Vitamin B12: How Does it Benefit My Body?

A vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world, and it’s a major health concern in many parts of the world, including the U.S and several other countries.

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that’s crucial for addressing adrenal fatigue, multiple metabolic functions — including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance — and maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems. There are actually many symptoms that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency, such as potential chronic fatigue, mood disorders like depression or chronic stress.

Vitamin B12 benefits the central nervous system in many important ways: It helps maintain the health of nerve cells — including those needed for neurotransmitter signaling — and helps form the protective covering of nerves, called the cell’s myelin sheath. This means that when vitamin B12 levels are low, almost every cognitive function can suffer.

So what are the benefits of Vitamin B12?

  • Helps Maintain Energy Levels
    • Vitamin B12 helps your metabolism because it’s needed to convert carbohydrates into useable glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate foods is used as a form of energy, which is why people with vitamin B12 deficiencies often experience fatigue.
  • Prevents Memory Loss and Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
    • Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, vitamin B12 helps cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Boosts Mood and Helps the Nervous System to Function Properly
    • One of the most researched vitamin B12 benefits is its ability to help in healthy regulation of the nervous system, including reducing such mood disorders as depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, along with folinic acid or folate, is beneficial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation. Vitamin B12 is also needed for concentration and cognitive processes, such as learning.
  • Plays a Role in Maintaining Heart Health
    • Vitamin B12 helps to reduce elevated homocysteine levels, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. It protects against heart disease, like a heart attack or stroke, by lowering high levels of homocysteine in the blood. There is also some evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels.
  • Needed for Healthy Skin and Hair
    • Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails because it plays a major part in cell reproduction. Vitamin B12 benefits skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne blemishes. It can also reduce hair breakage and help nails to become stronger.
  • Aids in Digestion
    • Vitamin B12 helps promote healthy bacteria within the gut environment. The elimination of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract — and simultaneously the presence of “good” bacteria. Also, with supporting gut health, it will also boost the immune system, since 80% of your immune system comes from your gut.
  • Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy
    • Vitamin B12 is needed to create nucleic acid, or DNA, which is the basic genetic material that’s used to create our entire bodies. Therefore, vitamin B12 is not only a key nutrient for growth and development, but a vital component of a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B12 also interacts with folate in the body, so it may help lower the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.
  • May Help Prevent Cancer
    • Vitamin B12 supplementation is now being studied as a way to help lower the risk of certain kinds of cancers, especially when taken with folate. Some preliminary research shows that vitamin B12 benefits the immune system enough to potentially help prevent cancer, including cervical, prostate and colon cancers.
  • Helps Produce Red Blood Cells and Prevent Anemia
    • Vitamin B12 is needed to help produce a healthy level of red blood cells. It helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which results in symptoms like chronic fatigue and weakness.

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Signs and symptoms of possible B12 deficiency:

  • Constantly feeling tired or chronic fatigue
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Tingling in your extremities
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Poor memory
  • Inability to concentrate well
  • Mood changes, like increased depression and anxiety
  • Having abnormal heart problems, such as palpitations
  • Poor dental health, including bleeding gums and mouth sores
  • Digestive problems like nausea, diarrhea or cramping
  • A poor appetite
  • A more serious deficiency can also cause a form of anemia called pernicious anemia, a serious condition that can cause memory loss, confusion and even long-term dementia

Compared to other vitamins, we don’t need high levels of vitamin B12 — but we do need to replenish our supply each day. B vitamins are water-soluble and are easily flushed out of the body, so to maintain levels of the recommended amount within our bloodstream and prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency; we need to eat food sources of B vitamins often.

If you think you might have a B12 deficiency, check with your primary care physician; a simple blood test will be done to check the levels of B12 in your blood.

Dr. Jess

 

2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.

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Negativity Affects Our Health

Hey everyone!

So in my very first blog I talked about the mind-body connection (it’s labeled “The Mind-Body Connection” https://holisticfamilies.org/2015/12/08/mind-body-connection/ – so if you haven’t read it, go read it!) and I just wanted to add more to it about how positive and negative thinking affect our health.

Have you ever thought about being sick and you sometimes actually do get sick?? Focusing all your attention on illness has been scientifically proven to influence the body to illness. Too much knowledge about what can go wrong with the body can actually harm you. The more you focus on the infinite ways in which the body can break down and get sick, the more likely you are to experience physical symptoms.

