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Tiredness remedies: Overcoming chronic fatigue with B12

Tiredness Remedies: Overcoming Chronic Fatigue with B12

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex condition characterised by excessive daytime exhaustion that isn’t improved with any amount of rest1.Living with such extreme tiredness can be hugely debilitating. It can impact your physical and emotional health and affect many aspects of your life.

Although there’s no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, using tiredness remedies – such as supplementing with vitamin B12 – are often recommended to help you keep your symptoms under control.

Here, we’ll break down the role of vitamin B12 in the body and discuss how best to use it for overcoming tiredness and managing CFS symptoms.


What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 keeps your blood and nerve cells healthy, as well as helping to make DNA (the genetic material found in cells)2. The metabolism of every cell in the human body relies on vitamin B12 because it plays a crucial role in synthesising fatty acids and energy production. Crucially, vitamin B12 supports the release of energy by enabling the body to absorb folic acid.

Each minute, the human body generates millions of red blood cells. These vital cells cannot multiple adequately without vitamin B12. If vitamin B12 is too low, the production of red blood cells will drop, which may result in anaemia, a condition that leaves you feeling weak and exhausted.

Adults aged 19-64 need 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day3. But like many vitamins, the body can’t produce vitamin B12. Instead, you need to obtain it from food or supplements.

Some people are more at risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency, such as those who follow a vegan or plant-based diet, since they don’t consume food sources that contain naturally-occurring vitamin B12, like meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products4.

Medical conditions that affect your intestines, such as Crohn’s disease, can also prevent your body from absorbing enough vitamin B125. Some medications are known to cause this, too. For instance, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – used for indigestion – can often exacerbate a vitamin B12 deficiency6.


What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

A vitamin B12 deficiency can develop gradually or come on relatively quickly. The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency usually include:7

  • Difficulty walking (balance problems, staggering)

  • Strange sensations, tingling or numbness in feet, legs, and hands

  • Cognitive issues

  • Anaemia

  • Weakness

  • Fatigue


Does vitamin B12 give you energy?

Since vitamin B12 plays such a critically important role in energy production, experts often recommend B12 for tiredness and those with chronic fatigue syndrome 8. Studies even report low vitamin B12 levels may be involved in the development of CFS9.

Although research on using vitamin B12 to overcome chronic fatigue is still in its early stages, current findings are promising. In 2015, a study found that CFS patients responded favourably to vitamin B12 injections, particularly those who were also taking a daily folic acid supplement10.

Other fatigue remedies for CFS include vitamin B12 nasal drops, which were introduced as an alternative to injections. One study found vitamin B12 nasal drops improved their CFS symptoms, with two-thirds of CFS patients reporting a positive effect, reducing their fatigue and increasing concentration levels11.

Alongside vitamin B12, a number of natural sleep supplements could also help improve your energy levels and reduce CFS symptoms.


Overcoming tiredness by increasing your vitamin B12 intake

Increasing your vitamin B12 intake is easy with dietary changes and supplementation. Some excellent food sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • 100g lamb liver – 83mcg

  • 100g mussels – 10.6mcg

  • 100g mackerel – 9.1mcg

  • 100ml fortified soya milk – 0.4mcg

  • 200g yoghurt – 0.2mcg


Other good dietary sources include salmon, cod, and most meat. For vegetarians, eggs and cheese are rich in vitamin B12. And for vegans, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified orange juice, and fortified tofu contain small amounts of vitamin B12.

To ensure your body receives high-quality vitamin B12 each day, we recommend taking a supplement, such as our Vitamin B12 1000µg, which delivers comprehensive levels of vitamin B12 and is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.

Though more data is needed, current findings on using vitamin B12 for overcoming chronic fatigue are promising. Upping your intake of vitamin B12 – through diet or supplementation – may help increase your energy levels and ensure you feel less tired throughout the day.

You can find even more advice on how to improve your sleep hygiene, as well as common sleep conditions, in the articles via our dedicated Sleep Hub.
 



References:

  1. NHS.UK. (2021). Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME). Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs
  2. Ods.od.nih.gov. (2021). Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin B12. Available online: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer
  3. NHS.UK. (2021). Vitamins and minerals - B vitamins and folic acid. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b
  4. NHS.UK. (2021). Vitamins and minerals - B vitamins and folic acid. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b
  5. NHS.UK. (2021). Vitamins and minerals - B vitamins and folic acid. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b
  6. NHS.UK. (2021). Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia - Causes. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/causes
  7. Skerrett. P. Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky, harmful. Harvard Health Blog. Available online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780
  8. Prohealth. (2021). Using vitamin B-12 for the management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Available online: https://www.prohealth.com/library/using-vitamin-b-12-for-the-management-of-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs-16267
  9. Verywell Health. (2021). Can B12 Help With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Available online: https://www.verywellhealth.com/b12-for-fibromyalgia-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-715792
  10. WiRegland. B., et al. (2016). Response to vitamin B12 and folic acid in myalgic encephalomyeltitis and fibromyalgia. PLoS One. 22; 10(4):e0124648.
  11. van Campen. C., Riepma. K. & Visser. F. (2019). Open Trial of Vitamin B12 Nasal Drops in Adults With Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Comparison of Responders and Non-Responders. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 10.
   

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Our Author - Olivia Salter

Olivia

Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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