Dealing with Loree McBride’s BRAIN CONTROL
I originally thought I was B12 deficient. I do get tingly feet at times and within the past year have suffered insomnia. But I now believe it is about 90% Loree McBride brain control! But because I have tried to save money by not eating lots of red meat, I decided to add liver to make up for that. It may not have been necessary, but I froze the liver and it will be there when I don’t have time to buy red meat at the store.
The following recipe from my Better Homes and Garden cookbook seems to best to deal with the B12 and possible iron deficiency I am dealing with. I have modified the recipe somewhat to make it healthier and maximize the absorption of iron and B12. Because I love my dairy, this may be inhibiting some iron absorption, so I need to separate dairy from meat, so I’m using olive oil in place of butter in this recipe. Olive oil is a great substitute for butter in recipes. Now we may know why God told the Jews to eat dairy separate from meat! Interesting! I am going to cancel my eggplant recipe that has beef with yogurt in it. I’ll find something else to do with the eggplant. Though I seem to have more of a problem with onions and garlic in the eggplant recipe. Though I won’t carry the separation between dairy and meat as far as the orthodox Jews do, which is rather extreme. Orthodox Jews say to separate dairy from meat by six hours. BOTTOM LINE: Just eat a balanced diet and do the Gail Commandments. If anything, what you read here should emphasize the importance of a balanced diet and exercise and doing the Gail Commandments.
LIVER AND ONIONS
Liver and onions is a classic dish that either you love or hate. For those that love this dish, this recipe is no exception! If you like the liver still pink on the inside, cut into a slice to check it.
What benefits are there to eating liver?
The liver has Vitamin B12, riboflavin, copper, folate, iron, and choline. It has more phosphorus than kale or beef and 53,000 IU of Vitamin A. It is like nature’s multivitamin! If you include the liver into your diet once a week, this could be very beneficial for overall health.
Where can I find the liver?
A great place to find the liver is at your local butcher shop or from a local ranch. If this is not an option for you, you can usually find frozen liver at major grocery stores.
1/2 lb. beef liver
1 medium onion or use a combo of green and regular onions
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Trim the onions’ ends and then make a small cut into each of the onion skins and remove the outer skin. Cut the onions into thin rings about ¼” thickness. Push the onion rings to remove them from each other into separate rounds. If using a combo of green and regular onions, adjust the onions accordingly.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1/2 tbsp. olive oil. Tilt the pan to distribute the oil. Add the onion rings and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are softened and lightly browned. Remove the onions to a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, then tilt the pan to distribute the oil. Then add sliced liver and sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle lemon juice over the liver pieces and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
Once the liver is halfway cooked, add the onions back into the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more or until liver is slightly pink in center.
THE FOLLOWING IS HELPFUL INFO, BUT I’D BE LEERY ABOUT TAKING ANY SUPPLEMENTS UNLESS UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A PHYSICIAN.
Iron is a vital mineral that’s essential for the function of your body. Two types of it are found in food — heme and non-heme.
Meat, fish and poultry contain the heme form, which is easily absorbed by your body.
Non-heme iron is mainly found in plant foods, but this form is harder for your body to absorb. You can improve your body’s absorption by eating foods containing vitamin C, vitamin A, meat, fish and poultry during your meals.
On the other hand, foods containing phytates (cereals and grains), calcium (milk and dairy) and polyphenols (tea and coffee) can hinder iron absorption.
What can interfere with iron absorption?
Some foods, although healthy in themselves, can actually interfere with iron absorption. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that calcium-rich and fiber-containing foods, spinach, eggs, and milk can decrease the amount of iron the body absorbs.
For example: Oxalic acid found in many green vegetables may delay the absorption of iron. Spinach is very rich in oxalic acid which binds to the iron and interferes with iron absorption.
Also phytic acid, which is found mostly in whole grains, may interfere with iron absorption. So although whole grains are a good source of iron themselves, the phytic acid they contain can stop your body absorbing iron from other foods and supplements.
Dr. Mikstas also recommends to avoid drinking coffee or tea along with iron-rich foods. Drinking tea, coffee, and even eating chocolate interferes with iron absorption due to their high content of polyphenols, as well as calcium which is found in dairy products.
By carefully selecting the foods you eat and knowing how certain foods can enhance or inhibit absorption, you can make sure you’re getting the iron you need.
