Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of hullabaloo over vitamins B-12 and D, two in-fashion (and perhaps rightfully so) nutrients that tend to be deficient in the chronic fatigue and Lyme disease communities.
I know, you are probably thinking, “Why do I have to take yet ANOTHER supplement?”
Well, maybe you don’t, but here’s some food for thought about vitamins B-12 and D. This information may help you to decide whether or not your body requires supplementation with these nutrients.
First, it’s helpful to get a blood test to ascertain whether B-12 and D are lacking in your body. If your insurance doesn’t cover these tests (some companies are getting finicky and cutting B-12 out of the list), then I would recommend taking B-12 for a short period of time to see if you feel any better, because B-12 is just one of those nutrients often lacking in those with CFIDS and Lyme disease, due perhaps to inefficient metabolic processes in the body. And if you don’t get out in the sun, well then, taking a D vitamin might be worthwhile, too. My vitamin D levels were normal until I moved to Costa Rica over a year ago. But nine months of rain last year plummeted my D levels to below normal, and now I’ve got to replenish the supply.
So why do B-12 and Vitamin D matter?
One benefit of B-12, according to J. Titelbaum, author of the book, “From Fatigued To Fantastic”, is that it reduces nitric oxide, a neurotransmitter that those with chronic fatigue (and probably Lyme) have too much of. B-12 also aids in a number of biochemical reactions, and symptomatically, can reduce depression, brain fog, memory and other neuropsychiatric problems. In addition, it can help to reverse hypercoagulation, as well as the risk of some diseases, such as osteoporosis and breast cancer.
If you are low on B-12 and/or have trouble absorbing this vitamin (a common problem in the chronially ill), injections can be a good way to supplement it, especially initially. If you don’t wish to be a pincushion, taking a sublingual form of methylcobalamin may be the next best thing.
Now about that vitamin D. Did you know that deficiencies of this nutrient increase the risk of many types of cancer, including lymphomas, leukemia, prostate, lung, ovarian and, (ahem) SKIN cancer. Yes, you heard me right. All that advice to avoid the sun is apparently backfiring. In addition, vitamin D deficiency contributes to weak bones, osteoporosis, a weak immune system (as it plays an important role in immune system regulation), and is implicated in other diseases, such as IBS, MS and diabetes. For instance, Vitamin D is required for secretion of insulin by the pancreas. Without adequate D, the risk for diabetes increases. In fact, some research shows that insulin resistance correlates directly with low levels of vitamin D.
We need our immune systems to fight Lyme disease. And a cancer or diabetes are probably the last cherries you would ever want on your Lyme cake, so do yourself a favor and get your vitamin D levels checked out. Once you do, and if your levels are low, consider supplementing with a dose of 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day.