I am back from an amazing adventure in Italy. Friends had wished me to “Eat, Pray, Love” before I left. Well, I did all of that. But I would add “Walk” to the list as well: “Eat, Walk, Pray, Love.” The result? I was blown away by the history, culture, art and food. I also overexerted myself from all the long walks, pastas, cappuccinos and wines.
Since I returned from my trip, I’ve been feeling drowsy and exhausted. All I want to do is to stay in bed and sleep. In part I think this is due to a cold I’ve been trying to fight off – and in part due to certain vitamin deficiencies.
Before I left, I had a routine physical exam. My doctor did a blood test and identified relatively low levels of vitamin D and vitamin B12. Vitamin D plays a vital role in energy and immunity. The B vitamins are crucial for metabolism, energy and brain health. Their deficiency is one of the main causes for fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion, moodiness, depression, and sometimes body aches and pains.
Despite the fact that we live in the sunny Southern California, my doctor said that 98% of his patients have very low levels of vitamin D. It seems that many of us are not getting enough sun – one of the best sources of vitamin D. According to the Vitamin D Council, if you are someone who completely avoids the sun you will need to take approximately 4,000 units of vitamin D per day.
Vitamin B complex is found in dairy products, meat, nuts and vegetables high in protein – foods like milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, beef, pork, poultry, fish, brown rice, almonds, peanuts and peanut butter, whole grains, oatmeal, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts and raisins.
Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal sources, like beef, pork, kidney, liver, clams, crab, tuna, herring, mackerel; and milk and milk products, like eggs and cheese. It’s not found in most vegetable sources, though tofu is an excellent source of both vitamin B12 and protein.
I eat a fairly healthy diet, including much of what I’ve listed, and thought I was getting sufficient B vitamins from my food sources. But I guess not.
So if you are feeling tired, fatigued and moody, it may be worthwhile to have a simple blood test to determine if you are deficient in any of the essential vitamins that provide energy and vitality. In fact, I am going to the store later to get some vitamin D and vitamin B12 supplements, and start taking them today.