Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snorting Vitamin B on the set of The Wolf of Wall Street

The movie speaks for itself, what with the lavish lifestyle of money, women, sex and drugs. But while there is no denying this is a true story of one man's life, one thing is for sure – that wasn't cocaine being snorted on the movie set of The Wolf of Wall Street. Recently Leonardo DiCaprio, playing the infamous Jordan Belfort, and Jonah Hill, playing Belfort's right hand man, Donnie Azoff, came clean. The white powder the characters were snorting like a drug, were actually Vitamins!
“They were baby vitamins. Vitamin B,” Leonardo DiCaprio laughed as he said in one interview. “It certainly burned our noses and we were energized for the day.” Hey – it's better than snorting sugar, and at least they're getting some nutrients from this white powder of choice. But if you've seen the movie, you should be a little more concerned about how they could possibly snort that much Vitamin B without repercussion? Well, thankfully for the actors, the filming period was over a 6 month time span but as P. J. Burne (who played Nicky Koskoff) said in an interview with OK! Magazine, “It's oddly very easy.”
While that may be the case, we think Jonah Hill would beg to differ; he actually got bronchitis from snorting too much vitamin B while filming the movie. “Even though it was vitamins, snorting that much matter into your lungs can eventually get you sick,” he joked.

So, should you be snorting your vitamins to mimic a scene out of The Wolf of Wall Street? It's up to you (just please consult with your naturopathic doctor first!). The truth is, there are several reasons why some people prefer not to take their vitamins orally, and there are several alternative ways to do it.

Why try an alternative method?

First and foremost, nutrients are difficult to absorb. And because they are, most people find alternative methods the most effective, as the vitamins are found in their purest of forms. Some health issues also force individuals to take vitamins by alternative methods for better results. An example of this could be if a patients digestion is compromised (and perhaps they need an IV). Others could have allergies to certain substances in the oral capsules and need to, again, take the vitamins in its purest form which are free of allergens. Or it could be simply because they need to reach therapeutic results.

Before we get into various alternative methods of administration of supplements/nutrients, let’s first address the most common reason why we choose these methods – the gastrointestinal tract. Digestion is a process that we take for granted. We often eat food assuming our body knows what to do. And more importantly we assume our bodies can do with our food/supplements what needs to be done, in order to get the nutrition we need. Sadly, it’s not always that easy. For one, our digestive enzymes, released from the salivary glands, pancreas, stomach and small intestine, are picky. They need a very specific pH/environment in order to function as necessary to break nutrients down into smaller ‘buidling blocks’ for absorption in the body. Conditions such as IBS, IBD (including Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis), celiac disease (and other food allergies or sensitivities), GERD, along with many pharmaceutical medications can all compromise enzyme production, gut flora, breakdown and absorption of nutrients to varying degrees. Any sort of inflammation, stress and the simple process of aging also impacts how effectively our digestive system works too. The consequences to our nutritional status, due to an inability to absorb nutrients through food or supplementation via oral administration, creates a need to bypass a compromised digestive system!

Sometimes a well oiled/working digestive system can also compromise absorption of nutrients. Our digestive tract can be a long hostile ‘road’, and some supplements are not made to survive the trek; degrading before they make it to where they need to be to have their desired effect. Some supplements use a variety of fillers to avoid these issues, and these can cause health issues themselves. Again, this can be avoided simply by using alternative methods of administration.

Alternative Methods of Choice are...

Under the Tongue: One of the most well-known alternatives to swallowing a supplement is to take it sublingually, which literally means under the tongue. B12 is one nutrient, in particular, that is widely available in sublingual form. The advantages of sublingual administration of a supplement are numerous. Not only does this form of administration bypass the gastrointestinal tract (beneficial for the many reasons stated above), but B12 itself is a very difficult nutrient to absorb, as it is a very large molecule. When put under the tongue, the nutrient diffuses through the mucous membranes leading to a vast capillary system, which allows for these substances to further diffuse directly into circulation.

Nasal or directly in the eye/ear: The benefit of this form of administration is pretty straightforward. The medicinal ingredients are getting to the areas where they are needed most, and they are getting there first!

Rectal Suppositories: These may not sound like a preferred option, but it can come in handy when there are issues with swallowing, and is often very useful with young children/babies who refuse to take medications or supplements via the oral route. This form of delivery is also useful for issues in the immediate area, such as calming inflamed hemorrhoids or abscesses. If there is profuse vomiting, this method allows for the supplement to get in before it’s ‘thrown out’. Natural vaginal suppositories, with herbs and/or probiotics used in the treatment of yeast infections, have also become quite popular, and do a great job of addressing the issue quickly while internal treatments may take longer to have an effect.

Intravenous Administration (IV): This method is growing in popularity, although still not available everywhere (Vitamin Bars, anyone?). Naturopathic doctors can obtain a license to administer nutrients intravenously. Again, the most significant advantage to this form of administration is that it bypasses the gastrointestinal tract completely. Additionally, you can give very large doses, much more than is realistic via oral ingestion, in some cases. The benefit is also immediate, with most individuals noticing a change in energy, or in the case of IV vitamin C, a decrease in cold and flu symptoms, within a couple hours.

Intramuscular Injections: This is a widely used method of administration of B12 vitamins, and is commonly used for vaccine administration. It's another way of bypassing the GI system and is less costly and invasive than IV administration. It's also a quick way to get these nutrients into the system, although IM injections are only suitable for small volumes. Common sites of injection are the deltoid muscle of the arm, or the gluteal muscles (yes, the butt cheeks!)

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