Negative emotions such as fear, aggression, anxiety or pain, have an effect on the area of the brain that deals with emotion: the limbic system. These negative emotions trigger the brain to send out a warning signal that activates the “fight-or-flight” stress response. This stress response is the body’s way to protect you from danger. The “fight-or-flight” response is an amazing thing to have short-term, but long-term? Not so much… Constantly thinking negative thoughts and having negative emotions will cause a long-term effect on your health. When you activate the “fight-or-flight” response, your body “shuts off” the blood supply to areas that don’t need it: the digestive system, reproductive system, and immune system to just name a few. At the same time, it increases blood supply to muscles and releases hormones to increase heart rate and breathing. So a chronic stress response can cause inflammation, pain, suppressed immune system, amongst other issues that can arise. (If you want to read more about this, check out my blog “Are You TOO Stressed?” https://holisticfamilies.org/2016/02/18/are-you-too-stressed/ – I talk about the “fight-or-flight response in more detail and the long-term affects it has on your body.)

One of the hormones that is released during the stress response is cortisol – a stress hormone. On the flip side, thinking positive, happy, hopeful, optimistic, joyful thoughts decreases cortisol and produces serotonin, which creates a sense of well-being. This helps your brain function at an optimal level.

Negative emotions disturb your interaction with your environment, affecting your ability to perceive, remember, and reinforce existing or create new nerve connections. Being happy improves your cognitive ability by being more alert and productive. Being happy also:

  • Stimulates the growth of nerve connections.
  • Improves cognition by increasing mental productivity.
  • Improves your ability to analyze and think.
  • Affects your view of your surroundings.
  • Increases attentiveness.
  • Leads to more happy thoughts.
  • Happy people are more creative, solve problems faster, and tend to be more mentally alert.

From a chiropractic point of view, when there are subluxations or restrictions in your spine, there is nerve interference that is directly affecting your brain. Instead of good information being sent to your brain, the restrictions are causing bad information to be sent to your brain causing a stress response or the fight-or-flight response. This stress response causes hormones, specifically cortisol, to be released to cause inflammation, pain, chronic muscle tightness, digestive issues, reproductive issues, etc. Every person responds differently to this stress response. Pain is just ONE potential outcome of a stress response. So just because someone might not have pain, it does not mean their body is functioning normally like it should. By adjusting specific areas of the spine, we are allowing good information to be sent to the brain to relieve the stress response and decrease cortisol levels. By getting adjusted, it also increases blood flow to the brain and the release of serotonin, dopamine, melatonin and oxytocin which allow you to feel better, be happier, sleep better and have more energy. There are a TON of benefits from chiropractic care!

So start thinking positively and see a chiropractor! It will be worth it!

Dr. Jess

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2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle

What Does Vitamin D Do For My Body?

Did you know that vitamin D is actually considered a pro-hormone and not a vitamin? It is capable of producing its own vitamin D through the action of sunlight on the skin, giving it the nickname, sunshine vitamin. Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be acquired through the diet or supplements.

It is estimated that sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week allows the body the ability to produce sufficient vitamin D. Recent studies have suggested that up to 50% of adults and children worldwide are vitamin D deficient.

So what are some of the health benefits of vitamin D?

  • Healthy bones: Vitamin D plays an important role in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, two factors that are extremely important for maintaining healthy bones. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium in the intestines and to reclaim calcium that would otherwise be excreted through the kidneys.
    • Vitamin D deficiency in children is call rickets, a disease characterized by a severely bow-legged appearance and softening of the bones.
    • Vitamin D deficiency in adults is called osteoporosis.
  • Boosts the immune system: Vitamin D triggers and arms the body’s T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system, the T cells, will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. The T cells rely on vitamin D in order to activate and they would remain dormant to the possibility of threat if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes: Studies have shown that people who have the lowest vitamin D levels in their blood are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, studies have shown that people who have the lowest serum vitamin D levels are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life.
  • Healthy pregnancy: Pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D seem to be at greater risk of developing preeclampsia and needing a C-section. Poor vitamin D levels are also associated with gestational diabetes mellitus and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women.
    • There has also been research showing the importance of adequate vitamin D levels to help prevent autism and autoimmune diseases
  • Prevents cancer: Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. Some studies have suggested that the hormonally active form of vitamind D, calcitriol, can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death and by reducing cell proliferation and metastases.
  • There is even research being done to show that low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of heart disease.

If you are interested in what your vitamin D levels are, I would recommend getting your blood work done. You can either get vitamin D from the sun, certain foods or a vitamin D supplement. Who knew one vitamin had so many health benefits!

Dr. Jess

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2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle

5 Hidden Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Pregnancy

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The first thing people do when I tell them I’m a Doctor of Chiropractic is point out an area of concern and ask me for my advice.   This is typically followed up with a story about someone they know and something they have heard about chiropractic care.  It never ceases to amaze me how misunderstood chiropractic is.  I don’t mind the questions and stories.  Over the years it has been somewhat humorous to hear all the things people think about the profession I have devoted my life to.

