While there are many reasons why people feel tired all the time one major reason is having nutrient deficiencies that cause fatigue These nutritional deficiencies may be vitamin deficiencies, mineral deficiencies, or even protein deficiencies.
Common Causes of fatigue
Lifestyle causes of fatigue may be due to the following:
- Lack of sufficient nutritious diet
- Lack of sufficient sleep
- Lack of exercise
- Drinking too much coffee especially late in the afternoon.
- Too much physical exertion
- life stressors
- drug and alcohol use
Medical and mental health conditions that cause fatigue
- autoimmune conditions like lupus.
- Hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism and adrenal fatigue.
- COPD and CHF
- Depression and anxiety
- Major organ dysfunction such as heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease
This is not by any means an exhaustive list of medical and mental conditions that can cause fatigue.
For the purposes of this post, we will concentrate on nutritional deficiencies that cause fatigue.
This is one is at least an easy one to correct, and ofcourse it is important to see your doctor for a proper nutritional diagnosis.
Nutritional deficiencies that cause fatigue.
So could a vitamin or mineral deficiency be the cause of your fatigue?
Yes. Amazingly even people living a good life, not having any food shortages can still experience nutritional deficiencies. This may be because they are not eating certain foods or because they have malabsorption problems.
It is always good to rule out mineral and vitamin deficiencies while looking for the root cause of fatigue.
If you are deficient in some nutrients, fatigue may become a debilitating companion. You see, vitamins and minerals play key roles in energy production and metabolism. Chronic fatigue therefore can be a sign you are missing some key vitamins and minerals in your diet.
It is advisable that to optimize your energy level you should make sure to eat nutrient-dense food. Unfortunately these days people are eating mostly calorie-dense foods full of bad fats and sugar and devoid of micronutrients.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition the study found that the majority of the US population do not consume the recommended dietary values in recommended amounts. In fact, the study called this current situation a dietary crisis.
No wonder many people are tired all the time. Even after a good sleep.
Additionally, they may not even get good sleep because many nutrients like magnesium and vitamin B6, are required for proper nerve function and relaxation that should happen to ensure good sleep. And they may have aches and pains from these and other nutrient deficiencies like potassium and calcium.
nutritional deficiencies that cause chronic fatigue.
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common causes of chronic fatigue. Iron is required for the creation of red blood cells.
When there isn’t enough iron the red blood cells are tiny and even misshapen and are not able to make enough hemoglobin to carry oxygen required for energy.
This leads to feeling excessively fatigued, and short of breath. One and even look pale/grey. Sometimes severe anemia causes the fingernails to get sunken getting that scoop shape and the hair gets dull and even falls out.
If you are a woman of childbearing age, or you suspect you don’t get enough iron in diet say because you are a vegetarian or vegan or you eat too many processed foods, have your doctor check your iron levels. You only want to supplement iron with the express guidance from a doctor.
Too much iron is dangerous as it gets stored and becomes toxic. Your best is always dietary consumption. Eat that spinach, and red lean meats, beans, oats, and lentils.
Keep in mind that the most bioavailable type of iron (heme ) is the one from meat. The one from vegetables is not that bioavailable. But you can increase uptake by combining consumption with vitamin C. So eat some oranges or other high vitamin C rich foods.
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Magnesium is one of the most important minerals needed for the proper functioning of the human body. Magnesium takes part in more than 300 metabolic reactions including energy production. See this post for all the amazing ways magnesium help your body.
Inadequate magnesium can also lead to excessive damage to the mitochondria, the cell’s energy production center. And eventually, low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress leading to chronic fatigue occur.
Additionally, magnesium is required to regulate Insulin action and glucose uptake. Low magnesium is found in many diabetic people likely due to low intake, and also excessive loss in the urine ( source.)
Unfortunately, about 75 % of the US population does not get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium, and therefore may need to supplement.
The best form of magnesium supplement is magnesium malate or citrate forms.
There are many food sources of magnesium such as leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Potassium is another important nutrient deficiency that causes fatigue.
Potassium is very important in muscle and nerve function in the body. Your heart is a muscle and therefore requires potassium in just the right amounts to function properly.
Inadequate levels or too high levels can cause heart rhythm problems. And if the heart is not beating right, then one will be fatigued.
But never supplement potassium without a doctor’s guidance.
Eating foods high in potassium like bananas, oranges, spinach sweet potatoes, and others can help you get to the required daily intake.
A deficiency in potassium can occur due to illnesses like vomiting, diarrhea, poor kidney function, use of diuretics, and even exercise( sweating). Or even drinking too much alcohol.
Inversely people are taking too much sodium according to a study from the CDC. The study found many people died from too much sodium intake as opposed to too much potassium, advises cutting down on sodium by reading food labels and taking more dietary potassium. These two nutrients should be in balance for optimal bodily function.
4 vitamin D
Vitamin D has vast functions in the human body and is a nutrient deficiency that can cause fatigue. Not only does vitamin D regulate bone mass, hormone balance, and immune health, but a deficiency is also related to aches pains, and fatigue.
In fact, a research study in Norway found that the subjects complaining of headaches, musculoskeletal pain, and fatigue had suboptimal levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential for immune health and if deficient one is likely to be susceptible to infections, leading to fatigue. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to some hormonal health problems and autoimmune illnesses, major sources of chronic fatigue.
