Adrenal fatigue is a condition not often diagnosed, unless it is the extreme version called Addison's disease. But adrenal fatigue can affect the function of the adrenals at different levels, causing tiredness, food allergies and even autoimmune disorders if left untreated. It can also affect thyroid function. Adrenal fatigue is often linked to a myriad of symptoms, but low vitamin D may be one of the factors involved. See your doctor immediately if you think you are suffering from adrenal fatigue or low vitamin D.
Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenals fail to continue working properly. This often occurs due to extreme stress, although diet may also be involved. In his book "The Triple Whammy Cure," Dr. David Edelberg notes that adrenal fatigue is scientifically determined by measuring the levels of cortisol and DHEA, which are collected by blood or saliva during a 12-hour period. Symptoms often include fatigue, low blood pressure and feeling lightheaded, especially when rising suddenly from a stooped position.
Kathryn Simpson, MS, notes in her book, "Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue," that while vitamin D deficiency does not normally cause adrenal fatigue, it can contribute to inadequate adrenal function. This is due to the fact that vitamin D increases the enzyme necessary for the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline, hormones produced by the adrenals. Physical and emotional distress can deplete vitamin D, and the body must choose between vitamin D and cortisol. It will choose cortisol for survival purposes, further perpetuating adrenal fatigue.
Increasing Vitamin D
If low vitamin D is affecting your adrenal function, there are ways to increase vitamin D intake. Sun exposure is one important way to raise vitamin D levels, as it is one of the most reliable sources of this vitamin, notes Simpson. Also, food sources of vitamin D are important, such as fatty fish -- including salmon, sardines and mackerel -- and vitamin D fortified milk, adds health writer Jean Carper in the book "Food - Your Miracle Medicine." Finally, vitamin D supplements can be found at most health food stores but shouldn't be taken unless under a doctor's supervision.
Adrenal fatigue is a very serious condition but often displays similar symptoms as hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function. It is important to see your doctor to get tested for both adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism if you are experiencing symptoms long-term. Do not supplement with vitamin D without determining current levels, since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and therefore can be overdosed.
- "The Triple Whammy Cure"; David Edelberg, MD; 2005
- "Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue"; Kathryn Simpson, MS; 2011
- "Food -- Your Miracle Medicine"; Jean Carper; 1994