How to Increase Iron Levels in Your Blood
One of the best ways to avoid an iron deficiency is to get enough iron from a varied and well-balanced diet. Depending on the cause and severity of your low iron levels, you may also need to supplement your diet with iron (check with a physician before doing this, since iron supplements can be dangerous).
Here are the best ways to increase iron levels in your blood to address an iron deficiency or prevent levels of iron in your blood dropping.
Incorporate iron-rich foods in your diet
Dietary iron is found in two forms:
- Heme iron. This type of iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, and fish. Heme iron is easily absorbed into the body.
- Nonheme iron. Nonheme iron is poorly absorbed into the body. Cereals, broccoli, legumes, brown rice, nuts and seeds all contain nonheme iron.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend consuming food rich in vitamin C along with nonheme iron-rich foods. This will increase the amount of iron your body gets from cereals, beans, and other nonheme iron vegetables.
Animal sources of iron
Dietary sources of iron from animals contains heme iron. This is easily absorbed into the body and is the most common source of iron from the diet to help to increase iron levels. According to Dr. Christine Mikstas on WebMD, iron-rich foods from animal sources are:
- Chicken liver
- Seafood like clams, mussels, or oysters
- Canned sardines in oil
Other sources of iron from animal products, but with significantly less iron per ounce are poultry, fish, ham, and veal.
Vegetable sources of iron
Iron derived from plants is nonheme iron and is poorly absorbed into the body. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, then it’s important to supplement your diet with vitamin C.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that vitamin C has an enhancing effect on nonheme iron absorption in the body. The researchers found that vitamin C can help to increase iron bioavailability by up to 7%.
Dr. Mikstas on WebMD says that good plant and vegetable sources of iron are:
- Cooked beans
- Pumpkin or sesame seeds
- Dried apricots
- Baked potatoes
- Split peas
- Brown rice
Buy iron-enriched foods
Many people who want to increase their levels of iron, especially if they don’t eat animal products, buy iron-enriched foods. For example, many breakfast cereals and breads are fortified with iron and can help boost your iron levels.
The journal Nutrients reported that in countries where iron deficiency anemia is a major problem, iron-enriched foods are used. The introduction of foods fortified with iron has helped to reduce complications of anemia in children.
Cook with cast iron cookware
Another way to increase your iron levels naturally and help prevent the symptoms of anemia is to use cast iron cookware. When you heat food in a metal container, some of the metal leaches into the food and affects it. This is one reason why you should never cook with aluminum cookware.
The British Dietetic Association recommended cooking with iron pots to help reduce iron deficiencies. Researchers found that cooking food in iron cookware increases the hemoglobin concentration in people with iron deficiencies. The study concluded that using iron pots for preparing food is a way to reduce iron deficiency.
Boost iron levels with supplements
Taking iron supplements can help to prevent anemia and increase iron levels. PubMed Health reported on reviews showing that supplements containing iron can help women who are anemic due to heavy menstrual bleeding or who are pregnant.
To reduce the side effects of iron supplementation like constipation, nausea, abdominal discomfort and change in stool color. The report suggests that some women take iron supplement intermittently. However, in comparison with daily supplementation, taking iron supplements intermittently is less effective in preventing or controlling anemia.
Check Vitamin B12 Levels
Anemia can also develop due to vitamin B12 deficiency, as vitamin B12 is essential to make red blood cells and carry oxygen through your body.
Dr. Gregory Thompson on WebMD says that as well as causing anemia, a vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to nerve damage and affect memory and thinking. Drinking alcohol and some medicines can also cause vitamin B12 levels to drop.12
Good sources of vitamin B12 that can help prevent anemia are beef liver, clams, rainbow trout, chicken breast, and fortified cereals with B12.
Vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and is required to keep nerve cells healthy.
Vitamin B12 deficiency, also called cobalamin deficiency, is a medical condition of low B12 levels in the blood. According to studies, one in every five adults in the United States suffers from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is dubbed the energy vitamin and its shortage can result in an array of health problems, including some potentially very serious conditions.
The average adult should get 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. (2) Your body cannot produce vitamin B12 and you must get it from food or supplements. Good food sources of vitamin B12 include dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry.
Despite being a water-soluble, vitamin B12 gets stored in your liver, kidneys and other body tissues, so vitamin B12 deficiency can go unnoticed for a long time. That is where the danger lies. By the time the condition gets detected, there might be some irreversible damage done already.
