With the busy lives people lead these days, it’s common for people to feel worn down. If you are burning the candle at both ends and sacrificing sleep, the source of your fatigue may be pretty obvious. But if you are getting enough zzz’s yet still feel constantly exhausted, a vitamin or mineral deficiency could be the cause.
Here are a few vitamin levels you may want to have tested if you feel like you are always running on empty.
Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, but if you have too few of these cells, or if your red blood cells do not have sufficient amounts of an iron-dependant protein called hemoglobin, anemia can result. And fatigue is often one of the first symptoms experienced by people with anemia.
Fortunately, anemia is easy to diagnose with a blood test that measures the number of red blood cells in the blood and amount of hemoglobin in those cells.
If you are suffering from anemia, you must first increase your body’s iron supply with iron-rich foods. Good options include red meat, eggs, rice, and beans. With your doctor’s okay, over-the-counter iron supplements are another option for boosting iron levels, though these can cause constipation.
In addition to iron, vitamin B12 is also critical for the body’s production of healthy red blood cells, and a vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause anemia.
Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 are meat and dairy products, so most people on a traditional Western diet get enough of this key nutrient through their food. However, vegetarians and vegans can become deficient in B12. Additionally, with age and certain health conditions–including gastrointestinal problems like Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease–it becomes more difficult for the body to absorb sufficient B12.
B12 deficiency is typically resolved with oral supplements and/or dietary changes to increase B12 consumption. For some people, B12 deficiency is treated with regular vitamin B12 injections.
Vitamin D is unique. There are few natural dietary sources of vitamin D, however it is naturally produced by the human body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is necessary to maintain bone and muscle health, and deficiencies of this vitamin also contribute to insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and reduced immune function.
If you shun the sun or during winter months when sunlight is more scare, you can get at least some dietary vitamin D from foods such as tuna, salmon, and in fortified products like milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals. Another option to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D is nutritional supplements. If you decide to take the supplement route, the D3 form is easier for your body to absorb than other types of vitamin D.
>> Visit the National Institutes of Health website for charts of daily recommended values of these and other key nutrients, both for adults and children.
While a deficiency of any of these important nutrients can cause you to drag, it is important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing extreme fatigue with no obvious cause. Numerous other health conditions–from autoimmune diseases to irregular hormone levels to cancer–can be the root cause of lethargy.
Learn more about the low-cost vitamin deficiency tests offered by HealthOneLab
Learn more about the low-cost vitamin deficiency tests offered by InquireLabs