Learn the ABC’s of the Vitamin B’s!

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Dr. Stephanie Peltz, ND

Through the lens of my family practice I have witnessed a growing number of frantic parents, frazzled students, and frustrated teachers with the sudden end to the school year.  Lets bridge this chaotic time into a restful and joyous summer!

As naturopathic physicians we have several tools to assess and address stress.  At the top of our list are the B vitamins.  Patients often ask me about the elusive ‘vitamin B’.  Did you know that there is not just one, but 8 core B vitamins?  They include Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Folic Acid, Biotin, and Cobalamin (B12).  These vitamins share some functions (like the metabolism of food to produce energy), but are also unique in their own way.

The B vitamins are all water-soluble.  This means they are poorly stored by the body and require daily replenishment.  Their water solubility also makes them very safe with a low risk of toxicity from taking too much.  Food sources rich in the B’s include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and whole grains.  However, these foods are also highly allergenic for many patients.  And keep in mind, under stress, our natural hydrochloric acid production decreases and this is exactly what’s needed for proper absorption of most B vitamins.  If you are vegetarian, vegan, on a low allergenic diet, or under significant stress, you are a great candidate for a B vitamin supplement.

There are many ways to supplement B vitamins. Sometimes one B is prescribed alone (like vitamin B6 for morning sickness in pregnancy); otherwise they are used in combination (such as a general B complex to boost immunity).  As well, different B complexes have distinct formulas (for instance one highlights B5 needed for support during stress, but also offers smaller amounts of the others).  When choosing a supplement there is also a question of liquid vs. capsules, and oral vs. injected.

I see a true need for B vitamins in many of my patients right now, and a lot of careful consideration goes into the prescription of a supplement. If you are not taking any, or have questions about the ones you are taking, come on in to discuss the details with us today.  Let’s ease this challenging time with a good dose of the B’s!

 


MTHFR Mutation: Common Link Between Many Disorders

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Dr. Preet Kangura, ND

Something that goes by the name methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene mutation might not sound like something the average person would need to worry about.  However, it is now known that 20 – 40% of people have one copy of the MTHFR mutation, and 14 – 30% of people have two copies of MTHFR mutation.  There are multiple forms of this genetic mutation, but two specific variations – C677T and A1298C – have now been shown to lead a vast number of health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Depression, anxiety, and panic disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Pulmonary embolisms
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Memory loss
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Migraines
  • Brain fog/poor concentration

Wow, now that’s a list.  How could a gene mutation lead to so many different ailments?  It comes down to a biochemical process called methylation.  People with a MTHFR mutation, have a greatly decreased ability to perform methylation processes in the body.  Methylation is required for a multitude of molecules to be produced and to be metabolized.  And one specific molecule that requires methylation to work properly for its production is called BH4.  Each turn of the folate cycle, which converts one form of folic acid to another form, produces 1 molecule of BH4.  People with one copy of the MTHFR mutation have a 30% decrease in BH4 production, while people with two copies of the mutation have a 70% decrease.

These numbers are staggering because the BH4 molecule has extremely important functions that cannot be over looked.  BH4 is needed for nitric oxide synthase – which is needed to control blood pressure.  It is also the rate-limiting factor in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA, and melatonin – which are important for mood, energy, and sleep.  BH4 is also required for the detoxification of ammonia, which if isn’t detoxified efficiently, becomes a powerful toxin.  The production of the powerful antioxidants, glutathione and co-enzyme Q10, are also very reliant on BH4.  When these two antioxidants are deficient, it drastically reduces the body’s ability to deal with free radicals and their cumulative damage – leading to diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer.

Testing for the MTHFR mutation is quite easy as it only requires a simple blood test, which can be done at Sage Clinic.  There is no cure since it is a genetic mutation, however, there are a multitude of naturopathic treatment protocols that can be implemented that supplement the body’s methylation processes.  Once such protocols are started, many of the seemingly separate and distinct health problems listed above begin to subside.  If you can relate to at least a few of the MTHFR related health problems, it might very well be worth checking your genes for answers.


Cumin Scented Halibut with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

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With summer in full swing, it is nice to have recipes that offer vibrant, bursting flavours while remaining on the lighter side of things.  That is why this recipe is a summer favorite of mine.  It offers high quality protein, healthy fats, nutritious vegetables, and is low in glycemic load, therefore ideal for people with blood sugar imbalances and high cholesterol.

