Lately, I've been feeling low on energy and enthusiasm for no reason at all. Yesterday I headed back to the laboratory to get my blood work done.
A little over two years ago, after months of extreme fatigue, I visited a Functional Health Coach and was diagnosed with a number of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The impact of stress over the previous few years had depleted my body of these vital micronutrients.
What I discovered as a result of engaging this coach was a real eye-opener and something I found fascinating. This is what I learned:
Getting blood tests. It's possible to visit your local laboratory to have tests done without seeing your doctor first. Anyone can do this here in New Zealand (if you live elsewhere I'm sure it's easy to find out whether this is possible).
Blood test results. There is a normal range and there are optimal levels for all blood tests. This explained why when I'd previously had blood work done through my doctor at times and been told my results were normal, I still felt exhausted. Being in the normal range can be well below optimal levels.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Going through this process was fascinating and after much research and guidance from my coach, I learned a great deal about how critical some vitamins and minerals are simply to function day to day.
Following supplement recommendations. For two years, I followed the recommendations made to me, exactly. And boy what a difference it made.
Keeping a check on things. Now, when I'm feeling low on energy and enthusiasm for no reason, I always have my B12, B9 (Folate), and Ferritin checked.
With my results in this morning, I now have the answer to my low mood, low energy, tingling and numbness in my toes, to name a few. I'll now be increasing my Vitamin B12, Iron, and Vitamin C, and heading back for a check in three months' time.
Here are some of the ways different vitamin deficiencies can impact your mood and energy:
Vitamin B. Vitamins B12, B6, and B9 (folate) are essential for the production of serotonin and dopamine which directly impacts our mood and energy levels.
Vitamin C. An antioxidant, Vitamin C helps protect the body from stress and inflammation impacting our levels of anxiety, irritability, and fatigue.
Vitamin D. Known as the sunshine vitamin (our skin produces from being in the sun), Vitamin D plays a critical role in regulating mood and energy levels and is linked to depression, fatigue, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Vitamin E. Protecting our brain cells from damage, Vitamin E is an antioxidant and has been linked to improved mood.
Selenium. A mineral that helps regulate thyroid function, this too helps our energy levels, and our soils in New Zealand are low in selenium.
Often you'll hear people say, just take a multi-vitamin, however, what I learned about this many years ago when I worked for a supplement company was this: by doing this, you're likely not getting the right doses of the vitamins or minerals your body needs, and therefore, you're actually wasting your money. In my opinion, I think you're far better off getting tested so you know what your body needs.
As always, do your own research because I have only touched on some of the benefits of these micronutrients here, and I'm certainly not an expert.