In today’s fast-paced world most of us could do with more energy, but when those energy reserves are running low, people will often turn to food and beverages that are high in carbohydrates (especially sugar) or they turn to caffeine to give themselves a boost.
At any given time, one in five people feel unusually tired and one in ten people suffer prolonged fatigue. Fatigue can happen at any time of life.
Excessive tiredness can be caused by a number of factors, and a common reason is nutrient deficiencies. Supplementing with vitamins for energy can help address any deficiencies that may be present and relieve symptoms brought on by fatigue. It is also important to address any other factors - which we discuss later in this article - that may be contributing to feelings of tiredness as well.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR COMBATTING FATIGUE
Vitamin B12 is known as the ‘energy vitamin’ as it is essential for cellular energy production. As it is found mainly in animal foods, such as organ meats, oily fish, lamb and beef, vegetarians and vegans can be at risk of B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 supplementation can be of particular benefit to the elderly, as sub-optimal gastrointestinal function can result in deficiency of this vitamin.
Co-enzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an essential nutrient required by the body’s cells to take up fat and other nutrients and use them to produce energy.
Best food sources of CoQ10 include organ meats, oily fish, chicken and beef. It is also found in peanuts, sesame seeds and pistachio nuts.
We do produce CoQ10 in the body, but the amount the body makes decreases with age and with use of medications such as statins. Supplementing CoQ10 can often relieve symptoms of fatigue and has been shown to reduce muscle pain associated with statin use.
Iodine deficiency is extremely common in the UK. Iodine is most commonly found in seafood, but many people's diets are low in this mineral, especially if people do not use iodised salt in cooking.
Our thyroid gland needs iodine to manufacture the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Although T3 is more potent, both hormones serve similar functions in regulating metabolism and how the body uses energy in virtually every cell in the body. Low energy or fatigue is one of the presenting symptoms if thyroid hormones are too low.
Vitamin D deficiency has been found to be common in people with fatigue and restoring vitamin D status through supplementation has been shown to improve energy levels.
In the UK, it’s thought that it’s only possible for us to make vitamin D from the sun during the summer. From October to March the body has to rely on its reserves or obtain vitamin D from other sources.
The B vitamins are necessary for converting food into energy. They include vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and folate. If the body lacks B vitamins, the ability of the cells’ mitochondria (the power house of the cell) to generate energy will be compromised.
FATIGUE AND ITS SYMPTOMS
People suffering from fatigue can feel like they stumble through the day, the mind is slow and the body aches. Fatigue is often not just tiredness, and there are a number of symptoms associated with it:
- Chronic tiredness or sleepiness
- Aching muscles
- Slowed reflexes and responses
- Impaired decision making and judgement
- Poor concentration
- Blurred vision
- Appetite changes
- Poor immunity
- Low motivation
Fatigue can often start with the physical symptoms of sleepiness and impaired physical ability, but someone suffering these symptoms can go on to develop mental and emotional fatigue as a result.
WHAT CAUSES FATIGUE?
Many things can contribute to fatigue. Sometimes there may be an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, especially if symptoms have been ongoing for a considerable time.
Most of the time, a lack of energy is caused by our lifestyle, our diet, psychological and emotional issues, or the pressure of work.
Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep may be caused by poor sleeping conditions such as bright rooms, noisy environment, a snoring partner or too much stimulation before bed. But there may be other reasons such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnoea.
Diets packed with processed foods and refined carbohydrates will result in fluctuations in blood sugar leading to energy dips throughout the day. These diets can lack the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal energy production.
Lack of exercise
Exercise promotes health and wellbeing, has been shown to boost energy and contributes to good quality sleep.
Drinking alcohol, smoking and too much caffeine
Alcohol has the effect of slowing us down and can interrupt sleep patterns. Smoking and caffeine from coffee and tea has a stimulating effect on the body, but may disrupt hormones, contributing to energy fluctuations.
This can be from workload pressures, conflicts with colleagues or management or just dissatisfaction with the work itself.
Anxiety and stress
The over-production of stress hormones can cause a person to become exhausted.
People diagnosed with depression commonly experience fatigue.
LESSEN THE CHANCES OF LOW ENERGY
There are a few simple strategies to ensure that your energy levels are optimised, such as eating a nutritionally balanced diet which includes protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, along with making sure that the body is well hydrated and receiving adequate restorative sleep.
Inessa Advanced Multivitamin contains the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help optimise the body’s energy levels where an underlying medical condition is not the primary cause. If you experience prolonged fatigue it's advisable to see your GP.
 The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2015) ‘Improving the lives of people with mental illness’ Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsanddisorders/tiredness.aspx [accessed 10th July, 2018]
 O’Leary, F. & Samman, S. (2010) ‘Vitamin B12 in health and disease’ Nutrients 2(3);299-316.
 Dhamarajan, T. Adiga, G. & Norkus, E (2003) ‘ Vitamin B12 deficiency: Recognising subtle symptoms in older adults’ Geriatrics 58(3);30-34.
 Mizuno, K. Tanaka, M. et al. (2008) ‘Antifatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue’ Nutrition 24:293-299.
 Vanderpump, M. Lazarus, J. Smyth, P. et al. (2011) ‘Iodine status of UK schoolgirls; a cross-sectional survey’ The Lancet 377(9782);2007-2012.
 Roy, S. Sherman, A. Monari-Sparks, M. et al. (2014) ‘Correction of low vitamin D improves fatigue: Effect of correction of low vitamin D in fatigue study (EViDiF)’ North American Journal of Medical Science 6(8);396-402.
 Huskisson, E. Maggini, S. & Ruf, M. (2007) ‘The role of vitamins and minerals in energy metabolism and well-being’ Journal of International Medical Research 35(3);277-289.