B Vitamins: Are You Getting Enough?

B vitamins are sometimes called the energy vitamins, since they help put a spring in your step and play an important role in maintaining your energy levels. In fact, they play such a key role that perhaps they should also be called the “Brisk, Bouncy, and Bright” vitamins. In actuality, there are eight different kinds of B vitamins, and each one has its own distinct job.

How do B Vitamins Help?

These vitamins work as a carefully orchestrated team. Together they play an important role in:
● Regulating moods
● Reducing stress
● Improving cognitive performance
● Contributing to cardiovascular health
● Lowering blood pressure

Protecting and Absorbing Your B Vitamins

A healthy diet should provide adequate amounts of each B vitamin. However, because they’re water-soluble vitamins, they aren’t stored in your body and are eliminated when you pee. That means you must replace them every day. It also means that the vitamins can be washed away by overcleaning foods. To preserve B vitamins, try not to over scrub produce. Soaking is the best method for cleaning.

In addition, certain medical conditions can interfere with your ability to absorb B vitamins. For example, people with Hypothyroidism, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease are at risk for deficiencies. As well, alcoholics often have low levels. And as you age, your ability to absorb the particularly important vitamins B12 and B6 diminishes.

The Various B Vitamin Sources and Functions

What does each B vitamin do? Take a look at the benefits and possible sources for each member of the B-complex team..

B1 (Thiamine):
Vitamin B1 helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Without enough B1, we can feel tired and lethargic. This vitamin also plays a role in the flow of electrolytes in and out of our muscles, so low levels can lead to muscle weakness. B1 can also help regulate blood sugar.
Good sources of B1: Fortified grains, peas, beans, and sunflower seeds.

B2 (Riboflavin):
Vitamin B2 also helps us convert the things that we eat into energy. It also plays an important role in red blood cell production. Interestingly, one study singled out B2 as being particularly helpful in protecting against postpartum depression. Signs of B2 deficiency include dry, chapped lips.
Good sources of B2: Eggs, salmon, almonds, milk. Light can destroy B2, which is one reason why milk is often stored in opaque containers.

B3 (Niacin):
B3 contributes to our metabolic functions. It also helps regulate our nerves. B3 assists with the production of serotonin, so low levels can contribute to depression.
Good sources of B3: Meat, peanuts, fish, enriched grains.
Although over-consuming B3 won’t happen with food sources, overdoing niacin supplements can lead to flushed skin, nausea, and possible liver problems.

B5 (Pantothenic acid):
Research suggests that Vitamin B5 helps to regulate our adrenal glands. That means that maintaining good levels of pantothenic acid can help reduce stress.
Good sources of B5: Eggs, avocado, mushrooms

B6 (Pyridoxine):
Vitamin B6 plays an essential role in our metabolism. In fact, it’s involved in over 100 enzyme reactions. It also aids in the production of insulin and hemoglobin.
Because B6 helps to metabolize estrogen hormones, a deficiency can lead to more intense premenstrual symptoms.
Good sources of B6: Beans, nuts, leafy green vegetables

B7 (Biotin):
In addition to its role in converting fat and carbohydrates to energy, vitamin B7, more commonly called biotin or sometimes vitamin H, helps our hair shine and our skin glow. In fact, it gets the alternate name of vitamin H from the German words for hair and skin.
Good sources of B7: Egg yolks, liver, salmon, avocados and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid):
Folic acid has an impressive list of tasks. It’s essential for hemoglobin production, as well as protein metabolism. It may also help reduce your risk of heart disease. Because folic acid can help repair damaged genes, it may even slow the aging process. Pregnant women should ensure they get enough folic acid, as it can reduce the risk of birth defects.
Good sources: spinach, lentils, fish, meats, citrus fruits.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin):
Vitamin B12 is one of the key vitamins for converting food to energy. Together with B9, it works to produce red blood cells and help with iron absorption. It also helps to regulate the nervous system. Vitamin B12 plays such an important role in our cognitive function and moods that sometimes patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when they actually are short on B12.

Because vegans are often unable to get B12 through food sources, they can experience fatigue, nerve issues, and other symptoms of anemia unless they take B12 supplements.
Good sources of B12: Fish, meat, eggs, and nutritional yeast.

Make Sure You Have Adequate B Vitamin Levels!

As you can see, the B-complex vitamins are essential for good physical and emotional health. If you’re wondering about your B-vitamin levels, it’s best to review your symptoms and diet with a healthcare practitioner. The correct amounts of B vitamins that you should be consuming can depend on many different factors, like your age, gender, and other factors. Together, we can work on a plan to brighten your mood, increase your energy and ensure your body is functioning properly with the help of B vitamins.

Sources:
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vitamin-b
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885294/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30704890
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19622819
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26799654
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19631047
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16815556

Hyper or Hypothyroidism: Often Misdiagnosed

Your thyroid is your body’s powerhouse. Your energy levels, metabolism, and heart rate are all controlled by this small, butterfly-shaped gland. Without enough thyroid hormone, your mitochondria aren’t able to produce the energy that your cells need for optimum performance. At the other end of the spectrum, your body can go into “overdrive” if it produces too much thyroid hormone.

