Naturopathy & Nutrition

Fatigue & its Main Causes

Written by naturopath Jessie Denmeade

Fatigue. It’s physically and psychologically challenging and can have many contributing factors, but fatigue can be broken down to four main causes;

  1. Anaemia
  2. Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis disruption
  3. Thyroid abnormalities, and
  4. Mitochondrial dysfunction

Anaemic fatigue results from a deficiency in iron, folate or vitamin B12.  It’s caused either by inadequate dietary intake, malabsorption or can be an inherited condition. Deficiencies can be detected with blood tests and can often be rectified by supplementation.

HPA axis disruption occurs when someone has been under high levels of stress for an extended period of time. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, which helps us to be alert and ready for action. However, if our bodies are forced to maintain this state for too long, it can have severely detrimental effects on many areas of our health. Our brain eventually stops sending the signals to the adrenals (in order to take the stress off the rest of our bodies), and we start to find it hard to become alert. This can make us feel consistently tired.

In addition to fatigue, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause weight gain and hair loss. Hypothyroidism can be caused by nutritional deficiencies of iodine, selenium and zinc, or can be driven by the immune system in the case of Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Blood tests can assess the function of your thyroid as well as the possible causes.

Mitochondria are in every cell in our bodies and are like the energy factories that run each cell. Mitochondrial dysfunction will effect our ability to generate cellular energy, so our muscles, brains, hearts, every part of our body will be unable to function to full capacity, making us very tired. This is often caused by oxidative stress, chronic inflammation and can also be a nutritional issue. We can use specific nutrients to fuel and repair mitochondria. 

Talk to your naturopath about how to identify the cause of your fatigue and how best to treat it.

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