Real Talk — Today’s medical and healthcare system can be tough and stressful to navigate.
Often times we’re told conflicting information, advised to take (and pay out of pocket) for tests that often times lead to more unanswered questions, or rushed in and out of appointments without really feeling acknowledged, cared for and heard.
Feeling healthy is absolutely VITAL to living your best life, which is why it’s so important to build up a team of medical practitioners you can rely on and trust.
As a nutrition + hormone health practitioner I truly value good doctors and care not only for myself and family, but all of my clients too!
This is why I’m grateful for my partnership with Dr. Patrick Fox at Seattle-Based Constellation Naturopathic. What’s so cool about Dr. Fox (besides his great sense of humor and fun, easy-going nature) is that he’s hyper-focused on addressing health concerns as naturally as possible, with a wide variety of treatment options before reaching for pharmaceuticals (which is so not the case with many other doctors).
Because I’ve met (as well as coached) so many individuals that struggle with hormone imbalances, I asked Dr. Fox to address a topic most want guidance in — vitamins + supplements.
Specifically, this post is focusing on an essential micronutrient that packs a powerhouse punch (and one many of us are deficient in or not able to metabolize effectively), Vitamin B.
WHAT ARE B VITAMINS ROLE IN OUR BODIES + WITH OUR HORMONES?
According to Dr. Fox, B vitamins are essential in nearly every aspect of our bodies – from neurological (i.e. brain function) to endocrinological (i.e. hormones) to musculoskeletal systems.
B vitamins are used as cofactors in detoxification, which plays an essential role in hormonal health. This is because hormones are being constantly recycled in our bodies — their components are broken down by our livers and then either reused or safely eliminated. These biochemical detoxification pathways require B vitamins to be successfully completed, and if they’re not, it can throw your hormones completely out of balance.
BREAKDOWN OF THE B VITAMINS + WHAT EACH DOES
If you’ve taken a B-vitamin complex or supplement in the past, you may have noticed there are multiple B-vitamins ranging from B-1 – B-12. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each form does:
+ B-1 — Thiamin, involved in energy metabolism
+ B-2 — Riboflavin, converts food into energy/fuel for the body to use
+ B-3 — Niacin, lowers cholesterol, boosts brain function, converts fat into ketones (energy)
+ B-5 — Pantothenic Acid, makes red blood cells, increases progesterone, supports adrenal glands
+ B-6 — Pyrodoxine, necessary for brain development, building block of feel-good hormone serotonin + norepinephrine (helps body cope with stress)
+ B-7 — Biotin, supports healthy metabolism, creates important enzymes that strengthen hair, skin, nails
+ B-9 — Folate or folic acid, essential for a healthy pregnancy + methylation, an important biochemical process that helps in every tissue and cell to help us detoxify + work efficiently
+ B-12 — Cobalamin, makes DNA, keeps nerves + blood cells healthy
As you can see, B Vitamins play a lot of different important roles within our bodies and as it relates to hormones, so it’s important we’re getting enough of this nutrient AND able to absorb it effectively.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF A B VITAMIN DEFICIENCY
Because B Vitamins are involved in so many different processes within our bodies, symptoms are vast and can vary from person to person. Here’s a few of the most common ones:
+ Trouble conceiving or miscarrying
+ Difficulty focusing or brain fog
+ Depression, especially postpartum
+ Inability to cope with stress
+ Nerve pain or tingling
+ Muscle weakness
+ Slower cognitive function or memory loss
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH OR EFFECTIVELY ABSORBING B VITAMINS
While there are many reasons you may need to explore additional B-vitamin support, Dr. Fox’s patients mostly need it when they’re experiencing or attempting the following–
+ Women or men following a vegan or vegetarian diet
+ Both women and men trying to conceive or struggling with infertility
+ Women who are postpartum
+ Women who have heavy or painful menstrual cycles
+ Women taking an oral contraceptive (i.e. hormonal birth control)
+ Men or women taking medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s), statins, metformin, anticonvulsants or corticosteroids, etc.
+ Men or women experiencing gut issues such as SIBO, Leaky Gut, IBS, IBD, etc.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO EFFECTIVELY TAKE + ABSORB B VITAMINS?
While there are a variety of B-complex supplements on the market, both Dr. Fox and myself find intramuscular injections (IM) as an extremely effective method as it enables nutrients to be immediately and directly absorbed by your cells.
This is because oral supplements must go through your body’s digestion process and are eventually absorbed through the gut, where as IM injections bypass first-pass metabolism in the liver, enabling more bioavailability as the B vitamins go directly to the cells.
This is also why many experiencing gut issues may be deficient in B vitamins, even if taking an oral supplement, as their gut imbalances prohibit them from effectively absorbing the nutrient.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH B-VITAMIN INJECTIONS
Because I’m a prime candidate for B-vitamin deficiencies (I struggle with SIBO, IBS and am also currently 9 months postpartum) I’ve found getting regular B-Vitamin Injections (IM) to be extremely beneficial.
Most noticeably I experience a boost in energy, focus as well as digestion (disclaimer — it can really help get things moving if you catch my drift).
I was also taking injections for six months prior to conception, and while I did a number of things to increase my conception odds I do strong believe women struggling with infertility should explore whether or not they are getting and effectively absorbing enough B vitamins.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WITH B VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS
If getting B Vitamin Injections is not an option (i.e. deathly fear of needles, etc.), Dr. Fox recommends looking for a brand that contains an activated form of B vitamins so your body will be able to absorb them. It should include folate, the bioactive form of B9 (instead of folic acid) and methylcobalamin, the bioactive form of B12 (versus cyanocobalamin).
His favorite trusted brands include MegaFoods, Designs for Health, & Thorne but to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck with quality, bioavailable supplements, try working with a naturopathic doctor who has the training to make recommendations for YOUR unique body.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms or feel like you may benefit or want to explore B Vitamin injections (or know someone who might) feel free to reach out to me with more questions or recommendations (and hit up Dr. Fox if you live in the Greater Seattle Area).
Don’t forget to leave a comment below if you found this helpful or share with those who might.
Sending you so much love.