Tired all the time? 10 possible causes of your fatigue
Updated: Jan 28
There are many potential causes of fatigue which differs from tiredness as it's not relieved by sleep or rest. And the cause or causes of your fatigue may be quite different from the next person’s.
Read on to discover 10 possible causes of your fatigue - there are more but I think 10 is enough for now!
1. Nutrient deficiencies:
The energy making process requires a range of different nutrients - B vitamins (all 8 of them!), vitamin C, iron and magnesium to name a few - and low levels of one or more of these may be limiting your energy. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with fatigue.
Low level or deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12 and/ folate may indicate anaemia, a key symptom of which is fatigue. Ask your GP for these basic blood tests to rule out this condition as a possible cause of your low energy.
3. High sugar/refined carbohydrate diet:
If your diet is high in sugar and/or refined carbohydrates, and low in quality protein, beneficial fats and fibre, you may be riding the blood sugar rollercoaster, experiencing bursts of energy after eating (high blood sugar) followed by energy dips and crashes soon after (low blood sugar). This may then cause you to reach for more sugary snacks to get another quick but short-lived hit of energy.
4. Hormone havoc:
Hormone imbalances can wreak havoc on your energy levels. Varying levels of insulin drive the blood sugar rollercoaster (see above) and low levels of thyroid and sex hormones may result in fatigue as well as a host of other symptoms. And see No 5 for more about adrenal hormones.
5. Chronic Stress:
When we are stressed, our bodies release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol in what’s known as the “fight or flight” response. When the stress has passed, levels of these hormones reduce. But when stress is continual or chronic, these hormones quickly become depleted, leading to fatigue.
Stress also depletes nutrients including B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium, which, you guessed it, are needed for energy production. Whilst we cannot control or eradicate stress completely, we can learn to cope with it better and become more resilient.
6. Poor digestive function:
Even if you have a great diet containing all the nutrients required for energy production, if you are not digesting those foods properly and absorbing those nutrients, then the energy-making process is going to be impaired. For instance, low stomach acid (the symptoms of which are often confused with high stomach acid) may result in poor release of iron, B12, dietary protein and zinc from foods.
Yes it’s an obvious one but so, so important. Difficulty getting to sleep, waking in the night, not sleeping for long enough may also contribute to tiredness. This one deserves a blog of its own, look out for this in October.
8. Prescription medications:
Fatigue may be a side effect of some prescription medications. Check the leaflet inside your medication for further details. If you believe your medication might be affecting your energy, it might be worth asking your GP or consultant if there is an alternative.
Many medications, including the contraceptive pill, also deplete nutrients vital for energy production. Please do not stop taking or reduce prescription medication without speaking to your healthcare practitioner first.
Anti-nutrients are substances that require nutrients for them to be metabolised (broken down) by the body, but they give no benefit to the body themselves. These nutrient-depleting substances include sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Insufficient water intake, caffeine and alcohol can contribute to dehydration which may cause blood pressure to drop, making you feel sleepy and tired.
I'll be delving further into many of the above causes in future blogs, sign up here if you're not already receiving my emails to ensure you don't miss out.
The good news is that Nutritional Therapy can help identify and address the underlying cause or causes of your fatigue.
The content on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.