Feel-Good Fridays: Take Care Of Your Damn Vitamin Deficiencies
Given the state of affairs in the world, it is sometimes hard to tell whether you just feel shitty because things are shitty, or because there is something actually wrong with you. In my case, it's both. I am an iron-deficient anemic who often tends to forget about that for months on end -- and then I suddenly end up wondering why I am lethargic and tired, why my hands and head are all tingly, why I can't concentrate for shit, why I'm horribly depressed and why I keep chewing ice all the time. Actually, that last one is usually the point where I realize "Oh hey, that's not actually Donald Trump's fault. Maybe you should take your freaking iron pills?"
A conversation I had on Twitter this week has inspired me to start taking better care of myself in this way. And to encourage all of you to go and get your vitamin and nutritional deficiencies checked out by a doctor, if you are able! Because really, I've taken my iron pills and a liquid B-12 supplement (also good for anemics!) for the past three days and already -- despite the fact that I have a cold -- I feel a lot better and clearer mentally than I have in a hot minute.
Nutritional deficiencies are actually pretty serious and can fuck you up. Some, like a Vitamin D deficiency, can even mimic clinical depression.
When I was in high school, I got dizzy and collapsed in Bio. The school administration could barely conceal their excitement as they called my mother to report that I was definitely on all of the drugs, just as they had suspected all along. Because there was no way my blood pressure was that freakishly low, right? Wrong. Turns out, I was not on any of the drugs. I had a sodium deficiency. Mine wasn't too serious, and was fixed by taking salt pills (which yes, were just huge pills made entirely of salt and they were disgusting) for a bit, and then just making sure I put salt on my food more often. My grandfather, however, had the same thing when he was in the hospital, and he actually would have died if my mom hadn't noticed that a side effect of his blood thinner was depleted sodium. They gave him some sodium through an IV or something and he got better almost immediately. The running theory is that his blood cells, like mine, already didn't process sodium efficiently, so the blood thinner affected him more severely than it would someone else. This is probably a good thing to know about in case I ever need to take one myself.
While it feels slightly Alex Jones-y to be all "take supplements!" about things, there's a big difference between taking bullshit multivitamins (which a lot of them are), and being aware of actual, serious nutritional deficiencies and taking care of them. Some people can manage them through diet, and that's great. The body absorbs nutrients better that way anyway. But, if you're like me, and you totally intend to eat a ton of spinach and clams and pasta fagioli for all the iron, but end up getting lazy and forgetting to do that most of the time -- then yeah, take an iron supplement or whatever it is you need.
In the meantime, I have some good news for my fellow iron-deficient anemics out there. If you've taken iron pills, you know that they are the worst and hurt your stomach and make you nauseous to the point where you're like "I honestly do not know which of these things is a worse time." I am sure you can guess which one I went with, because I am a child. Well, a few years ago, my mom's doctor introduced her to these Blood Builder pills that are actually made from the kind of iron that is in food, and which do not hurt or make me feel gross at all. They are a freaking godsend.
Importantly, do not self-diagnose, do not WebMD this shit, because the symptoms caused by nutritional deficiencies can also be caused by a lot of other things as well, and taking too much of a vitamin that you don't need is also not good for you. If you feel chronically shitty and have insurance that covers blood work, get it done and have them check for nutritional deficiencies. Because hey, you never know, and it couldn't hurt. Except for the part with the needles.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse