52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: The Role of Vitamins B3 and B6 in the Diet

The Vitamin B complex is comprised of 8 B vitamins:

Today, I want to look at B 3 and B 6 and their role in mental health. In a previous post, I talked about how you are what you eat and with the B vitamins, this could not be further from the truth. Both B 3 and B 6 play roles in making sex and stress hormones(B3) and brain development and nervous system health (B6).

Vitamin B3 deficiency has been linked to conditions such as depression and anxiety, but also to issues with fatigue, memory loss, apathy, headaches and disorientation. Going out and buying a bunch of Niacin is not recommended. People sensitive to Niacin will get Niacin flush, a redness and feeling of overheating that is rather uncomfortable. No flush Niacin is available, but it is advisable that you speak to a doctor and a nutritionist regarding a deficiency of Niacin in your diet and overall physical being. B3 can be found naturally in chicken breast, tuna, turkey, salmon, pork, ground beef, peanuts and vegan/vegetarian options of brown rice, avocados, whole wheat (seitan), mushrooms, green peas and potatoes. You can get fortified enriched foods, but I find this unadvisable becasue of the increase in processing and getting further away from the original food it came from.

Vitamin B6 is also linked to depression and confusion. Immune suppression is also a concern with B6 deficiency. Again, as noted above, only a doctor can tell you through a blood test if you are deficient and a nutrtionist can properly prescribe a diet with the proper balance of micronutrients for positive mental health. Sources of B6 can be found in chickpeas, beef liver(also B3), tuna, chicken breast(also B3), potatoes, bananas, tofu and nuts.

You are what you eat. In my practice, medicine is a line of defense when dealing with mental health and you are at the whim of the side effects of medicine, often leaving my clients feeling out of control and most often telling me that they don’t take medication because of side effects. Sometimes, you need medication to help things along. Most times though, a lot can be done with your diet AND physical movement. Adding a healthy diet to your self care routine along with 45 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (1-10 where 10 is hardest, exercise at a level of 5-7) 5 days a week can go a long way in promoting mental health.

There is a lot of speculation right now that that the severity of COVID -19 symptoms are dependent on one’s physical health. As a nation right now, our food system and the choices we have for healthy food are upside down. This is a trend that that has been getting worse actually for the last 100 years with the invention of processed cereals and grains. As mentioned above, fortified does not mean healthy. It does mean healthier, but the best sources are from whole foods which can be found in the outside circle of your grocery store. Some foods like beans, nuts, seeds are better and more conveniently found pre packaged, just stay away from added flavorings, salts and sugars.

This week on the menu:

Paleo Barbecue Chicken Casserole


Sweet Potato Sausage Stuffing


A fun snack I have been playing with the last week is Healthy Classic Cooking Dough for One:


My training is moving along. I had a 12 hour 48 minute week last week. The highlight of the week was the shakeout hike I did with my daughter in preparation for our Appalachian Trail section hike in Maryland in May. We did 10 miles on the North Country trail in 4 hours 18 minutes. She crushed the hike and all our equipment worked like it was supposed to. We were going to camp overnight, but the overnight temps were not what I was looking to expose her to on this hike.

On Sunday, I crushed a 43 mile bike ride in the ridges and windfarms of the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area in New York. It was cold and windy with 4,613 feet of elevation. It was a hell of a ride and I definately felt the strongest yet on any climb since.

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