March 30, 2015
If there’s one thing that impacts how healthy you are and how you look and feel, it’s the food you eat. Food supplies your body with energy, but it’s not just protein, carbs and fat from your diet, but “micronutrients,” like vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals aren’t just a nice-to-have part of your diet – they’re essential for life. Micronutrients are what help your body carry out chemical reactions you need for mental and physical health.
Your body cells do not have the ability to produce vitamins, with the exception of Vitamin D which can be produced by some of our skin cells. This is why you have to get them through your diet, but you play host to some other organisms that can – specifically the bacteria that live in your gut. Among the trillions of bacteria that live in your intestinal tract are ones that produce B vitamins. Specifically, bacteria in your gut produce three B vitamins, biotin, folate and vitamin B12. This family of vitamin is closely involved in energy metabolism. Without B vitamins, your body couldn’t extract energy from the carbohydrates and protein you eat.
If you don’t have enough vitamin B12 and folate, you’re at risk for a form of anemia where your red blood cells are too large. Vitamin B12 also keeps nerves functioning properly by helping to maintain the myelin sheath that covers them and allows the nerve impulse to conduct rapidly. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause brain and neurological symptoms including brain fog, numbness and tingling, problems with balance and, if severe enough, permanent nerve damage or death. Vegetarians are at especially high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency because this vitamin is naturally found in animal products and generally not present in plant foods.
VITAMIN K AND GUT BACTERIA
Probiotic gut bacteria are also capable of making a vitamin your body needs for clotting, vitamin K. Without adequate vitamin K, you run the risk of bleeding to death when you get a cut or minor injury. Vitamin K actually comes in two forms: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Recently, vitamin K2 has been the focus of research. Studies suggest vitamin K2 is important for bone health and for prevention of coronary artery disease. It directs calcium that you take in through diet to bone tissue, where it’s needed, as opposed to sticking to the inner walls of arteries where it could cause calcification and, potentially, heart disease or stroke.
You get vitamin K1 by eating green, leafy vegetables, but vitamin K2 has limited availability in foods. The best sources include cheese, egg yolks, milk from pasture-raised animals and fermented foods. Gut-friendly, probiotic bacteria help out here too by making some of the vitamin K2 you may not be getting through diet.
So many factors can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut including stress and diet. Keeping your gut microbiome in balance is important for many reasons, one of which is to nurture good bacteria you need to help with the production of vitamin K and B vitamins. This is one more great reason to make a daily probiotic, such as Natren Healthy Trinity part of your regular diet.
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