Nearly everyone struggles with fatigue at some point. Summer’s heat and humidity can be particularly draining. Late nights, not enough sleep and stress are some other obvious causes of fatigue. But fatigue can also be a sign of underlying health issues such as a nutrient deficiency or hormonal imbalance. If you are tired of feeling tired, then it is time to work on identifying why you’re dragging through each day, and take action. The solution may be as simple as fighting back with energy-boosting superfoods and supplements.
Who is tired?
Fatigue is one of the most common problems that people report to their doctor or pharmacist. Those at greatest risk of fatigue include women, especially during menstruating years, teenagers (because of lack of sleep, poor diet, studying), and busy professionals (stress and lack of sleep are often at play here).
But there are also some surprising causes of fatigue, such as:
• Food intolerances (such as celiac disease): These can cause deficiencies of iron, B12 and folate, leading to anemia and fatigue.
• Iron deficiency: This is a very common nutrient deficiency, especially among women. It affects about 12% of women ages 12 to 49. In addition to low energy levels, symptoms of low iron include hair loss, greying of hair, peeling fingernails, dark under-eye circles and headaches.
• Low thyroid: Also called hypothyroidism, this is particularly common in women, people with autoimmune disease and those who are under stress.
• Low blood pressure: Fatigue may accompany other symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, poor concentration and nausea. Get your blood pressure checked regularly with your doctor.
• Dehydration: Simply not drinking enough water/fluids can cause fatigue, as well as headache and dizziness.
• Poor diet: Want to feel worn out? Eat a diet high in refined, high-glycemic (quick-release) carbohydrates, such as white bread, baked goods and sugary foods
• Side effect of prescription drugs: Many medications can cause fatigue and weakness, such as blood pressure medications, antidepressants and sedatives. Check the information sheet that you received with your prescription, or go online, to see if fatigue is listed as a common side effect.
• Address the underlying cause: Ask your doctor to run a blood test. It is particularly important for women to have their hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cells and ferritin levels checked. Ferritin is the main iron storage protein.
• Eat more energizing foods: Try to include a variety of the following in your daily diet:
• Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants that offer a range of health benefits
• Protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry, beans and legumes
• Healthy fats such as palm fruit and coconut oil
• Slow-release carbohydrates including high-fiber sprouted breads, quinoa, chia seed
• Smart snacks such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit and yogurt
• Supplemental support: This is a good way to ensure that you are getting a consistent amount of the nutrients that you may not be getting through food. Consider:
• Multivitamins to ensure your body is getting all essential nutrients. The B-vitamins are particularly important for energy production.
• Iron supplements for those with anemia or low iron. Look for a supplement that contains SunActive Iron, a slow-release form of iron that offers better absorption and tolerability (easy on the stomach)
• Stress-reducing supplements. If stress is contributing to your fatigue consider some stress management techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation. The amino acid Suntheanine is also helpful for reducing stress and improving mental focus.
• D-ribose, an ingredient found in some of the newer energy beverages, which helps to replenish energy at the cellular level (ATP production).
One last recommendation: Keep an activity diary. For one or two weeks, write down everything you do. Then review it to see if there are ways to combine or delegate tasks, or otherwise improve the efficiency of your typical schedule. Carving out more “me” time for relaxing, fun activities may also help to replenish your energy level.