If you feel tired or want to lose weight, you’re not alone. Most of the people I coach have one or both of these complaints.
There are different variables to explore, but the first place I like to start is with blood tests.
1. If your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone (T3 and T4) your metabolic rate can slow down. The main symptoms are fatigue, weakness, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, unexplained weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, muscle cramps, and depression.
A sluggish thyroid is actually more common than people realize. I always ask clients if they’ve had their thyroid checked recently and they say, “Oh yeah, my doctor told me it was normal.”
“Normal” doesn’t tell me anything, I need to see the actual numbers. Functional nutrition has a very narrow range for thyroid levels. Even if your numbers fall within the lab range, you still may not feel well. It’s a good idea to get a full thyroid panel (not just the TSH number) so you can rule out and know for sure if your thyroid is contributing to your fatigue and weight gain.
How to test thyroid function: run a complete thyroid panel of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), Free T3 and Free T4 which gives information about how your body is making, activating and responding to thyroid hormones, also check for autoimmune antibodies to rule out Hashimoto’s Disease. Sometimes people don’t realize how much better they could feel if they would just check and regulate their thyroid levels.
For more information about the connection between fatigue, weight gain and improving your thyroid function read this.
2. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency – Fatigue, mood disturbances, low blood pressure, stiff/weak muscles, shakiness.
A simple blood test can determine the B12 levels in your body. If your B12 levels are low, your doctor may prescribe a supplement available in a tablet form that will dissolve under your tongue, and in some cases, your doctor may prefer injections to increase vitamin B12 levels. A well-rounded diet that includes meat, fish, and eggs can also help maintain adequate B12 levels. After supplementing for approximately three months, recheck your blood levels. You should see your numbers go up and you’ll feel a noticeable improvement in your energy as well.
3. Vitamin D- feeling tired and achy is a classic sign of vitamin D deficiency, but it’s sometimes misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or general fatigue. The remedy is a combination of vitamin D, magnesium, and other minerals. Dr. Holick, a leading researcher on Vitamin D estimates that 50 percent of the general population is at risk for vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. Other diseases and symptoms related to Vitamin D deficiency are heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, infections including influenza, DNA repair, and metabolic disturbances.
If people aren’t supplementing Vitamin D or getting sunlight exposure on a daily basis, their levels are usually in the teens or 20’s which, as you can see from this chart, is less than optimal and extremely deficient. Check your vitamin D level next time you see your doctor.
Calorie counting, will-power, and more exercise may not be what you need to solve your fatigue and weight gain puzzle. Start with a comprehensive blood test and work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner who can rule out basic nutrient and hormone deficiencies first.