Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients we need – Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine – Blood Health and Depression.


B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that exists in three major chemical forms: Pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine.

Being water soluble it is necessary to replace this vitamin every day from your diet and B6 plays such a crucial role in so many functions of the body that a deficiency can have a huge impact on your health.

What is B6 necessary for?

It is required for over 100 enzymes that metabolise the protein that you eat. Along with the mineral Iron, it is essential for healthy blood. The nervous and immune systems also require vitamin B6 to function efficiently. It is also necessary for our overall feeling of wellbeing as it converts the amino acid tryptophan, which is essential for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain.

Without B6 you would not be able to manufacture haemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body. Once the haemoglobin is produced the vitamin also helps increase the amount of oxygen it can carry. A deficiency therefore is one of the leading causes of anaemia and I shall be covering the components that make up our blood and the most common forms of anaemia during the next few days.

Without a healthy immune system we are at the mercy of any bacteria or virus that takes a fancy to us. A complicated biochemical interaction is required to ensure we can fight off infections; the food that we eat plays a vital role in producing the white blood cells that form the defence system. B6 ensures that the food that eat is metabolised efficiently thus producing enough of these cells.

Additionally B6 helps keep your lymph system healthy by maintaining the thymus, spleen and lymph nodes. The lymph system runs parallel to your circulatory system and is the battleground for the white blood cells and the viruses.

Blood sugar levels can fluctuate depending on the types of food that we eat particularly carbohydrates. If you are not eating sufficient calories your body uses B6 to convert stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose to maintain normal blood sugar levels. This is one of the reasons that people on crash diets can suffer dizziness and fatigue. Without sufficient intake of food they are not replenishing their B6 on a regular basis. Because they are taking in too little calories for their body to function and they do not have B6 to convert any stored energy, they become weakened.

The balance of chemicals in our brain affects our feeling of well-being. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, melatonin and dopamine are required for normal cell communication. In research lower levels of serotonin have been found in people suffering from varying degrees of depression and also migraine headaches. The research is not conclusive but at B6 is needed for the manufacture of these neurotransmitters it makes sense to ensure that there are adequate amounts being taken in through diet.

What are the signs of B6 deficiency?

With a balanced diet, which includes wholegrains and fruit and vegetables, it is unusual to find a B6 deficiency in a healthy adult.

  • The elderly are more at risk due to reduced intakes of food resulting from lack of appetite and a general wearing down of internal systems and functions such as food metabolism.
  • People who are perpetual dieters and in particular those who follow restricted food type diets are at risk as well, although unfortunately it is usually only when the deficiency has become critical that the symptoms might appear.
  • One of the early signs will be changes to the skin with inflammations such as dermatitis.
  • Another affected area is the mouth and Glossitis is a condition where the tongue becomes swollen and sore.
  • Because of the role of B6 in our chemical balance within the brain, depression is not unusual.
  • A lack of B6 may have an impact on PMS symptoms and also regularity of periods.
  • In severe cases a person might suffer convulsions and as you will see from the post later in the week on anaemia, the quality of our lifeblood is compromised.
  • Alcoholics tend to eat poorly which will restrict both their intake of B6 and its availability but alcohol also causes the destruction and loss of any B6 that is consumed.
  • If you have an asthmatic child and they are on the prescribed medication theophylline they may require supplementation with B6 as the drug destroys B6 in a similar way to alcohol. You must talk to your doctor first however before taking or giving anyone B6 if they are already taking a prescription drug.
  • Taking too much vitamin B6 in supplementation form can lead to some nerve damage particularly in the arms and legs. This might result in tingling sensations or numbness. Usually the symptoms disappear when the supplementation is stopped. Do talk to your doctor before stopping the supplement if you are taking it on his advice.

What are the areas where increasing intake of B6 in food or supplements might be helpful?

  • Certainly I have found that adjusting a woman’s diet and including B6 rich foods has helped with PMS and menopausal symptoms. Scientists are still debating the effects of B6 in supplement form on these two conditions and there is some evidence that suggests taking B6 in supplement form is less bio-available and therefore could lead to toxicity. I use a spray form of multi-vitamin that contains B-complex including B6 which is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
  • There is some evidence a deficiency of some of the B vitamins including B6, Folic Acid and B12, may result in increased levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are linked to heart attacks and strokes due to its ability to damage arteries or encourage platelets to clump together as a clot.

Best food sources of Vitamin B6

As always I prefer to include nutrients within our normal diet and as you will have seen from the previous posts on the other B vitamins, there are many foods that you can include daily that will ensure that you have sufficient B6 for normal function.

