Feeling Fatigued? Could it be B12?

B12 levels

We all know when we have an ostomy we run the risk of becoming easily fatigued due to a few different reasons; you may have thought to get your iron levels checked but what about your B12? This for ileostomates who have had more than one surgery on their small intestine could be the underlying cause for many issues.

So having too little B12 in your system can cause it’s own type of anaemia (there are like 6 types! yeah it was news to me too!) where the red blood cells essentially don’t shrink to the right size therefore underdeveloped. B12 is essential for the making of red blood cells, keeping the nervous system healthy and releasing energy from the foods we eat.

Why does having surgery on your small intestine mean that you are more susceptible to low B12 because the vitamin is absorbed in the lower part of your intestine and if you have less of it or that part entirely removed like me your body can’t easily store the vitamin in your body. There are a few auto immune diseases that can cause low B12 which can be accessed on the NHS website. It definitely isn’t just a vegan side effect anymore!

There are a few ways you can help yourself when it comes to building back up your reserves and they are:

  • eating meat or animal products
  • eating or drinking foods fortified with B12
  • taking supplements
  • having B12 injections

I have since learnt that I you should take iron or folate with the B12 to help it bind and be easily absorbed into the body. To find out if you have low levels all you need to do is go to your GP surgery and ask your Doctor to check it via a blood test. I had to fight to get mine tested until my rhuematologist decided it was no skin off his nose! We linked my low B12 to my significant drops to my already low blood pressure and random bouts of tacchycardia which I used to only get whilst taking steroids.

If you qualify for the injections they do it in 6 “loading” doses on alternating days over 2 weeks before going to 1 every 3 months for a year then I presume they check the levels again.

Do you have issues with your vitamin levels?

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