Keeping up with a regular exercise plan is hard and many of us have the greatest of intentions. We think that in order to make up for a missed session on a Monday evening, we will do three or four lunch time sessions with a personal trainer to ensure our plan is completed… Sound familiar?
Our days just got a little busier in finding time for our HIIT workouts as we both work and play in the gym. So how do you keep your eyes open as the blanket of fatigue sets in and gets you a cosy chair away from an early night’s kip at 8pm?
Beat extreme tiredness and get a much-needed energy boost with some highly beneficial supplements…
1. Vitamin B12
If you search for “how to prevent fatigue” in a text book or on the internet, Vitamin B12 will always come up!
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin which has its effects predominantly on the actions and functions of the brain and nervous system.
One study examined the benefit of vitamin B12 injections over 2,000 people. They did not find any positive effect until they increased the dosage to 2,500-5,000mg every 2-3 days. However, when they did they found that between 50-80% of people found an increase in energy and stamina with 2-3 weeks (2-3).
The use of this vitamin to reduce pain has also been examined in people with back pain (4), nerve pain (5) and even cancer! (6).
Vitamin B12 seems to show good levels of improvement with fatigue – If your fatigue is related to an injury or pain from an underlying issue, you could consume a fair amount of this supplement as a secondary pain killer.
2. Vitamin C
This is another vitamin commonly discussed and taken by a large number of individuals and which has lost its proper chemical name! Also known as L-ascorbic acid (or ascorbate), Vitamin C is involved with a large number of reactions, particularly with wound healing and as an anti-oxidant.
Vitamin C has also been somewhat effective in reducing the duration of symptoms when you get a common cold (7-8).
It has also been found that vitamin C supplementation of 1-3g daily improves our immune system efficiency to counteract bacteria and viruses we come into contact with (9).
Other benefits from consuming more vitamin C are a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness following strenuous exercise (10), and a reduction in pain comparable to that seen previously with vitamin B12 (11).
If you feel your fatigue is a cold brewing, or if you have been exposed to an environment rife with germs (a long haul flight for example), then a boost of high dose vitamin C may be just the thing to re-gain your energy!
Let’s focus in on a specific mineral which may assist our fight against fatigue…
Magnesium is a mineral which assists the crucial functions of our blood pressure and cardiovascular system.
The release of stress hormones as a result of a hectic and demanding life can promote a state of magnesium deficiency in our body’s tissues (12). Shockingly, it has been found that up to 15% of Western populations have a reduction in this mineral (13).
In a study examining of the benefits of magnesium supplementation in those diagnosed with chronic fatigue, shown that 50% of this patient group were magnesium deficient (14).
100mg doses of magnesium intramuscular injections weekly for 6 weeks showed an improvement in symptoms in 80% of individuals. Only 17% of a parallel group improved with a placebo injection (15).
If your daily schedule finds you stressed and anxious and this coincides with bouts of extreme tiredness you may want to consider a magnesium supplement. Keep the dose per day approximately 200-600g to prevent using a sub clinical dose. If you do not benefit over 1 month, then perhaps you are not magnesium deficient!
4. Folic Acid
Also known as Vitamin B9 or folate, this substance is a synthetically produced compound which can be taken in tablet form.
The human body needs folate in order to allow specific biological reactions to sustain an effectively working brain!
Deficiency of this vitamin has been seen to lead to symptoms of:
✓ Immune system insufficiency
✓ Other signs of reduced brain function (1).
These signs can easily be found with general mental fatigue, with loss of memory, confusion and poor reaction speed just a few examples.
Tired all the time? In a study of individuals demonstrating such signs and with easy fatigability, it has been found that a high dose of 10,000mg of folate daily causes reduction in these symptoms.
If you have a fuzzy head when you’re suffering from extreme fatigue and this has been a long term issue- think about a high dose of daily folic acid to clear your mind. It won’t happen over night but will pay dividends in the end!
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant of the nervous system which is readily absorbed by the body and easily crosses the brain barrier to act on various parts of the brain (17). It also alters heart rate, respiratory rate and metabolic rate (16).
The compound is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, carbonated drinks and confectionary in addition to being the most prominent energy boosting ingredient in most if not all pre-work out supplements!