These foods include wholegrain carbohydrates like brown rice, porridge oats, walnuts and sunflower seeds, bananas, avocados, salmon and tuna, dried fruit such as prunes and raisins, eggs, wheatgerm, poultry and meats such as lamb.

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 1999- 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients we need – B5 – Pantothenic Acid


Welcome to the next in the series on nutrients the body needs to be health and today another B Vitamin that works with other B Vitamins but also has its own role to play in the body.

You can find the other posts on the B vitamins in the Health Column directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

Pantothenic acid gets its name from the Greek word pantos, meaning everywhere; because it is available in such a wide variety of foods. The problem is that much of a foods content of B5 is lost through cooking; which in another reason for eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible in the raw state.

B5 is one of the eight water-soluble B vitamins which cannot be stored by the body and have to be replenished in your daily diet. We have already covered B1, B2, and B3 and  like the others B5 plays an important role in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, which is burned to produce energy.

These nutrients are also needed to breakdown fats and proteins as well as promoting the health of the nervous system, skin, hair, eyes and importantly this month, the liver.

Vitamin B5 has a number of roles in the body some more critical than others. One job that is vitally important is assisting in the manufacture of red blood cells as well as sex and stress related hormones.

  • Without B5 our digestive tract would become unhealthy and we would be unable to use other vitamins as effectively. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘anti-stress’ vitamin because it is believed to enhance the activity of the immune system and help the body overcome stressful conditions.
  • Currently research is looking into the benefits of B5 and treatment for elevated LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol but there are other areas where the vitamin may be beneficial.
  • Some studies are indicating that B5 may speed up wound healing especially following surgery and as part of a B-complex supplement it may help recovery from major burns.
  • Arthritis has also come under the microscope as blood tests taken from arthritis sufferers’ show that they were suffering from a deficiency of pantothenic acid, but more study will be needed to confirm this. (I will be covering Arthritis later in the week)
  • There are rumours that taking B5 can help with wrinkles and stop your hair greying but this is not proven. However, this does not stop the cosmetic industry from claiming that shampoo and other products containing synthesised B5 can add lustre to your locks!

What are the symptoms of a deficiency?

If you are following a healthy eating plan with lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains you will be unlikely to be suffering from B5 deficiency.

If you are suffering from a mild to moderate deficiency you might suffer from the following symptoms.

  • tiredness,
  • headaches,
  • nausea,
  • tingling in the hands,
  • depression,
  • abdominal pains,
  • insomnia,
  • burning feet,
  • muscle weakness
  • cramps.

In extreme cases personality changes can take place as well as heart problems.

What are the dietary sources of B5?

all food groups

As I have mentioned, there are a large variety of sources for the vitamin including fresh meats, vegetables and wholegrains.

If you like mushrooms and in particular Shitake mushrooms you will find that by including two or three times a week you will be getting a great B5 hit. Dairy products including cheese contain healthy amounts as do avocados, egg yolks, proteins such as beef, turkey and other poultry, shellfish and oily fish such as salmon and trout, peanuts and lentils and strawberries.

Supplements containing B5.

If you feel that your daily diet contains sufficient B-vitamins including B5 but you are still suffering from arthritis or stress related conditions; seek the advice of a medical expert who can advise you on the dosage of any supplements including B5.

If you take a multi-vitamin and mineral as I do, you will find that all the B vitamins are present and it is also sold separately under the names pantothenic acid and calcium pantothenate. You can also buy B-complex formulations, but do check that they are from a high quality producer. I have recently switched my supplements over to the spray formats which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. To test this claim I used the spray for three months and then switched back to a multi-vitamin tablet for a month.. Within a couple of weeks, I found that I had not as much energy and switched back again.

As with all supplements you should do your research and buy the best quality product. Cheap alternatives claim to be effective but usually have less of the essential ingredient and the rest made up by fillers.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health – 1999 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

 

Vitamin of the week – Vitamin B3 – Niacin – Cholesterol, Heart and Nervous System.


smorgasbord health

Vitamin B3 is also known in different forms as Niacin, Nicotinic Acid, Nicotinamide and Nicinamide. When the vitamin was first discovered it was called nicotinic acid but there was a concern that it would be associated with nicotine in cigarettes, leading to the false assumption that somehow smoking might provide you with nutrients. It was decided to call it Niacin instead.

It works with other nutrients, particularly B1, B2, B5, B6 and biotin to break the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in food down into energy. B3 itself is essential in this process and it goes further by aiding in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to aid the digestion of food. It is actually involved in over 40 metabolic functions which shows how important it is in our levels of energy on a daily basis.

