10 ways to overcome fatigue with a low thyroid

10 ways to overcome fatigue with a low thyroid

There is NO tired like THYROID tired.

Written by Cammi Balleck, Ph.D, CTN, ANCB Board Certified Naturopath

Are you tired all the time? Don’t worry. Revitalizing your energy is accomplishable. Fatigue and exhaustion are very common symptoms of hypothyroidism. When your hormones are balanced you are energetic and ready to take on the day. When stress comes you have the strength to deal with it without feeling like you need a glass of wine and a nap.

Above all it is critical that your hypothyroidism is optimally treated. ‘Normal’ doesn’t necessarily mean your thyroid lab tests are ‘optimal’ for you.

If you still need an energy boost, here are a few ways you can overcome your fatigue naturally. Supplement needs vary on an individual basis so consult with your doctor to be sure the suggested supplements are right for you and that the dosage is optimal for your body. Your medical history is unique. Your path to health will be unique too.

1. Take Whole Food Supplements

A balanced diet is best, but even the best of diets are lacking in many nutrients. I suggest you get a whole food multivitamin. Additional supplements may be necessary based on your eating patterns and nutritional need. Testing is necessary to determine if you are deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral before adding them to your dietary regime. Also, adding an omega-3 supplement is always a good idea.

2. Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue? 

The body relies on the adrenal glands located on top of each kidney to manage stressful situations. If our bodies are working picture perfect, our adrenal glands release, in perfect balance and harmony, the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and DHEA, in order to help us cope with the day-to-day stresses and demands of life. They also have plenty of sleep time to recover, rejuvenate, and replenish themselves in order to come to our aid when called upon. Given our busy stressful lives it’s not surprising that many of us suffer from issues of adrenal dysfunction.

Our adrenal glands can become so overwhelmed and exhausted that they are unable to meet the body’s demand for adrenaline, cortisol, and DHEA. Instead of being in adaption phase where we are able to adapt to everything, we are in a low phase where we cannot adapt at all.

How would you know if you have adrenal fatigue?

Do you have chronic fatigue?

Does your energy plummet half way through the day?

Do you struggle with insomnia?

Do bright lights bother you more than they should?

Do you startle easily due to noise?

When standing up from sitting or lying down, do you feel lightheaded or dizzy?

Do you struggle with chronic pain or fibromyalgia?

Do you have chronic headaches or migraines?

Do you have depression, anxiety, or mood swings?

Do you struggle with weight gain?

Do you have low sex drive?

Do you feel wired and tired?

If you answer yes to many of these, speak to your doctor about an adrenal function saliva test.

Ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea are adaptogen herbs that support adrenal function. They are awesome helpers when it comes to boosting your energy. Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen herb with tremendous energy enhancing and brain boosting power (it also helps burn fat!). By combining these two adaptogenic champions together you can help balance stress hormones, boost energy, and even burn fat. Adaptogenic herbs are awesome because they work with your body to bring you back into balance whether your levels are high or low. Be sure to ask your doctor about adding herbs in particular if you are on medications or if you are pregnant or nursing. Not all herbs are right for every person. We’re all different in terms of how our bodies react to various supplements so be sure to always start slow and watch your body.

3. Seize Enough Sleep

No one can function when they are deficient in sleep. Aim for 8-9 hours every evening. Try to establish a regular sleep schedule. Avoid staying up too late too often. Make sleep a regular priority and allow yourself to sleep. If you need a nap and you have the time take one. Your body needs the sleep to heal itself. If you are having trouble sleeping see 18 things thyroid patients can do to beat insomnia.

4. Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced

Healthy thyroid function depends on keeping your blood sugar in a normal range and keeping your blood sugar in a normal range depends on healthy thyroid function. If you eat too many high glycemic carbohydrates, the pancreas secretes insulin to move excess glucose from the blood into the cells where glucose is used to produce energy. But over time, the cells lose the ability to respond to insulin. It’s as if insulin is knocking on the door, but the cells can’t hear it. The pancreas responds by pumping out even more insulin (knocking louder) in an effort to get glucose into the cells, and this eventually causes insulin resistance from too many high glycemic carbs.

