Having to drag your tired self out of bed or to an afternoon staff meeting every once in a while is expected. But if you’re struggling to stay awake through an average day and constantly feel zapped for energy, you may have a bigger problem. Certain vitamin deficiencies can lead to excessive fatigue and weakness, so make an appointment with your doctor to have your blood levels tested.
A January 2010 article published in the "International Journal of Health Sciences" calls vitamin D deficiency an “epidemic,” with billions of people worldwide deficient or insufficient in the vitamin. When exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, the skin produces vitamin D. Dietary sources of the vitamin include egg yolks, fatty fish, beef liver and dairy products that have been fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome in addition to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. Spending just 15 to 20 minutes in the sun each day with a portion of the skin's surface exposed can prevent vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin B-12 is naturally found in eggs, dairy products and animal foods and frequently added to breads, cereals and other grains. Within the body, vitamin B-12 functions to produce red blood cells, nerves and DNA. As levels become deficient, it leads to weakness and fatigue. If the deficiency worsens, symptoms can include numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty maintaining balance, yellowing of the skin, memory loss and hallucinations. Severe vitamin B-12 deficiencies may require weekly vitamin B-12 shots or strong doses of supplementation.
Although vitamin-deficiency anemia can be caused by a lack of vitamin B-12, it can also result from a deficiency in folate. Folate is part of the B-vitamin complex and is found in dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and fortified breads and cereals. Vitamin-deficiency anemia is characterized by a reduced number of healthy red blood cells. Because red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, a reduced number of these cells often leads to the body feeling fatigued. Other symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia include dizziness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, confusion and changes in your personality.
Checking Your Levels
Rather than relying on a self-diagnosis, speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about a vitamin deficiency. The only surefire way to determine whether your body is deficient in a specific vitamin or mineral is through a blood test. Once your blood test reveals your current health and nutrition status, your physician can help you determine whether you need to supplement your daily diet with an added boost of vitamins or minerals.