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Tiredness Treatments: Overcoming Chronic Fatigue with B12

Tiredness Treatments: Overcoming Chronic Fatigue with B12

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex condition characterised by extreme tiredness that isn’t mitigated with rest.i Understandably, this fatigue can have a far-reaching impact on physical and emotional health.

Although there is no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, supplementing with vitamin B12 could help you to keep your symptoms under control. Here, we’ll break down the role of B12 in the body, and discuss how best to use it to combat 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).ii In fact, the metabolism of every cell in the human body relies on vitamin B12 because it plays a key role in synthesising fatty acids and energy production. Crucially, vitamin B12 supports the release of energy by enabling the body to absorb folic acid.

Every minute, the human body generates millions of red blood cells. These vital cells cannot multiple adequately without vitamin B12. If levels of vitamin B12 are too low, the production of red blood cells will drop, which can result in anaemia — a condition that makes people weak and fatigued. Adults aged 19-64 need 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day.iii Like many vitamins, the body can’t make B12. Instead, you need to acquire it from food or supplementation.

Some people are more at risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency, such as those who follow a vegan diet. This is because they do not consume food sources that contain naturally-occurring vitamin B12 (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products).iv

Medical conditions that affect your intestines, such as Crohn’s disease, can also prevent your body from absorbing the necessary amount of vitamin B12.5 Some medications may cause this, too. For instance, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — a medication used for indigestion — can often exacerbate a vitamin B12 deficiency.v


What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

A vitamin B12 deficiency can develop gradually or come on reasonably quickly. The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency may include:xi

  • Difficulty walking (balance problems, staggering)

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

  • Cognitive issues

  • Anaemia

  • Weakness

  • Fatigue


How can vitamin B12 help those with chronic fatigue syndrome?

Since vitamin B12 plays such a critically important role in energy production, experts suggest that it may benefit individuals suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.vii Studies reveal that poor vitamin B12 stores may be involved in the development of CFS.xiii It’s possible, then, that low levels of this nutrient may be responsible for the exhaustion that characterises the condition.

Although research on using vitamin B12 supplementation for CFS is still in its early stages, existing findings are promising. In 2015, a study found that CFS patients positively received vitamin B12 injections, particularly in subjects who were also taking a daily folic acid supplement.ix

Recently, vitamin B12 nasal drops were introduced as an alternative to injections to manage CFS. One study on this found that vitamin B12 nasal drops had a positive impact upon CFS symptoms.x  Indeed, two-thirds of CFS patients reported a positive effect, improving both fatigue and concentration levels.

Alongside B12 there are a number of other natural sleep supplements that could help to alleviate your symptoms.


How to increase your vitamin B12 intake

Increasing your vitamin B12 intake is easy with dietary changes and supplementation. Some brilliant 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 meats. 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 is receiving a high-quality dose of vitamin B12 each day, we’d recommend supplementation. This is especially important for vegans for whom animal-based products are prohibited. To support the reduction of fatigue and tiredness, our Vitamin B12 1000µg delivers a good level of vitamin B12 and is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.

Though more data is needed, current findings are optimistic that vitamin B12 could be used to manage symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Increasing your intake of vitamin B12, be it through diet or supplementation, could help to increase in your energy levels, and keep you feeling 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 in our dedicated sleep hub.
 



References:

  1. NHS.UK. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME). Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs

  2. Ods.od.nih.gov.. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin B12. Available online: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer

  3. NHS.UK. Vitamins and minerals - B vitamins and folic acid. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b

  4. NHS.UK. Vitamins and minerals - B vitamins and folic acid. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b

  5. NHS.UK. Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia - Causes. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/causes

  6. 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

  7. Prohealth. 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

  8. Verywell Health. Can B12 Help With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Available online: https://www.verywellhealth.com/b12-for-fibromyalgia-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-715792

  9. , et al. Response to vitamin B12 and folic acid in myalgic encephalomyeltitis and fibromyalgia. PLoS One. 22;10(4):e0124648.

  10. , & Open Trial of Vitamin B12 Nasal Drops in Adults With Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Comparison of Responders and Non-Responders. rontiers 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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