Some of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are fatigue, cognitive problems, and tingling in hands and feet. (8)
In this article, you will find out about the role of vitamin B12 in the body, causes and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, how to treat this vitamin deficiency and how long it takes to fix B12 deficiency.
What is Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) and What Does it Do?
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an important micronutrient that is essential for DNA synthesis and providing your cells with energy.
The reason why it is so important to correct a vitamin B12 deficiency is that a lack of this vitamin can lead to macrocytic anemia. This type of vitamin-deficiency anemia causes large red blood cells and low hemoglobin.
According to research published in the journal Nutrients, vitamin B12 is usually found in protein in most animal foods. To prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency, your body needs to absorb this vitamin during digestion. You get vitamin B12 from foods such as liver, beef, chicken, eggs and dairy foods. (3)
Vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor are closely linked. Researchers from the University of Rochester say that intrinsic factor is a protein in the lining of the stomach that helps absorb vitamin B12. Sometimes, doctors check for this protein to see if an autoimmune condition is causing inadequate intrinsic factor that is associated with a cobalamin (vitamin B12) deficiency. (4)
If you have been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, you will no doubt wonder how long it will take to fix a B12 deficiency.
How Long it Takes to Correct Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Bringing levels of vitamin B12 to be within the normal range of between 200 and 900 ng/mL depends on the severity of your B12 deficiency. (5)
To help recover from a vitamin B12 deficiency, doctors will recommend a course of treatment involving oral supplementation or injections.
The journal Blood reports that it should take up to a week for vitamin B12 levels to rise. It is usually possible to completely correct a vitamin B12 deficiency within 6 weeks to 3 months. (6)
However, with the proper B12 supplements, you can start to fix a vitamin B12 deficiency fairly quickly. The journal Annals of Surgery reports that B12 levels start to quickly rise after taking B12 supplements. (7)
Causes of Cobalamin Deficiency (Vitamin B12 Deficiency)
There are a number of reasons for having low B12 levels in your blood. The main reasons for a cobalamin deficiency are connected with inadequate absorption from food, or a diet lacking in vitamin b12.
Let’s look in more detail as the main reasons for showing symptoms of a B12 deficiency.
Diet as a Cause of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
One of the main reasons for developing below normal B12 levels is not getting enough vitamin B12 from your diet.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that vitamin B12 is mainly found in meat, dairy product, and eggs. Eliminating sources of B12 from your diet can result in gradually developing B12 deficiency signs. (9)
Many people who switch to a strict vegan or vegetarian diet are at risk of developing low B12 levels if they don’t supplement their diet with B-group vitamins. (8)
According to the journal Nutrients, nori (edible seaweed) is a good food to help prevent a vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency in people who are vegan. (9)
Impaired Absorption Can Results in Lack of Vitamin B12
Malabsorption could be one reason for showing signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency even if you include meat in your diet.
Inadequate B12 absorption can occur for a number of reasons. For example, low vitamin B12 levels are sometimes seen in persons who have had gastric bypass surgery. Also, digestive problems that are caused by intestinal diseases such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or intestinal bacterial overgrowth can also affect vitamin B12 absorption. (9)
Having a tapeworm infection in your body can cause many symptoms, including having a lack of B12. A tapeworm infection will also make it more difficult to recover from a B12 deficiency.
Autoimmune Reaction Can Result in Cobalamin Deficiency
Another reason for needing to address a vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency is if you don’t have enough intrinsic factor to help with digestion.
You need adequate levels of the protein intrinsic factor to help absorb vitamin B12. In some cases, an autoimmune condition can affect intrinsic factor and lead to pernicious anemia. (8)
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Deficiency
It is important to address symptoms of a cobalamin deficiency as it can have serious consequences. Because B12 anemia can become debilitating, doctors warn that a chronic vitamin B12 deficiency can be life-threatening. (10)
The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are often not very specific, so vitamin B12 deficiency can go unnoticed for a long period of time. It is also easily mistaken for other conditions, and therefore remains misdiagnosed.
Fortunately, a B12 deficiency is reversible if you spot the symptoms in time and take steps to fix a lack of vitamin B12.
Fatigue and Extreme Weakness
One of the most common signs that you may lack sufficient levels of vitamin B12 is extreme tiredness.