Studies have shown that the repeated insulin surges common in insulin resistance increase the inflammation of the thyroid gland, and as the thyroid gland becomes hypo, thyroid hormone production falls. Low blood sugar is just as dangerous as high, so it is important to keep your blood sugar in balance.
Together, hyperglycemia (high) and hypoglycemia (low) are referred to as dysglycemia. Dysglycemia weakens and inflames the gut, lungs, and brain. It imbalances hormone levels, exhausts the adrenal glands, disrupts detoxification pathways, and impairs overall metabolism. Each of these effects significantly WEAKEN the thyroid function. As long as you have any blood sugar imbalance, whatever you do to fix your thyroid isn’t going to work and you are still going to have fatigue.

I highly recommend you pick up a blood glucose meter if you have a thyroid and/or blood sugar problem. It’s a simple and cost-effective tool for good health. I define the normal range for fasting blood glucose as 75 – 95 mg/dL.

The second, and much more important, target is post-prandial blood glucose. This is a measure of your blood sugar one to two hours after a meal. Several studies show that post-prandial blood glucose is the most accurate predictor of future diabetic complications, and is the first marker (before fasting blood glucose and Hb1Ac) to indicate dysglycemia. Normal post-prandial blood sugar one to two hours after a meal is considered 120 mg/dL.

5. Anabolic Not Catabolic

I recommend if you are fatigued that you do yoga, qigong, and/or tai chi because they are not stressful on the body and they do not break down tissue. Of course, you have been told that exercise gives you energy, however, with hypothyroidism you may find that exercise exhausts you. This is because most cardio and weight training exercise is catabolic by nature, meaning that the stress of it causes your body to break down its own tissue. Anabolic is the opposite of catabolic, it helps energy, healing and growth. After catabolic exercise your body’s natural repair processes start up and your body recovers from the stress with the goal of rebuilding itself stronger than before. But when you are hypothyroid, your body cannot properly recover from stressful exercise. We are all different in terms of what degree of physical activity our bodies find ‘exhausting’ so listen to your body.

6. Add Vitamin B12

B12 is an “energy nutrient” that our body needs to carry out essential functions. Auto-immune diseases such as Hashimoto’s have been associated with a B12 deficiency. If you’re feeling weak and easily tired, you could have a Vitamin B12 deficiency. This vitamin is what your body requires for energy production, blood formation, and DNA synthesis. Gastrointestinal absorption depends on many co-factors, so it is quite possible to take adequate amounts of B12 in the diet yet have a B12 deficiency from not absorbing. Remember you are not what you eat. You are what you absorb.

If you’ve got insufficient B12 levels in your blood, your health will become vulnerable and defenseless against disease. Daily life gets harder for you to endure as you experience debilitating symptoms such as muscle weakness, fatigue, tingling in your arms or legs, mental fogginess, memory problems, mood swings, and feelings of apathy and lack of motivation.

What’s more unfortunate is that you may already have B12 deficiency without you knowing about it! Symptoms of this condition may only manifest after a number of years as influenced by your diet and your body’s absorption of B12. Look for a sublingual methylcobalamin Methyl B12.

7. Shed Your Shades

Your eyes may be more sensitive to the sun, but try taking off your sunglasses and get out in the midday sun. Sunlight on the eyes is a natural way to boost your endocrine system. When I do my daily errands, I try to leave my sunglasses in the car and walk in and out of the buildings so that my eyes get a good dose of unobstructed sunlight. I also put my sunglasses on my head as I walk my dog and let my eyes soak in the sun. I have noticed not only do I have more energy but I sleep better too.

8. In Need of Iron?

Iron is critical for producing a protein that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout your body. So without it, everything suffers. Iron deficiency causes less oxygen to reach your tissues, so your body is deprived of the energy it needs. If your fatigue is coupled with feeling weak, irritable or unable to focus, iron deficiency might have something to do with it. After all, there’s a reason people who have iron deficiency are often said to have “tired blood.”

