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Friday, September 25, 2009

B12 - The FOOD Vitamin That Could...

Have you seen the ads out there for this brand of vitamins called Stresstabs?

They go under other names as well - Super Heart and Stress and Mood Pills...all by different manufacturers. I saw TWO commercials for such pills early this morning on CNN as I was sweating my ass off hitting the 60 minute mark on my third cardio machine (sweating at the gym on a Friday is a rather unpleasant site).

I bring this up because one of the ideas for The Food Therapist TV show is to discuss how certain foods, when eaten, cause certain chemical reactions in the body which changes our MOODS.

I like this part of the show but not at the expense of first emphasizing people must deal with their emotional issues first, in therapy, before supplementing such work with foods causing certain chemical reactions in the body AND, possibly, medication.

Let me be very clear - I'm not a therapist, I've never been a therapist, I have no desire (as of yet) to go to school to become a therapist BUT...I am surrounded by therapists. My father was a therapist, my sister is one, so is my hubby and his best friend as well as four of our closets friends.

I've always said my childhood was odd. But mine really was out there. When other kids were going to Star Wars and Alien, I was home reading Carl Jung's, Man And His Symbols and Desmond Morris's The Naked Ape.

Enough said.

So I am very well versed in how the human psyche works. I get people and I see the real reason behind most people's behavior. It's rare I can't figure out what is really the case when people get wacko or overly reactionary, hence the reason for most of my life I'm always the one who manages people and helps out. It's what I do all day at my current job, and what the cooking show, The Food Therapist, will be about.

For years, I've said taking pills for anxiety or depression of any other various mental illness was the easy way out. I've said the way to find balance in life is to face your emotional demons and either embrace them or wrestle them to the ground. Any other system is false and cowardly.

I've changed my mind. Let's just say, I've become enlightened. Some people must take meds to get past terrible humps in their life. I see the error of my judgement and agree some people in extreme cases must take pills to get by.

HOWEVER...I do think the first and best line of defense is intensive therapy and then other methods to help someone's mood.

Which brings me to The Food Therapist TV show...

One of the healthiest ways to increase mood is to look at how certain foods we eat affect certain moods we may have. Part of the show will be doing just that. And one of the biggest trends I'm seeing right now is the news on how B12 can have tremendous effects on a person's mood.

Here is partial list of how a deficiency of B12 can make you feel, both physically and emotionally:

* Chronic fatigue - macrocytic / megaloblastic anemia
* Unexplained numbness or tingling of arms or legs
* Anxiety and irritability
* Depression
* Digestive problems like a sore tongue, loss of appetite, and constipation
* Poor hair

And those are just a few. The research clearly shows a deficiency in this vitamin can be disastrous to a persons emotional and physical well being.

These new lines of vitamins on the market have a large amount of B12 in them. They are designed to fill in the gaps you may have in terms of a B12 deficiency.

But this is my argument and this is one component of the show - why take a supplement to reap the benefits of this super vitamin when all you need to do is change your diet just a bit and then have this in your body in it's purest and strongest source?

It's very well known many cereals now contain B12 and are common. While that is one source, it is not one of the cleanest and as we all know, cereal has tons of sugar and shit in it. Not a good option.

The daily recommended allowance of B12 adults 19 years and old need is 2.4 mcg per day.

The natural source for foods high in vitamin B12 is meat, fish, diary products, cheese, eggs, specifically:

The following is based on a 3 ounce serving
  • Mollusks or clams (84.1 mcg per serving)
  • Liver, beef, barised (47.9 mcg)
  • Fortified breakfast cereal (6.0 mcg)
  • Wild Salmon (3.0 mcg)
  • Beef, top sirloin, lean (4.5 mcg)
  • Yogurt (1.4 mcg)
  • Haddock (1.2 mcg)
Turkey, cheese, chicken and eggs do NOT have very quantities of B12 in them to the point where you'd have to eat at least 2-3 portions per day to get the allowance your body needs.

For vegetarians, the issue becomes a bit thorny.

I found a great answer on Yahoo Answers on B12 in terms of a vegetarian diet. It said:

"B12 is made by bacteria and fungi, but not by yeasts or higher plants. Friendly bacteria resides in large quantities in the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans. Since the manufacturing site of B12 in humans is not located where absorption occurs, humans can not rely on its availability.

The total vegetarian must find vitamin B12 from other reliable sources.
For the lacto-ovo-vegetarian, reliable sources would include dairy products and eggs which can supply substantial amounts of B12. For example, one cup of milk contains 0.9 micrograms of vitamin B12 while 8 ounces of yogurt has 1.5 micrograms. Sterilized, boiled, or canned milk destroys about one-half of the vitamin B12.

Since most of the vitamin B12 resides within the cholesterol-laden yolk, it would be better for the lacto-ovo-vegetarian to rely on low-fat dairy products for their source of B12. Vegetarians who use a B12 supplement should ensure that it contains an active form of the vitamin-namely, cyanocobalamin or hydroxocobalamin.

Fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh, shiitake (dried mushrooms) and algae such as spirulina and nori contain practically no vitamin B12. While these foods are often sold in health food stores as "excellent souces of B12" and are widely used by the macrobiotic community, they actually contain little, if any active B12 (cobalamin). Instead they contain analogs of B12 that are not active and may actually block the absoprtion of true vitamin B12."

There was a widely published article in the New England Journal of Medicine 2 years ago. It detailed how those who adopted a strict vegan diet for 13 years or more showed eyesight loss and tested below normal blood levels of thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, selenium and vitamin B12.

The patient was given large doses of vitamins that quickly raised his blood vitamin levels. However, the damage to his eyesight was permanent.

Vitamin B12 is one vitamin that vegetarians should be very aware of, since the long term damage from vitamin B12 deficiency may not be reversible.

For vegans this is important nutritional breakdowns:
  • Fortified breakfast cereals, (100%) fortified), ¾ cup 6.0
  • Fortified breakfast cereals (25% fortified), ¾ cup 1.5 25
  • Yogurt, plain, skim, with 13 grams protein per cup, 1 cup 1.4
  • Milk, 1 cup 0.9 15
  • Egg, whole, hard boiled, 1 0.6
  • American pasteurized cheese food, 1 ounces 0.3
In the coming weeks, part of the focus of the blog will be to insert nutritional data in the meals and I will be focusing on B12 and how eating it is essential for our emotional well-being.

Until the next super-duper B12 recipe, this is Mikey Bryan, Your Food Therapist, signing off...

Now what the hell can I make with calves liver...

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