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One of the most common- and earliest- symptoms of low vitamin B12 is low energy. Chronic fatigue, poor concentration, and “brain fog” are all some of the first warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Low energy- What does it mean?
If you ever feel exhausted after finishing a high-impact aerobics class, or if you sometimes wake up feeling groggy and irritable from a sleepless night, then…congratulations! You’re healthy.
People who suffer from chronic fatigue- a severe loss of energy- feel that way most of the time, even after sleeping well the entire night, even after climbing a few flights of stair, and in many cases as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of fatigue
Chronic fatigue varies per person, but often includes the following symptoms:
Persistently low energy, lasting for months
Fatigue that begins in the morning and worsens by midday
Chronic fatigue occurs with many chronic disorders such as fibromyalgia, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and Crohn’s disease.
Fatigue also correlates highly with vitamin B12 deficiency, for two reasons:
Low energy levels from low B12 occurs as a direct result of decreased oxygen in the brain. Vitamin B12 sustains healthy red blood cells which help to distribute oxygen throughout your body. Likewise, a severe drop in vitamin B12 levels affects your red blood cell count, eventually causing symptoms of hypoxemia (low oxygen), which include dizziness, disorientation, and low energy- all just from low vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs at the same time as many autoimmune disorders that cause overwhelming fatigue. Oftentimes, low B12 levels exacerbate feelings of tiredness and depression from fibromyalgia, celiac disease, or lupus.
How much B12 do I need?
The standard dose prescribed for vitamin B12 deficiency is 1000mcg. Depending on the severity of vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor may prescribe 1000mcg of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) per month, per week, or twice weekly until energy levels improve.
Because there is no upper limit established for vitamin B12 supplementation, there is no danger of overdose. Patients who wish to exceed the prescribed dose of vitamin B12 may do so readily and safely.
In fact, several scientific studies focusing on vitamin B12 and energy levels found significant health benefits when individuals took large mega-doses of vitamin B12 supplements.
Are you always tired, day in, day out? If you’ve been experiencing constant fatigue that doesn’t go away, you might need to see a doctor, pronto. It’s possible that vitamin B12 supplements, a change in diet, or prescription medication will get your energy levels back to normal. Here’s a quick rundown of 30 illnesses, emotional disorders, and lifestyle habits that cause people to be tired all the time. Some obvious fatigue causes may fall under the “duh” category, but a few others may surprise you…
Causes of constant fatigue:
1.Vitamin B12 deficiency: Vitamin B12 occurs in protein foods like beef, chicken, and fish, but even meat-eaters are susceptible to getting vitamin B12 deficiency, a condition that causes fatigue, absentmindedness, and depression, among other physical and cognitive impairments. To find out if you have vitamin B12 deficiency, ask your doctor for a blood test. If vitamin B12 deficiency is the cause of your fatigue, then you will likely need to take weekly vitamin B12 shots.
2. Anemia: In some cases, fatigue from vitamin B12 deficiency results from pernicious anemia, an illness that occurs when your body is unable to make intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme required for digesting vitamin B12. Iron anemia is also another cause of constant sleepiness during the day.
3. Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder that causes a hyperactive response to pain sensors in its sufferers. Fibromyalgia patients experience chronic fatigue, muscular and joint pain in specific areas, and gastrointestinal problems. Vitamin B12 deficiency also correlates highly with fibromyalgia.
4. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): Similar to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome is also an autoimmune disorder causing extreme tiredness and excruciating pain, although not limited to certain pain points in the body. With CFS, patients feel tired and achy from morning to evening, even if they sleep well and avoid overexerting themselves physically.
5. Diabetes: Patients of diabetes often suffer from fatigue as a result of sugar remaining in the bloodstream, instead of being converted into energy. Medications, exercise, and diabetes management is required in order to avoid afternoon burnout.
6. Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid, as in hypothyroidism, will cause you to feel sluggish, slow, and always fatigued. “Brain fog” is a common symptom of hypothyroidism. Hormone therapy is required to thyroid disorders.
7. Hyperthyroidism: The opposite of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is what happens when you produce too much thyroxine, causing jitteriness, heart palpitations, and anxiety. Surprisingly, fatigue is also a side effect of this thyroid disorder.
8. Heart disease: It’s worthy of noting that undiagnosed heart disease is sometimes the cause of constant tiredness during the day. If heart disease runs in the family, then notify your doctor if you feel fatigue that lasts for days.
9. Acute liver failure: Fatigue is one of many symptoms of organ malfunctioning, including the liver.
10. Chronic kidney failure: Kidney failure also causes daytime fatigue.
11. Sleep apnea: Sometimes, undiagnosed sleep apnea keeps you from getting enough quality sleep during the night. If you always wake up tired, despite going to sleep early, then consult your physician.
12. Restless legs syndrome: Like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome is another condition that causes you to lose sleep and feel tired during the day.
13. Emphysema: Fatigue is one of many detrimental side effects of this dangerous illness.
14. Menopause: Menopause may cause unusual tiredness.
15. Pregnancy: Pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, is a common cause of fatigue in women.
16. Alcohol abuse: Alcoholism destroys the body’s organs, causes mood disorders, damages the nervous system, and causes chronic fatigue.
17. Statins: In recent studies, the use of cholesterol-lowering statins is linked with low sports endurance and constant tiredness.
18. Prescription painkillers: Side effects of some prescription painkillers include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and brain fog.
19. Cough medicines: Many cough medicines and antihistamines cause extreme fatigue, even the ones labeled “non-drowsiness” formula.
20. Blood pressure medications: Fatigue is a common side effect of some blood pressure medications.
21. Certain antidepressants: Sometimes, certain antidepressants may cause chronic fatigue in its users.
22. Depression: Tiredness, sluggish thinking, and deep sadness that last for weeks are all common indicators of severe depression.
