“The Three Fates” by Sebastian L. Domenico
(Dec, 2016) The human body is the most complex machine ever built. It requires a host of nutrients and conditions to work at top efficiency. Excessive fatigue is a sign that things are not going well and something is missing. Many of us have forgotten what it’s like to feel fully alive.
Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness, often from mental or physical exertion, or illness. According to the NIH, approximately 1 in every 5 Americans has fatigue. Several medical conditions (liver failure, anemia, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, infection, kidney disease, concussion, COPD, depression, heart disease, thyroid disorder, obesity, sleep apnea, diabetes), or psychological problems (anxiety, depression, grief, stress) can cause fatigue. Often the cause is unknown, or not so easily identified.
Fatigue is often a lifestyle issue, and rectified by adopting healthier habits. Excessive intake of alcohol or caffeine, drugs (antihistamines, cough medicines), poor sleep, and unhealthy eating habits all contribute to the problem. Fatigue is also triggered by food allergies, gluten intolerance, or assorted environmental toxins (e.g., black mold, formaldehyde, mercury, lead, arsenic, glyphosate, antibiotics, hormones, etc, etc, etc). There are thousands of unfriendly chemicals in the air, sea and land these days.
A lot depends on nutrition quality. The typical American diet cannot sustain a full and active lifestyle, not with its refined carbs, rancid fats, hydrolyzed protein, factory-farm toxins and lack of micronutrients. Improving health means avoiding toxic foods. It also means whole, fresh and organic foods to counter the slings and arrows, and provide the nuts and bolts the body needs. It’s also about adopting a supplement regimen to ensure full coverage of dietary needs. The following is a brief summary of the most important and conspicuous energy boosters:
Lack of energy may be a vitamin B12 deficiency. Approximately 15% of Americans are in this category, with symptoms like poor memory, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, depression, and tingling of the extremities. Vitamin B12 helps metabolize carbohydrates & fat, helps produce red blood cells and adrenal hormones. Vitamin B12 is found in animal-based foods (eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish & poultry), so vegans and vegetarians should be taking B vitamin supplements (especially B12), as should anyone with energy or stress issues. I recommend a “co-enzymated” or activated form of B complex (sources: Wellness Resources, Jarrow Formulas, Country Life), which are readily absorbed and used by the body.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that functions in many ways. It is a building block for making protein and neurotransmitters like noradrenaline and dopamine for energy, mood, and concentration. Tyrosine is part of the thyroid hormone, which regulates energy and body metabolism. It is also involved in regulating enzyme and protein function in cells. Tyrosine is useful against fatigue and stress, from being overworked or lacking sleep. We normally get tyrosine from eating high-protein foods; e.g., meat, fish, fowl, dairy, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans and whole grains. High doses have been used for depression. Vegans should consider supplementation with L-tyrosine or L-phenylalanine, especially for fatigue.
Iodine is another main part of the thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism. Iodine is also an important antioxidant. It can be obtained from a multivitamin, but some people require more to get their motor going. One excellent source of iodine is from kelp. There’s something magical about vegetables from the sea. The special seaweed Okinawans eat help them live to be 100 or more! Organic kelp (such as from BulkHerbs.com) provides several trace minerals without the toxic metals.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body, many of which provide energy. It helps convert protein, fat & carbs into energy. The majority of Americans don’t get enough magnesium, and even a mild deficiency could promote fatigue (and/or anxiety) in some people. The green color in veggies comes from magnesium (in chlorophyll), so eat your veggies. Try adding 200-400 or more mg of magnesium to your diet in supplement form (e.g., magnesium glycinate, malate, taurate, aspartate or threonate). Take stress-relieving baths in Epsom salts. The common form found in supplements is magnesium oxide, which is not well absorbed by the body. Too much magnesium will loosen your stool, which some people might appreciate.
