Posted on 1 Comment

How B Vitamins Can Help with Holidays

Sometimes the holiday season can be stressful and rob our bodies of important nutrients we need to maintain good health. One group of nutrients affected are the B vitamins, which can be drained by certain activities associated with the holidays, like extra alcohol consumption, sugary foods and stress. This can leave us feeling depleted and drained, as these vitamins are necessary for cell metabolism, brain function and energy levels.

The Importance of B Vitamins

Stress Relief – The holidays can lead to tight schedules and a reduction of stress-busting exercise, which is often replaced with holiday shopping or after-work parties. Fortunately, B vitamins support the functions your body needs to manage stress, especially due to work. (1) Here are some of the roles these vitamins play:

  • Thiamine (B1) maintains the flow of electrolytes through nerve cells, which keeps your nervous system healthy. It may stabilize your mood and boost concentration.
  • Riboflavin (B2) helps your body convert carbohydrates into energy, maintain liver health, and is important to regulate mood and calm the nervous system.
  • Niacin (B3) is linked to stress and mood. It is believed to boost brain function, and deficiencies of B3 may lead to fatigue and depression.
  • Pyridoxine (B6) supports the immune system during periods of high stress, supports adrenal function and may elevate your mood.
  • Folic Acid (B9) supports healthy brain function and supports mood.
  • Cyanocobalamin (B12) plays an important role in the production of serotonin and melatonin, both important for healthy sleep patterns and a more positive outlook.

Support for a Healthy Brain – Our bodies cannot make B vitamins, yet rely on them for healthy brain function. During the holidays, B vitamins can help you maintain a more positive mental state by supplying nutrients that support a healthy nervous system. In fact, a variety of B vitamins support the production of certain chemical messengers in the brain and without a sufficient supply may contribute to memory loss and cognitive decline.

Our brains account for approximately 20% of our body’s energy expenditure, and so requires a healthy supply of the right nutrients. (2) Luckily, B vitamins support th body’s ability to convert nutrients into the chemical energy called ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which can help you keep up with extra holiday activities. And better yet, these same vitamins may even ward off what some call the holiday blues.

Maintain a Positive Mood – Drinking excess alcohol is known to depress the central nervous system and can even lead to states of depression. In addition, this is a time of year when a healthy diet is often set aside for comfort foods or holiday treats, which can also lead to an unhappy mood.

Nutrition is linked to our mental health, and B vitamins are important to support mood and brain health, all which are linked to a positive mental attitude and outlook. In fact, nutritional supplementation is linked to mood improvement, especially vitamins B2 and B6. (3) And supplementing with B vitamins can provide the extra support for when we do overindulge.

Replace Important Nutrients – All B vitamins are water soluble, which means they can be easily flushed from the system. Alcohol is one culprit that can quickly drain nutrients, and the combination of high sugar foods and extra alcohol drinks can deplete any vitamin B your system may have stored. To make matters worse, regular alcohol consumption can block your digestive tract from absorbing B12, leading to a less than optimal mood. Counter this by taking a B supplement during the holiday season to ensure your levels remain healthy.

Protection from Anemia – Anemia takes place when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells and is a condition that is sometimes linked to a folic acid or B12 deficiency. This is because the body requires B vitamins to support the development of red blood cells. But some people may not get enough due to strict vegetarian diets, certain medications, or an autoimmune disease. A supplement that includes a wide variety of B vitamins can support a healthy digestive tract to avoid deficiencies that can lead to anemia.

Support Your Immune System – Vitamins B6 and B12 support healthy immune function. In fact, one study showed that B12 deficiency is linked to a suppressed immune response. (4) Low B12 levels are also linked to fatigue, which leads many people to expensive vitamin shots to replenish their nutrition levels. Supplementation with a B vitamin complex can support your body’s immune function, so you stay healthy.

Natural B Vitamin Sources

B vitamins include a combination of different types of vitamins including folate, niacin and thiamine. And because there are a variety of vitamins in this class, it is best to consume a variety of foods to ensure you get them all. Some sources of B vitamins include:

  • Meats like red meat, fish and poultry
  • Clams, oysters and mussels
  • Eggs
  • Cheese and milk
  • Whole, unprocessed (or less processed) grains like barley, millet or brown rice
  • Legumes such as lentils and beans
  • Dark, leafy vegetables like spinach, collard greens and Romaine lettuce

Because many B vitamins are found in animal sources, vegetarian and vegans may need supplementation to obtain their daily requirement. In addition, this group of vitamins can be destroyed by food processing, improper storage or excessive cooking. And because the B vitamins are water-soluble, boiling or cooking food in water can leach these precious vitamins from the food source.

Fortunately, supplementing with a B vitamin can be as easy as one daily dose, which can help make up for any deficiencies that can happen during the stressful, holiday season. Stay on top of your health and protect yourself by taking care of your body so it will take care of you.

References:

1 Stough C, Simpson T, Lomas J, et al. Reducing occupational stress with a B-vitamin focussed intervention: a randomized clinical trial: study protocol. Nutr J. 2014;13(1):122. Published 2014 Dec 22. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-122

2 Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy–A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68. Published 2016 Jan 27. doi:10.3390/nu8020068

3 Rao TS, Asha MR, Ramesh BN, Rao KS. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008;50(2):77–82. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.42391

4 Thomaskutty KG, Lee CM. Interaction of nutrition and infection: effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on resistance to Trypanosoma lewisi. J Natl Med Assoc. 1985;77(4):289–299.

