The Benefits of B vitamins

The Benefits of B vitamins

A vitamin is an essential nutrient. The human body cannot create its own vitamins, and if a specific vitamin is missing, predictable symptoms will occur. For example, if you don’t eat enough vitamin C symptoms of scurvy may appear. B vitamins are commonly prescribed in Naturopathic practice as they are an important part of good health and managing stress.

B vitamins are a group of water-soluble compounds which support energy production in cells. Most vitamins were discovered in the first half of the 20th century. Have you ever wondered why there is no vitamin B4? As we learn more about vitamins, science has revealed that some compounds which had been labeled as vitamins were in fact non-essential. The body could produce it’s own, or the compound was not needed for proper functioning. It’s kind of like when Pluto lost its planet status!

Why do we care about the demoted B vitamins? Orthomolecular medicine uses targeted doses of nutritional compounds to produce a therapeutic effect in the body. Although you won’t be deficient in vitamin B4, it may still help treat symptoms.

Formerly known as: Vitamin B4
Current name: Choline 

Choline’s biggest role in the body is being used to make acetylcholine which plays an important role in muscle contraction, hormone regulation and sleep. Choline is also involved in brain development, the formation of various lipids and works as a methyl donor. Genetic variations in methylation may play a role in depression.

Choline is being researched for it’s a potential role in treating fatty liver disease, high homoysteine, blepharospasm, hyperthyroidism and bipolar disorder.


Formerly known as: Vitamin B8
Current name: Inositol

Inositol exists in two forms, myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. Inositol is used to make phospholipids which are a key component of cell membranes. They are also used in the phosphatidylinositol cycle which is linked to the noradrenergic, serotonergic and cholinergic receptors. These receptors are important for alertness, mood regulation and muscle function. Inositol can also support uptake of glucose into the cells, leading to decreased sugar in the bloodstream.

Inositol may have the potential to prevent depression, diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also a favorite compound recommended by Cathryn Coe, ND to improve sleep, lower BP and cholesterol, and support balanced testosterone levels. *Note that inositol in any form is contraindicated in bipolar disorder as it may exacerbate symptoms.


Formerly known as: Vitamin B10
Current name: PABA

Research suggests PABA can increase the effect of estrogen and glucocorticoids in the body. As glucocorticoids have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the body, it may have a therapeutic role in autoimmune conditions such as scleroderma, dermatomyositis, Dupuytren’s contracture, Peyronie’s disease. PABA is also used to make folic acid.

Most commonly, B vitamins are recommended in a B complex for patients experiencing stress, fatigue, low mood and difficulty losing weight. Feeling better overall helps us reach our health goals and can improve our sense of well being. Remember to take your B’s earlier in the day, with breakfast or lunch, and always with food.



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Meet your Neurotransmitters

Meet your Neurotransmitters

Nerve cells release tiny chemicals, called neurotransmitters to send messages to neighbouring cells. Neurotransmitters play an important role in the healthy functioning of the nervous system including mood, sleep, and more. Keep reading to learn more about some of these key players. 


Dopamine plays an important role in depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, addiction, depression and schizophrenia. It is important for motivation. It is also used to make epinephrine and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine dysfunction is linked to ADHD, posttraumatic stress, anxiety and Alzheimer’s disease.

Foods that support dopamine

Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine which is high in salmon, tofu, white beans, pumpkin seeds, wild rice and spinach. As amino acids are the building blocks of protein, most protein-rich foods will contain adequate tyrosine. 

Supplements that support dopamine

Vitamin D: This vitamin protects the nervous system. It also increases the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase, possibly increasing the production of dopamine.


Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan. It helps to regulate sleep, eating and digestion. Reduced levels of serotonin are linked to depression, anxiety, OCD, obesity, carbohydrate cravings, insomnia, migraines, premenstrual syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Foods that support serotonin:

Trypyophan is found in most meats. Plant-based foods with the highest amount of tryptophan include pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans and oats. 

Supplements that support serotonin:

5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is an in-between step between tryptophan and serotonin. Our bodies have an easier time forming serotonin from 5-HTP then from tryptophan. 5-HTP is present in many sleep and anxiety supplements. 


This neurotransmitter is calming, or inhibitory to the nervous system. GABA is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and epileptic disorders. 

Foods that support GABA:

Cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cauliflower), soybeans, adzuki beans, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, buckwheat and peas. 

Supplements that support GABA:

GABA can be taken as a supplement. Research suggests GABA cannot pass from the blood into the brain directly due to its large size. It may have an impact on the nervous system by acting on receptors in the digestive tract.  

Animal research suggests certain strains of lactobacillus bacteria may produce GABA.

Please note: Many pharmaceuticals are designed to change the activity of neurotransmitters. As a result, accidentally taking a supplement that acts on the same pathway as a medication can have severe side effects.




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Immune system support

Immune system support

Cold and flu season is here!

Here are three foods to support your immune system with winter:


Tulsi tea

Tulsi, is also known as Holy basil or Ocimum sanctum. This tasty herb has gentle anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal potential through its ability to support the immune system. It also acts as an antioxidant and can help support the body in times of mental and physical stress. It helps to prevent cellular damage from environmental pollutants and prolonged physical exertion. This healing plant has a long history of use in the ayurvedic traditions of India.

Pumpkin seeds 

These seeds offer a dietary source of zinc as well as protein, magnesium and other trace minerals. Zinc is essential for proper immune system function as nearly all immune system cells depend on it. Zinc deficiency leads to inflammation and decreases in B, T17 and Treg cells.

Brassica family

The brassica family of plants includes many familiar faces: cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, radishes, and cauliflower. What might surprise you is that in addition to containing various compounds that support liver function, they are also an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C rapidly decreases in the body during stress or infection. Adequate levels of vitamin C support many immune cells, such as natural killer cells and lymphocytes. 



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Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(12):1286. doi:10.3390/nu9121286