The Quirky Nature of B12
The quirky nature of B12, requires you to check your levels regularly. If you have poor digestion, what naturopaths call leaky gut (hyperpermeability), low hydrochloric (HCI) stomach acid, poor uptake in the small intestines then you could have low B12. Hippocrates coined the phrase – “All disease begins in the gut’’, and this couldn’t be more true than for vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 Absorption
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin as it is known scientifically) is a power house nutrient obtained mostly from animal protein foods in the diet. It relies on gastric acid in the stomach to liberate (release) the proteins that bind to it, which help to protect it from being destroyed in the stomach, as it makes it way to the small intestine. Once it reaches the small intestine, it is utilised through pancreatic enzymes which release it to intrinsic factor, the cells that help absorption. From here it is transported to cells where its functions are carried out and it ends up in the liver where it is stored. Vitamin B12 absorption requires many processes, nutrients and enzymes along the way. As you have probably gathered it can be a bit tricky to obtain in the body especially if your digestion is not optimal (ie often with chronic conditions).
What it does?
Vitamin B12 is essential for the normal functioning of all cells. It affects cell growth and replication, metabolism of carbohydrates (grains & cereals), fats and lipids (butter & oils), and protein (meats, fish & dairy). It is found in DNA (genetic material), and importantly is involved in making red blood cells (in bone marrow). It is involved in methylation processes, (conversion of homocysteine to methionine by methionine synthase), transferring a methyl group from methylfolate.
It helps to make myelin sheath and nerve cells with a deficiency possibly resulting in peripheral nerve damage and pain. B12 helps to regulate immunity and has antioxidant ability. It is important for healthy skin, mucous membranes, bones and blood vessels.
If you suffer from any of theses symptoms you may be low in B12
- Low energy, fatigue or lethargy
- Methylation issues
- Anaemia and pernicious anaemia (an autoimmune condition)
- Psychological disturbances including depression, irritability
- Impaired memory, brain fog and dementia
- Gastrointestinal disturbances such as loss of appetite, intermittent constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain, atrophic gastritis
- Folic acid supplementation can mask an underlying B12 deficiency
Vegetarians are at risk of low B12 due to it being found in animal sources of food only. Plants do not process or make B12 because they have no cobalamin-dependent enzymes. Most microorganisms, including bacteria and algae, can make B12 which then makes its way into the food chain.
Vital Food Sources
- Lamb’s liver
- Egg yolk
- Cheese and milk
Serum B12 is usually tested through your GP. Red Blood Cell B12 is a sometimes recommended by Naturopaths. An important point is that once you have been tested a certain way it is recommended to retest the same way enabling consistency to check changes in levels.
B12 supplementation is usually taken orally (or as a lozenge to bypass the small intestine), and intravenously.
Check your vitamin B12 levels yearly to ensure no deficiency. Consult your clinical naturopath-nutritionist to ensure these levels are optimal. High B12 levels can indicate absorption and/or possible methylation issues. It is important to check with your health professional who understands optimal levels and your requirements.
Products available to support digestion through consultation with Karen in Nov 18
- Digest Forte – 50% discount
- Herbal Tincture – 30% discount
- Sublingual B12 – 30% discount (all only available in consultation).
To book with Karen Green – email email@example.com or call 0400836254. Karen consults Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. Saturdays (on occasions). By appointment only. consultations available via phone, internet and in person.
Adrenal Fatigue or Dysfunction
Constantly wired and tired? With Adrenal fatigue or Dysfunction you may be feeling irritable with mood swings, have sweet cravings and a foggy memory?
Adrenal fatigue is a term used since the 1990’s by naturopaths and integrative doctors. More recently understanding the mechanisms that are involved with how cortisol (a hormone produced in the adrenal gland) affects the body has advanced. Adrenal fatigue or dysfunction is becoming more understood and new information is showing that it is more about how the brain responds to stress than just your adrenals!
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Dizzy upon standing
- Craving sweets
- Weight gain
- Low thyroid function impacts: cold hands/feet, thinning hair, and low body temp (low metabolic function, memory fog
- Low immunity, becoming sick easily
- Chronic pain with fibromyalgia like symptoms
- Premenstrual Syndrome or menopausal symptoms worsening
Modern medicine does not acknowledge adrenal fatigue as a condition. Research now clarifies that most situations resulting in low cortisol levels are not a result of your adrenals being “tired” or “fatigued”. The problem lies higher up the chain – the brain. The problem is linked more with proper brain signalling to regulate the stress response. We are starting to believe the stress response is “in your head”. Now that is not to belittle or say that there is nothing going on; overall there definitely is.
