BY MICHELLE SMITH
Recently I was asked what causes increased tiredness? Fatigue is also known as tiredness, reduced energy, physical or mental exhaustion, or lack of motivation. As your advocate, it is very important that you understand that medical investigation is largely based on the symptoms that you report. A symptom is subjective and it really describes how you feel. However, non-specific symptoms are self-reported symptoms that do not indicate a specific disease process or involve an isolated body system. For example, fatigue is a feature of many acute and chronic medical conditions, which may or may not be mental and may be either a primary or secondary symptom. Fatigue is also normal, when experienced after a day of going hard whether it be physically or related to one of those mentally draining days.
There are numerous medical and non-medical causes of fatigue, like staying up too late having too much caffeine, drinking too much alcohol. High alcohol intake over a period of just two weeks can cause a noticeable decrease in the amount of B12 absorbed from the stomach.
Can vitamin B12 help you get rid of your constant tiredness? The answer is yes! But only if your fatigue is actually caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. Allow me to explain. There are many people who are more prone to B12 deficiency The older you get the more likely you are to have a vitamin B12 deficiency. The two ways you become deficient are through a lack of vitamin B12 in your diet, or through your inability to absorb it from the food you eat. Vitamin B12 deficiency is extremely common in strict vegetarians and vegans. B12 is not readily available in plants, so if you do not eat meat or animal products you are at risk.
Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal tissues, including foods like beef and beef liver, lamb, snapper, venison, salmon, shrimp, scallops, poultry and eggs. Vitamin B12 is vital for healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. Your body uses B12 for metabolism, fatty acid synthesis and energy production.
There are of course many factors that contribute to your tiredness, but if your B12 deficiency is associated with certain conditions then the very popular B12 injection craze may not work for you. Many celebrities like Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Lindsay Lohan, Katy Perry, Victoria Beckham and Rita Ora swear by the effectiveness of B12 in increasing their energy levels, reducing stress, aiding in weight loss as cited by glamour magazine. About one in thirty one adults over fifty are deficient, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Older individuals also often have poorer appetites and food intakes and they may be on medications (such as heartburn meds) that can further reduce stomach acid levels,” In fact, some seniors actually lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food at all and must get it via supplements or, if the deficiency is severe, injections. Health care requires more than a quick read to understand your risks.
If you fall into any of these categories then B12 may be for you. Diabetics taking the common medication metformin may find that they can no longer absorb sufficient amounts of vitamin B12. Individuals with autoimmune disorders such as Lupus or Graves Disease are more prone to B12 deficiency. People with pernicious anemia, whose bodies do not make the intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12 are also more common to be given B12 injections. People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease may be given B12 supplements. These conditions can decrease the amount of vitamin B12 that the body can absorb.
Just to be absolutely clear: if your fatigue is caused by a lack of vitamin B12, then B12 supplements should definitely help. However, if blood tests do not indicate a deficiency, then it is helpful to address the other factors which could be contributing to your low energy levels, for example insufficient sleep or depression.
Remember you are the most important part of your Health Care Team.