Fatigue is a common symptom with most types of anemia because a lack of red blood cells results in not enough oxygen feeding your cells.
Doctors from the National Health Service say that a vitamin B12 deficiency anemia caused by B12 malabsorption can cause extreme tiredness. (11)
In some cases, doctors recommend B12 supplementation for people suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. (12)
In many cases, correcting a B12 deficiency results is having more energy. However, did you know that there could be other reasons why you feel tired all the time?
Shortness of Breath
The lack of energy caused by cobalamin deficiency anemia will also lead to breathlessness.
Doctors report that low intrinsic factor with a B12 deficiency can cause symptoms such as breathlessness. In one case, these low levels of B12 also resulted in extreme tiredness, hair changes, and hyperpigmentation. (13)
A deficiency of vitamin B12 will also cause you to have skin that lacks in color or has a yellowish appearance.
One of the important roles of B12 is to help produce red blood cells of the proper size in your body. When there is not enough cobalamin in your body, large blood cells cause megaloblastic anemia. One of the symptoms of B12 deficiency anemia is pale-looking skin. (14, 11)
Not having adequate levels of B12 vitamin can also make your tongue look inflamed, swollen, and feel sore.
This B12 deficiency symptom is called glossitis and occurs in around one-quarter of people with B-vitamin deficiencies. Doctors say that the tongue may have red lesions on it and also develop a burning sensation. The tongue should return to normal when the B12 deficiency is fixed. (15)
In one case, the B12 deficiency was corrected very quickly with one injection of 1,000 μg of vitamin B12. (15)
A vitamin B12 deficiency anemia can also cause other oral symptoms apart from a swollen tongue. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms in adults also include mouth ulcers, oral infections, and burning mouth syndrome. (16)
One of the neurological symptoms associated with a deficiency of B12 is problems associated with brain function and memory.
Some scientific studies have shown a connection with B12 deficiency in adults and the early onset of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Correcting levels of vitamin B12 in people can help to improve symptoms of cognitive impairment if it was caused by B12 deficiency anemia. (17)
In one case, neurological symptoms were the only symptom for one adult who had lower than normal levels of vitamin B12. Before the vitamin B12 deficiency was reversed, the man experienced difficulty walking, lower limb weakness, and general fatigue. (18)
Tingling in Hands and Feet
One way that B12 malabsorption or a lack of vitamin B12 from your diet can affect your nerves is by causing tingling sensations.
One study involving over 2,200 adults found that not enough vitamin B12 affects peripheral nerve function. This can result in tingling in the feet and hands, weakness in the limbs, and even loss of sensation. Fixing levels of B12 quickly with oral supplementation can help to prevent or treat neurological symptoms. (19)
Other studies have shown that a lack of vitamin B12 or folate (vitamin B9) can result in megaloblastic anemia. Tingling, numbness, dizziness, and even seizures were reported as symptomatic of a chronic vitamin B12 deficiency (20)
If you suffer from constant tingling in your arms, hand, or feet, find out what else could be the cause.
Difficulty Maintaining Balance
The neurological impact of poor levels of vitamin B12 can also affect your balance and gait.
Researchers from Germany say that is it important to correct a vitamin B12 deficiency as early as possible. Elderly people who show signs of low B12 often have difficulty keeping their balance. Supplementing the diet with cobalamin (vitamin B12) helps to normalize metabolism in the body and prevent a worsening of neurological conditions. (21)
A sign that you may need to fix a vitamin B12 deficiency is if you have blurred vision for no apparent reason.
The European Journal of Internal Medicine reports that vision disturbances can be associated with cobalamin deficiencies. Vision impairments are often reversed within a few months with B12 supplementation if a deficiency was the cause. (22)
Changes in Mood
Low levels of vitamin B12 can result in noticeable mood changes such as depression and mood swings.
A review of trials using vitamin B12 supplementation for depression found that fixing the deficiency can help manage depression. While taking vitamin B12 wasn’t a quick-fix for depressive symptoms, long-term supplementation can help manage depression. (23)
Vitamin B12 deficiency in children and adolescents can also affect mood. In some cases, a lack of adequate levels of vitamin B12 may cause psychotic episodes and mood disorders until the deficiency is corrected. (24)
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Treatment
Depending on the severity of the vitamin B12 deficiency, it could take a few weeks to a few months to correct the symptoms. However, oral supplements or injections can help to fix a B12 deficiency.
What are some of the ways to correct a vitamin B12 deficiency quickly?
Diet Rich in Vitamin B12 to Treat Cobalamin Deficiency
Unless intrinsic factor or malabsorption has caused your cobalamin deficiency, you can help to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency anemia with a proper diet.
Dietary sources of vitamin B12
Sometimes, you can help to fix a vitamin B12 deficiency or prevent anemia through diet. Making sure your diet includes foods rich in vitamin B12 will help keep your levels within the normal range.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for a person over 14 year old is 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. (33)
Here are some of the best foods to consume to enjoy a diet rich in vitamin B12:
A 3-oz. (85 g) serving of lamb’s liver can help boost your vitamin B12 levels. One serving of liver contains 65 mcg of vitamin B12 which is 2700% of your recommended daily vitamin B12 intake. (25)
A similarly sized portion of beef kidney will give you 21 mcg of vitamin B12 which is 875% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin B12. (26)
Sardines. Oily fish such as sardines are good to eat to help correct your levels of vitamin B12. One can of sardines contains 8.2 mcg vitamin B-12 which is 341% of your RDI. (27)
Beef. One lean beef steak can provide you with around 11.5 mcg of vitamin B12 which is nearly 480% of your RDI. (28)
How to get enough vitamin B12 on a vegan diet
If you stick to a strict vegan diet or a vegetarian diet, it can be a challenge to get adequate amounts of vitamin B12.
Some reports indicate that it can take as long as 3 years for a vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms to show up after a person switches to a vegan diet. (8)
Some studies show that over 80% of children who are vegan show signs of a B12 deficiency, and up to 90% of elderly people who are vegans don’t have enough vitamin B12. (30)
Non-animal options of vitamin B12 include nutritional yeast and vitamin B12 fortified products, such as B12 fortified almond milk and cereals, and some breads. One medical study says that dried purple laver (nori) is the most suitable vitamin B12 source presently available for vegetarians. (9)
Supplements to Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Supplements can help to correct a B12 deficiency faster than increasing your dietary intake of vitamins.
Vitamin B12 supplements are usually necessary if malabsorption or digestive problems are the reasons for cobalamin deficiency.
Taking B12 supplements under the direction of your doctor can help to quickly fix a B12 deficiency. The National Institutes of Health reports that taking vitamin B12 is good if you have pernicious anemia, megaloblastic anemia, or absorption problems due to intrinsic factor. (31)
Vitamin B12 is also usually present in many multivitamins.
Vitamin B12 Injections – in Cases of Severe Cobalamin Deficiency
Muscular injections are one type of vitamin B12 treatment if you have a severe deficiency. In critical cases of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, injections can quickly correct a lack of B12.
However, oral supplements can be just as effective as vitamin B12 injections. Therefore, doctors evaluate the need for using cobalamin injections to correct severe vitamin B12 deficiency anemia on a patient-to-patient basis. (6)
- Top Signs of Iron Deficiency and How To Increase Iron Levels In Your Blood
- Common Deficiencies Almost Everyone Has (and doesn’t know about it)
- Top Signs That You Have Magnesium Deficiency and What to Do About It
5 Vitamin Deficiencies that Can Affect Your Sleep
Posted on February 12, 2019 by Dr. Michael Breus
We know that diet and sleep are deeply connected. But the truth is, we don’t know nearly enough yet about how individual nutrients impact our sleep. Here, I look at 5 vitamins that appear to play a role in how much sleep we get and how restful and high-quality that sleep is. As you’ll see, several of these vitamins may affect our risk of sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea. And at least two of them appear to play a role in regulating our circadian rhythms, the 24-hour bio rhythms that control our sleep-wake cycles.
I’m a big believer in leveraging a healthy diet to improve sleep. Often, diet alone doesn’t give us all the nutrients we need. Supplements can play an important role in filling those gaps. (I wrote recently about 10 of the most effective supplements for sleep.)
But before you run out and add the vitamins below to your supplement list, I encourage you to do two things. Look for ways to improve your vitamin intake through your diet. And talk to your doctor. Getting the dosing—and the timing—of supplement intake is critical to success, when it comes to sleep.
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This is not medical advice, but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your physician at your next appointment.
Many of us know Vitamin D for its role in bone health. It’s also important for regulating mood, supporting immune function, and helping to control inflammation. Vitamin D is catching a lot of interest for its potential benefits for sleep—and for the sleep consequences that accompany Vitamin D deficiencies. I’ve written before about the relationship between Vitamin D and sleep. There’s new research that is adding to our understanding of how this vitamin—and a lack of it—may affect our nightly rest.
For sleep quality and sleep quantity … There’s a growing body of research showing Vitamin D affects both how much sleep we get and how well we sleep. A recent study found Vitamin D deficiency linked to short sleep duration. This study found the links between insufficient sleep and lack of Vitamin D to be especially strong in adults age 50 and older. More than half of the people included in this study were deficient in Vitamin D. That aligns with other research that shows a majority of Americans may be lacking in Vitamin D. In 2018, scientists at China’s Qingdao University analyzed the findings of several studies that looked at Vitamin D’s role in sleep. Their analysis identified significant connections between low levels of Vitamin D and a lack of sleep. They also found low levels of Vitamin D were connected to poor sleep quality.
For sleep apnea … Several recent studies have shown a connection between Vitamin D deficiency and risk of sleep apnea. A lack of Vitamin D may also affect the severity of sleep apnea, with lower D levels linked to more severe cases of OSA in several recent studies. Some good news on the sleep apnea front: research investigating the standard treatment for sleep apnea—CPAP, or continuous, positive airway pressure—has found that long-term CPAP use is connected to a significant increase in Vitamin D levels, along with significant improvements to sleep apnea symptoms.
For bio-clock timing: Vitamin D may influence sleep at least in part by helping to regulate our circadian clocks. That’s the takeaway from some recent research, which shows that Vitamin D may activate two circadian clock genes, which in turn control our 24-hour circadian rhythms. Light and darkness, we know, are the primary regulators of our internal bio clocks. Sunlight is also our single best source of Vitamin D. It looks as though Vitamin D may be a part of the mechanism by which sunlight keep our bio clocks—and our daily sleep cycles—running in sync.
Where to find Vitamin D in your diet … Sunlight, not diet, is the number one source of Vitamin D. The body produces its own Vitamin D, in response to exposure to sunlight. For this reason, Vitamin D isn’t actually considered a vitamin at all, but rather is classified as a hormone. Beyond sun exposure, people also receive Vitamin D through foods—fatty fish and fish oils, egg yolks, as well as fortified foods like dairy and juice.
A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E helps maintain healthy cell function and protect cells from damage. It also supports immune health. Vitamin E’s antioxidant capabilities may also help sleep and sleep-related health problems.
For sleep-related memory protection…. One effect of sleep deprivation is trouble with memory. During sleep, including both slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, the brain processes memories and our newly acquired learning. When we’re short on sleep, we can encounter problems with both short and long-term memory recall. Thanks to its antioxidant capabilities, Vitamin E offers protection for the health and function of the brain. And research indicates this vitamin might offer specific protection against the memory impairment from sleep loss. A 2012 study found that Vitamin E reduced memory loss in sleep-deprived rats. Vitamin E appears to work by protecting the function of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to memory consolidation. Research has shown sleep deprivation is highly disruptive to activity of the hippocampus.
For sleep apnea…People with sleep apnea often have low levels of Vitamin E. Elevating levels of this vitamin may help to improve Studies have shown that Vitamin E, in combination with Vitamin C and other antioxidants, can improve nighttime breathing and sleep quality in people with obstructive sleep apnea.
For sleep-related hormone protection…. Maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin E may protect testosterone production from the effects of sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep has been linked to lower testosterone levels.
Where to find Vitamin E in your diet…Foods containing higher amounts of Vitamin E include many nuts and seeds, including almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, as well as spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, wheat germ oil, corn and soybean oils.
Another antioxidant powerhouse, C is the vitamin many of us associate most strongly with immune health. It’s also important for cardiovascular health, and necessary for the body to make collagen, which is critical for healthy bones, teeth and skin. Vitamin C’s health-promoting abilities may also extend to sleep.
For sleep apnea and related health risks… On its own and in combination with other antioxidants, Vitamin C has been shown to improve the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. This 2009 study showed that a combination of Vitamin C (100 mg) and Vitamin E (400 IU) taken twice daily reduced episodes of apnea, the interrupted breathing that is the hallmark symptom of OSA. This C and E combination also improved sleep quality and decreased daytime sleepiness.
One of the major risks linked to sleep apnea is cardiovascular disease. People with untreated OSA are more likely to have high blood pressure, metabolic problems including obesity, arrhythmias and other cardiovascular issues. OSA is linked to problems with the lining of blood vessels (what’s known as the endothelial lining), which helps maintain healthy circulation. Research indicates that Vitamin C may improve endothelial function in people with OSA, potentially relieving some of the stress that this sleep disorder puts on the cardiovascular system.
To increase sleep amounts and sleep quality… Low intake of Vitamin C has been connected to shorter sleep amounts. This 2013 study by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that short sleepers—people who slept less than 6 hours a night—consumed less Vitamin C than people who consumed more of the vitamin. Lower levels of Vitamin C as measured in blood were also linked to more nightly sleep disturbance and a greater risk for sleep disorders.
For memory protection… Similar to vitamin E, Vitamin C has been shown to offer protection for the brain against the memory losses associated with sleep deprivation.
Where to find Vitamin C in your diet… Citrus fruits are rich sources of Vitamin C, as are broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, green and red chilis, strawberries, and kiwi.
Vitamin B6 is involved in many functions in the body. It supports immune health, and aids in cognitive development and function. There’s evidence that B6 also aids sleep—and affects our dreams.
For dream recall… I wrote recently about lucid dreams, a form of dreaming in which the sleeper has awareness of being in a dream, and in some cases can control the action of their dreams. There’s always a lot of interest in lucid dreams—people are particularly interested in finding ways to induce lucid dreaming. (You can read my latest on lucid dreaming, here.) A 2018 study at Australia’s University of Adelaide found that Vitamin B6 may help people increase their ability to remember their dreams. People with stronger dream recall are more likely to have lucid dream experiences.
For melatonin and serotonin production… A lack of Vitamin B6 has been linked to symptoms of insomnia and depression. Vitamin B6 aids in the production of the hormones serotonin and melatonin, both of which are important to sound, restful sleep, and also to mood. There’s a strong correlation between depression and sleep problems. Among people with depression, 75 percent or more also have symptoms of insomnia. (Not everyone with depression experiences insomnia or short sleep. A smaller number of people sleep excessively, a disorder known as hypersomnia. Hypersomnia is particularly common in teenagers and young adults with depression.) In studies of older adults, higher intake of Vitamin B6 been connected to lower risk for depression.
Where to find Vitamin B6 in your diet … Bananas, carrots, spinach, potatoes are great sources of B6, as are milk, eggs, cheese, fish, and whole grains.
A NOTE ABOUT VITAMIN B6: It’s always important to talk about your supplement use with your doctor. That’s especially true for Vitamin B6. High levels of Vitamin B6 can be toxic. And excessive levels of B6 have also been linked to insomnia. If you’re considering a B6 supplement, it’s important to work with your doctor to find the right dose.
Vitamin B12 is important for brain function, supporting cardiovascular health including red blood cell formation, and in supporting DNA activity. Here’s what we know about its effects on sleep.
As a sleep-wake regulator… The role of Vitamin B12 is interesting. Several studies have demonstrated that this vitamin is involved in regulating sleep-wake cycles by helping to keep circadian rhythms in sync. At the same time, the influence of B12 directly on sleep isn’t clear. Some studies show a connection between low Vitamin B12 and insomnia, while other studies show higher levels of Vitamin B12 are linked to sleep disruption and shorter sleep times. (The mixed results of Vitamin B12 are a prime example of why we need a lot more scientific attention paid to ways nutrients affect sleep!)
Higher levels of Vitamin B12 have been connected to a lower risk of depression. Circadian rhythm disruptions are a significant underlying factor for depression. In addition to other issues with sleep, with depression are often unable to sleep on a routine schedule. It may be that Vitamin B12 is specifically useful for people with sleep-wake disruptions, including in people who also have symptoms of depression. But we need more research to better understand how Vitamin B12 influences sleep.
Where to find Vitamin B12 in your diet … Vitamin B12 is found in animal protein dietary sources, including dairy, eggs, meat, fish and shellfish.
The closer we stick to a diet of diverse, whole, unprocessed foods, the more of these vitamins we’ll pick up naturally. (And don’t forget to get out in the sun for your vitamin D fix!) These are some of the simplest, most important sleep habits we can adopt.
Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM
The Sleep Doctor™