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Posts Tagged ‘anemia’

311 always tired

Do you feel like you’re tired all the time and depend on caffeine to function? Do you feel you always need extra sleep and never feel rested? Feeling tired all the time is a symptom of a larger problem, and a cue from your body you need to address an underlying health issue. A variety of factors can cause you to feel tired, however clinically we see some common ones pop up over and over.

Common causes of constant fatigue

Low thyroid activity. If you’re experiencing constant fatigue it’s important to rule out hypothyroidism, a condition of low thyroid activity that causes fatigue and many other symptoms. More than 90 percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s, in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s can be identified by positive TPO and TGB antibodies and should be addressed by managing the immune system, although thyroid hormone medication may still be necessary. Low thyroid activity can also be a result of other things, such as chronic stress or excess estrogen. Testing for TSH alone is not enough to assess a thyroid condition. For more information, read the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian, and ask my office how we can help you manage low thyroid activity.

Blood sugar imbalance. Blood sugar imbalances are largely overlooked yet are a common cause of fatigue. Many people struggle with low blood sugar, high blood sugar (insulin resistance), or a combination of both. People with low blood sugar frequently skip meals, eat too little, or consume excess sweets and processed carbohydrates that cause blood sugar to spike and then plummet. When blood sugar is low people experience fatigue, lightheadedness, shakiness, feeling spaced-out and other symptoms.

Consuming excess sweets and processed carbohydrates and overeating may also lead to high blood sugar, or insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance often have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping well and frequently feel fatigue as a result. They also feel tired after meals, particularly meals high in carbohydrates.

When struggling with fatigue, you should always evaluate your diet and eat foods that keep blood sugar stable, and eat frequently enough to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low.

Anemia. There are many kinds of anemia, but iron-deficiency anemia is the most common. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a part of blood cells that carries oxygen. Low iron deprives the body of oxygen and hence energy, causing fatigue. A common cause of iron-deficiency anemia is poor nutrient absorption due to undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, so gluten intolerance should be ruled out in cases of anemia. Other common causes of anemia are B12 deficiency, inflammation, or an autoimmune disease. It’s important to know which form of anemia is causing your fatigue as supplementing with iron when you don’t need it may cause toxic levels of iron. Although the body needs iron to function, in excess it is damaging.

Adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete adrenal hormones to help us respond to stress. Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the adrenal glands produce insufficient stress hormones. Common symptoms are constant fatigue, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Poor adrenal function is always secondary to something else, such as chronic inflammation or poor diet. To support your adrenal health to combat fatigue, it’s important to find out what is stressing your body.

These are just a few causes of fatigue. Fatigue can be a sign of many different health disorders. Other things to consider are food intolerances, gut inflammation, hormonal imbalances, brain chemistry imbalances, dehydration, and of course lack of sleep.

Ask my office how we can help you manage fatigue.

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Anemia: Deal breaker to better health

2 42 anemia is deal breaker

If you have iron-deficiency anemia, it will be difficult to impossible to heal from chronic health issues. Because it robs the cells of oxygen necessary for basic functions, anemia is a deal breaker when it comes to improving your health. Knowing how to identify and address your anemia are crucial first steps to any healing program.

What is iron-deficiency anemia

Although there are many forms of anemia, iron-deficiency is the leading cause of anemia in the United States and the most common nutritional deficiency. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a part of blood cells that carries oxygen. When iron is low, the body makes smaller red blood cells and fewer of them. As a result, the body does not get enough oxygen.

Why oxygen is important

This is a problem because all the body’s cells need a constant supply of oxygen to function. All cells have mitochondria, which are like little power plants. The mitochondria produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), molecules that store and release energy, functioning like rechargeable batteries. This process is necessary to create new tissue, eliminate old tissue, convert food to energy, dispose of waste materials and toxins, and communicate with other cells. Healthy mitochondrial function and ATP production are vital to preventing and healing disease, and they require oxygen to work.

What causes iron-deficiency anemia?

