When low on Zzzzzs, You may Need Vitamin Bs

Sleep. I love sleep, but why do I find myself procrastinating at night to get to bed? Ever since I became a mother sleep has always been my number one struggle. When lack of good quality sleep occurs, the hormone cortisol rises to help keep us alert affecting our stress levels and our overall hormone levels. Sometimes I feel like I have been sleep-training myself along with my daughter. Having a sound machine, blackout curtains, a comfortable bedroom temperature, a bedtime routine and even ensuring enough physical activity during the day are all considerably helpful for a good night’s rest. However, what does one do when awake and in need of an extra energy boost to get through the day?

Our typical diet may be lacking in nutrients for proper cell function. Most people reach for caffeine, but is that a nutrient? Coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks or sport beverages tend to be high in caffeine and sugar. Is sugar a nutrient? In a situation where your body is experiencing stress, maybe from inadequate amounts of sleep, anxiety or lack of energy, I would recommend B vitamin rich foods. Are you eating enough whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables and quality protein? Higher doses may be needed to aid in prolonged stressful periods and that’s when I reach for my B complex vitamins.

There is an array of B vitamins that are vital for various activities in our cells. They are named with different numbers due to their time of discovery of functions in the body. For example, niacin the B3 vitamin is involved in the metabolism of glucose, the starting fuel for creating energy.  Another example is cobalamin the important B12 vitamin involved in the production of red blood cells that deliver our oxygen supply. B vitamins are vital for the overall health of our cells, the functioning of our nervous system and our metabolism including energy production. 

In the past, I was definitely deficient in one of the B vitamins because of my dry cracked lips in the corners of my mouth. I thought it was an allergy from my lip moisturizer, however my lips remained cracked even after I stopped using it. I remember learning about B vitamins and their deficiency signs and decided to start taking them again. My lips returned to normal! Ever since university life, my adrenals have been affected with stress and lack of good quality sleep. Even now after becoming a mother, I have learned that staying up late and sacrificing sleep is not worth it when it comes to my health.

It is recommended to take the entire group of B complex compacted in one capsule instead of consuming a specific vitamin individually which can mask a B vitamin deficiency. Don’t be alarmed when you begin taking these supplements that your urine is bright yellow in colour. Being water soluble the unabsorbed vitamins exit through your kidneys. Some may even have a vitamin B sensitivity when supplementing called a niacin flush. These supplements may be stimulating so it’s best to take them earlier during the day with your breakfast or lunch. Inside our colon some B vitamins are capable of being produced by our intestinal microbes, a good reason to maintain a healthy gut flora.

Processed foods such as white bread, pasta and instant cereals are all lacking in these important B vitamins that some come fortified synthetically. It’s best to eat a natural whole food diet. Nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast, molasses and the earlier mentioned foods are all great B vitamin sources. If you are enduring extended stressful conditions, tackle stress management first. Make it a habit of having adequate good quality sleep, regular exercise and deep breathing sessions to help relieve stress. After ensuring a healthy diet, supplementation may still be needed to help the body function under stress. Speak with your professional health care provider to see if supplementation is required and for additional help with any underlying related stress issues.

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant