ASK THE NUTRITIONIST: Are there any vitamins that can help with carb addiction?

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In her weekly column, orthomolecular nutritionist Nonie De Long takes a deep dive into an essential vitamin often deficient in carb addiction.

Dear readers,

This week’s question comes from Max asking if there are any essential vitamins for overcoming carbohydrate addiction and insulin resistance. The answer is yes, there is – and at the top of that list is this one that many have never heard of. So let’s take a quiz and see if you can guess it.

Quiz on vitamins

Which vitamin requires the action of the enzyme transketolase?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

What vitamin deficiency causes beriberi?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin acts as a cofactor for 5 different enzymes in the body?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Fatigue?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin is missing with regular alcohol consumption?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin is deficient in T2 diabetes and insulin resistance?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin is deficient in people on a high carbohydrate diet?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin protects the cell and mitochondria against glycation and free radicals, and protects the body from amyloid plaque deposits in the brain?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin deficiency can cause constipation, GERD, slow digestion and low stomach acid?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin deficiency can cause an enlarged heart, rapid heartbeat, and nerve problems like peripheral neuropathy and damage to the myelin sheath?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin deficiency can cause nervous tension and exercise intolerance?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Which vitamin deficiency can cause insomnia and sleep apnea?

  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B12

Did you guess B1? B1 and B12 are indicated in fatigue, but the rest of the questions apply to B1, otherwise known as thiamin. It has been called the great imitator of other diseases, and you can see from the list of symptoms that this is true.

Other symptoms that a B1 deficiency can cause include heart palpitations, dizziness when sitting, lightheadedness, tremors, inability to produce tears, double vision, difficulty swallowing, taste disturbance, lack of appetite, autoimmune disease, fatigue, hiccups, recurrent ear infections, prolonged stress, aversion to caffeine, panic attacks and nightmares.

The secret vitamin in addictions

I first became aware of this vitamin deficiency while working in an addiction center. I was responsible for establishing the dietary and clinical protocol for the first holistic inpatient addiction treatment facility in Canada. Part of the job was to look at the symptoms and their response to treatment. I have noticed some common themes in clients: insomnia, restless anxiety, restless legs, tingling in peripheral limbs, inability to relax, fatigue, tremors, nerve problems, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), constipation, and all sorts of digestive issues – usually related to low stomach acid.

After much research, I discovered a link between all these symptoms: a vitamin B1 deficiency. I did not need to add B1 to the protocol because I also observed an improvement in these symptoms over time with a paleo omnivorous diet coupled with intensive vitamin therapy – including B vitamins. The vitamins in meat and the vitamin loaded smoothie were enough to correct the deficiency in most customers. The only ones who didn’t respond as well were those who refused to eat meat. In these clients, normal supplements were not sufficient to reverse the symptoms they had developed. Their diet didn’t include lentils or grains, so I can’t discern if they would have corrected the symptoms. Clinicians experienced in this field are welcome to contact me.

However, my findings reflect my work with adolescents and young adults who suffer from anxiety, mood swings and depression. I have observed that eating red meat at least 2-3 times a week is essential for symptom improvement, in addition to supplementation. For those who disagree with this, let me share that I started my nutritional journey as a raw food vegan. I naturally prefer plant food to animal food. I did not come to this conclusion out of personal preference or bias. I came to this by clinical observation and experience.

I unfortunately haven’t had the same reversal of symptoms in those who can’t eat red meat or take animal-based supplements. It could be that injecting insulin (even whole grains do) can cause B1 depletion, making it hard to get enough. I believe that additional supplementation and reduced carbohydrate intake is necessary to raise vitamin B1 levels enough to treat symptoms in this population and again I welcome feedback from clinicians.

B1’s story

You may have heard of beriberi. It is a serious vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency, and to this day it is common in developing countries. You often see it here in the West among alcoholics. It was discovered in 1897 by Christiaan Eijkman, a Dutch physician and pathologist. He discovered that the symptoms of the disease could be induced by feeding chickens polished rice and reversed by feeding them unpolished rice.

The disease can be subdivided into wet beriberi, which affects the cardiovascular system and requires emergency care, and dry beriberi, which damages the central nervous system.

system. There is loss of motor function, impaired gait, muscle weakness and loss, mental confusion, impaired reflexes, numbness or tingling in the extremities, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat (even without exercise) . Sometimes there is blurred vision, loss of appetite, irritability, and dementia-like symptoms. Remember last week dementia was called type 3 diabetes. There is no doubt that this powerful nutrient plays a protective role in the pathology of the dementia patient.

Often missed

While full beriberi is not very common in the West, subclinical or low-grade beriberi is. Unfortunately, it’s often accepted as part of the progression of T2 diabetes, which also damages peripheral nerves and causes similar symptoms like vision loss, muscle problems, and balance issues. It is difficult to separate the two.

Additionally, B1 levels are not regularly tested by doctors and standard blood tests do not accurately show the deficiency. The best way to tell if there is a deficiency is good old-fashioned symptomology and supplementation to see if symptoms improve. But it’s a safe bet that if you have any type of diabetes and/or are a regular drinker or carb addict, supplementing with this vitamin is essential!

What foods are high in B1?

Many foods contain B1. Liver, beef, pork, salmon, trout, tuna, mussels, flax seeds, legumes, beans, sunflower seeds and whole grains contain a good amount of thiamin.

What is exhausting B1?

All refined carbohydrates and sugars, especially the high fructose corn syrup found in sodas, deplete vitamin B1. Additionally, white rice, white flour, excess carbs, coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, diabetes, heavy metal toxicity, and medications like diuretics and metformin all deplete the vitamin B1. Also, if you have an eating disorder or have had gastric bypass surgery, it’s common to be vitamin B1 deficient.

How to complete

Vitamin B1 is just one of many B vitamins essential for good health. They work synergistically, so the best way to supplement with B1 is to consume it in a supplement that contains these cofactors. A good quality B-complex is essential for anyone with nervous system disorders, addictions, autoimmune disorders, fatigue, dementia and diabetes. Which one is right for you depends on certain genes and can be determined with professional help, but you can always try a professional-grade B-complex with the methylated form of folate and B12 to see if

you feel better. Also, nutritional yeast and dried liver contain all the B vitamins in balance and are great supplements to increase B levels. If you need to find a good B vitamin, you can contact me and I will send you a link to a few of my favorite products.

Thanks for the great question, Max! As always, if readers have a health or nutrition-related question for the column, I invite you to email me at [email protected] And if you’re looking for more specific health information, check out my website and blog at hopenotdope.ca.

Namaste!

Nonie Nutritionist

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