Feeling tired all the time and wondering if it is due to a deficiency in B vitamins?
The only way to determine if you are deficient in certain B vitamins is to see your physician and get tested. Your medical doctor will consider all signs and symptoms you may be having and perform tests to determine the root cause or causes of any issues.
The two B vitamins that are most often tested for are folate and B12. A deficiency in either can lead to anemia – a condition caused by low levels of the iron-rich protein hemoglobin or inadequate amounts of healthy red blood cells. The result: your blood does not carry enough oxygen to your body. If you are anemic you may feel tired, weak cold, dizzy, irritable and have difficulty concentrating. And though iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia, there are actually hundreds of kinds of anemia including types that result from B12 and/or folate deficiency.
Folate or Folic Acid
Folate, also known by its synthetic form, folic acid, helps make healthy red blood cells. Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts while folic acid is found in supplements and also enriched breads, cereals, other grain products and some functional foods such as protein shakes and nutrition bars. While folic acid is very important, you should avoid mega doses of this B vitamin. Very large quantities of folic acid, above 1,000 mcg per day from fortified foods and supplements, can mask a B12 deficiency making it difficult to detect while also making symptoms of a B12 deficiency worse. Folate deficiency usually occurs in conjunction with other nutrient deficiencies and groups at risk include alcoholics, those with a poor diet and people with malabsorptive disorders such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease or those that have had weight loss surgery.
Vitamin B12 is also essential for red blood cell formation. In addition to the typical symptoms associated with anemia, B12 deficiency can lead to numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, poor balance and a sore mouth and tongue. Many times the cause of B12 deficiency isn’t known. However, those with malabsorption syndromes, older adults with atrophic gastritis (a decrease in the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach), people with pernicious anemia and those with gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease or people who have had gastrointestinal surgery including weight loss surgeries have a greater risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. In addition, vegans who consume no animal products (animal based foods from meat to dairy and eggs contain B12 while few non-animal foods such as certain breakfast cereals are fortified with B12) have an increased risk of developing a B12 deficiency.
If you are feeling tired, weak, cold or have numbness in your hands or feet or mouth sores, talk to your physician about your folate and vitamin B12 intake and ask if you may be deficient. A vitamin B12 supplement and or a B Complex supplement may be needed to maintain your vitamin B levels on a consistent basis.
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