When you are feeling tired and you can’t seem to function very well during the day or maybe you are falling asleep by 7pm at night, you know something isn’t right. It’s very frustrating when you can’t do all the things you had planned for the day. Well, let me tell you about the four most common causes of fatigue.
Menstruating women often have low iron. Your iron may be in the “normal range” but you may be on the low end and this can cause symptoms of fatigue. I always urge my patients to get a copy of their blood work so that we can make sure that they are not just in that normal rage but are actually showing ideal levels of iron. Iron a difficult mineral to absorb and often times over the counter iron supplements cause digestive upsets and constipation. I always choose an iron supplement that is gentle on the digestive system and is well absorbed.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 is important for detoxification, for the production of red blood cells and for nervous tissues. One symptom of low B12 is fatigue and so measuring your levels in the blood is important to make sure you’re not too low. Vitamin B12 is only absorbed if we make enough stomach acid and something call intrinsic facto which binds B12 and allows its absorption in the large bowel. Stress is a big culprit of low stomach acid and thus low vitamin B12. Also, if you are not eating animal protein and are on antacid medication, you risk having low vitamin B12 in your system. The best absorbable form of B12 is methylcobalamine, not cyanocoabalamine and it should be taken either under the tongue or injected.
If you have chronic stress, this puts a burden on your adrenal glands which produce our stress hormone cortisol. This means that our bodies have a hard time recovering from stress and we feel tired and exhausted. Stress management and nutrients for the adrenals will improve energy and cognition. A simple test to see if you are adrenally fatigued is to shine light in your eye and see that the pupil contracts but if it doesn’t not hold the contraction very long and the pupil starts to pulsate open again while the light is shining, this can mean that the adrenals are burdened.
The thyroid is the gland located in your throat and it produces thyroid hormone which stimulates each cell of the body to function and thus to increase your metabolic rate and energy. A low functioning thyroid will produce symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty losing weight, hair loss, dry skin and hair and constipation. Often, the blood work will show “normal” thyroid function by being in the normal range but in reality it may need support. As a naturopathic doctor, I like to look at my patient’s blood work and educate them on what the values really mean. Possible causes of low functioning thyroid or hypothyroidism can include stress, iodine, zinc or selenium deficiency, imbalance in proper gut bacteria or your body is attack its own tissues. By giving the thyroid the nutrients it needs and by adjusting the diet, the thyroid can function better and you can experience increases in energy, concentration, metabolism and overall well-being.