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Vitamin B: Improving Mental Health in Canadians



Vitamin B and mental health

In the past few years, a large number of Canadians have found themselves battling with mental health issues and mood disorders. This has increased the need for effective long-term solutions, and getting to the root of what is causing these issues. Low and behold, there was a discovery that what we eat directly affects our mental health. At the top of the list of nutrients that have a huge impact on Canadian’s mental health and mood, is the Vitamin B Complex. This Article will take a look at how the group of B Vitamins can naturally improve your mood, and tackle those mental health issues head-on.

Understanding Vitamin B

There are 8 different B vitamins that make up this complex, and they all work together to keep our bodies functioning smoothly. Each B vitamin is essential to the body and the brain, and our bodies cannot produce these vitamins on their own. Therefore, we need to get these vitamins from the foods we eat. All B vitamins are involved in the bodies process of converting energy, and metabolizing fats and proteins. Our bodies turn the carbohydrates that we eat into glucose, which helps energize the body and the brain. The vitamins that make up the B complex are:

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine):  The main vitamin involved in energy conversion, helping to ensure we have enough energy for our day to day activities. Also aids in the growth and development of cells.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): The vitamin that body uses to carry oxygen to all of our cells. Essential for red blood cell production, and can help fight and minimize the effects of free radicals.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Keeps our skin, digestive system and nervous system functioning properly. Helps our bodies produce the stress and sex hormones, and the positive effects on cardiovascular health is also significant.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Significantly increases the body’s abilities to produce serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that improve your mood and heavily impacts cognitive function in the brain.
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Plays a key role in the body’s metabolism. Crucial for maintaining the health of hair, skin, and nails. Biotin supports the function of the nervous system, and is vital for the proper growth and development of the fetus in pregnancy.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate): Assists in the production of DNA, RNA, and cell growth, and has a significant impact on our metabolism. Pregnant women need more folate, as it helps development of the babies brain and spine.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Works with Folate to form red blood cells, and enhance iron’s effectiveness in the body. Necessary in the health and function of our nerve tissues, and improves immune function.
B Vitamins | B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12

Deficiencies and Mood Disorders

The Vitamin B Complex has an incredible impact on mental health in Canadians, and deficiencies in the B vitamins can cause severe mood swings and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. You may also notice an affect on your mental clarity, as you may experience confusion and irritability if you are not getting enough. Vitamin B6 is the most important B vitamin for your mental health, as it is the main one associated with happy hormones. This is especially true for women who are experiencing PMS symptoms. Usually you can get enough B vitamins in your balanced diet, however if you are a vegan or vegetarian, getting the required amounts are difficult and may require supplements.

Daily Intake of Vitamin B Complex

The daily recommended intakes for B vitamins can vary by age, gender, and other factors like pregnancy or lactation. According to Health Canada, here are the general daily recommended amounts for adults:

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
    • Men: 1.2 mg
    • Women: 1.1 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
    • Men: 1.3 mg
    • Women: 1.1 mg
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
    • Men: 16 mg NE (Niacin Equivalents)
    • Women: 14 mg NE
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
    • Men: 1.3-1.7 mg
    • Women: 1.3-1.5 mg
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
    • Adults: 30 mcg
    • Pregnant Women: 30 mcg
    • Breastfeeding Women: 35 mcg
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate)
    • Adults: 400 mcg DFE (Dietary Folate Equivalents)
    • Pregnant Women: 600 mcg DFE
    • Breastfeeding Women: 500 mcg DFE
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
    • Adults: 2.4 mcg

pregnant woman & vitamin B - 1047x628

Vitamin B Importance During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the demand for B vitamins significantly increases as they play critical roles in supporting both maternal health and fetal development. Vitamin B9, or folate, helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus, which affects the brain and spine. Getting the proper amount of folate before conception and in early pregnancy lowers the risk of these serious birth defects. Vitamin B12 is also vital, as it works closely with folate to form red blood cells and produce the genetic materials DNA and RNA. Deficiencies in B12 during pregnancy can lead to premature birth or miscarriage. Additionally, Vitamin B6 helps to minimize nausea and vomiting symptoms, which are common in early pregnancy.

Personalizing Vitamin B Intake For Canadians

With Canada’s unique climate and landscape, there can be many challenges and opportunities in maintaining mental health through our diet, specifically with the vitamin B complex. Statistically, a very large population of Canadians are not getting the correct amount of essential nutrients, according to the amounts that are outlined in the daily recommended intake guidelines.

