It could be you're suffering from a once-deadly but now treatable vitamin B12 deficiency. So it is time to shoot up.
Vitamin B12 (AKA cobalamin) is an essential vitamin that is found in a lot of meats and some dairy products, said Dr. Dave Ensz of the Mercy South Sioux City Medical Clinic, temporarily relocated to the Mercy Singing Hills Clinic in Sioux City. "Basically, it supports the making of red blood cells. And as red blood cells become low, you become anemic.Then with anemia, you can have a whole bunch of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath and just not feeling well."
Having anemia means your body does not have enough red blood cells to get the job done. This leaves you feeling weak and tired.
The body needs vitamin B12 for several different processes, including converting the fats, carbs and proteins from all food that's consumed into energy. Actually, all of the cells in your body need B12, including white blood cells and nerve cells. The white blood cells need it to create the fatty layer that may protect them from damage. The brain cells are especially open to disease and damage if there is not enough B12 present to form this protective layer.
"If you've been deficient for B12 fo a while, it will affect the nerves, mostly in the feet. You'll notice it in the hands and the legs," Ensz said. "But what it can also do, it will affect the nerves in the brain so your thinking is slowed. And a lot of times, it will be such a gradual onset, you may not notice it.
"It's a lack of vitamin B12 either from the diet or from not being able to absorb the vitamin once you take it in."
The main cause, Ensz said, is not being able to absorb it from the stomach.
"The vitamin's absorbed in the first part of the small intestine, and if people aren't able to absorb it over a period of months, their blood count can drop and they can become anemic," he said.
Through simple blood tests, doctors can find the cause.
"And if that's the case, then either oral supplements or monthly injections can boost the vitamin B12 levels and resolve anemia," he said.
Vegetarians, especially those who avoid dairy products, are most susceptible to this deficiency. And in such cases, the oral pills prove an easy solution.
"If it's found that your stomach or intestines are not absorbing the vitamin B12, which is called pernicious anemia, then the injections will have to be used because that's a way of getting the B12 into the body.
"Pernicious," of course, means deadly, and that was often the case in the past before B12 treatments were available. With proper care and treatment, most people who have pernicious anemia can recover and live normal lives.
Few patients have problem with self-injections of the B12; but if they can't do it themselves, they can simply stop by their doctor's office each month for a shot.
Read more: http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/article_e8d46c86-5780-556f-8d9e-c273afd0b557.html#ixzz1SCAvn2ZU