Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that is required for a number of biochemical reactions in our body. It plays a role in metabolism, the formation of red blood cells, and in the maintenance of our nervous system. It also can reduce levels of homocysteine, which is an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It is found exclusively in animal food products like meat, dairy and eggs. Dietary vitamin B12 tends to be bound to protein, and is released with the help of our stomach acid and an enzyme called pepsin. The free vitamin B12 then binds with an intrinsic factor in the stomach, travels through the small intestine and get’s absorbed in the ileum (a part of our small intestine).
Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can occur:
if your diet is lacking in animal products (i.e. vegan or vegetarian)
if you have pernicious anemia—an autoimmune condition where the body destroys stomach cells that produce intrinsic factors
if you are over the age of 50 due to a decrease absorption of vitamin B12 from food
if you’ve had a portion of your stomach or small intestine surgically removed
if you have a digestive disorder that reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals i.e. Celiac’s disease or Crohn’s disease
Some medication can reduce vitamin B12 levels (i.e. proton pump inhibitors, birth control pill, metformin)
Signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
-anemia (macrocytic anemia)
-neurological conditions causing weakness and numbness in the arms and legs
-swollen, enlarged tongue
-loss of balance
-low energy or fatigue
-ringing in the ears
You can visit your family doctor or naturopathic doctor to get tested for vitamin B12 deficiency. I offer in-office vitamin B12 injections, which bypass the digestive tract and allow for better absorption. Most people feel an increase in energy after receiving the injection as well as an improvement in their sleep pattern due to vitamin B12’s role in melatonin production.
Migraines are a neurovascular disorder that produce a number of symptoms including:
moderate to severe pain on one side of the head that is worse with physical activity
sensitivity to light, sound or smell
an aura, which is a focal neurological symptom before the migraine (i.e. double vision)
Migraines can last from 2-72 hours and can negatively affect a person’s quality of life. Often people turn to over the counter or prescription pain medications, which help relieve symptoms. However, some individuals may experience adverse drug reactions.
Migraines have a genetic component that make an individual more susceptible to internal or external migraine triggers. These triggers include: fluctuation in hormones, certain foods or food additives, stress, bright lights, perfumes, sleep deprivation (including jet lag), physical activity, changes in barometric pressure and certain medications. Naturopathic medicine can help to identify your personal triggers and provide natural solutions to help reduce the severity and occurrence of migraines.
Here are a few ways naturopathic medicine can help:
Identifying food sensitivities (IgG) and food triggers. Certain foods can trigger migraines. Common food triggers include red wine, dark chocolate, caffeine, and food additives. Your naturopathic doctor can perform lab testing to identify food sensitivities and provide an individualized dietary protocol to reduce the severity and occurrence of your migraines.
Detoxing and balancing hormones. Many women experience migraines before or during their menses. Estrogen levels decline prior to menstruation and can trigger migraines in predisposed individuals. Acupuncture and supplements can help reduce migraines associated with hormone fluctuations.
Balancing blood sugar. Missing meals can lead to a hypoglycaemic states that is accompanied by a migraine. Try eating 5-6 small meals during the day.
Improving sleep. Individuals that are sleep-deprived can experience more migraines. Your naturopathic doctor can help identify factors that are affecting your quality of sleep and provide natural solutions.
Reducing stress. Coping mechanisms, acupuncture and supplements can be beneficial in supporting your body during stressful periods. Stress can also lead to hormonal imbalance and vitamin deficiencies.
Dr. Christina Lukasko is a naturopathic doctor practicing at Ocean Wellness in North Vancouver. She has a general family practice with a focus in skin conditions and hormonal health. She has clinical experience treating a variety of health concerns, including digestive and autoimmune conditions.
Please note that this information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice nor does it replace the advice of your medical doctor or other healthcare practitioner. Never delay seeking medical assistance.
Dr. Christina Lukasko, naturopathic doctor in North Vancouver, is offering FREE 15 minute naturopathic consultations. The consultation can be done by phone or in-office at Ocean Wellness. Call: 604-986-9355 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to book your free consultation.
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Summer is just around the corner, which means more fun, more sun and a lot more insects. Here are three tips on how to have a safe and fun summer.
Tip 1: WEAR SUNSCREEN. Nothing ruins a summer day like getting a sunburn. To reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging, wear a natural sunscreen with broad spectrum protection (both UVA and UVB). Just don’t forget to reapply!
A great option for a natural sunscreen is Green Beaver’s Organic SPF 30 Sunscreen.
Tip 2: NATURAL INSECT REPELLENT. You can make your own natural insect repellent by combing essential oils, water, and witch hazel. Fill up a spray bottle with a water to witch hazel ratio of 1:1. For example, if you add 50 mL of water, you will also add 50 mL of witch hazel to the spray bottle. Then add 30- 50 drops of an essential oil blend. One of my favourite blends is 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 10 drops of peppermint essential oil, 15 drops of lavender essential oil, and 20 drops of citronella essential oil.
Looking to purchase a great natural insect repellent? Try Saje’s B-gone Chemical Free Outdoor Mist.
Tip 3: STAY HYDRATED. On those hot summer days, make sure you have your reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. You can make your own flavoured water by adding frozen fruits and herbs. My favourite combo is frozen raspberries, lime slices, and mint. Very refreshing!
Dr. Lukasko in a naturopathic doctor practicing at Ocean Wellness in North Vancouver. She is currently accepting new patients.
Disclaimer: This blog is for entertainment and informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of your medical doctor. Always consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your health.