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Insights on Autoimmune Health and Inflammatory Conditions

Common Autoimmune Vitamin Deficiencies: B Vitamins

Jun 7, 2023 | Inflammation & Autoimmune Disease

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are very prevalent in autoimmune diseases. The B vitamins are no exception. B vitamins are a group of vitamins that most people associate with energy. However, they do so much more than that, and some of them play a crucial role in immune system support. Here is a breakdown of the common B vitamin deficiencies, what they do for our bodies, and how to get them from food.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is talked about a lot for its ability to increase energy levels, which is not entirely true. Yes, B12 is needed for energy metabolism (converting food into energy), but it’s also important for red blood cell production, DNA development, nervous system support, and regeneration of the intestinal lining and respiratory tracts. B12 is also needed for white blood cell production. These cells are the key fighters of your immune system. If you don’t have enough of these cells, your immune system won’t function properly. So this is why B12 is incredibly important.
Another reason why your B12 status is good to know is for methylation reactions. B12 is needed for a specific conversion of amino acids. If you are a slow methylator (which means you likely have an MTHFR mutation or snp), your B12 will be off. It is really important to check your levels of b12 plus homocysteine.

Most deficiencies I see are in vegans and vegetarians, or people who don’t eat a lot of protein. Older individuals are also at a higher risk for B12 deficiency. This is because of something called the intrinsic factor. IF is a protein produced in the stomach that binds to B12 so it can be absorbed by your intestines. As we age, we produce less of this protein.
B12 is found in animal foods – the liver has one of the highest amounts of B12 per serving. You can also find it in fortified grains and dairy products.

Vitamin B2

B2, or riboflavin, creates antioxidants to fight off free radicals. It’s also important for maintaining homeostasis in the immune system. This vitamin has also been shown to interfere with inflammatory cascades and may be able to control inflammasome-mediated diseases in humans. Riboflavin has also been connected to MS. Some studies have shown that lower riboflavin levels can exacerbate MS symptoms, and supplementation may improve neurological motor movements. Riboflavin is found in dairy products, eggs, fortified cereals, and animal products (like salmon, chicken, and beef).

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, or Pyridoxine, is not a very well-known vitamin. But, it’s a great inflammation fighter and can reduce excessive inflammation. In one study, B6 prevented the development of autoimmune disease and protected mice from endotoxic shock. B6 supplementation has also been shown to reduce inflammatory cytokines in RA patients. Vitamin B6 is found in beef liver (yes again), fish, fortified cereals, chickpeas, chicken, leafy green vegetables, bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe.

Vitamin B9

Folate, or B9, is needed to support multiple reactions that create DNA and amino acids. Low folate levels are typically seen in people with chronic inflammatory diseases. Folate deficiency may also influence T-cell proliferation and trigger autoimmune diseases. Folate is found in leafy green vegetables,nuts, beans, seafood, eggs, dairy, meat, chicken, and fortified grains

Next steps

How do you know if you have a deficiency? There are a number of signs for each vitamin. The easiest thing you can do is get tested. Your conventional doctor can order standard tests for some vitamins. You could also do a micronutrient test through a functional provider like myself, to check all of your vitamin and mineral levels.  Either way, if you feel off, it’s definitely something to look into. Also, look at your diet and what you eat. If the foods I mentioned today are not in your daily routine, consider adding them (hello beef liver).

If you would like more help with your vitamin or mineral deficiencies, please contact me to schedule a free call. In addition, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for more ideas on how to improve your autoimmune disease symptoms with food and lifestyle.

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