Fatigue. You know that horrible feeling like you're constantly dragging - almost as if you're fighting to make it through the day, or past your next ___fill in the blank___?
The good news is this: our bodies are not betraying us. Instead, fatigue is a warning sign and a mechanism that keeps us safe. It might be a signal that you're putting your body through more than it can handle (knowingly or unknowingly), and it's slowing you down so you can continue to survive.
Your job? Listen to it.
And then, consider what you can do to help your body out! Here are our top 10 reasons why you might be so darn tired and what you can do about it. See what resonates with you, and take baby steps with our suggestions to toward feeling like your awesome, full-of-energy self again.
Yes. Sometimes it's that easy. Some estimations have found that up to 75% of us are not drinking enough water. When you're dehydrated, your blood is thicker, making it more difficult to distribute nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. You can do a quick test for dehydration by pinching up the skin on your knuckles or the back of your hand. If it takes longer than a couple of seconds to spring back, you might be dehydrated.
Track your water intake for a few days and get a gauge of how well you're hydrating. Shoot for half of your body weight in ounces.
Water is preferred, but if you can't stand plain water, try adding a squeeze of lemon or infuse with fruit. Or, try sparkling water.
Try to avoid dehydrating/diuretic beverages like coffee or high-sugar fruit juices that can actually contribute to dehydration; these don't count toward your daily hydration goal.
2. Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for generating energy and helping with calcium -- and in fact, it's not a vitamin at all, but a hormone. Your body can make some of its own, but several studies are showing now that sunlight alone, especially when you live in areas that aren't sunny year-round, is not enough. The journal Medicine notes that vitamin D deficiency is commonly found in patients experiencing fatigue; raising vitamin D to sufficient levels significantly reduced symptoms of fatigue. In addition, Vitamin D has shown great results in treating depression.
Don't blindly trust a high/low flag on a lab test to tell you if you're deficient: You could still be deficient, even if your doctor or lab result indicates you're normal. Why? Reference ranges you get from conventional labs indicate illness, like rickets, in the case of Vitamin D. On the flip side, functional ranges tend to be higher because this is the window in which someone feels healthy and well - not just "not-sick." References ranges for Vitamin D are generally around 30 ng/mL, but the Vitamin D council recommends a minimum of 40 ng/mL. Many functional medicine practitioners will aim for a window between 50-80 ng/mL. Over 100 ng/mL starts getting into overdose territory where fatigue and symptoms like stomach cramping and nausea can occur.
Also, you might be burning through vitamin D faster than usual if your immune system is over-activated (like if you're fighting a cold or virus).
Ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels (specifically the 25(OH)D test, not the 1,25(OH)₂D test) and supplement accordingly to raise up to a maintenance level.
Consider working with your doctor to determine why your levels may be low to begin with.
And get some sun!
Check out our guide on Vitamin D for more info and tips.
3. Nutrient deficiency