Lack of iron is the #1 nutritional deficiency in the world. Iron is critical for producing hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. Without iron, the body has to work harder to get the energy it needs, which can leave you tired, weak, irritable and unable to focus, according to Dr. Oz. Symptoms of iron deficiency may also include feeling cold, pale skin, hair loss and brittle nails. Sources of iron in food include meat-based protein (beef, chicken livers, oysters and clams) and plant-based foods like beans, spinach, broccoli, dried fruits and fortified cereals. Substances found in tea and coffee interfere with iron absorption, so avoid these beverages around mealtime. Iron is also available in supplements. Iron accumulation can be a problem as we get old, and after menopause, so it may be wise to buy senior multivitamins without iron.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral and antioxidant that is vital for physical and mental energy. Symptoms of selenium deficiency include hair loss, skin & fingernail discoloration, low immunity, brain fog, reproductive problems, hypothyroidism, constant fatigue and lack of energy. Sources of selenium in food include seafood, mushrooms, free-range turkey & chicken, grass fed beef and pastured eggs. Barley, oats, brown rice, sesame and sunflower seeds, broccoli, asparagus and spinach are all good vegetable sources. The best source of selenium is Brazil nuts. Unfortunately, selenium has decreased in food in recent decades. Supplementing with selenium is warranted, since it may help reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease risk. Selenium also supports the body’s detox systems, along with minerals like zinc, copper and molybdenum.
Many of the nutrients we need are simply not abundant in the foods we eat, which makes a strong case for taking a high-quality multivitamin. Choose high-quality, because most drugstore vitamins are not. Rather, they contain cheap, synthetic vitamins & minerals that are not well absorbed by the body. There are several top-shelf multivitamin and multi-mineral supplements to consider. I like Wellness Resources Daily Energy multivitamin, which contains activated forms of the B complex, along with absorbable magnesium, iron, selenium, iodine, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and a host of other essential nutrients that could help boost energy. Life Extension’s Two-Per-Day multivitamin is an adequate multivitamin at a more reasonable price. It really pays to buy the best.
Lack of potassium leads to weakness that could prevent you from physical activity. High potassium diets promote healthy, strong bones and muscle, and are essential in nerve and muscle function. Many fruits, vegetables and fish contain potassium. Bananas, avocados, coconut water and potatoes contain high levels of potassium. Potassium is also available in supplement form (e.g., potassium bicarbonate, citrate or chloride). Potassium bicarbonate (available from nuts.com) can also be used to increase the body’s pH toward the alkaline, which could help boost energy levels. The mass consumption of meat and grains causes the body to become overly acidic, which promotes osteoporosis and other disabilities.
With all the oxidized (rancid, overcooked, adulterated) food we eat, it is wise to protect the body with antioxidant substances, an assortment of which are readily obtained from food, herbs, spices and supplements. It starts with vitamin C from whole citrus, red pepper and kale, or carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene from yellow, orange and red vegetables, or vitamin E from almonds and spinach. Some of these are more easily procured from a good multivitamin or other supplements. Numerous other antioxidants come from green tea, red wine, dark chocolate, berries, herbs and spices (e.g., rosemary, ginger, turmeric). When it comes to antioxidants, the more the merrier, if you want to prevent damage in your tissues and reduce the ravages of living. Of course, too much red wine & chocolate can work against you.
There are several other foods and nutrients that can improve energy, sleep and well-being. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) helps your mitochondria make energy, as does carnitine. Adaptogens like ginseng, ashwagandha and rhodiola can help deal with stress, stimulate the nervous system, and increase energy naturally. Ginkgo improves blood flow to the brain. Green tea helps reduce stress, boosts energy and improves mental focus. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, as well as minerals that boost immunity, provide energy and fight fatigue. Grass-fed, organic yogurt contains high-quality fat, protein, probiotics, minerals, vitamins and quick energy that can quell fatigue. Watermelon has quick-acting, fatigue-fighting nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, lycopene, beta-carotene and iron. Walnuts contain omega-3s, protein, minerals and fiber that counteract fatigue and mild depression. Beans contain complex carbohydrates, protein, and an array of minerals (potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron) that feed friendly bacteria, support detox, alkalinize the body, and fight fatigue. Dehydration also promotes fatigue, so drink plenty of water. Reducing stress and getting plenty of rest also help with fatigue. So does giving your liver a break by not drinking alcohol or eating refined foods every day.
Rather than brake the bank trying to get all these energy boosting nutrients, experiment a bit with a dietary change or two, and add a top-shelf multivitamin to your regimen. Evaluate these changes in two to three months. If not satisfied, try something else, or add something new to your growing health regimen. Conferring with a nutritionist or naturopath could help you through all this, but only you can commit to changing your life for the better.
(Dr. Mercola Know the Signs of B12 Deficiency and Top B12 Benefits. November 21, 2016. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/11/21/vitamin-b12-deficiency.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art2&utm_campaign=20161121Z1&et_cid=DM126453&et_rid=1763915477)