Thursday, October 11, 2007

Getting those B's for Hair, Skin and Mental Health

This past week I’ve had a harder time keeping to my chosen food list than usual. Stress from adjusting to my academic and work schedule still has me turning to food more than I’d like. Still, I am being careful and although I gained a pound one week, I’m now down 32 lbs total since early June. In 18 more pounds I’ll have lost my goal of 50 for the year. I believe it is doable, and I’m looking forward to reaching that first milestone.

I asked my nutritionist about the B-Complex vitamins she is giving me. She is so confident that they will help me regrow my hair and process proteins that I decided to look up B-Complex vitamins online. I found that they are really 8 unrelated nutrients: Biotin, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, and Thiamin. Individually, they perform different tasks, such as breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and helping with the health of your skin, hair, eyes, mouth and liver -and even with the muscles of your intestinal tract and stomach. Biotin is the one associated with hair health. Niacin is related to healthy skin and lifting depression. Pyridoxine is related to the proteins.

Now, I know I can get these B vitamins pretty easily from foods. According to the list I found at, I should include the following foods (I’ve subtracted the non-vegan ones) in my diet:

Vitamin B1 or Thiamine: beans, wheat bran, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin: whole grains, legumes vegetables (green leafy), nuts.

Vitamin B3 or Niacin: green leafy vegetables, seeds, asparagus, legumes, cereals, peanut yeast, nuts, and coffee.

Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid: whole wheat, whole rye, torula yeast, nuts, mushrooms, legumes, vegetables, brewer’s yeast.

Vitamin B6 or Piridoxine: walnuts, wheat germ, peas, carrots, and brewer’s yeast.

Vitamin B7 or Biotin: nuts, brewers yeast, spinach, mushroom, and cauliflower.

Vitamin B9 or Folic Acid: whole grains, beans, starchy vegetables, fruit, broccoli, and spinach.

Vitamin B12 or Coalmine: (only found in animals)

I already eat all of these foods except peanuts, asparagus, cereals, mushrooms, and yeast (yuck!). But I can honestly say I wasn’t eating them in large amounts. In fact, I didn’t start purposely eating more grains and nuts until recently. My VitaMix (on my wish list!) will help with the leafy greens, and I’ll continue with the nuts, seeds and grains. I’ve been trying to get used to snacking on carrots during the day- I guess that’s a good thing since it is in the Piridoxine list (protein assistance). But the main thing is to eat a variety of foods rather than focusing on just the “hair” or “protein breakdown” nutrients. And getting our vitamins from foods is always better than getting them from a pill. Still, I’m going to continue taking the vitamins for a while because I’m curious to see whether my hair, my complexion, and even the slight ridges in my fingernails improve over the next couple of months. Over time, though, I’ll replace the pills with food sources.




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