Could You Be B12 Deficient?

 

Did you know your ability to absorb Vitamin B12 gradually decreases with age? In fact, B12 deficiency is a silent epidemic with serious consequences to your health. Reports from the USDA show B12 deficiency may be more widespread than thought, with at least 40% of the population being severely deficient. Okay, yeah, so? Why do we even need B12? What does it do? Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse that helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells, and is crucial for a healthy brain and immune system. Plus your metabolism wouldn’t run smoothly without it. So, it’s pretty important. Add advancing age, certain prescription meds (such as heartburn medications), and a lack of meat in one’s diet (looking at you, vegetarians & vegans!) and you could find yourself severely lacking in vitamin B12.

So how do you know if you’re deficient? The following symptoms are signals of a possible deficiency!

  • Fatigue – The fatigue we’re talking about here isn’t the kind you get after a long day of work and chasing the kiddos around, on only 5 hours of sleep. Nope, this fatigue is constant and is around no matter how much sleep you get. Researchers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found those who felt zapped of energy even though they get plenty of zzzzz’s may be struggling with low B12 levels. Why? Because your body relies on B12 to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs, and without enough oxygen in your cells, you’ll feel tired no matter how long you sleep.
  • Weakness – If they’re not getting enough oxygen from red blood cells, your muscles will feel like mush. This can equal weakness and sluggishness.
  • Dizziness – Been feeling a bit off-kilter? Frequent bouts of dizziness or vertigo often signal B12 stores are low. (ie experiencing a feeling of swaying when you get up too fast from a sitting position) One Turkish study compared the vitamin B12 levels of patients who sought treatment in the ER for dizziness with those of 100 healthy volunteers. The result? Those dizzy patients had 40% less B12 than the volunteers.
  • Vision IssuesNo, there isn’t something in your eye causing the spotting, blurred and double vision. Low B12 stores can lead to vision changes and actually damage vision, so you may experience light sensitivity, blurred or double vision, and tracers or shadows.
  • Pins & Needles – You know the numbness (and then tingling) you get when you leg goes to sleep after you have it tucked under you for too long? Well, if you experience that numbness/tingly sensation without something having fallen asleep, you might have a B12 problem. Remember the whole “poor red blood cell production from the lack of B12” thing? Yeah…that can result in nerve damage (and trust us, you do NOT want to go to there!).
  • Smooth Tongue – Smooth tongue? What? About half of people with a severe B12 deficiency lose the papillae—those little bumps—on their tongues, especially around the edges. Patients also complain of burning and soreness, particularly on the back of the tongue. And since most of those papillae contain taste buds, if you lose a lot of them even your favorite foods are going to taste blah.
  • Forgetfulness – Forgetting where you put the keys every once in awhile is one thing; chronic forgetfulness is quite another. It very well could be a vitamin B12 deficiency! Symptoms of a B12 deficiency often mimic those of dementia, such as memory loss, disorientation, and difficulty thinking and reasoning. It can be hard distinguishing deficiency from dementia, especially since older folks are at risk for both. And the two conditions often overlap; 75% to 90% of B12 deficient people also have neurological complications such as dementia. If you or a loved one is having issues with this one, you DEFINITELY want to get tested!

Feeling concerned about your vitamin B12 levels? We’ve got you covered! Integrative Wellness Advisors, working with nutraMetrix, offers a fabulous B-complex in isotonic form for maximum impact. You can find all the deets HERE and you can call or email us with any questions about B12 or any other health questions you may have! Let’s have a healthy & happy new year!

What’s In YOUR Sunscreen?

Sunscreen

It’s finally summer – the best time of year! Beaches, boardwalks, cookouts, parks, pools…wow, that’s a lot of activities happening outdoors. That means you’ll be picking up your favorite sunscreen and slathering it on (I hope – please do!) before you head out the door, which is fabulous. But do you know what’s in your sunscreen? Some sunscreens aren’t protecting you as much as you think. In fact, some are actually doing your body harm.

