CONTACT US: 604-949-0077

By Dr. Sharon Gurm BSc, ND, Naturopathic Physician, Clinic Founder & Clinical Director

Findings of a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Sept 2011) indicate that dietary folate and vitamin B6 intake significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. The objective of the study was to examine the associations between dietary folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and methionine intake. No associations were observed for vitamin B12 and methionine intake, but there was a significant inverse association between dietary folate and B6 intake with breast cancer risk.

Good dietary sources of folate include beans, lentils, peas, asparagus, cooked spinach, cooked beets and broccoli. The richest food sources of B6 include chickpeas, beef liver, salmon and chicken breast. If you are a vegetarian, you are more likely to be deficient in vitamin B6 (as well as B12). Certain prescription medications will deplete B vitamins. Here is a list of some common drugs that deplete folate and B6:

• topical and oral corticosteroids (such as prednisone)
• NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen and indomethacin)
• several antibiotics
• birth control pills
• diuretics
• acid reflux inhibitors (such as cimetidine)
• metformin
• anti-seizure medications

If you are taking any of these medications or if your dietary sources of folate and B6 intake are inadequate or if you suffer from any intestinal condition that would interfere with nutrient absorption, then it is a good idea to take these vitamins in supplement form on a daily basis. Symptoms of B6 deficiency may include: fatigue, breast tenderness, water retention/bloating (all common symptoms of ‘PMS’), neuropathy (tingling or numbness of the extremities), anxiety, depression and insomnia or poor sleep.

B vitamins are water-soluble – meaning, your body does not store B vitamins like it can with fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and D – so be sure to take your B vitamins daily. Look for a B complex formula that contains a minimum of 50mg of B6. I recommend Thorne Multi-B#6. Research indicates the best form of supplemental folate is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). If you are planning a pregnancy or have a personal or family history of breast cancer, take additional 5-MTHF along with a B complex and a good quality prenatal multi-vitamin.