Should You Be This Tired? A Nutritional Perspective
Ever seem to feel lethargic no matter what you are doing? Have a huge nights sleep but still feel dopey throughout the day? Considering I am talking to surfers, it is possible that surfing for 7 hours a day has taken its toll on you. What is also possible is that you may be one of the very common statistics that suffers from an iron and/or vitamin b12 deficiency.
At some point in a females life, it is quite probable that we have not taken the best care of ourselves. We may have been stressed, busy with work, training or worn down from life in general. When we stop keeping an eye on our stress levels and what we are putting into our bodies, we begin to neglect what our bodies are needing – nutritional deficiencies becoming a very present problem.
What is Iron?
Iron is an essential mineral which transports oxygen through out the body through our blood cells. Without luscious and healthy red blood cells, your body can not get enough oxygen, making you feel constantly exhausted. This can influence both your physical performance, your brain function and your immunity
B12 works together with other nutrients to synthesis our DNA and red blood cells. Without getting into a crazy scientific description we need it as much as iron. They both allow us to transport the oxygen we need to our brains, muscles and organs. We really can not live without them.
How do I know if I have an iron or b12 deficiency?
You may feel generally always tired, weak and have unusually pale skin. You may experience shortness of breath even though you are fit, dizziness, a tingling in your lower limbs and poor circulation. If you are experiencing headaches, brittle hair and nails, and cracks on the sides of your mouth that wont heal, it is quite possible that you may be suffering from this deficiency.
But…why would I have this?
As females we have a regular blood loss through periods, so that makes us particularly susceptible. Not eating foods rich in iron and b12 will obviously mean that we simply are not putting enough of those nutrients into our system. B12 in particular does not stay stored – we need to be constantly conscious of consuming this one. Having certain conditions (more common than you think) that can limit the absorption of nutrients into our system is a biggie. For example “leaky gut syndrome” inhibits minerals from getting to where they need to be – and basically leaking all of their goodness out the sides. People that have ongoing stress or a high consumption of alcohol will often become prone to leaky gut syndrome, and they will probably not even be aware of it! If you contract a parasite (these can be contracted very easily) you may find that you are becoming deficient because the little bugger inside you is eating up all of the nutrients! People with less common conditions such as crohns disease, celiac and irritable bowel syndrome will have to be extra vigilant as they have an increased risk of suffering from this deficiency.
How can I increase my vitamin b12 and iron intake?
Though iron can be found in a variety of plant based foods, b12 is only found in animal product (and supplementation). Plants do not contain b12 because they simply do not need it. Although I like to suggest a reduction in animal products, eating meat ethically can assist you in gathering b12 and iron for your blood stream. Foods such as lentils, spinach, chickpeas, spirulina, quinoa, cashews, tahini, apricots and pumpkin seeds for example all contain sources of iron which should be consumed on a regular basis. Supplementing may be necessary if you are finding it difficult to gather all you need consistently. I would personally recommend sprays or drops, as they go straight into the bloodstream, and are less likely to over load the kidneys.
There are many reasons why you may feel lethargic, run down or just a bit slower. Perhaps a change in diet, environment or external stimuli has been taking its toll on you. If you have been feeling lethargic for a significant period of time it is important to look at your diet and how you may or may not be meeting your needs. A balanced diet is the best option to gather all the essential vitamins and minerals that you need to function at your best level. As surfers, as athletes, take the time to be critical about what you are consuming, or importantly, what you are not. If you are unsure about your vitamin and mineral intake – get a blood test done to determine the best action plan for you.