Are you sick and tired of feeling tired? Often when you tell colleagues and work mates you are tired you’ll get told to “toughen up” or “have an early night”, but what about those where tiredness and fatigue has become chronic. One of the biggest reasons for seeking the advice of a Naturopath is often that overwhelming feeling of fatigue or exhaustion that never seems to leave.
There are a number of causes that can lead to that “waking up tired” feeling, the diagram to the right shows the major ones. Over the next couple of weeks Marianne will be taking a dive into each one and look at effective strategies that can help you boost energy levels and achieve the most from life.
Nutrition To Beat Fatigue
We’ll tackle the big one, that’s not to say the most important one, first. Poor nutrition is a leading contributor to the fatigue epidemic of modern living. The energy we need for living should be coming from the food we consume, not the coffee we drink. While in simplistic terms we can talk about the number of calories we consume, it is more than just calories or the proteins, fats and carbohydrates that contribute to energy production within the body. Proper cellular energy production requires the right balance of the right nutrients at the right time. By ensuring we feed the body with sufficient quantities of these nutrients we can ensure optimum bodily energy production.
There are many nutrients that should be covered, however in this article we are going to cover the big three for cellular energy: Vitamin B12, CoQ10 and Iron.
Vitamin B12 – Alertness, Nervous System, Neurotransmitters and More!
Vitamin B12 along with iron, discussed later, represent the big two in ensuring healthy, good formation of red blood cells. Our red blood cells can be thought of as the trucks for transporting nutrients and oxygen to and from the cell. We can either have big, 18 wheeler, semitrailers or small car trailers. Badly shaped or small red blood cells reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrition that can be carried to the cell resulting in feelings of fatigue and lethargy.
Fatigue and lethargy are some of the first signs of an impending vitamin B12 deficiency and are felt long before reaching the medical definition of B12 deficiency. Deficiency in B12 becomes increasingly common as we age (Mitchell) as well as in certain dietary groups such as those on a vegetarian or vegan diet (Krajcovicova-Kudlackova). There has been some controversy over the suitability of B12 found in sea vegetables such as dulse, kombu and norri and for those living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle B12 supplementation is important.
There are a number of good dietary sources of Vitamin B12 including meats, brewer’s yeast, eggs and dairy products. For those affected by fatigue, an established B12 deficiency or a high number of macrocytes and elliptocytes (identifiable in Live Blood Analysis), supplementation with a good quality B12 supplement is highly recommended.
CoQ10 – Powerful Antioxidant and Hardworking Power Plant Worker
CoQ10 protects cellular energy producing factories, or mitochondria, from day to day damage and acts like insulation around an electrical wire. Without this insulation, energy does not reach its correct destination, and we would have no electricity to run our lights, fridges or computers! The same is true with CoQ10, if we do not have enough to insulate our “wires” we don’t have enough energy to function properly, and we feel tired.
In our youth we usually make adequate amounts of CoQ10, but our production of CoQ10 begins to decrease from the age of 30 years. Our levels of CoQ10 can also be reduced in certain illnesses and when taking particular medications.
There is no established RDI for CoQ10 at present and most sources suggest relatively low daily intake will prevent deficiency. Normal therapeutic range, for those affected by fatigue is between 50-100mg with higher concentrations recommended for those with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancer. Some pharmaceutical drugs such as statins can also reduce CoQ10 levels.
Good dietary sources of CoQ10 include meats, peanuts, sardines and spinach with many CoQ10 supplements available on the market. We frequently recommend CoQ10 supplementation to those affected by fatigue due to both its direct action in cellular energy production and its good antioxidant capability.
Iron – The Big Boy of Blood Cells
As soon as we say iron most people immediately think of red blood cells. At least in the natural health field they do! Iron, along with B12, are two of the most vital ingredients in the formation of red blood cells and can have a big impact on energy levels.
Unlike B12 and CoQ10 most of us don’t really have problems with consuming enough iron in the diet, unless we happen to be vegetarian or vegan. Rather, the problems with iron typically come from absorption issues associated with a number of factors including low vitamin C intake or deficiency, poor stomach acid production, excessive coffee and tea intake and ulcers. Iron is also one of the few minerals that can build up in the body and can result in toxicity. For this reason we do not recommend iron supplementation without consultation with our Naturopath to monitor red blood cell size and formation.
There are a number of good dietary sources of iron including eggs, fish, meats, wholegrains, lentils and legumes and certain herbs such as alfalfa, burdock, chamomile, nettle, rosehips etc.
Ready to Spring Out of Bed?
If you are affected by lethargy or fatigue and would like to have more energy contact our Naturopath today on 07 3800 1993 or email to email@example.com. We can help you to implement a nutritional program and supplementation plan that is going to give you the right nutritional foundation to reduce fatigue and reach your full potential.
- Balch, Phyllis. A. . New York: Avery, 2006.
- Ellis, F. R., et al. A pilot study of vitamin B12 in the treatment of tiredness. . 30:277, 1973.
- Krajcovicova-Kudlackova M, et al. Homocysteine levels in vegetarians versus omnivores. . 44(3):135-138, 2000.
- Lenaz, G., et al. Oxidative stress, antioxidant defenses and aging. Biofactors. 8:195-204, 1998.
- Mitchell, P., et al. Prevalence of low serum folate and vitamin B12 in an older Australian population. . 30 (2006):38-141
- Vegan Outreach. “B12 in Tempeh, Seaweeds, Organic Produce and Other Plant Foods.” (23rd September 2010).