Tiredness is often simply down to having too many late nights and not getting enough sleep. But in some cases it could be a symptom of anaemia, which can happen to people who are lacking certain vitamins and minerals. Anaemia is a condition in which a person has too few red blood cells or an abnormally low amount of haemoglobin in each red blood cell. It can be associated with a range of conditions, including deficiencies in vitamin B12 and iron.
Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children
Vitamin B12 is involved in making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy, and releasing energy from food.
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that can’t function properly.
Vitamin B12 deficiency has a range of symptoms, one of the main ones being extreme tiredness and a lack of energy.
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include pins and needles, a sore and red tongue, mouth ulcers and muscle weakness.
Disturbed vision, irritability, a pale yellow tinge to the skin, depression and a decline in mental abilities are also symptoms of B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and some fortified cereals, but can also be taken in supplement form.
Most people can get enough vitamin B12 from a diet including meat, fish and dairy products, but if you are vegetarian or vegan you could run the risk of becoming deficient.
According to the NHS, adults need about 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with tablets taken every day between meals, and injections of the vitamin.
Iron, meanwhile, also plays an important role in the production of red blood cells.
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As well tiredness and lack of energy, iron deficiency can cause shortness of breath, pale skin and heart palpitations.
Less common symptoms of iron deficiency are food tasting strange, feeling itchy, a sore tongue, difficulty swallowing, mouth ulcers and hair loss.
The NHS advises that men over the age of 18 and women over the age of 50 should get 8.7 miligrams of iron a day.
Women aged 19 to 50 need 14.8 miligrams of iron a day because blood loss caused by menstruation can lead to a lack of iron in the body.
Iron can be found in liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, wholegrains, soy bean flour, dark green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.
Most people should be able to get all the iron they need from their daily diet, but women who have heavy periods may need to take iron supplements.
If you do take iron supplements, don’t take more than 20mg per day as this can lead to constipation, feeling and being sick and stomach pain.
“Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children,” warned the NHS.
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