Fatigue is usually a result of everyday lifestyle preferences, not serious illness. Most people don’t realize ongoing bad habits, including poor food choices, lack of sleep and sitting most of the day may leave them feeling tired for days or weeks. You can boost your energy level by changing your daily routine, including diet, exercise and sleep habits. If changing your lifestyle doesn’t reduce fatigue, you may have an underlying medical condition. Your doctor will take a blood test and perform a physical exam to rule out chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, multiple sclerosis, heart disease or another serious illness. Check out these ten causes of fatigue and what you can do about them.
1. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is found in animal products – meat, fish, poultry, milk and eggs. If you don’t eat enough of these foods, you’re at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency. Lack of cobalamin in the diet causes fatigue, but it has other symptoms. They include headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), mood changes and depression, yellowing of the skin, vision problems and trouble walking.
A cobalamin deficiency may cause pernicious anemia, a condition resulting in fewer healthy red blood cells. If you feel tired all the time, have pale skin, shortness of breath, bleeding gums, or difficulty concentrating, you may be anemic. Doctors treat pernicious anemia by administering B12 shots to patients, and recommending patients eat a diet rich in lean meat, fish, eggs, milk, beans and nuts. People with anemia can also benefit from taking a Vitamin B12 supplement. People with Crohn’s disease or other conditions that interfere with food absorption are at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency.
You should have your doctor check your Vitamin B12 level if you’re over 50, take a diabetes drug called metformin, a proton pump inhibitor (Nexium, Prevacid) or an H2 blocker (Zantac,Pepcid). Vegans and vegetarians are also at greater risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vegans can get Vitamin B12 from fortified non-dairy milk, Brewer’s yeast, and fortified breakfast cereals. Vegetarians have a few more choices, including eggs, Swiss cheese, cottage cheese, vanilla ice cream, plain yogurt and plain low-fat milk.
Leaving Vitamin B12 deficiency untreated can case serious neurologic problems, blood diseases and Alzheimer’s or brain shrinkage in elderly patients.
People suffering from insomnia are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and cause a car crash. About 7% of all workplace accidents are caused by people who don’t get enough sleep. Daytime fatigue often leads to missed work days, bad decisions, depression, unnecessary risk taking, irritability and binging on junk foods. If left untreated, chronic sleeplessness can do more than make you feel tired during the day. It leads to heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and depression.
If you do sleep at night, but still wake up feeling tired, you may have sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea stop and start breathing repeatedly while they sleep.
Apnea means “without breath” in Greek. It’s as common as diabetes in American adults and remains undiagnosed in as many as 90% of cases.
Examine your sleep habits. Eating a big dinner or drinking alcohol right before bed interferes with falling and staying asleep. (Eating right before you go to sleep can also cause nightmares!) Shut off all electronics, and use a conventional alarm clock instead of a cell phone alarm.
Obesity puts stress on your body from carrying extra weight, causing fatigue. Weighing 20% or more than the normal weight for your height also causes breathing problems, osteoarthritis, gout and high blood pressure. Long-term obesity can cause heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. A study conducted by the Sleep Research and Treatment Center at Penn State College of Medicine showed that obesity is a factor in sleep-related problems, including sleep apnea. Poor sleep only increases daytime fatigue
Changing your diet and lifestyle is the only way to conquer obesity. Crash diets can make you sick and won’t keep you from gaining the weight back. Eat fewer calories and choose only healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and lean meats. Drink water and herbal tea instead of soda, and avoid processed food and junk food. It may take a lot of willpower to make these changes, but your energy level and overall health will improve once you detox from bad habits.
4. Poor Diet
The food we eat determines our energy level, and a poor diet is one of the main causes of fatigue. Too much coffee, alcohol, junk food and high-calorie fast food meals may leave us deficient in Vitamin B12 and other energy-enhancing nutrients. Diet-related fatigue affects other parts of our lives. You’re more likely to become obese, avoid exercise, and suffer from anxiety or depression if you eat unhealthy foods for years or even decades. This vicious cycle can cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other life-threatening conditions.
The best foods to increase energy include eggs, which are high in B12 and other B-complex vitamins and full of protein. Fortified whole grain cereals have a wide range of vitamins and minerals to fight fatigue. For an energy-boosting snack, eat pumpkin seeds. They’re good source of protein, magnesium and zinc. Trail mix that includes pumpkin seeds, raisins, sesame seeds and nuts offers a great combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Any food high in Vitamin B12 will increase endurance and keep you focused. Sardines, salmon, yogurt, beef, cod, pork and tuna are a few foods rich in Vitamin B12. A balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, (along with about eight glasses of water a day, according to thirst), will help you feel more energetic and maintain a healthy weight.
5. Vitamin D Deficiency
Many people who don’t get enough Vitamin D complain of fatigue. Known as the “Sunshine Vitamin”, direct sunlight is the best way to get Vitamin D. You have to be outdoors and feel the sun on your skin to get Vitamin D; you can’t get the same effects sitting by a window on a sunny day. (Lack of Vitamin D exposure is also related to depression.) Research cited in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences suggested increasing the level of Vitamin D in a person’s system could reduce fatigue.
Get outdoors in the sunlight for about 20 minutes each day to increase your Vitamin D level. People over 50 can’t absorb as much Vitamin D from the sun as younger folks, so they need to get Vitamin D from egg yolks, beef liver,fish or fortified foods including yogurt, milk and breakfast cereal. Taking a Vitamin D supplement is another option for people have difficulty absorbing Vitamin D from sunlight.