The 2016 spring report from Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 72% of the sunscreens tested contained harmful ingredients or were inadequate sun protection. This is their 10th annual Guide to Sunscreens report, and while the report shows there have been some improvements, the vast majority of sunscreens available in the U.S. still contain toxic chemicals or fail to offer enough protection against UV rays.

Why should you care so much? I mean, it’s not like your putting sunscreen in your body, right? Did you know, that your skin absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it? That’s 60% of those toxic chemicals being absorbed into your body. And even if a chemical isn’t so harmful that it affects us right away, some bio-accumulate in the body, taking their toll over time. So what are you looking for?

The most problematic of the sunscreen chemicals used in the U.S. is oxybenzone, found in nearly every chemical sunscreen, which can penetrate the skin causing allergic reactions and disrupting hormones. In fact, the EWG’s sunscreen report found that 70% of sunscreens contained this chemical. Then there’s methylisothiazolinone. This one is used in personal care products like sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner as a preservative to keep your products fresh on the shelf. The problem? A recent study found the chemical may actually be linked to nerve damage. And not only that, but a 2012 study found that brief exposure to MIT is toxic in low concentrations during neural development, increasing the risk of seizures and visual abnormalities. Plus EWG says MIT is a skin sensitizer and irritant, which means that it can cause contact allergies. This one’s a doozy! There’s also homosalate, which disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone.

What’s the solution? We all know that a) Vitamin D is vitally important, and b) we can’t completely avoid the sun, but there are plenty of ways to avoid the damaging rays of the sun. Clothing is the biggest alternative. Wear something white or light colored so it will reflect the rays of light and pop on a sun hat for extra protection. Another natural alternative to sunscreen? Sesame oil! Sesame oil can block out approximately 30% of the sun rays. Apply to your body every two hours for maximum results. Another non-toxic alternative? Sunscreens that use zinc oxide. These sunscreens provide a physical barrier rather than a chemical barrier, which means no chemicals are getting into your body. OR make your own, home-made sunscreen with ingredients such as zinc oxide, coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils. Here’s a great recipe to get you started. You can also find our round-up of natural alternatives to sunscreen here.

Always be sure to check the ingredients in everything before you buy. We want you to have a safe, healthy, and happy summer! And if you’d like to learn more about toxins like these and how they can affect your hormones, call to make an appointment with us – we can tell you more about these and other chemicals, including the dangers and what products are better to use.

*Read EWG’s full report HERE*

Is Milk Doing Your Body Good?

Milk

Milk does a body good! Right? Actually…your milk could be setting off chain reactions of inflammation, hormone issues, and dietary malfunctions in your body. Not really doing a body good now, is it?

The biggest milk myth we’ve been taught is that we should consume cow’s milk because it’s full of calcium which is good for our bones. But scientific studies have shown that we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. In fact, higher milk consumption has been shown to help increase bone fractures.

Milk and other dairy based products can also be a trigger causing people to become lactose intolerant – which means they suffer from bowel cramping, bloating or even loose stools after eating dairy. Dairy can be a real gut irritant in general. Lots of us have undiagnosed dairy sensitivities or allergies, which means our gut gets very cranky with us at the slightest hint of dairy.

There’s more than that though. Consuming dairy can lead to more than just a bit of tummy upset – it can lead to a world of health problems (a lot chronic). How does it do this? By contributing to low-grade systemic inflammation, an important developmental factor in cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, metabolic ailments, and chronic disease. Inflammatory reactions to irritants, like casein from cow’s milk, can even trigger autoimmune disorders.

Other downsides of dairy include:

  1. hypothyroidism;

  2. growth hormones that cause mayhemMilk contains hormones (organic or not). Milk from a pregnant cow is still filled with hormones that mingle with your own. And did you know that hormonal disruptions that cause acne and other skin irritations also contribute to carcinogens and chronic diseases that are so prevalent in Western societies?

Guys, it’s time to give up the dairy for good – and we know how hard that is, trust us! It’s so delicious and creamy, and quite literally, addicting. That’s because it contains casmorphins – opiate-like compounds that create that “can’t stop, must eat” feeling. We know you can do it though. And there are fabulous dairy alternatives out there, and other ways to get the calcium your body needs (and it needs a lot so make sure you’re getting enough!). Try soy or almond milk. Two cups of chopped kale also contain 19% daily value of calcium, and when you add that to a diet rich in other dark leafy greens, you’ll be hitting your daily calcium intake with no trouble at all. Hummus has that creamy plus salty taste and texture you get from cheese but is so much better for you.

