Origins of Fatigue
Fatigue is a huge issue in our fast paced world, where it is all too easy to “burn the candle at both ends”, eat too many fast foods, live a sedentary life and ignore our built-in time clock (the circadian rhythm ). Sometimes, despite doing all the right things, we, however, can still be affected by persistent fatigue that can cause great disruption in our life. An investigation by the Working Group of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has found that prolonged fatigue which lasts longer than 1 month is present in 5-20% of the population. Chronic fatigue, lasting greater than six months, is prevalent in 1-10% of the population whilst a further 0.2% to 0.7% is diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Whilst some types of depression are linked to fatigue, mild amounts of stress have actually found to be stimulating to our mitochondria function, which produces our cellular energy. High stress, on the other hand, can cause magnesium loss. Magnesium, zinc and iron deficiencies are both common causes of low energy production and should be investigated early in any corrective treatment, especially given that deficiencies of these minerals is present in around 60-85% of the US population. These minerals are readily available and could be tried before investigating other possible causes of your fatigue. Resveratrol, found in your favorite red wine, also has a stimulatory affect as CoQ10 and L-carnitine.
So what do you do if you have tried all of the stimulatory supplements without any resolve of your fatigue? My suggestion would be to investigate whether there are any underlying gut issues (such as bacterial overgrowth or candida) or problems with thyroid function. An overgrowth of candida albicans can frequently go undetected due to its often vague symptoms. A simple test – blood test or stool test – can detect the presence of candida overgrowth. This disorder can be treated effectively with the right natural health products and dietary intervention.
Similarly, an under functioning thyroid can also go undetected and untreated. This is largely due to the fact that borderline blood test results can still be considered as ‘normal’ by some practitioners. New evidence however suggests that subclinical hypothyroidism (where there is elevated thyroid stimulating hormone but normal thyroid hormone levels) is a common disorder found in 7-10% of people and can be responsible for a decreased production of energy in the mitochondria. It is therefore important to be treated for hypothyroidism, even if your results are viewed as ‘borderline normal’.
I ask my patients to give me a score out of 10, to help me evaluate what their energy and fatigue levels are like. A score of 10 is equal to the amount of energy needed to perform all of one’s daily activities and 0 is not enough energy to get out of bed. I consider that a consistently low energy level with a chosen score of 6 out of 10 or below is abnormal. Try keeping a diary of your energy levels. If you are feeling a little ‘flat’ and record energy levels of 6/10 or lower, you need to investigate why you feel this way. Don’t put up with less than optimal vitality. Remember that your fatigue will have an origin or cause, which can usually be easily identified and rectified, when you receive the right advice.