Fatigue is a complaint frequently reported in doctor's offices.
The underlying causes and treatment recommendations are often as varied as the providers who make them. This issue of HealthQuest will review things that contribute to fatigue, including hormonal imbalance and anemia. Please note that ALL of these maladies are exacerbated by nutrient deficiencies.
It is beyond the scope of a 4-page newsletter to diagnose any specific disorder, but it is quite possible to provide insights that can drive your own self-assessment.
The Mechanism of Energy Production
Every cell in our body contains thousands of tiny little power generators called the mitochondria. Once glucose, amino acids, or fatty acids enter our cells, they are broken down by a series of enzymatic reactions into smaller building blocks, which then enter the mitochondria. The mitochondrial “nuclear reactor” then breaks these compounds into their constituent parts: carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O), while also releasing 36 of energy units called ATPs.
Mitochondria provide the energy every cell needs to move, divide, produce products, or to contract – depending on that particular tissue’s function(s).
As amazing as the Krebbs Cycle is, it’s only efficient in the presence of oxygen.
When your tissues don’t get sufficient oxygen, the process crashes, releasing only a fraction of the energy, while producing lactic acid. That’s what makes our muscles sore after a prolonged workout. This is the main reason why anemia causes such physical exhaustion.
Red blood cells (RBC) are designed to carry up to 4 oxygen molecules each, when our blood chemistry and nutrient levals are in balance. If you lack sufficient iron in your diet, or can’t absorb it properly, your RBCs can’t carry enough oxygen to your tissues, and you tire easily and feel out of breath.
A hormone imbalance occurs when there is too little or too much of a particular hormone in the blood stream. Hormones are chemical messengers, released to the bloodstream to command organs and tissues to do specific tasks. Endocrine glands are the tissues that produce hormones.
There are a variety of named-diseases that involve failure of a gland to produce sufficient hormones (such as insulin from the pancreas, or T3 And T4 from the thyroid). That failure can occur if the gland/organ is ill, or if the brain fails to produce and/or release the neurotransmitters that direct the gland to produce their hormones (by secreting and releasing a stimulating or releasing hormone).
Blood Sugar Imbalance
In the case of Diabetes, even though there may be a problem with the cells that produce insulin, or an insensitivity to insulin at the cellular level, supplementation with chromium (found in Shaklee’s
Glucose Regulation Complex and all Shaklee's other multi-vitamin lines) has been shown to improve blood glucose levels and glucose metabolism.
GRC also contains 3 other nutrients that help manage blood sugar: vanadium, alpha lipoic acid and banaba leaf extract.
Among its many other roles, insulin is the key that activates transport proteins (pores) in the cell membrane to shuttle glucose into the cell.
Deficiencies in key minerals, including calcium, zinc, and vanadium also may inhibit this process, thus reducing cellular energy output, and the overall function of the tissues those cells comprise.
In the case of the Thyroid, reduced output of T3 (the active) and T4 (the inactive) hormones drastically slows our metabolism, drops body temperature, and contributes to weight gain, because of the reduced energy consumption within the body.
The primary medical condition that causes hypothyroid (hypo = too little) is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), found in Shaklee’s Stress Relief Complex (20656) has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to treat a spectrum of energy depleting disorders
Recent animal studies have shown that Ashwagandha significantly increased T4 concentrations in the blood,
decreased cholesterol oxidation, and also increased the activity of the antioxidant enzymes, including both superoxide dismutase and catalase.
Certain thyroid syndromes (euthyroid sick syndrome and Low T3 syndrome) arise because the body loses the ability to break down thyroid hormones, so that they can convert inactive T4 into the active T3 form.
The mineral selenium is a co-factor in those conversions, and administration of selenium completely reversed the effects of slowed metabolism in test animals, by increasing their T3 and metabolism levels.
Iodine is also an important and well-known component of thyroid hormones, but numerous other minerals and vitamin complexes are also required to produce these complex substances. Deficiencies of micronutrients such as iron, selenium, vitamin A, and possibly zinc appear to depress thyroid function. This is why broad-based supplementation has helped so many people who suffer from hormonal imbalance.
As we discussed earlier, red blood cells (RBC) transport oxygen from the lungs to all of our tissues. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein found within every healthy red blood cell. We cannot create hemoglobin without the presence of
The eight B vitamins participate in so many functions — cell growth, enzyme activity, and carbohydrate, fat, and amino acid synthesis and breakdown — that reduced levels push cell function into disarray.
One of the reasons we need to be careful with our diet is because we require B vitamins to break down (or metabolize) simple sugars, alcohol, and caffeine products. NOTE: So, if you do enjoy a cup of coffee, a soda, or a glass of wine, then remember to replenish yourself with extra B vitamins to replace what was lost. B vitamins are also critical for producing the neurotransmitters of the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Although there are some insidious forms of anemia, the most common form is caused by blood loss, from menstruation, stomach ulcers, or intestinal disorders like colitis. Reduced iron intake and poor absorption also contribute. It's important to know that when we eat something that contains iron, we need to have vitamin C present in the gut at the same time, to convert (or reduce) iron from it’s usual ionic +3 state to the +2 state, before it can be absorbed by our intestines. It is notable that Shaklee was the first company to add vitamin C to their iron-containing supplements to enhance absorption.