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States and women are among those at greatest risk. If you notice low energy levels, weight gain, or even a lower body temperature, talk to your doctor about iron testing.

While most of the attention is on iron deficiency, there is a concern as well for iron overload. Most women only need 8 milligrams per day, so try adding a serving of lentils, spinach, red meat, liver, nuts, chicken or chickpeas to your diet. More isn’t necessarily better. I like ferrofood from Standard Process or I also like Carlson Labs Buffalo Liver which is widely available.

9. Don’t Forget Vitamin D

Vitamin D is unlike any other vitamin because it is a “pre-hormone” produced in the skin with sunlight exposure. The sun is the main source of Vitamin D3, a type of vitamin D that increases levels of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain called dopamine and serotonin. Deficient levels of either of these neurochemicals can be an underlying cause of fatigue and depression. A deficiency in vitamin D has now been linked to numerous health problems including hypothyroidism, depression, and even cancer. In fact, a recent study conducted by Boston University researchers revealed vitamin D affects genes that have a wide variety of biologic functions of more than 160 pathways linked to autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease. I recommend you have your vitamin D tested, add a whole food vitamin D3 supplement (Standard Process has a supplement I like called Cataplex D), get 15 minutes of sunshine on your skin, and add foods such as cod oil, salmon, mackerel, eggs yolks, and beef liver.

10. X out Xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are invisible but they are big endocrine disruptors (hormone imbalancers). They can steal your natural hormone balance, cause fatigue, and in addition have reproductive (weight gain, estrogen dominance, cancers, PMS, PCOS, hypothyroid) and developmental consequences. Experts say that in a typical day, sadly, we are exposed to more than 700 xenoestrogens in chemically made toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, food preservatives, the lining of cans that hold food, and many kinds of plastic. They are foreign estrogen which pass into our cells from plastic water bottles, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, plastics, fuels, car exhausts, dry cleaning chemicals, industrial waste, meat from animals (which have been fattened with estrogenic drugs), and countless other household cleaning and personal products which many of us use every day, probably even the makeup you have on right now. I suggest you cut these out as best you can. Always remember we absorb 60% of what we apply to our skin. If you wouldn’t eat it – don’t put it on your skin. Buy food and cosmetic items that are natural, BPA and phthalate free for you and your household.

I hope these tips help you to find your way to a more energetic and less lethargic you for the holiday season and next year! Remember without enough vitamins and micro-nutrients your body’s ability to perform its job crumbles and you won’t have enough physical, emotional, physical or mental energy to survive the day.

About Cammi Balleck, Ph.D., CTN, ANCB Board Certified Naturopath

Cammi Balleck, author of the book Happy the NEW Sexy, has been a featured guest on TBN NETWORKS, VERIA, HALLMARK, FOX NEWS NATIONALLY, and the CW stations in Denver. Cammi has a doctorate of naturopathy, and she is Board Certified by the American Naturopathic Certification Board (ANCB). Cammi has over 13 years experience, specializing in all aspects of health from weight loss to happiness and stress to hormone balance. She has been a health expert for FIRST MAGAZINE FOR WOMEN,O, Prevention, Fit Pregnancy, Women’s Health, Woman’s World, Women’s Day, Fitness, Shape. Her website is www.happythenewsexy.com.

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About Dana Trentini

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? I founded Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Winner of two 2014 WEGO Health Activist Awards: Health Activist Hero & Best In Show Twitter. *Hypothyroid Mom includes Affiliate links. Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for writing this article. I have been suffering from fatigue and exhaustion for quite some time. I have experienced chronic stress for more than 20 years. Along came depression and anxiety. My blood tests always comes back normal, at times it may show low iron levels. However evendors when taking iron supplement, that tired feeling is always there.
    I read up on adrenal fatigue. I believe I have this issue. I started taking ashwaganda. It’s helped somewhat. I will definitely try the other things you mentioned in this article. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Sheila Góis Habib says:

    If you are taking a B-complex, should you also get a B-12 vitamin?

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