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A Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency Might Cause Fatigue

Feeling fatigued? An article in U.S. News & World Report suggests that you should get to the bottom of your sleepy state, as it may be an indication of other health issues. While there are many reasons why you may be fighting fatigue—maybe you slept poorly or didn’t go for your morning run—a vitamin or mineral deficiency is among one of the most common culprits. A deficiency in iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B12, or folic acid can lead to fatigue as well as a variety of other symptoms, for example:

  • an iron deficiency may lead to anemia;
  • a vitamin B12 deficiency may leave you feeling foggy or mentally exhausted; and
  • a magnesium or potassium deficiency may lead to muscle cramps.

In addition to these symptoms, a vitamin or mineral deficiency can also have long-term health consequences such as restricted movement, heart disease, brittle bones, or impaired brain function. Dietitians and nutritionists warn that poor and restrictive diets can contribute to these deficiencies and subsequent fatigue. Specifically:

  • Diets that include lots of fast foods and processed foods tend to be high in calories but low in nutrients. Filling up on chips, sodas, and candy can leave you overweight but undernourished.
  • Some popular diets advise cutting out entire food groups, such as grains, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Whole grains and fortified grain products, for example, are sources of B vitamins like folic acid (B9), thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), and pyridoxine (B6), and cutting them out completely could contribute to B vitamin deficiencies.
  • Calorie cutting and skipping meals can also contribute to deficiencies and fatigue as your body may not have the fuel or the nutrients it needs throughout the day.
  • Vegetarian and vegan diets, though typically nutrient-packed and linked to health and longevity, are frequently low in vitamin B12. As a result, vegetarians and particularly vegans have a higher risk of B12 deficiency than meat eaters.

A diet packed with a variety of nutrient-dense foods, like vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and fish may minimize the risk of deficiencies. A multivitamin-multimineral supplement may also be a good addition, especially if your diet is restricted for any reason.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

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