Lack of energy is the single most common reason people visit health care providers. This is a complex issue and there are many reasons for low energy and/or fatigue.
Start with the basics: Adequate nutrition from food, sufficient quality and quantity of sleep, regular exercise and stress management. These basics are the bedrock of health. Without them, we do not only suffer decreased energy and vitality, but our potential for health challenges increases dramatically.
We don’t think of Americans as malnourished. The typical diet of processed foods (pastries, pastas, breads, cereals, canned/packaged foods, etc.), synthetic additives (including so-called “vitamins”), high fructose corn syrup, high sugar content and chemically-saturated meat and produce have created that reality. Processed foods are a nutrient wasteland. Synthetic additives are not “real” vitamins and minerals. Missing nutrients in our depleted and contaminated soils cannot be made up for with laboratory compounds in terms of the body’s need for nutrients.
The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine also contribute to fatigue, as well as a myriad of health issues which can only get worse over time. The body REQUIRES “real” food: Fresh vegetables and fruit, free-range animal protein or plant proteins, and/or fish, and whole grains.
Damaging dietary choices, poor sleep, insufficient exercise, along with stress in all forms saddle many people with some level of digestive damage. As a result, the ability to absorb nutrients from food, even quality food, is diminished.
The “Energy Vitamins”
One of the most critical vitamins to prevent feeling tired and lethargic are the B vitamins, often referred to as “B Complex”. Part of this complex is vitamin B12, which is critical for energy production plus a multitude of other body functions. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include: low energy, poor memory, shortness of breath, depression, loss of taste and smell, blurry vision, dizzy feelings, yellow skin and tingling in the extremities.
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin and must be acquired from food or supplement sources. The primary source of B12 is animal protein so those who are vegan and vegetarian are more likely to experience B12 deficiency. The National Institutes of Health recommends a minimum dose of 2,400 micrograms (mcg) per day. Higher doses may be needed for those currently experiencing any type of digestive dysfunction.
B vitamins are not readily available from food sources because they are heat sensitive and are destroyed by cooking. Another hindrance to B12 absorption is sugar intake in all its forms.
The Gut Link to Energy – Probiotics to the Rescue
One priority to restoring health and vitality is to repair and maintain the microbiome (the entire digestive environment). Since our bodies are made up of bacteria, it is critical to keep the good bacteria out-weighing the bad bacteria. Beneficial bacteria is damaged or destroyed by processed foods, sugar, alcohol and all the issues mentioned above. Many people need a full-spectrum probiotic supplement. Some yogurts, kefirs and fermented foods are beneficial, but those options may not provide adequate levels of restorative flora.
Adrenal Exhaustion – an Underlying Cause of Low Energy and Fatigue
The adrenals, two small glands that sit just above the kidneys, are responsible for the critical function of managing stress (“fight or flight” response) in the body. This includes stress of all types from all sources. Healthy adrenal function is crucial for resiliency, energy and endurance.
Due to the demands of everyday life, adrenals become overworked and fatigued (often referred to as “Adrenal Exhaustion”).
Common contributors include: Overwork (mental and/or physical strain), sleep deprivation (poor quality or insufficient quantity), chronic inflammation, infection, illness, pain, toxic exposures, nutritional deficiencies, severe allergies, surgery, trauma, injury, circadian (light cycle) disruption and temperature extremes.
Contributors to B12 Deficiency
- Regular alcohol consumption: Hinders liver function which results in reduced ability to store B12
- Crohn’s Disease, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Colitis and/or Celiac disease along with autoimmune disease which damage gut flora and prevent the absorption of B12
- Taking PPI (proton-pump inhibitor) medications such as Nexium, Prevacid, Pepcid, Zantac and Prilosec which are stomach acid blockers (lack of stomach acid prevents B12 from being absorbed)
- Drinking more than four cups of coffee per day also inhibits B12 absorption
- The diabetes medication Metformin, taken to lower low blood sugar, interferes with B12 absorption
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include: exhaustion, lack of energy, lethargy, sluggishness (early morning and/or mid-afternoon), muscle weakness, depression, poor memory, difficulty waking up in the morning, increased allergies, cravings for foods high in salt/sugar/fat, hormonal imbalances, skin problems, bone loss, autoimmune disorders, low sex drive, lightheadedness, abnormal blood sugar levels, mental disturbances, and frequent reliance on caffeine to keep going.
Recovery involves lifestyle changes and may take months, depending on stress demands.
Specific supplement support includes: Probiotics, B vitamin complex with extra B12 and B5 Pantothenic Acid at approximately 2000 mg daily, non-citrus vitamin C (Amalaki), Eleuthero (ginseng), AdrenaSense, Schisandra, Ashwagandha, Licorice (NOT the candy), high potency greens supplements, and magnesium (the “stress mineral”).
Additional contributors to low energy include insufficient vitamin D, low thyroid function, prescription medications (which block nutrient absorption) and lack of exercise.
Megan is our product curator and store visionary. Personally vetting every product that comes through the door, she evaluates thousands of items each month with a focus on quality ingredients and value. Well-schooled in the supplements department and the editor of our in-store newsletters, she still insists her main job is raising three daughters! (Wichita, Kansas)
Megan is our product curator and store visionary. Personally vetting every product that comes through the door, she evaluates thousands of items each month with a focus on quality ingredients and value. Well-schooled in the supplements department and the editor of our in-store newsletters, she still insists her main job is raising three daughters! (Wichita, Kansas).
All Eureka Market Education Guides are intended for educational purposes only. The guides are NOT intended to substitute for professional medical consultation and as such, do not diagnose, prescribe or offer personal medical advice. Always consult with your health care professional before taking supplements with prescription medications.