1. How Vitamin B12 Can Protect Your Mental Health

    May 10, 2013

    Protect Your Mental Health

    by Jessica Velasco

    When we are young, we don’t give a lot of thought to the possibility of our declining mental health.  We feel invincible; things like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease seem to be eons away.

    However, our actions today can drastically affect our future health.  We need to be aware of possible health conditions and how they will influence our later years.  Those who have already advanced to the midlife phase need to know hope is not lost; there are still ways to prevent mental health decline.

    Understanding The Role of Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin found in animal products like meat, fish, eggs and milk.  It can also be found in nutritional supplements and vitamin fortified foods (like breakfast cereals and snack bars).

    This vitamin plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.  It is also responsible for the formation of blood.

    If we fail to consume or absorb enough vitamin B12, we could experience a deficiency.  If left untreated, a vitamin B12 deficiency could have severe and irreversible effects on our overall health – especially the brain and nervous system.

    Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency range in severity.  In the beginning, nutrient deficient patients could feel tired, dizzy, and have an upset stomach.  As the condition worsens, patients might experience tingling in their fingers and toes, excessive mood swings, memory loss, depression, mania and psychosis.

    If adequate levels are restored, the deficiency and undesirable conditions can be kept at bay.  Most doctors recommend vitamin B12 injections to treat a deficiency.  Other supplement methods – oral pills, sublingual drops or skin patches – aren’t as effective.  This is especially true for the older population who has trouble absorbing adequate amounts of the vitamin.

    The Impact Vitamin B12 Has on Mental Health

    Since vitamin B12 is directly responsible for maintaining optimal brain and nervous system health, it isn’t surprising to learn the vitamin can have long lasting health effects.

    If a deficiency is left untreated, our mental health will obviously suffer.  However, people who have even just a minimal deficiency – levels just slightly lower than normal – can receive numerous benefits from vitamin B12 injections too.

    Vitamin B12 plays an active role in the process that converts food to energy.  If this conversion isn’t happening properly, weight gain could occur.  Therefore, vitamin B12 is often used in conjunction with various weight loss methods.  If we are struggling with weight issues and failing to find the underlying cause, we can suffer severe mental distress.

    Maintaining adequate levels of the nutrient can also help reduce cardiovascular risk and decrease the chance of heart disease.  Knowing our heart is in good health is always reassuring!

    Additionally, regular vitamin B12 injections help people feel happier and think positively.  Higher levels of the nutrient are also responsible for improved memory and reaction time.

    The Correlation Between Vitamin B12 and Alzheimer’s Disease

    A recent study by Celeste de Jager, a neuropsychologist at Oxford University, revealed that large doses of vitamin B12 could slow the cognitive decline that is a precursor to dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.

    Two hundred seventy men and women participated in the study.  Every individual was over the age of 70 and had mild cognitive impairment (memory, language and other mental functions had been minimally compromised).

    Individuals with mild cognitive impairment were specially chosen for this study since the condition affects one in six of today’s elderly population.  Additionally, 50% of mild cognitive impairment patients develop Alzheimer’s within five years of onset.

    Dr. de Jager reported that participants who took a combination of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid showed surprising results.

    Over the course of two years, this nutrient combination was responsible for reducing the overall shrinkage of the participants’ brains by 30%.  Patients who joined the study with elevated levels of homocysteine in their blood experienced shrinkage reduction of 50%.

    The combination of these B vitamins and folic acid can help control the levels of homocysteine in our blood.  This amino acid, if left unchecked, can damage blood vessels by attacking the endothelial lining of blood cells.  It also binds to receptors in the brain which contributes to atrophy.

    By keeping homocysteine levels in check, we can reduce cognitive decline and possibly prevent dementia.

    No matter what your age or stage, it is never too late – or early – to starting thinking about the future.  Consider how simple things like vitamin supplements can improve your overall health.  Our mental health is one of the most valuable things we have; we need to do all we can to keep our brains functioning properly for as long as possible!

    Image Credit: Wagner Cesar Munhoz

  2. Overcoming The Excuses When It Comes To Fitness

    February 25, 2013

    at the gym

    Image credit: Alexandre Gloria @Flickr

    by Annie Springstein

    “I’m too tired today.” “I’m just not in the right frame of mind to workout. It was a rough day at work.” Do those statements sound familiar? People say stuff like that all the time. You know what they are? They are part of a long list of excuses that are used by people to give themselves a pass on not achieving their goals.

    Nobody likes to fail. When you have a goal in mind you don’t set out to not reach it. Yet, time and time again people give up on those positive goals. In the process they usually start using excuses as to why they didn’t get there because that is easier to deal with than simply stating the truth.

    The key to reaching almost any goal is and has always been a combination of dedication and consistency. You hear about it all the time…the stories about people who never gave up and kept at it. That is the key…you don’t give up and you don’t quit. Yes, things do happen now and again that will set you back, but you can’t allow excuses to dictate your life.

    Squashing the Excuses

    Let’s look at the common excuses and then explain why they aren’t really a good excuse:

    • I’ll do it tomorrow – There is no tomorrow. There is not yesterday. There is today and right now. Make the most of every day even if that means using only 15 minutes to workout.
    • I don’t like working out – Do you like the way you look and feel? Are you healthy? If so then don’t workout, but if you said “No” to those questions then go workout.
    • I don’t have my workout clothes – And? Rocky used to wear ratty sweats and Chuck Taylors. You aren’t in a fashion show. Just grab some sweats and a t-shirt.
    • I’ll do it later – Who are you kidding…you aren’t going to do it later.
    • I’m tired – Some days this is true from a lack of sleep and such. However most people feel lethargic because they aren’t working out regularly and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Even a 15 minute workout can help you feel refreshed and in turn will allow you to sleep better.
    • I haven’t eaten yet – So eat a snack and then go to the gym. People call this a pre-workout snack for a reason. Powerbars are a tremendous invention.
    • I work too much – All work and no play makes someone go crazy with an ax in a horror movie. A sound body equals a sound mind AND if you work that much your body and mind can probably both use the stress relief of a good workout session.
    • I’m sore – So work something else. Cardio is always a great option and getting the blood flowing helps with soreness and recovery.

    Really the list can go on and on. People are willing to create almost any excuse rather than just admit to themselves the truth. The bottom line is that working out is hard work…that is why it is called “working” out. If you truly want to change your body, become stronger, have more endurance, become more athletic, or live a positive, healthy life, then you have to put the work in. There is no magic pill or fairy godmother that will make it happen for you.

    Even if you can’t give it your all today, do at least one positive thing towards reaching your goal. Go for a walk, do a quick training circuit at home, jump rope, or do some yoga. No matter what just DO something. Stop making excuses why you can’t reach your goals and instead take one step, no matter how big or small, each day towards that goal!

    Annie Springstein writes on psychology, fitness, and bodybuilding topics for Nutribomb.com. You can find here reviews of the most popular supplements lines like Optimum Nutrition http://www.nutribomb.com/optimum-nutrition-s/2131.htm at the Nutribomb Blog.