Feeling tired could just be down to too many late nights or a disrupted sleep routine however perpetual tiredness could also be a symptom of a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals.
Anaemia is a condition that can make you feel tired and weak. The condition is characterised by not having enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body's tissues 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.
Vitamin B12 play a role in making oxygen-transporting red blood cells, keeping the nervous system healthy and releasing energy from food.
If the body is deficient in vitamin B12 then it can cause abnormally large red blood cells to be produced which ultimately means they do not function properly.
Other symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency is feelings of extreme tiredness and lack of energy, irritability, pins and needles, a sore and red tongue, mouth ulcers and muscle weakness. More severe symptoms include disturbed vision, depression and a decline in mental abilities.
Food sources of vitamin B12 include meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and some fortified grains. In fact you should be able to get enough B12 from meat, fish and dairy intake however if you don't include a lot of this sort of food in your diet or if you are following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle then you are at risk of becoming deficient and should consider a vitamin B12 supplement.
As far as daily intake is concerned the NHS recommend that adults take 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day. You need more than this if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
Interestingly, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases with age. Therefore, it might be advisable, if you're over the age of 50 - vegan or not - to consider fortified foods or a vitamin B12 supplement to keep levels at an optimum.
Iron also plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and is needed by the body to make haemoglobin, which carries oxygen to different parts of the body. If your body is lacking in iron then it can lead to feelings of tiredness and fatigue but can also lead to shortness of breath, pale skin and heart palpitations. Further symptoms include headaches, dizziness and light headedness, cold hands and feet, brittle nails 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.
Food sources of iron include liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, wholegrains, soy bean flour, dark green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.
Eating a well balanced diet should be enough to maintain adequate iron levels but not all of us eat a well balanced diet! Fortunately there are many iron supplements that you can turn to give yourself a boost if you feel like you're lacking.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.