Dietary Habits and Deficiencies

Many countries in the western world, including Canada, have vastly increased their intake of highly processed foods. This includes items such as frozen meals such as pizza, cereals, chips and canned soup. All of which are very low in essential nutrients and vitamins, including vitamin B, that are usually found in whole, unprocessed foods. Because of this, more and more Canadians struggle with mood disorders and mental health issues.

Climate and Mood

Canada is well known for it’s very cold, harsh winters and in some provinces winter seems to last forever. Due to the longevity of these winter months, and being trapped inside from the blistering cold weather conditions, it’s no wonder we have what’s referred to as “seasonal depression”. Reduced sunlight exposure during these months can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency, which further progresses the affects of depression. However, the B vitamins are vital for brain chemistry, and could be the answer to alleviate stress and depression symptoms.

Availability of B-Vitamin Rich Foods

While Canada can be very rich in agricultural resources in the summer months, the consumption of B vitamin-rich foods such as leafy greens, whole grains, and animal products might not be as available in the winter months. Some regions may be limited to these resources, which makes it challenging to maintain a diet that is rich in these B vitamins throughout the year. We can only hope that soon we will improve the access to nutrient-rich foods, across all Canadian communities. rich By understanding these local factors, Canadians can better grasp the mood-enhancing benefits of the Vitamin B complex.

sources of vitamin B - 1047 x 628

Sources of B Vitamins

Knowing the numerous sources of B vitamins can help ensure you’re getting enough of these vitamins in your diet. Here’s a breakdown of common food sources for each type of B vitamin:

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat, are excellent sources. Thiamine is also found in pork, yeast, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Milk and dairy products (e.g. yogurt and cheese) are rich in riboflavin. Eggs, lean meats, green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and fortified cereals also contribute to riboflavin intake.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): You can obtain niacin from a variety of sources including poultry, beef, fish (e.g. tuna and salmon), whole grains, mushrooms, and peanuts.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Poultry, fish, potatoes, chickpeas, bananas, and fortified cereals are good sources of vitamin B6. It can also be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Found in a wide array of foods such as eggs, nuts, seeds, and certain vegetables.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate): Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and brussels sprouts are packed with folate. Other sources include legumes (e.g. beans, peas, and lentils), asparagus, eggs, and fortified products like bread and cereals.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Mainly found in animal products, vitamin B12 sources include meat, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs. For vegetarians and vegans, fortified cereals, plant milks, and nutritional yeast are vital sources.

Practical Tips for Canadians

If you are not getting sufficient amount of B vitamins through your diet, increasing your Vitamin B intake can be easy and straight forward for Canadians with these tips:

  • Supplementation:
    • Consider a B vitamin supplement if dietary intake might be insufficient. This is particularly important for vegans who may struggle to get enough B12, which is primarily found in animal products.
    • When choosing supplements, opt for those that meet Health Canada’s guidelines to ensure quality and efficacy. Check for a Natural Product Number (NPN) which indicates the product has been assessed by Health Canada for safety and effectiveness.
  • Lifestyle Enhancements:
    • Reduce alcohol consumption as it can impair B vitamin absorption and metabolism.
    • Focus on gut health through probiotics and fiber-rich foods, which can improve the digestion and absorption of nutrients, including B vitamins.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can better manage your Vitamin B intake and enhance your mental and overall health.

In conclusion, the Vitamin B complex plays an essential role in maintaining and improving mental health and enhancing mood, especially when it comes to the Canadian diet and environmental factors. By understanding the sources of these vitamins and incorporating a variety of B-rich foods into daily diets, Canadians can better manage their mental well-being. Always remember to consult with healthcare professionals before making any significant changes to your diet, or starting new supplements. Ensuring that these adjustments align with your specific health needs and conditions, you can embrace the power of B vitamins. You will embrace the fact that they not only nourish your body, but also uplift your spirit.

Kaylee embodies the spirit of exploration and well-being. A lifelong traveler and health fanatic, she's dedicated to scouting the planet for the most enriching experiences and healthful tips. Whether it's a serene beach in Bali or a hidden hiking trail in the Rockies, Kaylee's insights ensure our readers are always in the know about destinations that nurture both body and soul.

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