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Feeling tired, weak or fatigued all the time? Here are 5 causes of fatigue that may not be on your radar.

By Jessica Kelner, D.O. - October 22, 2018

Do you feel exhausted all of the time? Can't make it to the end of the day without hitting a wall?  

Fatigue can be caused by so many things and can be challenging for doctors to figure out what is the cause.  

Here are 5 common causes of fatigue that may give you some insight. 

1.  Your not getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night.  More than 1/3 of adults aren't getting enough sleep. According to the CDC,  "The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being." Short sleep duration is defined by the CDC as < 7 hours of sleep per night.  More adults in the Southeastern US and the Appalachian Mountains don't get enough sleep, while adults in the Great Plain States get more sleep. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night can lead to diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, stroke, and mental illness.

2. Poor nutrition. What does this mean anyway?  Most people that think they eat healthy STILL aren't getting the nutrients they need from their food.  Our body requires 7 major nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, fiber, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and water.  

Of these requirements, your body requires at least 30 vitamins and minerals such as the B-Vitamins, Zinc, Copper, Molybdenum, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron, etc. These vitamins are usually found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.  It still may be difficult to get adequate nutrients through your food. So, a good multivitamin is a great idea to supplement your diet. 

When you think of carbohydrates are you thinking of your favorite pasta dish? Pasta (made from wheat) and other processed grains are not what is going to keep your body functioning optimally.  Plants, like fruits and vegetables are actually carbohydrates.  Root vegetables, like carrots, yams, beats, parsnips, turnips, and garlic are a great source of carbohydrate for the body.  Not only do you get the carbohydrate macronutrient from these foods, but you will get micronutrients and minerals as well from these plants.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that comes from plants. Fiber is super important to maintaining a healthy digestive tract.  It allows for your food to move easily through your body and allows enough time for nutrients and water to be extracted from the food.  Fiber also helps to regulate the body's blood sugar, helping you to feel full longer from the food you've eaten, keeping hunger and the body's blood sugar balanced. 

Fats are essential to our diet because they make up the cell membranes in the body.  This is the double layer of cells that separate one cell from the next.  So, it makes sense that we would need to eat fats to build and restore cells that are damaged.  Healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and fish are a great source fat for your body and will help replenish and rebuild those cells in need. 

Our body requires that we eat protein daily. If we don't eat protein, our body will start to take protein from our muscles which will lead to muscle loss, fatigue, and weakness.  Proteins are made up of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).  Humans require 9 essential amino acids. They are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine. This means we have to consume these amino acids in our food.  If we don't eat them, we are unable to make them.  There are 6 amino acids that can become essential in those that have special pathologic conditions.  These are arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, and tyrosine.    There are 5 other non-essential amino acids our body can make from the first 9.  

Protein can of course be found in animal meat and fish and it is also found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.  If you choose to not eat mean and wish to get your protein from other sources, you have to combine different protein sources together to make sure that you get all of the 9 essential amino acids. 

Drinking enough water is super important too.  Without water, our body cannot optimally transport these nutrients as well as waste products throughout the body. Eventually this alone can make you feel fatigued. 

3. Abnormal hormone levels.  Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that control bodily functions.  They are produced in an "endocrine" gland ("endo" means inside, as in inside the body) and act on tissues or organs in a different place in the body from where they are made.  For example, your thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone that acts on tissues all over the body, including nerve tissue.  This hormone regulates the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, regulates bone growth and it helps regulate the sensitivity of the body's tissues to catecholamines (like adrenaline).  Other hormones in the body are Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, Growth Hormone, Prolactin, etc.  If your hormones are not in balance to each other or are not in a normal range, it can cause a lot of issues for the body, which may result in you feeling fatigued. 

4. Anemia.  Anemia is a condition in which there is a decrease in the total Red Blood Cells or hemoglobin in the body.  It is the most common blood disorder. Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in your blood that binds to oxygen and transports it to needed tissues.  Anemia results in the body having a decreased ability to carry oxygen to tissues in the body.  It can come on slowly and be caused by many different things.  Two of the more common causes of anemia are due to blood loss or inadequate iron/or B-12 intake. 

5.  Sunlight.  The sun triggers our body's production of melatonin.  (This is without the interference of artificial light and smart phones.)  Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in our brain.  Melatonin helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm (including the sleep-wake cycle), blood pressure, it is an anti-oxidant and affects the body's immune system.   If your body doesn't get adequate sun exposure or you are exposed to artificial light, smart phones, or TVs in your home, this can interfere with your body's production of this vital hormone.  It can result in you feeling fatigued and perhaps not getting enough restful sleep. 

At FORM Medical, we are able to help address these issues on a personal level.  We are able to look at a person's micronutrients, hormones, and other labs to determine what the patient's hormonal or nutritional status is and then correct any deficiencies or imbalances based on the results.  If you feel fatigued and want to get back to feeling like your best self again, give us a call at 720-370-9559 or check out today.