You know the feeling, always a bit sluggish, never quite on you’re A game. I’d love to suggest a miracle supplement that could banish fatigue for everyone but as there are different reasons for tiredness and fatigue there will be different solutions. Hopefully this blog can start to point you in the right direction and the good news is that there is a lot you can do to get you feeling back to your old self.
Advance warning : There is a lot of information here and it might not all be relevant to you. You can look at the sections that you think may apply, or why not book a health review with one of our registered nutritional therapist so that they can guide you through. For a booking fee of £10 (redeemable against future purchases) you can have a one to one 15 minute session in person or via zoom. Full Nutritional Therapy consultations are also available.
So if you feel tired all the time, what could be causing it? Here are some common reasons :
- Do you have an iron or B12 deficiency?
- Do you have a magnesium deficiency?
- Do you sleep well?
- Do you have an underactive thyroid?
- Are your hormones causing havoc?
- Do you reach for sugars and carbohydrates?
- Are you under stress – emotional, work related or physical?
- Are you recovering from illness, or do you have post viral fatigue/long covid?
- Are you lacking in movement or motivation?
As always, the first point of call is your GP so chat to them and they can advise on blood tests to rule in/rule out common causes and provide advice on medical treatment options. In addition, diet and lifestyle choices are often key so read on:
1. Do you have an iron or vitamin B12 deficiency?
Low iron and/or vitamin B12 levels are a common reason for fatigue. These nutrients are a key component of red blood cells that transport oxygen around your body. You may be low in these if :
You are vegan or eat a largely plant based diet. In this case, without supplementation, it is highly likely that you are deficient, and a good quality multivitamin supplement can make a huge difference to your energy levels. I highly recommend Viridian Vegan Multi, this advanced multi has nutrients in a superior form for absorption and at a good dosage.
You have heavy periods. Heavy periods can lead to anaemia as your iron will deplete with the blood loss. If this is you, I suggest that you top up your iron levels by taking a supplement in a non-constipating/well absorbed from. My choice is Viridian Balanced Iron Complex, or you could take iron as part of a good quality multi vitamin that has at least 15mg in a food form or bisglycinate form. Viridian Vegan multi is again a good choice.
You are not absorbing these nutrients. If you take sufficient levels through diet and do not have heavy blood loss, then your GP can investigate further. A blood test would reveal if your levels are low (I always recommend that you get a copy of your results as you may come in as normal but actually still at the lower end). Reasons for this could be that you are lacking in intrinsic factor in your stomach (required to absorb B12), digestion function is compromised or you have blood loss for a different reason. Your GP will investigate these and suggest a treatment. An option to boost vitamins and minerals in these cases are spray forms of nutrients that by pass the digestive system such as those by Better You and/or your GP may recommend B12 injections (personally I don’t recommend B12 injections unless they have been recommended by your GP and you have been shown to have low levels on tests)
2. Do you have a magnesium deficiency?
It’s an obvious one but lack of sleep leads to fatigue. Instead of reaching for caffeine to get through the day, there are things to help establish a healthy sleep routine. I fully appreciate that this isn’t easy, and you may feel you have tried everything. Our blog on sleep may give more ideas but some quick suggestions
- Cut the caffeine. It’s not easy but try to have just one coffee in the morning and stop tea after 1pm
- Have an evening wind down. Your body needs to create melatonin for healthy sleep, it can’t do that if exposed to light from screens or extra stimulants. A warm bath with dimmed lights and magnesium salts is the perfect wind down, otherwise reading a book in bed again with dimmed lights (a good old paperback, not a kindle).
- Supplements can help. Magnesium again – this time in a glycinate form or alternatively, Pukka Night Time if your sleep is related to stress or 5-HTP which is a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin. Personally, I find 5-HTP calms my mind and allows me to have a deeper level of sleep (do seek advice for this one though, especially if taking medications as there are some contraindications).
4. Do you have an underactive thyroid?
Your thyroid, through the production of thyroid hormones, regulates your metabolism. This being the rate at which you convert food to energy. Hypothyroid or under active thyroid is a condition whereby the thyroid is not producing enough of the thyroid hormone T4, and so this rate of conversion is reduced leading to feelings of fatigue and often weight gain.
Underactive thyroid can appear at any age but it can triggered when the body goes through a change such as pregnancy or menopause. There can be an immune system influence or potentially hormonal, as oestrogen can increase a protein know as thyroid binding globulin (in short this may reduce the amount of free T4 and T3 for cells to use). Whilst there are supplements that can provide the raw materials for your thyroid and the conversion of these hormones (the aim being to make them more effective), my advice is to start with the GP. They may recommend a medication (Levothyroxine) to replace T4 and we would then suggest the nutrients zinc and selenium alongside it as these are involved in the conversion of T4 to the active hormone T3.
5. Are your hormones causing havoc?
- Cut your normal carbohydrate portion in half but boost your protein. This might mean an open sandwich with a generous potion of avocado or salmon/chicken or an omelette and salad rather than toast/white bread
- Banish the beige. Beige foods – bread, pasta, potatoes, biscuits and cakes are your main refined carbohydrates. Switch these to wholemeal versions, keep portion sizes small and bulk out your meals with colourful fruits and vegetables
There are supplements that can help your cells be more sensitive to glucose to give you a quick start or if blood tests have revealed high blood glucose levels. Supplements containing chromium and cinnamon are often suggested.
Chronic stress can lead to chronic fatigue. When the body is under stress from any source, it calls on the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol. In the short term these cause the body to be in a state of alert and to metabolise carbohydrates, protein and fats for use as energy so that you can deal with the stressor effectively. Chronic stress can however lead to an imbalance in cortisol rhythms and adrenal function which can leave you feeling very flat.
7. Are you recovering from illness or do you have post viral fatigue/long covid?
8. Are you lacking in movement or motivation?
So that was a lot of information and hopefully you can now see that there isn’t one answer why you may be feeling tired. Now you understand things more you may want to check out my four favourite supplements for energy and fatigue. Our team are also here to help you navigate it so please do get it touch or book a health review. Please do bear in mind that all supplements are not created equally – the suggestions we have given here have been done because they have been screened by our Nutritional Therapists as the best on the market. Questions? Please do contact us