Diseases of the adrenal glands do exist, such as Cushing’s and Addison’s disease. However, these diseases are considered uncommon.
More often it is long-term stress and various other physical or psychological traumas that lead to an abnormal stress response; but it is usually a brain issue more so than an actual adrenal response issue.
Finding out the why?
We treat each and every disease differently. How we treat someone who is legitimately struggling with fatigue due to a damaged dysfunctional adrenal gland is different from an abnormal stress response that is occurring in the brain. It may relate to adrenal dysfunction in metabolism and the clearance of cortisol. Adrenal and adaptogenic herbs and vitamins and other nutrients will support the adrenal glands with their needs. However, if the central point to the dysfunction is in the brain then we need different approach to the problem.
What is occurring with Adrenal Fatigue or Dysfunction?
The cause of adrenal fatigue is a brain signal malfunction. When the balance is out, the signs show up as altered hormone levels in blood tests. The adrenal glands’ lack of output is mainly occurring because the brain is not communicating to the adrenal glands appropriately. The human body is intricately connected and when one area is out of balance it affects others. The more resilient you are is based on how the brain and adrenals talk back and forth. They are doing this all the time and this is heightened during times of stress.
When our body deals with stress acutely (a sudden event occurring), our cortisol and adrenaline increases to help mobilize energy and put out the fire of inflammation. At the same time, our other hormones stay at healthy levels so we can adapt. This is a normal situation, an alert mechanism from the body to remove you from a difficult or dangerous situation. It is not detrimental to our bodies in fact, a little of this is a good thing. However, when our bodies have to deal with a continual stream of stress (chronic), over time, the impact on the body results in dysregulated hormones. When your body continues to produce cortisol for extended periods of time, due to an overactive stress response other hormones pay the price.
Cortisol the master stress hormone, is also released in times of low blood glucose, for example, when the body is in a fasting state overnight whilst sleeping. This is why fasting when you are unwell, is not recommended. It is the prolonged release of cortisol at consistently high levels that results in symptoms such as decreased immunity, tendency to bruise easily, anxiety, irritability, skin eruptions, hormonal imbalances, sweet cravings, weight gain (cortisol indicated higher area of the abdomen), poor or compromised digestion as the body is in a consistent state of alarm in the initial stages and then over time exhaustion sets in. This progression is known as General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). Each stage triggers signs and symptoms and the timing of progression is an individual thing. See below.
Cortisol production has a daily rhythm. It is secreted in a rhythmic pulsation fashion, higher in the morning and then tapering off throughout the day. Cortisol is designed to help stabilize blood sugar and help deal with stress and inflammation. Stress results in a dramatic rise in blood levels of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids all provoked by cortisol.
The more dysfunctional our adrenals become, the more we start progressing into deeper stages of adrenal fatigue where our brain (the master controller) is not able to communicate with our adrenals properly.
Below are examples of healthy and fatigued cortisol patterns. The question we now need to consider: Is it the brain axis malfunctioning, and what can we do to restore this imbalance?
Assessing the glands that help control and regulate stress is very important to your health. Your body is designed to be healthy, and part of being healthy means how you respond to stress. Your adrenals are instrumental in producing hormones throughout the day that are designed to do just that.
If extreme adrenal fatigue is a part of your life the cortisol pattern can be low in the morning and raise slightly in the evening which impacts sleep.
The Dutch Test, measuring urinary cortisol, becomes a very useful tool in providing a comprehensive look at what is occurring. Saliva testing shows free cortisol patterns throughout the day. 24hr Urine testing gives a better test for overall cortisol production and metabolism. DUTCH gives you it all!
How to treat?
There are various patterns to adrenal dysfunction, the most important aspect is determining what is causing the long-term stress. There are excellent adaptogenic herbs, activated B- Complex vitamins, minerals, ensuring hydration and a whole food diet, maintaining blood sugar levels, stress reduction techniques and mechanisms to improve the overall brain, HPA axis balance.
Determining Adrenal Dysfunction
Count how many of the adrenal symptoms are present in your life.
Signs and Symptoms
- Sweet cravings
- Weight gain in the upper abdominal area
- Dizzy when standing up from a laying position
- Drinks more than 2 caffeinated beverages throughout the day
- Memory loss – forgetful
- Irritable and mood swings
- Constant Fatigue
If you have three or more symptoms, there may be a possibility that your HPA axis is under stress and needs support. Measuring using the DUTCH hormone urine test may help to put your health back on track.
Change begins with the first step! – Start your road back to health with Karen Green Naturopath