There are many reasons we can feel chronically fatigued. Chronic sleep deprivation (I get it, I am a mom, I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night for one reason or another), late night study sessions, or working long hours at a job; can lead to major fatigue. Chronic stress is a big factor, pumping out our stress hormones for long periods of time will deplete us eventually. Chronic infection, most definitely will create fatigue- when the body has to fight off an infection, it is using it’s resources towards that, not towards your “get up and go”. All of these factors can deplete to body’s resources and slow the repair process which can lead to a more chronic state of fatigue.
What’s happening in the body at a cellular level when we feel an intractable, unrelenting fatigue? One theory is mitochondrial damage. Mitochondria is the key organelle responsible for cellular energy production. A dysfunction in it can result in the excess fatigue and other symptoms that are common complaints in almost every chronic disease. At the very basic level, our mitochondria are responsible for the production production of adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP). This is our body’s energy source. If our mitochondria can’t produce ATP, our energy levels drop.
Oh crap, how do I fix it?! First of all figuring out the root of how it started is helpful, but if it’s murky, starting with general lifestyle factors is important. Sleep hygiene (good bedtime routine for example), reducing stress (via meditation, exercise, talking to a friend or therapist, etc.), and of course, supporting the body with nutrients via diet and supplementation.
What to mitochondria require to function well? Vitamins, Minerals and Amino acids! Having a varied diet with plenty of colour and adequate protein will meet basic needs for the body to start to rebuild. However, when the mitochondria are in disrepair, adding in supplements are key. There are a few favourites that I use that are helpful. CoQ10, Glutathione, and Carnitine. This trifecta is helpful in providing the body and the mitochondria with some of the nutrients required to do it’s job. There is certainly more to it than just supplementation, but it’s a great place to start. I find it almost certainly increases energy in most patients.
Talking to your Naturopathic doctor to figure out specific requirements is helpful. There is a list of about 20 nutrients that one could use (but taking ALL of them is likely not necessary) so having a guide through the process is essential. What every one person needs will be different, so make sure you work with a practitioner that can help you figure out your own unique requirements.