March 25, 2021 6 min read

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    Definition & causes of fatigue

    Definition & causes of fatigue

    Fatigue, in its simplest form, is used to describe a feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. Though a lack of sleep can cause fatigue, they are not totally interchangeable. Rather than just feeling "sleepy", fatigue is often expressed as a lack of energy or motivation. Fatigue can be mild and short-lived, or it can become chronic and impact your general wellness in the long run. There are three main causes of fatigue:

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    • Lifestyle factors:Factors both within and out of our control can make us feel fatigued. Lack of sleep, lack of physical activity, over-exertion, chronic stress (high cortisol levels), certain medications, alcohol consumption, obesity, drugs, grief, consuming too much caffeine, and a poor diet are common culprits of fatigue.
    • Physical health conditions:Unfortunately, fatigue is an extremely common side effect of a variety of different medical conditions including:
    1. Anemia or iron deficiency
    2. Arthritis
    3. Autoimmune disorders
    4. Chronic fatigue syndrome
    5. Colds and the flu
    6. Congestive heart failure
    7. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    8. Diabetes
    9. Eating disorders
    10. Emphysema
    11. Fibromyalgia
    12. Hypothyroidism
    13. Hyperthyroidism
    14. Kidney disease
    15. Liver disease
    16. Sleep disorders

    What is fatigue?

    • Mental health issues:Fatigue is often tied to many different mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

    Symptoms of Fatigue

    Fatigue can be defined and manifested in many different ways. Common symptoms include:

    • Weak and aching muscles
    • Dizziness
    • Apathy
    • Lack of motivation
    • Daytime drowsiness
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Gastrointestinal problems
    • Headaches
    • Irritability and mood swings
    • Slowed reactions
    • Blurred vision

    Supplements to elevate energy

    Getting out from under fatigue can be difficult. Your first line of defense is to speak with your doctor to see if there are any underlying causes, whether mental or physical. Secondly, try to evaluate your lifestyle and see if there is any room for improvement, like exercising, weight loss, spending time outdoors, talking to a grief counselor, or joining the sober movement. Lastly, no matter what level of fatigue you are experiencing, you may benefit from adding a natural energy-boosting supplement to your diet.

    • Ashwagandha:The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Today, it is a known adaptogen, meaning it has been provento help your body manage stress. This may increase energy by making you more resilient to mental and physical stress, while reducing muscle fatigue due to exercise.
    • Vitamin C: There are many well-known health benefits of vitamin C including support for your immune system, preventing iron deficiency, and making you feel more energized. One study found that higher vitamin C levels were related to fat burning and inversely related to fatigue.
    • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency, which is estimated to affect 50% of the world's population, is linked to both mental and physical fatigue. Studies have found that patients who took vitamin D supplements had improved muscle efficiency and decreased feelings of depression compared to patients who had not.
    • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10):Coenzyme Q10 is found in every cell of the human body. Shortages can be caused by genetics, age, or other nutritional deficits, such as vitamin B6 deficiency. Because CoQ10 is used to create energy within the cells, not getting enough can interfere with cell functioning all throughout the body. It has been linked to heart disease, brain disorders, diabetes, and cancer. Starting at the cellular level, CoQ10 is absolutely critical for our bodies to be energized.
    • Rhodiola Rosea: Rhodiola rosea is another natural adaptogen. Rhodiola was found to help reduce depressive symptoms, enhance physical performance, and ease mental fatigue.

    Collagen for Fatigue

    • Collagen: Collagen supplements have also been shown to help boost energy levels! Collagen is made up of amino acids proline and glycine, the latter of which may help to boost metabolism and energy levels. It's also a great way to satiate your appetite for longer periods, as the extra protein in your diet keeps you feeling fuller between meals. Whether you're fasting or just trying to make it to lunchtime without a snack, collagen can be an asset!
    • B Complex Vitamins:B vitamins, which can be found in meat and dairy products, help our bodies to transform food into energy. Without them, you may develop a vitamin B12 deficiency and become more at risk of iron deficiency and fatigue. Vegans, older adults, and those with gastrointestinal disorders may require a dietary supplement to adequately raise their vitamin B levels and boost energy production.
    • Iron: Iron is necessary for our bodies to produce hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs, to your organs and tissues. Iron deficiencies (anemia) can make you feel sluggish and fatigued. While iron supplements can be a great energy booster for people with deficiencies, excessive iron intake can be dangerous, so be sure to consult your doctor first.
    • Creatine:Creatine is a great pick-me-up. It's a popular energy supplement for weight lifters and sprinters because it provides you with short, powerful bursts of energy. Creatine causes the muscles to hold water, thus it's often paired with weight gain. For this reason it's usually reserved for the gym rather than your morning smoothies.
    • Beetroot Powder:Beetroot is another performance supplement. Beetroot is packed with nitrate which helps increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles. Beetroot may also decrease high blood pressure.
    • Guarana: Guarana is a natural source of caffeine, that’s why it can make you feel more energized. It's not exactly for the faint of heart - guarana seeds may contain four to six times more caffeine than coffee beans! Using too much caffeine can actually decrease your energy in the long run by interfering with sleep, so make sure to take it slow and leave plenty of space between supplementation and bedtime.

    Ginkgo bioba

    • Ginkgo biloba:Ginkgo biloba has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to improve mood by promoting both alertness and calmness simultaneously. Although more studies are needed, by making you more alert and calm, ginkgo biloba may increase your sense of energy and is generally considered safe.
    • Ginseng:Ginseng is also considered to be an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body cope with mental and physical stress without causing a crash, like with caffeine or sugar. According to Harvard Health, more high-quality tests need to be done to determine its energy-boosting abilities, but it is considered a safe and healthy supplement. There are many health benefits to reap from a delicious cup of ginseng green tea, but keep a close eye on your caffeine intake to avoid jitters.
    • Magnesium: Magnesium helps you to boost your energy production by regulating neurotransmitters and promoting better sleep! It has been found to help alleviate insomnia, and may even help prevent type 2 diabetes and manage weight gain.

    Other ways to boost your energy naturally

    • Stay hydrated. Try to drink about 15.5 cups of fluids a day for men and 11.5 cups of fluids a day for women. You can get an app to track your progress and even send you helpful reminders to keep drinking!
    • Swap energy drinks and caffeine for lemon water to avoid jitters and anxiousness.
    • Maintain healthy eating habits with plenty of antioxidants.
    • Get enough sleep (aim for 8hrs per night).
    • Try adding relaxing activities such as yoga to your routine to increase blood flow and alertness.
    • Practice breathing exercises when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
    • Try standing meditation to provide mental breaks throughout the day.

    When we need a quick pick-me-up, we often reach for sugary, energy drinks or head to the coffee machine because it’s easily available to us. Instead, try adding some healthy, energizing supplements to your morning routine or next to your coffee to get all the energy you need with none of the jitters!

    Summary Points:

    Fatigue can be mild and short-lived, or it can become chronic and impact your general wellness in the long run.

    Fatigue is often tied to many different mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

    Collagen is made up of amino acids proline and glycine, the latter of which may help to boost metabolism and energy levels.

    Ginkgo biloba has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to improve mood by promoting both alertness and calmness simultaneously.

    Article References:

    1. https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Fatigue
    2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-supplements-for-energy#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3
    3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/do-energy-boosters-work-201311156878
    4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/guarana-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6
    5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-magnesium-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5



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