23. Stress: Long-term stress causes nervous tension that leads to overwhelming fatigue.
24. Grief: With the death of a loved one, grief causes feelings of sadness, despair, and extreme tiredness.
25. Obesity: Many current studies blame morbid obesity for increasing occurrences of chronic fatigue.
26. Sugar: Eating a diet high in processed sugars and carbohydrates is a source of daytime fatigue for many people. To avoid a sugar “crash and burn,” avoid sugary drinks and candies, and opt instead for plain seltzers flavored with fruit juice and whole food snacks like dates and frozen grapes.
27. Caffeine: Like sugar consumption, overdoing it with caffeinated drinks causes daytime fatigue for many. A good rule of thumb is limiting to only one or two cups of coffee per day.
28. Inactivity: Even if you eat a healthy diet, lack of exercise is likely to cause constant fatigue and health problems like obesity and heart disease. To avoid constant tiredness, include at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 4 times per week.
29. Excessive activity: What goes up must go down, and the same goes for energy levels. Overexerting yourself with too-frequent exercise wears you out, both physically and emotionally.
30. Not getting enough quality sleep: This one is obvious, but still worth mentioning. Many people think they’re getting enough sleep, and are surprised to find that they’re still tired during the day. Surprisingly, even one hour of extra nighttime sleep is enough to avoid the afternoon slump.
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If you feel tired all the time, then join the club- the vitamin B12 deficiency club, which is becoming the top cause of chronic fatigue allover. Vitamin B12 is crucial for brainhealth, and if you don’t get enough, you run the risk of suffering the red blood cell disease pernicious anemia- one of many vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.
Why am I so tired all the time?
Fatigue causes you to feel sluggish, slow, confused, and constantly in a “brain fog.” You’re exhausted before you even step out of bed, and all day at work. On the drive home, you catch yourself several times nodding off at the wheel. By the time you’re ready to pack it up and call it a day, you’re almost too tired to change into your pajamas, sorely tempted to climb into bed, clothes, shoes, and all.
Why are you so tired all the time? Many conditions can cause chronic fatigue, and most of them begin with vitamin B12 deficiency.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is of the vitamin B complex vitamins, and occurs in foods like beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. Some of the best sources of vitamin B12 are organ meat, lean turkey, crabmeat, halibut, and yogurt. Normally, sufficient amounts of B12 are stored in your liver, unless you are prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Tiredness is at the core of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency: depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, short-term memory loss, disorientation, trouble concentrating or remembering words, painful numbness or tingling in hands and feet, loss of balance while walking, muscular feebleness, and insomnia.
Here are some illnesses and chronic conditions linked to vitamin B12 deficiency:
Sometimes, pernicious anemia is the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 helps your body produce healthy red blood cells needed to carry oxygen. With pernicious anemia, you have a shortage of vitamin B12, which leads to a shortage of red blood cells, which in turn causes a severe reduction in oxygen throughout your body, including the brain.
The resulting effect is overwhelming tiredness, lightheadedness, and an inability to concentrate.
Scientists found that a high correlation exists between vitamin B12 deficiency and sufferers of fibromyalgia, an autoimmune disease that causes symptoms such as severe pain, skin sensitivity, sleep problems, and chronic fatigue.
People with gastrointestinal disorders such as IBD- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis- have extreme difficulty absorbing vitamin B12. Symptoms such as sluggishness, diarrhea, and unexplainable exhaustion might be confused with IBD symptoms; in fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is a likely culprit that often is overlooked.
Vitamin B12 supports cognitive functioning- low B12 levels are common among people suffering from severe psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, clinical depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Tiredness is one of many complaints of people suffering from depression and anxiety.
Vitamin B12 helps your body regulate the amount of homocysteine in your blood. High levels of plasma homocysteine are strongly associated with heart disease and stroke. By breaking down homocysteine, and thus reducing the risk for heart disease or stroke, vitamin B12 promotes cardiovascular health.
Treatment for B12 deficiency
A blood test is necessary in order to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency. Not all doctors screen for low B12, so you will need to request a plasma vitamin B12 test. If necessary, your doctor will prescribe B12 injections or sublingual B12.
Being tired all the time is a symptom of B12 deficiency, but it can also signal hypothyroidism (low thyroid), a thyroid disease that occurs with lowB12 levels. Because hypothyroid symptoms are similar, vitamin B12 deficiency often goes undetected.
B12 deficiency causes fatigue, depression, and other mood disorders often associated with an underactive thyroid. If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroiditis, then it’s also important also to recognize the symptoms of B12 deficiency, and know whether you might require more vitamin B12 (cobalamin).
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) that occurs in the thyroid gland, causing inflammation, and reducing its ability to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s disease is one example of thyroiditis that causes low thyroid levels.
Sometimes, thyroid treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), such as radioactive iodine or surgery, can backfire, causing underactive thyroid symptoms.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that is responsible for making red blood cells, controlling DNA synthesis, regulating the nervous system, and improving cognitive functioning. Without proper levels of vitamin B12, you may suffer neurological damage, dementia, or heart attack resulting from elevated homocysteine levels.
In a study conducted in Sapir Medical Center, Kfar Saba, Israel, patients with autoimmune thyroid disease received blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency. Researchers noted a significantly high percentage of people with AITD who also had vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anemia, a disease that inhibits proper absorption of vitamin B12.
Another study conducted in Pakistan by Aga Khan University produced similar results; namely, a 40% prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among patients with hypothyroidism.
If you are a patient of hypothyroidism, then physicians strongly recommend routine blood testing for vitamin B12 deficiency, regardless of thyroid hormone levels.