Caffeine seems to improve a number of physical and mental functions by giving us a temporary boost in energy. The improvements noted from consumption of a caffeine supplement include:
✓ Working as an endurance aid (18)
✓ Greater speed of reaction time (19)
✓Increased mental alertness to reduce fatigue (20)
If you need a quick fix in fighting fatigue then use of caffeine 60 minutes prior to exercise can be helpful (21). If your fatigue is deeper rooted than simply not enough energy to get your self to the gym, try adding something else.
Take home message
The key thing to consider when attempting to use supplements to manage fatigue is to identify why you are likely to be having these symptoms.
What is making you so tired?
Do you suffer with a fuzzy head? Confused and dopey when tired? Maybe Folic acid is the way to go.
1. Weinstein SJ, Hartman TJ, Stolzenberg-Solomon R et al. (2003). Null association between prostate cancer and serum folate, vitamin B(6), vitamin B(12), and homocysteine. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 12, 11, 1271–2.
2. Lapp CW, Cheney PR. (1993). The rationale for using high-dose cobalamin (Vitamin B12). The CFIDS Chronicle Physicians’ Forum, 19-20.
3. Lapp CW. (1991). Q: Given the complexities and diversity of symptoms of CFIDS, how do you approach the treatment of CFIDS patients? The CFIDS Chronicle Physicians’ Forum, 1, 1.
4. Hieber H. (1974). Treatment of vertebragenous pain and sensitivity disorders using high doses of hydroxocobalamin. Med Monatsschr, 28, 545-548.
5. Dettori AG, Ponari O. (1973). Antalgic effect of cobamamide in the course of peripheral neuropathies of different etiopathogenesis. Minerva Med, 64, 1077-1082.
6. Hanck A, Weiser H. (1985). Analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamins. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl, 27, 189-206.
7. Douglas RM, Hemilä H, Chalker E, Treacy B (2007). Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 3.
8. Hemilä H, Chalker E (2013). Update: Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1.
9. Kaminski M, Boal R. (1992). An effect of ascorbic acid on delayed-onset muscle soreness. Pain, 50, 317-321
10. Creagan ET, Moertel CG, O’Fallon JR, et al. (1979). Failure of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy to benefit patients with advanced cancer. N Engl J Med, 301, 687-690.
11. Takase B, Akima T, Uehata A, Ohsuzu F, Kurita A. (2004). Effect of chronic stress and sleep deprivation on both flow-mediated dilation in the brachial artery and the intracellular magnesium level in humans. Clin Cardiol, 27, 4, 223-7.
12. Ayuk J., Gittoes N.J. (2014). Contemporary view of the clinical relevance of magnesium homeostasis” Ann. Clin. Biochem, 51, 2, 179–88.
13. Howard JM, Davies S, Hunnisett A. (1992). Magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Letter. Lancet, 340, 426.
14. Cox IM, Campbell MJ, Dowson D. (1991). Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet, 337, 757-760.
15. Clague JE, Edwards RH, Jackson MJ. (1992). Intravenous magnesium loading in chronic fatigue syndrome. Letter. Lancet, 340, 124-125.
16. Robertson, D., Wade, D., Workman, R., Woosley, R.L., and Oats, J.A. (1981). Tolerance to the humoral and hemodynamic effects of caffeine in man. J Clinic Invest, 67, 1111-1117.
17. Spriet, LL. (2002). Caffeine. In: Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sport and Exercise. M. S. Bahrke and C. E. Yesalis, eds. New York: Human Kinetics. pp. 267–278.
18. Smith A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behaviour. Food Chem Toxicol. 40, 1243–1255.
19. Kennedy MD, Galloway AV, Dickau LJ, Hudson MK. (2008). The cumulative effect of coffee and a mental stress task on heart rate, blood pressure, and mental alertness is similar in caffeine-naïve and caffeine-habituated females. Nutr Res, 28. 9. 609-14.
20. Ganio MS, Klau JF, Casa DJ, Armstrong LE, Maresh CM. (2009). Effect of caffeine on sport-specific endurance performance: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res, 23, 1, 315-24.
21. Krotkiewski M, Gudmundsson M, Backstrom P, Mandroukas K. (1982). Zinc and muscle strength and endurance. Acta Physiol Scand, 116, 309-311.
Always Tired? Best 5 Supplements To Beat Extreme Fatigue