Cindy Papp

Author

Body Cleanse and Detoxification Specialist with over 22 years experience; BSc in Holistic Nutrition, C.C.T. Colon Hydrotherapist, Cert. Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Guide, Energy Work, Reiki, Author, Holistic Health Researcher

For more information on Cindy visit https://www.springclean-cleanse.com/ 

Posted on Leave a comment

Keeping Balance During the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting time when we visit family and friends, go to more parties than usual, decorate our homes and, hopefully, enjoy ourselves. And too often, holiday stress gets in the way and saps our energy and health. But it doesn’t have to be like this, it is possible to find balance during the holidays and enjoy the season with some minor adjustments.

Keep Stress Relief a Priority

Stress seems to build up quickly this time of year for many reasons like traveling, family commitments and money pressures. Add extra activities like holiday parties and shopping, and many people feel under more pressure than they should. But taking time to slow down can benefit your physical and mental health. Here are just some ways to relieve holiday stress:

  • Meditate – Author Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon once said that one should sit for 20 minutes in meditation every day and when you’re busy, longer. As odd as it seems, it’s not wasting time. Meditation calms the mind and when the mind is calm, we see more clearly and manage our time better. In addition, taking deep breaths and meditation helps reduce cortisol levels so you feel less stressed. (1)
  • Exercise – Exercising just 20 minutes, three times a week increases your body’s production of endorphins that improve sleep, reduce stress and make you feel happier. Holiday stress often stops people from exercising as they begin to feel overwhelmed and busy, but just some exercise helps reduce symptoms of depression. (2) The short time required for benefits is easy to fit into a daily schedule, and the overall benefits will be well worth the effort.
  • Eat right – With holiday parties come many treats and extra alcohol consumption. But that doesn’t mean all healthy foods should go out the door! Counteract the extra holiday calories by focusing on a balanced diet. For example, make a commitment to eat a piece of fruit and a salad every day, or take a B supplement to make sure you meet your daily nutrient requirements. When you do indulge, learn to enjoy you’re the treat and don’t overindulge. Many times, our mindset becomes all or nothing, but what you eat sometimes doesn’t define your overall healthy lifestyle. Even body builders have cheat days! So, remember balance, because even small, healthy practices add up and assist with overall wellbeing.

Keep up Your Energy Levels

When energy levels sag, we don’t get everything accomplished that we’d like. This can add to our holiday stress and even make some people feel depressed. Here are some practices to keep energy levels high:

  • Energy foods – This tip goes along with a balanced diet, because the benefits of healthy foods go way beyond stress. They give us energy and help us keep a positive mood. Don’t worry about the occasional holiday sweets you eat, but do focus on making sure you eat energy foods during your regular meals. These include plenty fresh apples, bananas, fatty fish, brown rice, green tea and coffee, of course. But don’t load your coffee with sugar and cream or it will have the opposite effect.
  • Stay hydrated – Consuming extra alcohol and sweets can quickly sap energy and leave you dehydrated. Be sure to make up for it by drinking fresh water throughout the day to help your body flush excess toxins and support your immune system.
  • Exercise – This was already used for stress reduction, but exercise also creates energy. In fact, at last one study showed that low-intensity exercise reduces fatigue while increasing energy for most people.
  • Supplement – Many times we simply don’t have the time to eat as healthy as we want, and it can be difficult to consume the recommended 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. If this sounds familiar, try supplementing your diet. Some popular choices that are proven to increase energy include B12, iron and beetroot powder. (3,4,5) But be sure your supplement is sourced from food and proven to work, or you won’t reap the desired benefits.
  • Superfoods – Superfoods are a newer term used to describe foods that are packed with nutrients and energy. Some of these include berries and microgreens like alfalfa or wheatgrass. These are often sold in supplements to fill the need for our high-energy, faced paced lifestyle. Most taste good and are an easy way to get the extra nutrition for when we need it.

Enjoy Yourself

The holidays are supposed to be a time to enjoy, but too often we forget. It may take practice to learn to balance stress with enjoyment, so make a commitment to yourself to savor as much of the season as you can. Keep a diary of the fun times to remind yourself that the holiday season can be an enjoyable time of year. Here are just some ideas for holiday fun:

  • Watch traditional movies – The holidays come with their own set of movies. Some carry the traditional meaning of giving while others are just entertaining. Either way, take a couple nights during the season to enjoy movies that make you laugh or get in the holiday spirit. Invite your family or friends, or if they stress you out, enjoy your movie solo. No matter how you do it, remember to relax and all things will get done.
  • Take a holiday light drive – You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy all the holiday lights and decorations that people share. Take a drive or a stroll around the neighborhood or a local shopping area. And remember you don’t have to shop, just enjoy the festivities, grab an eggnog and relax, and remember a balanced life is a happy life.
  • Attend a holiday party – Many people attend at least one, so why not enjoy it? Try to remember it’s just a couple of hours out of your week and you don’t have to stay all night. Holiday parties are about remembering to take time for yourself, meeting friends, relaxing and enjoying the season.

References:

1 Turakitwanakan, W., Mekseepralard, C., & Busarakumtragul, P. (2013, January). Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23724462.

2 Craft LL, Perna FM. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(3):104–111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301

3 Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/.

4 D’Adamo CR, Novick JS, Feinberg TM, Dawson VJ, Miller LE. A Food-Derived Dietary Supplement Containing a Low Dose of Iron Improved Markers of Iron Status Among Nonanemic Iron-Deficient Women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2018;37(4):342–349. doi:10.1080/07315724.2018.1427158

5 Domínguez R, Cuenca E, Maté-Muñoz JL, et al. Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(1):43. Published 2017 Jan 6. doi:10.3390/nu9010043

Cindy Papp

Author

Body Cleanse and Detoxification Specialist with over 22 years experience; BSc in Holistic Nutrition, C.C.T. Colon Hydrotherapist, Cert. Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Guide, Energy Work, Reiki, Author, Holistic Health Researcher

For more information on Cindy visit https://www.springclean-cleanse.com/