It’s important to know each of the vitamins and the role each plays in our body. Let’s make sure we are clear on what a vitamin is and isn’t. A vitamin is “any of a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.” Given the body cannot produce vitamins on its own, we have to get them from somewhere.
It is critical to know where to get these vitamins in the way nature intended: Through our food. Supplements work, but they’re manufactured, and not as potent as the real deal. There is no better way to get your nutrients than through real food that either grew in the earth or walked on it (apologies to vegetarians).
Going over Vitamin B is much more complicated than going over others, as there are eight B Vitamins in total. We will deal with four in this blog post, and four more in Part Two.
Why Should People in Recovery Care?
For people in recovery, all eight B Vitamins are critical because they all are necessary for the breakdown of sugar in the blood, and conversion of sugar to energy. We focus on sugar so much in Spiritual Adrenaline because, according to many studies, as many as 93% of people in early recovery have blood sugar imbalances. So it’s critical to understand how B Vitamins impact their body’s ability to convert sugar into energy.
Without ingesting the appropriate amount of B Vitamins, even those eating large amounts of sugar complain of sluggishness, anxiety and depression, as their body may lack the capacity to synthesize the sugar into energy. The question then becomes, is a genetic predisposition towards these conditions or is diet to blame, or a little bit of both. If it is behavior, that’s something that can be addressed.
It’s my opinion that too many medical professionals go right to the prescription pad to address these conditions without first evaluating nutritional intake and the role, if any, that diet may be playing. Being honest about your health history with your doctor will make it much easier for a medical professional to determine if diet is playing a role in some condition you are experiencing.
So what’s the good news?
The good news is that the body has an amazing capacity to repair the damage if you focus on a balanced and nutritious diet. For most folks, simple changes to diet can undo years of substance abuse and poor diet in a relatively short period of time. Until such time as you are able to modify your diet, I highly recommend you take a multi-vitamin supplement in consultation with your doctor.
My primary energy source while active and using, and in early recovery, was sugar and caffeine. Nicotine was also something I perceived as an energy source both while active and in early recovery. None of these energy sources are sustainable over time and all of them, when abused, have very serious consequences. I often thought I was exhausted, anxious and/or depressed, but never gave thought to how my diet, along with other bad habits, could be impacting my mood.
One month after leaving rehab, I had a full spectrum blood analysis and among the issues raised by my blood test, was being Vitamin B deficient. This surprised me and was not something I had previously been aware of. I began to take supplements and over time, improved my diet. The result, along with exercise and other lifestyle modifications, for me has been incredible. I have abundant energy almost all of the time, rarely get anxious and almost never feel depressed or down.
I look at what I am putting in my mouth to eat as medicine and try and remember the reason for eating is to enjoy, but also provide my body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. My blood work today confirms that my diet is providing the appropriate amount of B Vitamins across the spectrum, which may play a major role in explaining why I feel so good.
Give it a try and see if it makes a positive difference in your life
Here is a look at our first four B Vitamins:
Vitamin B1 otherwise known as Thiamine
B1 assists in the breakdown of carbohydrates, and proper nerve and heart function. Deficiencies manifest in the most serious of ways: nerve damage, cardiac issues up to and including heart failure, and brain damage. It is relatively easy to get B1 from diet. Foods that are rich in B1 include whole grains, nuts, potatoes and most meat. Pork is exceptionally rich in B1.
Vitamin B2 otherwise known as Riboflavin
B2 assists in breaking down sugar and converting sugar to energy. B2 is critical to get the metabolism functioning optimally. B2 also helps with health on the cellular level as a building block needed to maintain cell membranes. Deficiencies manifest in the following ways: lack of energy, depression, irritability, dry skin, splitting of the lips and gums (cold sores), and skin inflammation. Foods that are rich in B2 include: milk, diary products, eggs, and meat. For vegetarians, try Soy Milk and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B6 otherwise known as Pyridoxine
B6 is absolutely critical (I know, you have heard that before). B6 is crucial to almost all metabolic functions in the body. Moreover, it helps convert other substances into tryptophan, an amino acid that is essential for the production of protein, along with other B vitamins such as Niacin. Deficiencies manifest in the following ways: anemia, skin lesions, convulsions, and lack of energy and depression. Foods rich in B6 include: Fish, meat (especially the organs such as liver and kidneys), and whole grains. . For vegetarians, try Soy Milk and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B12 otherwise known as Cobalamin
B12 assists with the manufacture of red blood cells, nerve function, and DNA synthesis. Deficiencies manifest in the following ways: anemia, depression and other psychological disorders and convulsions. Foods rich in B12 include meat, dairy, and dairy products. . For vegetarians, try Soy Milk and fortified cereals.
In Part Two of the B Vitamins, we will look at Biotin, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid, and Folic Acid.
Recommended reading: Food for Recovery, Dr. Joseph Beasley and Susan Knightly, Crown Trade Publishing, 1993, Nutritional Supplements, Joe Canon, MS, Infinity Publishing, 2008, The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Andrew W. Saul, Basic Health Publications, 2008.
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