I posted yesterday that I finally admitted that I have asthma and began using an inhaler before exercising. Walking uphill became easier.
The second change came a few days later, when the new ARNP got the results of my blood tests. “You have a severe vitamin B12 deficiency. Do you eat eggs and meat? Or are you a vegetarian?” Yes, I eat eggs and meat – had been craving them muchly the last few years – but I was still deficient. It seems that I don’t absorb vitamin B12 very efficiently, which led to anemia.
I started taking vitamin B12 supplements. I still do, every morning. (I absorb less than most people, but “some” of “a lot” works out to “enough”.) At a follow-up appointment she also urged me to take Vitamin D supplements, because I’m on the low side and we live north of Toronto.
Within 1 week of starting vitamin B12 supplements, I had more energy, more endurance, and stopped craving meat and eggs all the time. Instead of insisting on eggs and meat for breakfast, I began eating things like fruit and yogurt.
What I’ve realized since then was that my activity had been limited by the lack of B12 and the asthma. Now I’m not. Now I’m limited only by my current fitness level – and I can improve it.
The scary thing? The B12 deficiency was only found because I changed my medical practitioner.
You see, a few years ago I noticed I was feeling run down all the time. It’d been a gradual thing. More sleep, dealing with sleep apnea, exercise – all would give me a small boost, but not get me back to where I used to be.
Most commonly, people with anemia report a feeling of weakness or fatigue, general malaise and sometimes poor concentration. – Wikipedia entry “Anemia”
I complained to my then-ARNP. She checked to see if I was hypothyroid; when the TSH came back normal, and she pointed out I had a history of depression and I was, of course, morbidly obese.
Common early symptoms [of B12 deficiency] are tiredness or a decreased mental work capacity, decreased concentration and decreased memory, irritability and depression.
– Wikipedia entry “B12″
She suggested upping my antidepressant dosage, that I exercise more, and perhaps look into weight loss surgery. (Because of course having a surgery that itself can cause vitamin deficiencies is exactly what I needed!) (*pounds head on desk*)
It could be that if I were thin, she’d have looked for other answers to my fatigue.
Or it could be that if I were thin, she’d have settled for “Let’s try upping your antidepressant, and I’d suggest you exercise more, and see how that works.” (This being in the grand tradition of “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”.)
But considering that B12 deficiency not only leads to anemia (with fatigue and weakness) but to nerve damage which can result in dementia, I am very glad I decided to see the nurse practitioner closer to home that a friend spoke well of, and who normally tests vitamin B12 levels because “so many people are eating less meat these days”.
So, on an average day, I take Vitamin B12 & Vitamin D. These deficiencies are NOT caused by being fat. But both affect my overall health and activity level.
I also take:
- Glucosamine blend – at the urging of both new and old practitioners, to reduce knee pain
- Fish oil – also seems to help knee pain & increase good cholesterol
- Vitamin E – makes my skin less dry & itchy
The glucosamine & fish oil are horse pills, so they tend to end up making for a largish handfull in the morning.
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