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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Vitamins Versus Fatigue

About 20% of adults experience excessive fatigue which impairs their ability to function well at work and at home. Some are able to bounce back after taking a short respite from work or by taking some kind of medication. But there is a significant number of people whose stressful experiences last longer that usual. Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, affects at least 800,000 people in the United States. This disabling fatigue usually persists for as long as six months or even longer. The eight most common CFS symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, memory gaps or loss of concentration, sleeplessness, headaches, sore throat, and an unusually debilitating fatigue after exercise.

Many people try to deal with the oppression of everyday stress by taking vitamin and mineral supplements. Vitamins and minerals are necessary to maintain the many biological processes that take place inside our bodies. Mental alertness, proper digestion, and resistance to bacterial and viral infections are dependent upon the proper working of internal organs which are, in turn, dependent on nutrients that come from the foods and beverages we consume. 

Our bodies need carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to speed up chemical reactions and allow our internal organs to function. Like a machine, nutrients from food serve as fuel. These nutrients are the very foundations of good health. However, due to our polluted environment and the toxins found in the food we eat, sickness -- including fatigue -- may nonetheless be inadvertently introduced to our systems. In short, our modern-day living conditions are quite far from a Garden of Eden.

In light of the environmental health challenges we typically face, along with food that often lacks the nutrient density of that from a century or so before, it has become necessary to supplement our daily meals with vitamins, minerals, and even herbal preparations in order to have optimum health and nutrition. These are only a select few of the vitamins and minerals that should be consumed daily in order to not only sustain health but to combat the symptoms of fatigue:


Vitamin E  - Vitamin E can be found in plain yogurt, rice milk, kale, cow's milk, cheddar cheese, turnip greens, cottage cheese and spinach. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that helps prevent cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.  It also promotes good skin complexion, enhances sexual performance -- and helps alleviate fatigue.

Vitamin A - Vitamin A helps prevent cancer, heart disease and eye problems. It also helps repair skin cells and promotes the formation of bones and teeth. It plays a big part in the functioning of the entire immune system, which, if overtaxed, is bound to result in some degree of fatigue. This vitamin can be found in cheddar cheese, steamed or raw carrots, dairy milk, cantaloupe, spinach, mangoes and peaches.

Vitamin K - Vitamin K is vital in bone mineralization, cellular growth and the prevention of  hardening of the arteries. This can be found in broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beef and sprouts.

Vitamin D - Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which, in turn, are needed for the normal development of the bones and teeth and are both necessary electrolytes (see below). Getting enough of this particular vitamin helps protect women against osteoporosis. Vitamin D-rich foods include salmon and fortified milk.  Sunlight is also a good source of vitamin D.


Magnesium - Magnesium is needed for protein and bone formation. Magnesium gives us  energy and helps prevent muscle spasms; as one of the body's electrolytes, magnesium is required for cellular energy metabolism, so if you're deficient in it, the shortage could well be contributing to fatigue. Dark green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, grains, legumes and black-eyed peas are rich sources of magnesium.

Calcium - Calcium is vital for proper bone and teeth development. As another major electrolyte in the body, it's also an essential factor for muscle contraction. Dairy products, bananas and coconut water serve as excellent dietary sources for calcium.

Phosphorus - Phosphorus is often considered in direct relation to calcium in a sort of reciprocity; they both function essentially in muscle contraction, and if calcium levels in the body decrease, phosphorus levels increase, and vice versa. And like calcium, dietary phosphorus can be obtained through dairy products, and also through eggs, nuts and fish.

Potassium - Potassium is a mineral that maintains fluid balance, sends nerve impulses and releases energy, so if a person's diet is low in potassium, fatigue wouldn't at all be unreasonable to expect (along with other potential issues). You can get potassium from potatoes, fish, yogurt, carrot juice, potatoes, citrus juices, and bananas.

There are other nutrients that should be included as part of our daily food intake, but the aforementioned vitamins and minerals are especially crucial to those besieged by chronic feelings of fatigue. Though food-sourced vitamins and minerals are undeniably optimal, for many, it's a viable option to take a complete multivitamin every day, to try to ensure they're getting everything they need for proper bodily functioning. But taking a multivitamin pill should only be thought of as a nutritional supplement, and not a "real food replacement" by any means. Nothing can supplant the importance of maintaining a complete and healthy diet, not only to remedy symptoms of fatigue but to bolster good health in its wide-ranging totality.

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