Most people are at least vaguely aware of the risk of nutrient deficiencies, even in first-world countries. It’s fairly common for someone to take a multivitamin just as a precaution, but for some people that might not be enough.
If you’re one of those people who needs just one more cup of coffee to get going in the morning, is yawning all afternoon, or constantly forgetting simple things, you might be experiencing these symptoms and more because of a deficiency in vitamin D or B12. Brain fog is one of those things that seems inevitable with age, but it could simply be due to your diet. Don’t blame yourself for feeling tired, tense, or unmotivated all the time; you might just need to make a couple of changes in your diet or supplementation regimen in order to rediscover your energy.
How can I tell if I’m deficient in vitamins D or B12?
Both deficiencies involve some of the same symptoms, like severe brain fog, mood changes, and feelings of fatigue. Low vitamin D will also be marked by aching muscles and bone pain; low B12 is characterized by a distinct pricking or burning sensation all over the body, mouth ulcers, dizziness, breathlessness, and unusually pale skin.
Among the first symptoms most people notice if they’re low in either of these nutrients will be brain fog. In fact, low B12 is actually among the primary nutrient-related causes of brain fog. This is because it’s crucial in the process of turning everything you consume into glucose, a crucial factor for your energy levels and overall brain function. Without B12 to do the job, it’s much harder for your brain to keep up with whatever’s going on.
Who’s most at risk for becoming deficient in these vitamins?
If you want to get these particular vitamins from food, you’ll be needing to up your intake of animal food sources. Because B12 can’t be found naturally in any plant foods, vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk of deficiency than most. Vitamin D is also a tough one to get without animal foods. It’s not just people who limit meat and dairy, though; anyone who has difficulty absorbing the food they eat is also at risk, as well as anyone who gets very little sun exposure.
How can these deficiencies be fixed?
B12 and vitamin D deficiencies don’t just have symptoms in common – they share remedies too! For anyone looking to improve their B12 or vitamin D levels, they could incorporate foods like muscle and organ meats (especially liver), egg yolks, and fish or fish oils. In addition to these foods, B12 can be found in dairy products (especially full-fat options), and fortified foods such as cereals. Vitamin D is also present in fortified products such as animal and plant-based milks, and some juices. A plant form of Vitamin D, known as D2, can be obtained from mushrooms; there’s some debate about how useful this version of the vitamin is, since controlled trials have indicated that D3, the animal food version, is more easily absorbed by the body.
If you don’t feel like revamping your entire diet, supplementation could be just the ticket. Be aware, though, that you can get too much of a good thing. Too much vitamin D, in particular, can actually cause problems like brittle bones, or calcium deposits in the kidneys due to hypercalcemia.
You won’t just experience relief from daily fatigue and brain fog; there will be long-term benefits too. Studies have shown that having adequate nutrient levels can actually result in younger-looking skin, and is associated with longer lifespans. If you can live longer with improved energy and mood levels, what do you have to lose?
Unless you’ve dealt with these deficiencies in the past and know what to look for, it’s best if you get checked out by someone who can tell you exactly what’s going on. Your brain fog might be due to low B12 or vitamin D, or it could be from something else entirely; you could end up with more problems than you started out with if you began supplementing when you didn’t need to. This is why a lab tests are a necessity and nowadays you do not even need to get out of your way to get tested. With a service like Base, you could take lab tests from the comfort of your own home to figure out which nutrient levels need some extra help.
Once you’ve gotten the initial snapshot of your health with the first at-home lab test, you can request additional tests to make sure the approach you’re taking is the right one for you. Everyone is different, so the way you get your nutrient levels back up will be unique as well. Dealing with vitamin deficiencies doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. You can easily find all kinds of information on how to correct something like that – once you’ve decided on how to proceed, that’s half the work done already.
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