Fatigue is a common problem among Americans, and it has many causes. Fatigue is not the same thing as sleepiness, although the need to sleep is an integral part of this health problem. In most cases, fatigue is also associated with decreased motivation to participate in your usual activities of daily living. Nutritional supplements have long been used in treating fatigue, but supplements should only be used after consulting with your healthcare provider.
Fatigue is a common and normal response to reduced sleep, manual labor, emotional distress and boredom. Fatigue may also be an indication of a serious underlying physical or psychological condition. Several illnesses may cause fatigue, including cancer, congestive heart failure, anorexia, diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. Malnutrition is a common cause of fatigue also. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a separate condition that may last for six months or longer.
Both herbal and non-herbal dietary supplements have long been used in treating fatigue, but the efficacy of some supplements may need further scientific scrutiny. Certified nutritional consultant and nutrition researcher Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," states that lecithin granules, malic acid, magnesium, manganese, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide -- or NADH, vitamin B complex and extracts from shiitake, Reishi or maitake mushrooms may be helpful in boosting your energy levels and decreasing fatigue.
A Commonly-used Supplement
Malic acid, an organic compound, may be a commonly used supplement in treating fatigue. Malic acid is an active ingredient in certain sour-tasting foods. It is intimately involved in energy production in your body's cells. This compound is essential for sugar metabolism, notes Balch, and malic acid deficiency has been linked with chronic fatigue syndrome. Malic acid may perform numerous health-related actions, including enhancing your immunity, improving the integrity of your skin and lowering your risk of toxic metal-related poisoning.
Because the possible causes of fatigue are so numerous, it is wise to meet with your family doctor to determine the exact cause of your fatigue. Your doctor can order any necessary tests to help rule in or rule out various diagnoses, and she can also counsel you on the most appropriate therapies for your specific health complaint. If you are considering using dietary supplements to help treat your fatigue, first discuss the possible risks and appropriate dosage with a knowledgeable healthcare professional.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Fatigue - Overview; David C. Dugdale, III; August 2009
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2010