Be sure to get some sun exposure and if spending too much time indoors, talk to your doctor about a supplement. In fact, research is showing that many people are deficient in vitamin D.
If you are dark-skinned, older, or have chronic illnesses, a deficiency is common.
While vitamin D is not abundant in foods, salmon and mushrooms contain vitamin D.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for brain and nervous system function and a deficiency can lead to anemia and excessive fatigue.
Vitamin B12 is essential in the creation of red blood cells, and maintenance of brain health according to Midline Plus,
Low levels of b12 cause weakness, lack of balance, numbness, tingling of arms and legs pernicious anemia.
Vitamin b12 deficiency can be common in vegans and vegetarians as the main sources of B12 are meats such as beef, chicken, and seafood.
According to Midline Plus, deficiency also occurs in people who are :
- Over 50
- had stomach or intestinal surgery such as weight loss surgery
- are vegetarians
- have digestive issues such as celiac disease or Crohn’s.
The reason for the deficiency is that the body is not able to absorb it or inadequate intake.
The best way to get optimal levels is to eat a variety of animal products.
Also, have the doctor check your level. If you have a gut health problem you may need to supplement and in some cases, a shot, sublingual or nasal gel forms are better for those who cannot obtain enough due to gut problems such as the elderly.
Additionally, it is better to take B12 with other B vitamins and magnesium for optimal absorption and function (source.)
6 Complex B vitamins.
Other B vitamins play pivotal roles in energy production and utilization as they act as co-factors in energy production and metabolism. Other B vitamins include B1 (thiamine) B3 Niacin, B5, and B 9.
Vitamin B1 is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates into energy and take part in one key step in this process in the metabolism of pyruvate (source.)
Thiamine is also needed for proper brain and nervous system function. Thiamine deficiency is rare but can occur in alcoholism, and Crohn’s disease.
B3 (Niacin) takes part in energy synthesis, B6 is necessary for nerve function and vitamin B9 (folate) is necessary for brain function, and red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis. Very important in pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects in babies.
Other B vitamins include choline, biotin, and inositol, all of which have functions that contribute to great health and energy.
Great sources of B vitamins include fish like salmon, lean meats and organ meats, leafy greens, legumes, eggs, milk, and poultry.
Well, many of us don’t think about antioxidants as we plan our meals. But not consuming enough antioxidants is a nutritional deficiency that can contribute to chronic fatigue.
Antioxidants are necessary for combating the effects of free radicals, oxidative stress, and reducing inflammation. High inflammation levels can lead to many health problems that eventually lead to chronic fatigue, damaged tissues, and organs, and cause many imbalances that destabilize health. It is therefore important to eat foods high in vitamins C, E, and A to reduce inflammation.
If you are on statin medications especially such as Liptore, Simvastatin, and Crestor, you may experience muscle weakness and fatigue. It is therefore important to make sure you are getting enough COQ 10-antioxidant supplement to support your mitochondria the cell energy production center.
Many of these antioxidants can be found in foods like sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, carrots, and more. But if you are on a statin you may want to check if your doctor advises a COQ 10 supplement.
Calcium deficiency affects the muscles, and bone health, and a severe deficiency can cause heart rhythm problems and muscle cramps even tetany. So when you have a calcium deficiency, though rare in the western world, you can experience muscle weakness and fatigue.
The good thing is that this should be easy to correct by eating leafy greens, dairy products like yogurt, and drinking milk of course. other good sources of calcium include beans and seafood as well as some grains.
9 Imbalance in Omega3s fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Another nutrient deficiency that can cause fatigue is a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids.
The body requires omega 3s fatty acids for many functions including energy. But many people are consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids and may experience chronic fatigue as a result.
Omega 3s and omega 6s fatty acids imbalance leads to problems with inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidation of omega 3s also occurs due to insufficient antioxidant consumption which then leads to the cell’s energy center, mitochondria dysfunction, and chronic fatigue (source.)
Also, a deficiency in omega3 fatty acids has been associated with mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Disturbances of the HPA or the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis occur as a result of omega 3s deficiency and inflammation.
The HPA is supposed to be a seamless connection of activity between the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal glands, and other hormone-secreting glands that regulate stress and mood, including anxiety.
Omega 3 fatty acids also have antidepressant effects. They influence brain chemistry, lower inflammation, and improve brain function and cognition (source.)
To keep all the activities humming on smoothly, increase your omega-three intake from healthy sources such as wild-caught salmon and other fatty fish.
Nuts and seeds are also good sources. If you must supplement, ensure that the supplements are from a trusted source to avoid bad oils and toxins. As such I recommend Nordic Naturals Algae Omega.
10 Complex carbohydrates
Many people may think carbs are bad for you. But the truth is that complex carbohydrates are required for energy especially by the brain the biggest consumer of the sugars the body needs.
And of course, if the body and the brain don’t get enough sugar then the result is fatigue. Yes of course you can get energy from fat as I Keto diet but the easiest way to get energy is to eat complex carbohydrates.
While the body can get energy from fats and proteins, there is much more energy expenditure to do so which can lead to excessive fatigue.
Remember to see your doctor regularly for blood work to make sure you are not experiencing nutrient deficiencies and if you do then you can start taking steps to correct them.
Let me know in the comments what you think about these deficiencies and if you have any experience with any of them.