A variety of factors can cause iron-deficiency. They include:

  • Not enough iron in the diet. Iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Chronic blood loss in the body from ulcers, heavy bleeding during menstruation, uterine fibroids, hemorrhoids, cancer, or regular aspirin use.
  • Pregnancy. The need for iron grows as the pregnant mother must supply iron for both herself and the growing fetus.
  • Inability to absorb iron. Iron-deficiency is common in undiagnosed celiac disease, which damages and inflames the small intestine so that it cannot absorb nutrients. Other food intolerances or poor digestive function can also result in poor absorption of iron.

Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia

The easiest way to determine whether you have iron-deficiency anemia is through a functional blood chemistry panel, which looks at a complete blood count and iron markers.

You can also evaluate your symptoms to determine whether you may be at risk for iron-deficiency anemia. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling weak and tiring easily
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling grumpy or cranky
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin, nail beds, and gums
  • Short of breath
  • Trouble concentrating

Managing iron-deficiency anemia

One should address the root cause of iron-deficiency anemia. For instance, a gluten-free diet and repairing gut damage resolves anemia in many people. If you need an iron supplement, it’s important to choose one that is well absorbed by the body and will not cause an upset stomach or constipation. Ask my office for advice.

Avoid iron toxicity

There are many different forms of anemia besides iron-deficiency anemia, such as anemia caused by a B12 deficiency, inflammation, or an autoimmune disease. Supplementing with iron when you don’t need it may increase the risk of excess levels of iron in your body. Although the body needs iron to function, in excess it is toxic.

Ask my office for advice on anemia.

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B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common than people realize and can mimic or cause other disorders. A B12 deficiency is linked with memory loss, anemia, cardiovascular disease, and autism, to name a few. B12 is necessary for the brain and nervous system to function and for other aspects of health. It’s believed B12 deficiency is due in most cases not to lack of dietary sources but to poor absorption of the vitamin in the digestive tract.

Could your declining brain function be a B12 deficiency?

Because B12 is so vital for brain function, a B12 deficiency can manifest as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, shakiness, depression, and loss of memory and cognition that can mimic the beginnings of dementia. It’s especially important to pay attention to a possible B12 deficiency in older people as the ability to absorb the vitamin declines with age. Studies show older people with higher B12 levels show less brain shrinkage and cognitive decline than their B12 deficient counterparts.

Is your anemia a B12 deficiency?

Other common manifestations of B12 deficiency are symptoms of anemia, which include fatigue, lethargy and weakness. Many people with B12 anemia discover they have an autoimmune disease called pernicious anemia, which inhibits the absorption of B12. In this case managing the autoimmune disease is important as well as supplementing with B12 sublingually or through injection.

A deficiency in B12 is also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, autism, autoimmune disease, infertility, and more.

B12 deficiency often due to poor absorption

So what causes B12 deficiency? For many people it’s due not to diet but rather to poor absorption of nutrients.

Many people today have damaged guts due to diets high in inflammatory foods, chronic stress, and food intolerances, such as to gluten. It’s difficult for nutrients such as B12 to pass through an inflamed and damaged gut lining into the bloodstream.

Other factors that can lead to a B12 deficiency include a decline in stomach acid (common in elderly), the use of antacids and acid-blocking drugs, the use of metformin and other prescription drugs, alcoholism, and weight-loss surgery.

Repairing and restoring gut health should always be addressed in the event of a B12 deficiency.

Vegans and vegetarians at risk for B12 deficiency

One group at risk for dietary deficiency of B12 are vegans and vegetarians—B12 is only found in animal foods. Natural plant sources of B12 such as spirulina, algae, seaweed, or grasses are poorly absorbed and may give a false reading of normal B12 on a lab result. This population especially should supplement with B12.

Also, although gut bacteria can synthesize B12, this requires healthy gut function and flora, and most of it is synthesized downstream of the small intestine where B12 is absorbed.

Taking B12

Recommended doses of B12 vary depending on whether you have a deficiency, and you should work with a qualified health care practitioner to determine the best dose. However, there is a low risk of B12 toxicity.

The more bioavailable form of B12 supplementation is methyl B12, or methylcobalamin, as opposed to the more common, synthetic cyanocobalamin. Not only is methyl B12 more neurologically active, it also enhances a liver detoxification process called methylation, which can reduce inflammation.

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