When I include in the conversation how I adjust children and pregnant women, I’m usually met with silence or a feeling of uncertainty.  On the other hand, there are the pleasant times I’m met with the enthusiastic response of “I’ve used chiropractic care” or “My daughter’s ear infection was gone after an adjustment!” or “I can’t live through a pregnancy without my chiropractor.”  Oddly enough, it seems to be that the pendulum swings either one way or the other when it comes to chiropractic care for pregnancy and children.  I have asked myself why this is.  I have to assume it’s a lack of knowledge, because if people knew what I know about the benefits of chiropractic care, they would not hesitate to include this type of care in their healthcare toolbox (ideally by calling our office of course – lol).

So with your permission, let me tell you the truth about Chiropractic Care, as well as 5 Hidden Benefits.  After reading this article, you can make an educated decision if chiropractic care is right for you and your family by basing your decision on knowledge instead of fear or concern.  If you’re not currently pregnant, educate yourself anyway.  You could potentially help someone else someday.

Let’s start with the basics.  Your body is controlled by….. (guess)

Your brain!  Everything in your body is controlled by your brain.  Your brain connects to your body through nerves.

Your spine is made up of 24 moveable bones (called vertebrae), plus the sacrum (ending in the tailbone), and the pelvis and skull.  From the brain, information travels down the spinal cord and then branches into nerve roots which exit through these bones or vertebrae.  When the bones are misaligned or not moving like they are designed to, the nerve information can get slowed or even sped up at times.  These misalignments are called “subluxations”.  If the information sent from your brain is telling your body to slow down or even speed up the vital muscles, tissues and organs of your body because of misalignment, what is going to happen?  Will you be healthier or sicker?  Stronger or weaker?  Will you have better health potential or less?  Will you be richer or poorer?  (I threw the last one in there just to make sure you’re still paying attention, but you get the picture right?)

Here’s the million dollar question – How do you know if your spine is misaligned and the messages being sent are not creating health?

You don’t unless you’re getting checked by a Doctor of Chiropractic.

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So let’s think about this one for a second.  Why wouldn’t you know simply by how you are feeling?  The same question could be asked why one wouldn’t know they have heart disease, cancer or even tooth decay right.  Your body isn’t designed to be sick.  Your body is designed to be healthy.  Let me say that again.  Your body isn’t designed to be sick, your body is designed to be healthy.  This means that your body has to be really sick in order for you to “feel the effects of your sickness”.  If there is an accident or injury then that is an exception to this, however, as far as overall health goes, it would be pretty nice if we knew the minute a cancer cell got out of control or our arteries began to plaque.  It would be nice to know when the slightest bit of tooth decay was present, but the pain typically comes when the problem has been around for a while.  If your body was spending time trying to figure out what’s wrong inside, it would lose precious time correcting the body so it could function the way it’s supposed to.

These are just the facts.  You can’t possibly know how health you are, unless a chiropractor is checking you.  I have many doctors that help to keep my family and me healthy.  My primary care physician is a chiropractor, but I have an eye doctor, a dentist, a functional medicine doctor, a midwife, and yes, even a medical doctor.  It is important to have lots of tools in our toolbox, but leaving out chiropractic care leaves out the ability to see what is going on inside the body before your only option is to treat the symptoms.

How does pregnancy fit into all this?  As you gain weight in the abdomen (and anywhere really), this causes a downward and, forward pull on your spine.  The weight then combines with the change in gait and center of gravity, setting you up for back and neck pain.  In addition, you secrete a beautiful hormone called, “relaxin”.  This hormone loosens your ligaments so your baby can exit easier, but it also exaggerates the effects of the extra weight and any existing spinal problems.  What happens to your breasts when you’re pregnant, well, let’s not even go there.  For some of us the breast changes were an added pregnancy “perk” (literally and figuratively), but for others, not so much.

Can you see how all this combined can affect your spine, pelvis and most importantly your body’s control system (your nervous system)?

So here are the 5 benefits of Chiropractic Care.

  • Studies show that women receiving chiropractic care through their first pregnancy had 24% reduction in labor times and a 39% reduction in subsequent pregnancies!
    1. My twin labor and delivery time was 5 ½ hours until Baby A and 34 minutes later Baby B were born.
  • Another amazing study showed the need for analgesics was reduced by 50% in the patients receiving chiropractic care.
  • 84% of women report relief of back pain during pregnancy with chiropractic care. (Why suffer with pain when you can find a Chiropractor trained in pregnancy care?)
  • Chiropractic care has helped new mothers become more comfortable breastfeeding (due to their posture being better), as well, as to produce more milk.
  • Chiropractic care has been shown to reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression. (please take omega 3’s as well)

My best advice is to make Chiropractic Care a part of your prenatal care.  Find a clinic that makes you feel at home and treats a lot of pregnant women.  One thing that we absolutely know for certain is that the team of doctors you choose and how you prepare for this beautiful time in your life will affect your birth and post-partum experience.  My desire is that this will be a time you will cherish and remember fondly forever.

Dr. Heather Yost DACCP, CFMP

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