Guest Post: Teresa Mitchell-Paterson, Nutritionist, naturopath and Eagle Natural Health advisor
When it comes to vitamins, the spotlight has traditionally been on Vitamin C&D, with less awareness on the benefits of vitamin B.
Recent studies have revealed some interesting discoveries about the importance of the Vitamin B group, particularly as we age. Teresa Mitchell-Paterson, Nutritionist, naturopath and Eagle Natural Health advisor explains why we need to start paying more attention to the buzz around B’s.
The group of 8 B vitamins help our bodies operate like well-oiled machines. As they help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. Better known by their names – thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and more. B vitamins also help our bodies use fats and protein and support healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver1.
They are also essential for supporting healthy nerve cells. Making red blood cells, helping iron work effectively in the body and producing compounds involved in immune function and mood1
Vitamin B12, in particular, has a protective role to play in the initial myelination and protection of the central nervous system and white matter of the brain, which is needed to maintain normal brain function 2.
As we age, our vitamin B12 levels decline naturally and this may be associated with reduced brain function. In fact, research shows that older people have three times lower levels of vitamin B12 in their brains than their younger counterparts 3,4.
While the reduced levels are a result of normal ageing, the unrecognised reduction of vitamin B12 across a person’s lifespan may impact learning and memory later in life. One of the most common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue. If the deficiency isn’t picked up, it could affect a person’s nerves. Resulting in pins and needles in their hands and feet that can lead to numbness and eventual weakness.
Other symptoms may include cognitive difficulties, light-headedness, rapid heart rate, easy bruising and bleeding, weight loss, bowel upset and a sore tongue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, ask your healthcare practitioner if you could have a vitamin B12 deficiency and what steps you can take to overcome it2.
The average person can get most of their vitamin B12 from animal foods. Including red meat, fish, eggs and dairy products but diets are often compromised by busy lifestyles. However, a study by Deakin University found vitamin B12 levels were higher amongst supplement users5.
Dietary changes or supplementation may need to start in mid-life before the onset of age-related decline in vitamin B12 levels. For those looking to supplement their intake or following a vegetarian eating plan. Seek advice from your health practitioner about whether supplementation with an activated multivitamin might be useful to boost your level of B vitamins.
Ask your healthcare practitioner if practitioner only supplements from the Eagle Natural Health range may be useful for your particular needs.
Ehrlich SD (2015) Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin). University of Maryland Medical Center (Online) Retrieved http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b12-cobalamin
Stabler SP (2013) Vitamin B12 deficiency. The New England Journal of Medicine 368: 149-160 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMcp1113996
Zhang Y (2016) Decreased brain levels of vitamin B12 in aging, autism and schizophrenia. Plos One (Online) Retrieved http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0146797
Hooshmand B et al (2011) Associations between serum homocysteine, holotranscobalamin, folate and cognition in the elderly. a longitudinal study. Journal of internal Medicine 271 (2) 204-212
Moore E et al (2014) The prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in a random sample from the Australian population. Journal of investigational biochemistry 3(3) 95-100. Retrieved http://dro.deakin.edu.au/view/DU:30069528
About Teresa Mitchell-Paterson:
ADV DIP NAT, BHSc Complementary Medicine, MHSc Human Nutrition, has a clinical history in Integrative Naturopathy spanning over twenty years. She is an educator of final year clinical studies for Bachelor of Health students (Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine). Teresa has also embarked in writing for evidence based naturopathic texts and is a spokesperson and advocate for naturopathic healthy lifestyle.
For the past 6 years Teresa has been a nutritional advisor for Bowel Cancer Australia, and Health and Medical Panelist for the Memorial Winston Trust Fund.