Vegetables: 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed 1 red pepper, cut into large dice 1 yellow pepper, cut into large dice 1 Tbs olive oil 1 tsp balsamic vinegar 2 cups baby spinach leaves

Halibut: 2 6-8 ounce halibut filets, at room temperature 1 tsp cumin 1 Tbs coconut Oil

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the sweet potatoes and peppers in a freezer bag with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and shake until well combined. Lay on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender and lightly charred. After the vegetables have been in the oven for 15-20 minutes, heat a (preferably) cast iron skillet to medium heat. Season the fish with the cumin and salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the coconut oil. Add the fish filets to the pan, and allow to cook until well browned and they lift easily from the pan.  Flip and finish cooking on the other side, until both sides are browned and the fish is cooked through. When the vegetables are finished cooking, remove the pan from the oven and immediately add the spinach to the hot pan. Stir with a spatula until the spinach is hot and slightly wilted. Serve the fish on top of the vegetables – enjoy!


Nutritional Support for Oral Contraceptives

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Dr. Julie Moore, ND 

Birth control pills are the most effective form of contraception.  When taken properly, they are 99% effective.  There are many possible side effects such as weight gain, breast tenderness, mood swings, tension, depression, circulatory and vascular symptoms and gastrointestinal upset.  More serious risks may include blood clots, liver and gallbladder problems, and an increased risk for certain cancers.

Oral contraceptives deplete many nutrients including B Vitamins, especially B6, B12 and Folic Acid; also, Magnesium, Zinc, and Vitamin C.  Higher daily requirements for these nutrients are necessary when taking birth control pills and will help prevent and manage the potential side effects.

Most oral contraceptive pills are a combination of estrogen and synthetic progesterone in higher amounts than the body’s natural levels.  This blocks the pituitary hormones that stimulate ovulation and prevents pregnancy.  The liver metabolizes these artificial hormones before being eliminated.  Consuming a ‘liver-friendly’ diet rich in fruits, vegetables and essential fatty acids while avoiding alcohol, drugs, and reducing refined sugar and fatty foods is highly recommended.

It is not recommended to use oral contraceptives for extended lengths of time (usually not more than 5 years).  If discontinuing for health reasons, to explore other methods of contraception, or to start planning your family, your Naturopathic Physician can help by identifying and restoring possible nutritional depletion, designing a cleanse to eliminate excess hormones from the body, and providing effective and natural methods to restore balance to the endocrine system and improve fertility.

 

Nutient

Source

Vitamin B6 Green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, rice bran, wheat germ, fish, beans, brown rice, bananas, avocados, eggs, bee pollen, whole grains, prunes, black strap molasses, garlic
Vitamin B12 Organ meats, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, yogurt, milk, nutritional yeast
Folic Acid Green leafy vegetables, legumes, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, fish, dates, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oatmeal
Magnesium Pumpkin seeds, nuts, bananas, soy, dried apricots and figs, seafood, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, dark chocolate
Zinc Oysters, beef and lamb, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, beans, mushrooms, wheat germ, cashews, cocoa powder
Vitamin C Citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, rose hips, melon, tomatoes, kiwi
Essential Fatty Acids Fish (salmon, sardine, cod liver, mackerel, krill), olive, black currant, borage, hemp, evening primrose and flax oils, other vegetable oils, avocado, nuts and seeds

Summer Chickpea Salad

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This versatile salad can be made just the way you like it.  Start with the foundation and then change spices and herbs for a unique flavour every time.  Add different vegetables and/or meats to change the nutritional profile.

A great summer salad for on the patio or for taking on the road to the beach.

  • 1-3 cans of chickpeas rinsed well and drained, or 2-4 cups of soaked chickpeas
  • 1 cucumber chopped
  • Cherry tomatoes halved or chopped tomatoes
  • Red onion diced
  • Parsley chopped
  • Feta cheese crumbled
  • Italian dressing (homemade ideally!)

Add all ingredients together and marinate for several hours or overnight before sharing.  Keeps well and can be easily topped up with more chickpeas and veggies.  Dairy may be omitted.  Enjoy!