the B vitamin deficiencies.
Vitamin B12 requires a complex, multi-step digestive process that must occur in order for the vitamin to be absorbed. On top of the inherent complexity, medications, stress, digestive issues, age, lifestyle, and current medical issues can all contribute to this vitamin’s lack of absorption. B12 is also only found in animal products, making it particularly difficult for vegans to attain adequate levels from food.
Here are three common (of many) reasons why you or a loved one may need extra vitamin B12 support:
* Acid-blocking medications like Prilosec and Zantac1
* Diabetic/PCOS medication like metformin2
* Oral contraceptives/hormone replacement therapy3
* Getting older increases the prevalence of H. pylori infection and gastric atrophy, both of which can cause B12 malabsorption.4
* ‘Digestive power’ so to speak, can start to decrease after the age of 50. Supporting digestion with enzymes and gut healing formulas is crucial.
* Possible signs of B12 deficiency in an elderly population: confusion, memory issues, numbness/tingling, weakness, imbalance, and falls.
* Red wine provides a nice dose of the protective polyphenol, resveratrol, but it also can deplete B vitamins.
* Alcohol intake has also been associated with increasing levels of homocysteine, a blood marker that is linked to increased cardiovascular risk, stroke, Alzheimer’s and dementia (good news, B vitamins help lower it).5
How to B best
It is very important to make sure you are getting the right dose, combination, and form of B vitamins (hint: avoid the B12 called cyanocobalamin if possible). Find a Naturopathic Physician who will help you to improve digestion and wean off any medications that may be acting as a band-aid for your symptoms, yet not treating the root cause.
The absolute best way to supplement B vitamins in my opinion? Vitamin B injections. I have witnessed countless, incredible success stories with vitamin B shots. Injections bypass the difficult digestive process, ensuring absorption regardless of medication use or digestive health. Effects are felt quickly, last longer, and raise levels of the vitamins effectively so that you, and your foundations, will be left feeling strong, energized + optimized!