6. Lack of Exercise
Lack of physical activity harms your health, adds inches to your waistline, and is one of the easiest causes of fatigue to eliminate.
Getting 40 minutes of moderate exercise four times a week will increase your metabolism. Don’t think you can muster up enough energy for that kind of workout? Try something simple, like a walk around the block or taking the stairs instead of the elevator to wake up a sluggish body. Every bit of activity counts if you have a sedentary lifestyle.
Exercise wakes up your endorphins, chemicals in your body that reduce feelings of pain. They give you a positive sensation, lifting up your spirits and making you want to exercise more so you can feel even better. Endorphins are manufactured in your brain, and they are natural analgesics or sedatives that numb painful sensations.
Regular exercise reduces stress, depression and improves self-esteem. It enhances the quality of your sleep, leaving you refreshed in the morning. Even housework, gardening and yard work (mowing the lawn, pulling weeds), provide moderate exercise to activate endorphins and renew your energy.
Psychological problems are common causes of fatigue. Many people overlook them because they’re not as easy to spot. Everyday anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can leave you exhausted. If you’re nervous about being fired from your job, financial difficulties or other problems, you may be unable to eat well or get a full night’s sleep. You may even stop going to the gym and exercising. Your initial anxiety snowballs into other symptoms. If left untreated, anxiety can do more than make you tired. It can lead to high blood pressure, heart palpitations, depression, substance abuse and panic attacks. You can treat everyday anxiety by meditating, exercising, eating healthy foods and improving the quality of your sleep. If these home remedies don’t help, visit your medical provider for an exam. You may have obsessive-compulsive disorder or other form of clinical anxiety.
Depression is one of the most common causes of fatigue. Always feeling tired and unmotivated can hamper your relationships, work performance and social life. Untreated fatigue can make depression worse, according to this article published in the March 2014 issue of Depression and Anxiety. Even after other symptoms of depression have disappeared, fatigue may linger. Lifestyle changes are the best way to combat depression-related fatigue. Exercising reduces fatigue by promoting sound sleep. Even a half-hour of moderate exercise can increase energy, according to researchers. Walk, bike, play sports or do aerobic exercises at home or the gym. Make sure you eat well to boost energy. A diet high in fat increases fatigue, a diet full of carbohydrates gives you pep. Avoid white bread, pasta, fried foods, pastries and soda. Opt for whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish instead. Spending more time outdoors in the sunshine exposed to the Vitamin D from sunlight can also reduce fatigue and keep you energized.
9. Underactive Thyroid
Your thyroid is located at the base of your neck. This gland is shaped like a butterfly and produces hormones that control how your body uses energy. When your thyroid is low on hormone production, it’s called hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid causes lower energy levels, leaving you tired and weak most of the time. Hypothyroidism affects more women than men and runs in families. Older adults are more likely to develop hypothyroidism than younger folks. Lithium, the heart medicine amiodarone and the autoimmune disorder Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are common causes of hypothyroidism. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid, in addition to fatigue, are shaky hands, hair falling out, brittle nails, dry skin, fast heartbeat and weight loss even though you haven’t changed your diet. Your doctor will give you a physical exam and blood test to determine if you have hypothyroidism.
You may be given a synthetic replacement hormone, which works within a few weeks for most patients. Some people develop hypothyroidism from a medication they take. Once they stop taking it, the hypothyroidism disappears. An underactive thyroid is occasionally caused by underlying medical conditions, like autoimmune disease. Once the underlying medical condition is treated, thyroid function returns to normal.
10. Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency in the diet results in anemia. The symptoms may go unnoticed at first, but they include extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, poor appetite, headaches and dizziness. Iron deficiency or anemia is caused by blood loss due to heavy menstruation in women, or from a lack of eggs, meat, leafy green vegetables and other iron-rich foods in your diet. Pregnant women, children, vegans and vegetarians are more prone to suffer from anemia due to lack of iron in the diet. Increasing the amount of foods containing iron in your diet can improve mild to moderate anemia. Eat more red meat, pork, poultry, beans, seafood and leafy green vegetables. You’ll also need to make sure you eat enough fruits and veggies containing Vitamin C, which help with iron absorption the body. People with severe iron deficiency may need to take an iron supplement prescribed by their doctor.
A Wheatgrass Supplement Fights Causes of Fatigue and Offers Other Health Benefits
Wheatgrass, one of nature’s superfoods, offers hundreds of nutrients to boost energy, build red blood cells and eliminate toxins that make you tired and weak. Chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants, gives wheatgrass its nutritional power.
Chlorophyll is full of energy-enhancing B-complex vitamins to amp up red blood cells and put an end to one of the main causes of fatigue- lack of Vitamin B12 (and to a lesser extent, the other B vitamins). Some wheatgrass supplement tablets add additional B-complex vitamins to their formula to give it even more vitality boosting power.
How can chlorophyll eliminate or reduce the causes of fatigue? It contains live enzymes, which clean the blood and help it carry more oxygen. Healthier red blood cells prevent anemia and other debilitating conditions. The antioxidant vitamins in chlorophyll include Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and selenium. Antioxidants destroy free radicals, toxic particles that harm cells, causing inflammation and disease.
Wheatgrass-Powered REVV, Zeal O2, and HappyGirl Help Fight the Causes of Fatigue
If you’re tired and lethargic from one or more of the causes of fatigue named above, a supplement from Wheatgrass Love can increase your energy level. Wheatgrass Love offers three supplements made from high-value wheatgrass with added Vitamin B12 and B-complex vitamins to skyrocket your energy.
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HappyGirl Natural Mood-Enhancing Supplement
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