Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a medical condition which causes chronic pain and debilitating weariness. Patients of chronic fatigue syndrome complain of excessive tiredness, extreme fatigue, and simple exhaustion. Often, vitamin B12 deficiency is a comorbid condition of chronic fatigue syndrome. Unfortunately, because of its similarity to symptoms of CFS, vitamin B12 deficiency often slips under the radar and goes untreated.
One reason for the correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and chronic fatigue syndrome involves the digestive system. Many patients of CFS experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which includes symptoms like acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Often, IBS causes damage to the digestive tract, which in turn inhibits your ability to absorb vitamin B12 (cobalamin) efficiently. Over time, chronic fatigue patients experience a dramatic drop in B12 levels, resulting in severe deficiency.
Another reason for the CFS-B12 deficiency link has to do with the immune system. Scientists note that people who are predisposed to autoimmune disorders often suffer from a combination of illnesses related to poor immune system functioning. Chronic fatigue syndrome and vitamin B12 deficiency (in some cases) both occur as a result of autoimmune malfunctioning. In the case of cobalamin, pernicious anemia results from your body’s inability to manufacture the intrinsic factor enzyme, a necessary protein for digesting vitamin B12 from food sources.
As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and chronic fatigue often mimic one another. If you have chronic fatigue syndrome, then you might not notice that your vitamin B12 levels are low, and neither will your doctor. As a result, symptoms like depression, exhaustion, and “brain fog” continue to worsen, despite your doctor’s best efforts to treat your condition.
Blood tests for vitamin B12 serum levels help to diagnose a deficiency, but they are not always efficient. As a safeguard, chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers are advised to supplement with vitamin B12 regularly, in order to maintain healthy red blood cell production, improve energy, and enhance cognitive functioning.
Patients of chronic fatigue syndrome may opt for vitamin B12 injections (which require a doctor’s prescription in most states), sublingual vitamin B12 tablets, or nonedible over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements, many of which are safe, nonirritating, and convenient.
There is no “upper limit” to vitamin B12- you may take as much as you like, or as needed to provide relief. Many patients report favorable results by combining monthly B12 shots with extra OTC vitamin B12.