Feeling fatigued and low energy on a regular basis? It’s that time of the year again where the days are shorter, and the nights grow longer. We tend to blame this energy shift on the lack of sun exposure, shorter days and frigid weather, however we repeatedly forget that our vitamin and mineral status can have a profound effect on how we feel! Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin to have tested to ensure insufficient levels are not the cause of persistent fatigue.
Holiday stress may lead to an increase in nutrient demand. B12 is crucial for energy production. Who doesn’t want more energy this season?
Experience any of these symptoms below? If yes, this may point to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Persistent fatigue
- Waking up tired
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Sore tongue
- Numbness or tingling
The average level of vitamin B12 levels in Canadians is 350 pmol/L. This number is on the lower end of the typical reference range for vitamin B12 (138 – 652 pmol/L). A naturopathic approach focuses on optimal health, where lower levels may be an indication for supplementation. Injections of B12 are also considered based on severity of symptoms.
What could be the potential causes for a vitamin B12 deficiency? As naturopathic doctors, we try to identify the cause of such a deficiency. In our experience, we have found that a vitamin B12 deficiency may be linked to impaired digestion, where patients with IBS, diarrhea, constipation, gastric reflux, GERD, may be at a greater likelihood of decreased absorption.
As well a vitamin B12 deficiency may be linked to inadequate nutrition. For patients on more restrictive diets like a low carbohydrate, vegan, elimination diets, we often encounter vitamin deficiencies.
Certain medications like Metformin and proton-pump inhibitors like Omeprazole, may also be culprits in lowered vitamin B12 status.
Feeling any of these symptoms? Take These Next Steps!
Step 1: Get your levels tested! If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, get your vitamin B12 levels tested with us. Prior to supplementing with vitamin B12, it is essential to know your baseline levels to determine the magnitude of benefit.
Step 2: Already got your levels tested? If you’re ahead of the game and already have your vitamin B12 levels tested, bring your results in to discuss with us. If your vitamin B12 blood test was performed more than 3 months ago, we suggest that you re-test it to have a more current reading.
Step 3: “Normal” levels, but not feeling yourself? We see this commonly in practice. It is often a misconception that you must have deficient levels before supplementing with vitamin B12. We recommend that you discuss your lab work with us in order to determine your appropriate dose of vitamin B12.
Step 4: Start feeling your best! Research demonstrates that oral supplementation is as effective as intramuscular injections for those with deficient levels of vitamin B12. Patient compliance in taking supplements can be quite low. Therefore, in our clinical experience, we see greater benefit in overall symptoms in those opting for vitamin B12 intramuscular injections than those supplementing orally.