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What’s all the Buzz about B’s?

Most people know that B vitamins are “good” for your health, but why? If you don’t know, B ready to B informed.

B vitamins are one of the most commonly deficient nutrients in Americans. Very common medications, such as cholesterol lowering medication (statins), oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, anti-biotics, and antacids, rob our body of B vitamins. When we think of side-effects of a medication, it is often nutrient depletion that is the issue.

B vitamins (there are 8) assist in almost every reaction that occurs in the human body. They are required for blood to form and tissues to grow. B12 is a great energy booster. It works through the red blood cells, by enabling them to carry oxygen more efficiently, leaving you with more energy. B vitamins are also essential to the nervous system to combat depression and protect our neural tissue.

B vitamins are protective of our cardiovascular system. A key function of vitamin B12 is to reduce homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid that, at high levels in the body, increases your chances for the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Many people to do not receive enough B vitamins in their diet. Additionally, if you regularly take two or more pharmaceutical medications and/or deal with daily stress, you are perfectly positioned for a B vitamin deficiency. Symptoms of B vitamin depletion can manifest as:

  • low energy
  • poor memory
  • insomnia or poor sleep quality
  • early fatigue while exercising
  • hair loss
  • infertility
  • weight gain/poor metabolism
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • musculoskeletal issues: sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome
  • depression
  • anxiety

Some individuals have a condition called pernicious anemia wherein the body cannot absorb the B12 vitamin from foods. Vegans, who do not consume dairy or meat products, are also at a risk for B12 deficiency because vitamin B12 is not highly available from plant products. In these cases, patients may get regular B vitamin injections.

How to get your B’s:

There are several ways to boost your B vitamin levels. Consume a diet that includes vitamin B rich foods such as meats, turkey, tuna, and liver. Oral B vitamins are best taken via liquid or capsule. B vitamin intramuscular injections are also available at some doctor’s offices throughout the country.

B vitamins are relatively safe to take because if you supplement more than you need, you usually urinate out any excess. It is possible however to take toxic doses of B vitamins, so it is best to consult with a doctor who can monitor your supplementation regimen. Of note, the methyl form B vitamins are the most effective form to supplement. So be sure to check with your health care professional about a methylated form of B vitamin.

Dr. Nicole Ortiz is a primary care naturopathic doctor at Live Well Clinic at Point Happy Plaza in La Quinta. Visit www.livewellclinic.org or call 760-771-5970 for more information on B vitamin injections and specialized nutrient testing.

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