Just, try removing dairy from your diet for 21 days. During that time, keep notes about how you feel. When the 21 days are up, reintroduce a single dairy product and see how you feel. Then come back and tell us how the experiment went. We’re excited to see how much better you feel!

Why Good Sex is Good for You

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We’ve all heard that a good sex life isn’t just something that feels…well, good! It also provides a plethora of health benefits such as:

  • Alleviation of joint and muscle pain through the release of natural opiates that are an extremely effective pain reliever
  • Stress relief
  • Energy boost
  • Stimulation of the immune system
  • A stronger connection to our partner

Yet many people are in the same boat of daily management of a full time career, a home, children, homework, meals, exercise and more leaving little energy left for your sexual relationship. And that’s unfortunate because you could probably really use some of those benefits we mentioned above when you have that much going on. Right? But what if it’s not just time that’s keeping you from a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship? Sexual dysfunction can be caused by:

  • Taking prescription medications
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Drug abuse
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Stress
  • Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea

A health coach can help! Although nutrition is important in the battle against obesity, diabetes & heart disease and for helping to potentially wean off of prescription medications for these in the future, those are only a part of what a health coach will address with you. In the coaching world, we refer to nutrition as a “secondary source” of energy. “Primary foods” (or non food sources of nourishment) are what really fuel us. Some primary food examples are: the feeling of being deeply in love and feeling exhilarated by your lover’s presence, or working at a job that is meaningful and stimulating. When you’re working with a health coach, we’ll take some time to explore your personal balance between primary food and secondary food. We will work on making changes that alleviate stress and promote well being which in turn will help to fuel your sex drive.

In addition to feelings of dissatisfaction, stress and well-being, there are hormonal reasons that sex drive declines as people age. In females, progesterone levels begin to drop during peri-menopause, which can start as early as age 35. Low progesterone levels cause women to experience breast tenderness, mood swings, “fuzzy” thinking, irritability, sleep disturbance and water retention. No wonder we don’t feel like having sex! In addition to health coaching, there are supplements available that may help alleviate symptoms. Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E may be helpful in raising progesterone levels even in women who are post-menopausal, which in turn lessens anxiety, as well as having a positive effect on serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters that have been proven to affect sexual desire and function.

There are also several botanicals that help support normal sexual function. Damiana helps support normal sexual drive while Ashwaganda has been shown to promote normal engorgement of sexual tissues. Because aging can effect both vaginal tone and comfort P. mirifica is a botanical that can promote normal vaginal secretions and vaginal muscle strength. (Dr. Deedra Mason, Director of Clinical Research Market America.)

In males, erectile dysfunction (ED) affects 25 million men in America. As men age, hormone production declines resulting in changes in sexual function, energy and mood. (Dr. Deedra Mason) The supplement zinc initiates enzymes important in vasoconstriction of the blood vessels involved in sexual arousal. Ginseng is thought to help the body make more nitric oxide – as does Viagra. Botanicals such as ginkgo, Tribulus terrestris, Epimedium and the amino acid L-arginine may all increase blood flow to the penis and enhance sexual arousal. (Dr. Deedra Mason)

Vitamin C may help both men and women as it increases blood flow and one study indicates that it may increase libido in women. Essential fatty acids found in evening primrose oil, fish oil and borage oil also help improve blood flow.

A health coach can help you evaluate whether different exercise modalities might be right for you too. You might also try yoga and meditation, as they can reduce the effects of stress and relieve anxiety about sexual dysfunction. Massage is another fabulous stress reducer.

Sexual health is important so don’t let yours fall to the wayside! Let us help get you back on track and feeling good. We’re just a call away!

Giedre Trahan is an Integrative Health Coach at Integrative Wellness Advisors, working in Denver, Colorado, and helping people make changes towards optimal health and well being.