Your body is not a machine. It needs to be looked after. While I’m stating the obvious, you’d be amazed by how many folks take better care of their house and their car than their physical body. My work combines nutrition with all aspects of stress-management and life-management. Working holistically simply means working with the whole person. We are spirit, mind, emotion, and body. Everything is intrinsically linked.
People have different views on diet and on what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy. While I’ve been a vegetarian for thirty years, a vegetarian diet can be as healthy or as unhealthy as a meat-eating diet. Some vegetarians never eat a vegetable or a piece of fruit and live on junk food. Obviously, this would not be a healthy way of life. Even some of the nutrients more available in a meat-eating diet are lower in concentration than they used to be, given the poorer quality of soil today, which can lack minerals.
As a nutritionist, I’m not one who recommends mega-doses of vitamin supplements, and I would caution you to never exceed the recommended dosage, and in cases where there’s a history or kidney disease or liver disease, no one should take supplements without consulting a nutritionist or a medical doctor. I believe the best place to get our nutrition is via an organic diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. But one vitamin supplement I take every day, is vitamin B Complex. While all nutrients play a vital role in our health and mental wellness, the B vitamins are essential to replenish. Not only do they play a powerful role in mood; they are also necessary for heart health, reducing pain in the physical body; converting food into energy and governing metabolism; reducing oedema (abnormal fluid build-up in ankles, belly, lungs etc); and in reducing high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that should only be present in small quantities. A deficiency in B vitamins can injure the heart and place us at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
There’s a saying you might be familiar with: You are what you eat. But this isn’t strictly true, for not everything we eat is absorbed. The body’s ability to absorb nutrients is the critical link. And there are various reasons why some people don’t absorb the full measure of B vitamins in their food. Here are some of the main ones:
- A genetic malabsorption of B vitamins
- Regular alcohol consumption, AUD (alcohol use dependency), or alcoholism
- Post bariatric surgery (this causes malabsorption of most nutrients)
- Eating disorders, especially laxative-dependent
- Food allergies/intolerance which result in foods being left out of the diet
- Stress, especially chronic or acute
There are eight key components of vitamin B Complex, and they’re all necessary. These vitamins are water soluble, which means the body doesn’t store them – it expels what isn’t used. Again, I’m not recommending mega doses, especially since too much vitamin B6 can cause peripheral nerve damage. But a daily supplement of vitamin B Complex can be life enhancing, especially if you’re under stress. Here’s a rundown on vitamin B Complex:
- B1 (thiamine) required for energy production, heart function, brain function, memory, and digestion.
- B2 (riboflavin) required for energy production, repairing skin, needed for eyes, hair and nails
- B3 (niacin) required for energy production, brain function, memory, and is a building block for serotonin production – natural antidepressant
- B5 (pantothenic acid) required for energy production, fat metabolism, and helps control stress – produces cortisol and manages mood
- B6 (pyridoxine) required for protein digestion, energy, brain function and hormone production. A natural anti-depressant (works with B1 and B12 to reduce pain in the body and protects against Alzheimer’s Disease)
- B7 (biotin) required for turning some nutrients into energy, also needed for skin, hair and nails
- B9 (folic acid / folate) essential in pregnancy to develop the brain and nerves, and always required to produce energy and regulate homocysteine
- B12 (cyanocobalamin) enhances mood and aids sleep, protects nerves and reduces homocysteine
Foods that provide a range of B vitamins include: courgettes, asparagus, mushrooms, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potatoes, beans (various), lentils, wholewheat flour (only if unprocessed), watercress, tomatoes, avocados, squash, pumpkin, bananas, various nuts and seeds including almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, and sunflowers seeds, cottage cheese, milk/yogurt, tuna, sardines, eggs, chicken, turkey.
Obviously, anyone who has an allergy to tree nuts or seeds should not include these foods in their diet. Otherwise, nuts and seeds are a nutritious component of a healthful dietary structure. Some cereals and other foods are fortified with B vitamins, but a diet rich in processed foods has caused a widespread deficiency in these essential nutrients. Our food isn’t just entertainment – or eatertainment – it’s the fuel and building blocks that our body needs to continuously reproduce itself, over and over again. We all need our B vitamins – if your ‘get up and go’ has gone, make sure you get yours!
Joanne Reid Rodrigues is the founder of Slimming Together and the creator of the Authentic Confidence training programme. Joanne is the bestselling author of Life Transformation Diet and Slim, Happy & Free. She’s a therapist in nutrition and cognitive behavioural therapy, and she frequently appears on broadcast media. She is available for classes, intensives, and private coaching. Joanne can be contacted at www.JoanneRR.com