Thyroid

Issues are More Common Than you Think

With so much at stake with regards to your overall health, maintaining balanced thyroid hormone levels is important. However, one in eight women produce either too much or not enough thyroid hormone. Females are at higher risk for thyroid issues than men, and the risk for both genders increases with age. In fact the stats for those with undiagnosed thyroid disease are shocking. Hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause can also make women more vulnerable to thyroid problems. Of course, it’s also easy to attribute thyroid symptoms to age or menopause instead of getting to the root of the issue.

TSH, The Master Hormone

To understand how your thyroid can wreak havoc on your health, you need to understand how it functions. Your thyroid sits at the base of your neck, where it performs the vital task of secreting thyroid hormone which in turn triggers a cascade of other hormones and processes throughout the body. The key point about thyroid hormone is that your body is very sensitive to the amounts it receives. Any imbalances can have far reaching repercussions.

The amount of hormone your thyroid secretes is controlled by the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood. In other words, TSH is the “master” hormone, and it’s produced in your pituitary gland.

Autoimmune Disorders Can Affect Your Thyroid

Further complicating thyroid health is the fact that your thyroid is vulnerable to autoimmune disorders. The autoimmune disorder Grave’s disease causes too much thyroid hormone to be produced. In contrast, Hashimoto’s disease causes your autoimmune system to attack your thyroid, slowing down thyroid hormone production.

Your thyroid can also become inflamed (this is called Thyroiditis), or develop nodules or small lumps which can disrupt your normal thyroid function.

Hypothyroidism: When Your Body Slows Down

If your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, your body slows down, resulting in a condition called hypothyroidism. The symptoms of hypothyroidism show up in many troublesome ways and include:

● Feeling cold all the time
● Dry skin
● Dry hair
● Muscle weakness
● Poor libido
● Memory problems
● Constipation
● Depression – thyroid can impact serotonin levels
● Weight gain
● Hoarseness
● Elevated cholesterol

Could You be Experiencing Hypothyroid Symptoms?

Despite this long list of issues, about 60 percent of people with hypothyroidism aren’t aware of it. One reason for this is that it’s easy to blame thyroid symptoms on a poor diet or growing older. As well, hypothyroid symptoms tend to develop slowly, and we often blame ourselves for weight gain.
If you experience any of the symptoms above, it’s a good idea to dig deep and figure out the root cause – including checking your thyroid! These uncomfortable symptoms do not have to be part of your “normal” day.

Hyperthyroidism: The Consequences of Too Much Thyroid Hormone

In contrast, when your body produces too much thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. With hyperthyroidism, your body’s functions accelerate. Although this might sound appealing, many of the symptoms are debilitating. Some signs of hyperthyroidism include:

● Feeling hot all the time
● Anxiety
● A rapid heartbeat
● Weight loss
● Sweatiness
● Tremors
● Restlessness
● Missed periods

As with hypothyroidism, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are often attributed to other issues, such as stress.

With So Many Symptoms, Why Are Thyroid Disorders Hard to Diagnose?

One challenging problem with identifying thyroid issues is that many conventional medical doctors run one test for thyroid, only testing the amount of TSH in your blood. However, testing one hormone often doesn’t give the complete picture of thyroid health. A more holistic approach which tests various hormone levels throughout the system can often yield more information – and more effective treatment.

Prevention: How can you Avoid Thyroid Problems?

Unfortunately, prevention isn’t always possible, since triggers can sometimes be genetic. Other risk factors include chronic stress and a history of autoimmune diseases. In addition, more research is pointing to the role of environmental factors in disrupting thyroid function.

Addressing the lifestyle factors which can cause inflammation of your immune system can do a lot to help stabilize thyroid hormones whatever the cause of your imbalance.

Strategies for protecting your thyroid health:

Reduce stress.

Since stress can interfere with thyroid function by slowing the production of TSH, addressing your stress levels is important. Exercise is a good way to both reduce stress and improve your metabolism, which can help balance the effects of hypothyroidism.

Cut your sugar intake.

Your thyroid is a crucial component of your endocrine (hormonal) system. Sugar is metabolized by another vital organ in the interconnected endocrine system, your pancreas. As a result, there is a complex relationship between diabetes and thyroid disease. Managing your glucose levels can help stabilize your thyroid.

Eat to protect your gut health.

Maintaining enough good bacteria in your digestive system can protect your immune system and reduce the risk of autoimmune problems.

Watch your iodine intake.

Iodine is essential for good thyroid function, but too much can also lead to problems. Fortified salt, seaweed, and some seafood all contain high levels of iodine.

Pay attention to how gluten affects you.

People with celiac disease are three times more likely to have a thyroid problem. Celiac disease can interfere with the absorption of nutrients such as iodine. If you have trouble digesting gluten, consider eliminating it.

Look for high-fiber foods

Especially if you’re hypothyroid. Having hypothyroidism can slow your digestive system and lead to constipation, so you want to focus on keeping things moving.

In general, the key is to focus on a whole-foods diet that will reduce inflammation. Avoiding artificial ingredients and regulating your blood sugar will reduce dietary stress and help maintain thyroid health.

I’m Concerned About My Thyroid. What’s the Next Step?

When it comes to resolving thyroid issues, early detection is the key. It’s also important to complete thorough testing- evaluating thyroid hormone levels can be complex and often left undiagnosed by the conventional healthcare system. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of thyroid issues – either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism – give us a call! Thyroid issues do not have to affect your daily life.

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030460
https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/how-manage-stress-if-you-have-autoimmune-thyroid-disease
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/healthy-eating-for-a-healty-thyroid
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060266
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16580033