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I’ve been hearing clients around the world express concern about various troublesome and sometimes confusing symptoms. These complaints include fatigue, lack of energy, forgetfulness, lack of focus, pain, declining bone density, and just feeling “out of sorts” or “down in the dumps.”

Could this be you? It’s okay. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. These troubles are widespread. In fact, this cluster of symptoms is so prevalent, I thought I’d highlight one of my most useful suggestions for addressing them: Find out whether you’re getting enough essential vitamins.

Health experts consider 13 vitamins to be “essential”—that is, they play a direct role in proper body function. Though all of these nutrients are extremely important, they aren’t equally easy to nourish ourselves with. 

Before we begin, a very important note: If you see yourself in any of the symptoms below, please don’t add supplements on your own. Consult your doctor first. Simple lab tests can measure your levels of each of these vitamins. Depending on individual factors such as your age, diet, and medications, your doctor can determine whether you need a supplement, and if so, how much is right for you.

 

Wonder Vitamin #1: B-6

Why your body needs it

Your body uses vitamin B-6 (also known as pyroxidine) every single day since the vitamin plays a part in major functions including movement, memory, energy expenditure and blood flow.

B-6 helps your body to maintain your nervous system, too, and it’s a building block of the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in circulating red blood cells. Blood pressure, eye health, and regular sleep cycles also depend on B-6. In addition, B-6 helps to extract energy from the food that we eat, balance blood-sugar levels, act as a natural pain treatment, and boost mood. It also creates antibodies that our immune system uses to protect us. Yes, it’s that vital.

Signs of deficiency

So, what happens if you don’t get enough of this vitamin? Over time, B-6 deficiency can result in changes in mood (think irritability or anxiety). Confusion, muscle pain, fatigue, lack of energy, and symptoms of anemia or asthma can occur, too. B-6 is so important to nerve function that deficiency can contribute to debilitating disorders such as migraines, seizures, chronic pain, and depression.

Natural sources

Many foods are good sources of B-6. Meats including turkey or chicken breast and grass-fed beef rate high. So does tuna. Dried beans, especially pinto and chickpeas, are rich in B-6, too, as are pistachios, sunflower and sesame seeds, and amaranth. Need a treat? Avocado and blackstrap molasses are on this list, as well.

Are you at risk ?

Although vitamin B-6 is plentiful in foods, you should pay attention if you’re over 50. The possibility of deficiency rises among this age group because the body requires more from this point on—1.7 milligrams, as compared to the 1.3 mg required by those less senior. Vegetarians also should be careful to get enough since vitamin-rich meat choices aren’t on their plates.

Finally, note that B-6 is one of the water-soluble vitamins. That means your body can’t store “extra” for later on. You’ll need to refresh your supply of this powerful nutrient each day, whether you’re at high risk or not.

 

Wonder Vitamin #2: B-12

Why your body needs it

Vitamin B-12 plays a role in practically the entire human body. Your digestion, nervous system, mood and emotion, memory and brain function, energy level, cardiovascular system, skin, and even hair benefit from this amazing nutrient. B-12 is particularly important in metabolic functions such as enzyme production and hormonal balance. Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue can actually be traced to not getting enough B-12.

Signs of deficiency

B-12 deficiency is thought to be one of the world’s major nutrient shortages. Because of its wide-reaching roles within the body, a vitamin B-12 deficiency can show up in many different negative symptoms, many of which are very noticeable, such as potential chronic fatigue, mood disorders like depression, chronic stress, feeling generally run down, poor memory, lack of focus, and joint pain. Clearly, this is an important compound.

Natural sources

Meats and fish are among B-12’s best sources: beef and chicken liver, beef tenderloin, lamb, organic turkey, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, trout, and tuna. And if you can get it, raw milk also fits the bill.

Are you at risk?

Like B-6, B-12 is water-soluble and must be supplied to the body every day, so we should all be conscious of getting enough.

And also as with B-6, vegetarians are at increased risk of nutrient deficiency. Finally, elderly individuals may not have the acid levels required to get the most from this nutrient. If you fall into either of these groups and have shown some of the symptoms above, I strongly encourage you to see your doctor.

 

Wonder Vitamin #3: D

Why your body needs it

Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. Together, the vitamin-mineral pair help maintain healthy bones and encourage new bone cell growth, as well as maintain appropriate levels of calcium and other minerals in the blood. Vitamin D also regulates cholesterol, hormone, and blood-sugar levels, and it reduces inflammation, a major trigger of many barriers to wellness.

Signs of deficiency

Early symptoms of deficiency may be rather vague and generalized, such as fatigue, pain, weakness, poor memory or inability to focus. A more advanced deficiency may result in seasonal depression, a lackluster immune system, insulin resistance, and bone problems such as brittleness, frequent fractures, or rickets.

Worse, a growing list of serious conditions may be linked at least in part to long-term low vitamin D levels. These include heart disease, osteoporosis, insomnia, arthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, some common cancers, autoimmune diseases, various infectious diseases… The list just goes on.

Natural sources

Unlike the previous vitamins, vitamin D is fat-soluble and is stored in the body. It also is made by the body—we don’t have to rely exclusively on food or supplements to obtain it.

The primary way to make vitamin D is to give our skin 10-20 minutes per day of direct sun exposure, without sunscreen. That’s no easy feat for those of us who are indoors most of the day. Also, that time guideline is just an average. Older or darker-skinned individuals may require more exposure, while the fair-skinned may be risking sunburn in under 10 minutes.

That makes sunshine a tricky weapon against vitamin D deficiency. Fortunately, we have food sources, too! Fish such as halibut, salmon, rainbow trout, and tuna contain vitamin D, as do eggs and some mushrooms. Hint: Because D is fat-soluble, it’s best to eat it with fat (coconut oil, nuts, or seeds, for instance) to maximize how much of the miracle vitamin your body absorbs.

Are you at risk?

Of all the vitamins I’ve discussed here, this one has both the greatest potential benefit to our overall wellness, and the most widespread deficiency. Most adults are believed to be at least somewhat deficient in vitamin D. Doctors and other healthcare providers are catching up to the latest research and are becoming more knowledgeable about the critical role of this miracle vitamin.

But while we all should aim to keep an eye on our vitamin D, some individuals’ risk of deficiency is even greater than that widespread average. At highest risk for low D levels are people who live in northern regions where they have less sun exposure, as well as people with dark-toned skin, which is more difficult for vitamin-stimulating sunlight to penetrate. Those who are overweight also tend to have increased risk.

 

Deficiencies of vitamins B-6, B-12, and D are so common, you can easily understand why you might be experiencing low moods, flagging energy, and immune system challenges. Take heart: Reversing your symptoms and recovering your health and immunity is straightforward once you know your vitamin levels (again, your doctor can do this simple test) and take action. Need a little more guidance? Click here to schedule a short consultation. I’m happy to demonstrate how I can help you feel fabulous this year, from the inside out.

 

 

 

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