My mad-talented friend and naturopathic physician, Dr. Samantha Brody, is here to talk about energy. We all want it, but if your energy is zapped, check out the 3 causes we need to watch out for.
Last week I was treating an acupuncture patient for neck pain. He was face down on the table and as I was putting his needles in I was chatting with him about some labs I had asked him to have done. I asked him if he had gone in for the draw yet. Silence. I asked him again. Still, silence. “Jeff?”Silence. I put my hand on his shoulder and a little louder. “JEFF?” Silence. At this point I start to panic a little. I shake him, hard. He startles. “Huh?”He had fallen asleep. While I was talking to him. I can be boring, but I’m not that boring.
About two weeks before this, at my request, Jeff had stopped drinking Diet Coke. Underneath the caffeine he was so tired that he was literally falling asleep the minute he stopped concentrating. Although this level of fatigue is unusual, I can easily say that over 80% of my patients and clients don’t have the energy they want to have, even when they do drink coffee. And if they drink enough to keep their energy up, often their sleep is negatively affected. There are obviously some medical things that can cause fatigue, which of course we rule out first (anemia, thyroid issues, chronic viruses, etc.) but more often than not, it’s due to choices that we make on a day to day basis that we don’t even realize are impacting our energy.
There are obviously some medical things that can cause fatigue, which of course we rule out first (anemia, thyroid issues, chronic viruses, etc) but more often than not, it’s due to choices that we make on a day to day basis that we don’t even realize are impacting our energy.
The biggies are usually pretty easy to test for. Let’s talk about those for a sec.
1. Anemia. Women in particular, during “child bearing years” can become anemic. Many doctors will run a CBC (complete blood count), which is standard, but in my practice I also always run a ferritin, or iron stores. Even when the CBC is normal, ferritin can be low. And the reference range that most labs give is way under what specialist like to see for optimal energy. Ideally the number is over 50, and some integrative physicians like to see it over 70! Typically I see 50 is adequate but it depends on the person.
And if you do need iron (it’s best not to take it if you don’t need it) make sure it’s not iron sulfate because that is likely to give you constipation. Try bisglycinate or another form instead. Oh, and take it on an empty stomach with vitamin C.
2. Thyroid. Even when the TSH, the basic thyroid test is within normal range it is possible to still feel tired. I usually shoot for between 1.5 and 2.5 for my patients on this number as people can have symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and depression or just feeling down if the number is over 2.5. Not all people, but some.
3. Vitamin D. Deficiency of this vitamin is problematic but usually doesn’t cause fatigue. That said, a recent study showed that reversing deficient vitamin D actually helps muscle fatigue, from the inside out by improving the function of the cells that make energy. Often traditional medical doctors will give patients D2 in high doses but I usually prescribe D3. I like to see people between 50 and 70 on their labs and everyone needs a different amount.
The great news is that usually, with a few simple changes, it’s possible to significantly improve your energy.
What each person needs is different. And it may change year to year, month to month, or even day to day. A few years ago I ran a program where I sent people a tip a day for 7-days to increase their energy. Easy things anyone can do. The feedback I got was great, and I kept meaning to run it again but it kept getting put on the back burner.
I’m happy to announce, my 7-Day Energy Infusion is back! You can sign up HERE, and of course feel free to unsubscribe at any time. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you.
Dr. Samantha Brody is a licensed naturopathic physician in private practice in Portland, OR. When she is not in the office you can find her meeting with clients virtually across the globe, speaking at health and lifestyle events and conferences, and writing her forthcoming book The Stress-Less Strategy. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, Livestrong, Shape and Huffington Post and more. Click here for your FREE 7-day energy infusion.