We are at the mercy of toxins and harmful chemicals in the body that need to be eliminated efficiently to prevent build up and illness. B3 works with the body and other nutrients to achieve this. Additionally when we are under attack from bacteria and viruses that we have not managed to eliminate fast enough, B3 will also assist in the antioxidant processes within the body to help us heal faster.

Enzymes in the body are unique substances that speed up chemical reactions in the body. They are responsible for producing the energy we need, the breakdown of dietary fats, the production of certain hormones and cholesterol. In addition they are needed for the processing of genetic material (DNA) and the growth and healthy maturing of cells. B3 is essential for the efficiency of many of these enzymes.

One of the areas that B3 is used therapeutically is in the lowering of cholesterol. B3 actually lowers LDL (lousy cholesterol) and raises HDL (healthy cholesterol). In tests, supplemented B3 proved more effective than many of the normal cholesterol lowering drugs although there have been instances of side effects in the form of excessive flushing. To prevent this you can take time release tablets and also begin on a low dose, gradually building up to the therapeutic level.

High dosage of any vitamin therapy should only be undertaken with the supervision of a medical professional and there are a number of different forms of B3 supplementation that can be used to minimise side effects whilst still acting to reduce LDL and raise HDL.

Niacin improves circulation by relaxing arteries and veins. This benefits sufferers of Raynaud’s disease and other circulatory problems such as varicose veins. In Raynaud’s the worst symptom is the numbness and pain in the hands and feet in cold weather. Niacin increases blood flow to them reducing the symptoms. People who suffer from muscle cramps may also be obtaining too little B3.

It is rare in the Western world for anyone to be deficient in Niacin. But, since B3 in its various forms has been shown to help improve symptoms of some of our most common ailments it does pose the question as to whether we are actually obtaining sufficient of the vitamin from our diet or not. If we do, are our digestive systems not working efficiently enough to process and utilise it?

Normally the body manages to absorb enough niacin from our daily diet to accomplish its tasks. Apart from digestion it is needed to keep the skin and nerves healthy and to help stabilise blood sugar levels. They body can also convert niacin from tryptophan the amino acid found in eggs, milk, poultry and fish which means that there is a wide range of foods available to us that provide the vitamin. It reacts with tryptophan to form serotonin and melatonin in the brain, both of which affect our moods and general feeling of well- being.

B3 has also been shown to relieve acne, reduce migraines, IBS symptoms, gout, menstrual problems, multiple sclerosis, Osteoarthritis, vertigo, memory loss and gastric problems.

For those of us interested in maintaining our brain health and avoiding dementia conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, B3 could be an important ally as we get older. Here is a quite useful guide to the scientific studies into specific health problems. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/niacin–niacinamide/evidence/hrb-20059838

With a healthy balanced diet it is unlikely that a deficiency will develop but as we get older our digestive system is not as efficient as it should be and here are some of the  symptoms to keep an eye on. General weakness or muscle weakness, depressed appetite, skin infections and digestive problems.

Where to find a good source of B3 in food.

salmon

B3 is water soluble and therefore needs to be replenished daily from your diet it is found in liver, chicken, Turkey, salmon, swordfish, tuna, venison, eggs, cheese and milk. Plant sources include green leafy vegetables such as Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, dates, mushrooms, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, sunflower seeds and wholegrains.

tomatoes

Supplementation

 Whilst I always recommend that you look to your diet first before supplements, there are times in our lives when we need a little more help. Always buy high quality supplements. In the case of B3 look for time release and start on a low dose and build up to the recommended dose over a week or ten days to help prevent flushing. Many cheaper versions are mainly filler and may not provide you with the dosage of the specific nutrient you require.

If you are suffering from Raynaud’s disease, arthritis, elevated LDL cholesterol levels or depression you may find that taking a B-complex supplement of help. There is sufficient B3 in most quality supplements to augment the dietary B3. Brewer’s yeast is a good source of all the B vitamins you can take in tablet form.

This week I will update and post the article on cholesterol. This substance is essential in the body for a number of vital functions including the production of our hormones and our brain function. It has been demonised for the last twenty years and resulted in the Fat Free fad that swept the western world. Millions gave up eating eggs and healthy fats resulting in the White Fat diet of today which is so harmful.

This is one of the recipes that supplies a good amount of all the B-Vitamins and is easy to make and delicious.

dsc_1207aw

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/smorgasbord-health-multivitamin-supplement-or-brown-rice-pilaf/

 You will find the other minerals and vitamins in this series here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/vitamins-and-minerals-of-the-week/

I hope you have found useful and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.