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Hippocrates wrote about it; so did Shakespeare: Throughout the ages, fatigue has doggedly plagued humankind. Today, this complaint accounts for more than 7 million doctor visits a year, and Americans consistently rank it as one of their top 10 health concerns.
Persistent, lingering weariness, either intermittent or continuous, that lasts longer than two weeks.
Personality changes, particularly a tendency to become angry, impatient, or depressed because of feeling tired all the time.
Diminished concentration; difficulty accomplishing familiar tasks; less interest in activities that were once appealing.
When to Call Your Doctor
If fatigue lasts longer than two weeks or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, weight loss, nausea, hoarseness, or muscle aches.
If fatigue causes daytime drowsiness that interferes with normal everyday activities.
Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements.
What It Is
Not a true ailment in itself, fatigue is usually a classic symptom of some other problem: poor nutrition; overwork; lack of (or too much) exercise; insomnia or poor sleeping habits; or a specific medical disorder, such as premenstrual syndrome. Though everyone has an occasional energy slump, fatigue is a generalized, persistent feeling of exhaustion.
What Causes It
In many sufferers, fatigue can be traced to stress, anxiety, depression, or lowered immunity and chronic infections. It’s been linked to diabetes; thyroid or adrenal gland imbalance; and heart, liver, or kidney disease. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies decrease red blood cell production and can lead to fatigue because these cells transport oxygen used for energy. In women, fatigue can result from fluctuating hormone levels in pregnancy and menopause, or from anemia caused by heavy periods. Sleeping disorders and medications, including blood pressure drugs, can also bring it on.
How Supplements Can Help
The supplements listed here should be used only when an underlying fatigue-causing medical condition has been ruled out. A two-month course should bring relief. Start with the vitamins and the two ginsengs. Then add magnesium, amino acids, and flaxseed oil if fatigue persists.
What Else You Can Do
Take a 20-minute nap in the afternoon or after work. But set the alarm: A longer nap can interfere with nighttime sleep.
Don’t skip breakfast. Near bedtime, avoid large meals, fatty foods, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages. Caffeinated beverages can wreak havoc with your ability to fall and remain fast asleep for up to 10 hours after you drink them.
Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day; get at least eight hours of sleep a night.
Keep active. Moderate exercise is a prescription for feeling less tired.
Don’t expect an energy boost from sugary foods. Instead eat complex carbohydrates (pasta, whole grains, beans) and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Have blood tests for thyroid problems or anemia if fatigue persists.
Vitamin B Complex
Amino Acid Complex
Vitamin B Complex
Dosage: 1 pill twice a day with food.
Comments: Look for a B-50 complex with 50 mcg vitamin B12 and biotin; 400 mcg folic acid; and 50 mg all other B vitamins.
Dosage: 1,000 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Reduce dose if diarrhea develops.
Dosage: 100-250 mg twice a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 7% ginsenosides.
Dosage: 100-300 mg twice a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 0.8% eleutherosides.
Dosage: 400 mg a day for 2 months.
Comments: Take with food; reduce dose if diarrhea develops.
Amino Acid Complex
Dosage: 1 pill twice a day.
Comments: Take on an empty stomach.
Dosage: 1 tbsp. (14 grams) a day.
Comments: Can be mixed with food; take in the morning.
Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs (Reader’s Digest)