About six months ago, I saw a 34-year-old woman in my office, who outwardly was the picture of health. She exercised daily, ate a very low carb, high fiber diet that was vegetarian and largely vegan. Despite all of this meticulous attention to her daily routines, she felt terrible. She was tired all the time, yet still had trouble sleeping at night. She often felt her hands and feet would tingle at night, contributing to her lack of sleep. She was frustrated beyond belief, feeling irritable, tired and wondering if she had some underlying condition like Multiple Sclerosis or a thyroid disorder. She felt she was not able to deal with her kids without losing her temper all of the time and even at her young age, she was afraid she was starting to lose her memory.
I looked at her recent blood work. It was all normal. She was not anemic. She was not hypothyroid. Her liver and kidney numbers were excellent. I examined her carefully and did a careful analysis of her habits. We talked about her diet at length. It was then that her issues became clear to me: in her efforts to eat a healthy diet, she had cut out one of the most important vitamins.
Her mostly vegan diet had left her deficient in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that our body uses to function optimally. It is essential to the function of our nervous system, which is why it is one of the first blood tests we do when people experience trouble with their memory or neurologic symptoms such as tingling in their hands and feet.
However, our current reference ranges often do not pick up deficiencies. Sometimes, the patient’s description of a diet low in meat and dairy products is the telltale sign. I started my patient on a vitamin B12 supplement that was tailored to her needs. I just recently saw her for her six month follow-up and she is feeling energetic, well rested and better than ever.
She was able to participate in family life as she had not before. A simple correction to her vitamin B12 deficiency was the key to making her feel like a new person. As with most vitamins, it takes time (6-12 months in many cases) to see an improvement in symptoms. Vitamin B12 can be useful for low energy, fatigue and many other common complaints.
Not feeling like yourself? Take our survey at Find Your Vous® to see if a vitamin supplement can turn you into a new person (or the old person you used to be).
Arielle Levitan is a doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three active adolescents. Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three elementary age boys. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that women, in their many roles, often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each woman is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide women everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs.
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.