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, 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”.

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 like this one by NutriGold. 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.

Adaptogenic herbs 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, like this starter kit, 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 like this one from Jarrow Formulas.

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. I recommend having your doctor test your iron levels before using iron supplements. 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. When it comes to iron supplements, I like ferrofood from Standard Process or I also like Carlson Labs Buffalo Liver which are 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, 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.

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About Dana Trentini

I founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid Mom is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links to favorite resources including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. I have a remarkably balanced diet, with zero deficiencies (every blood test check up my GP lets me know that the only things low are my leucocytes) I’m very careful about what I eat, I only use natural and vegan (but that’s for a different reason) household, cosmetic and toiletry products, all from the same companies (Ecover and Lush – which I used to work for so I am aware of what exactly goes into the products), I’ve been doing yoga on and off for 3 years and I just started aerial hooping (really fun!), I sleep about 8-9 hours a day and am often outside, I’m currently taking a median daily dose of prescribed Levothyroxine, but I still feel exhausted 50% of the time. Naps don’t help, yoga doesn’t help, my diet doesn’t seem to be helping, sunlight doesn’t help, taking it easy doesn’t help and neither does being active. It’s a tough situation! Sometimes I’m so tired I don’t even have the energy to read a book or make my own food. Sometimes I can manage that, but my mind is just switched off to the world, this year alone I’ve been so tired I’ve sliced my finger open twice trying to make dinner. It’s not nearly as bad as it was, as far as I can tell the meds are the only thing helping but even they don’t do the trick all the time. I’ve been battling with this for five years. I can’t think of anything else.

  2. Melissa says:

    Even though though living with hypothyroidism is terrible, it’s honestly nice to hear that I am not alone with this. I was diagnosed about four years ago and having energy it such a struggle. For the past few years I feel completely drained, depressed, and just miserable because of how hypothyroidism makes me feel. I have no energy even though I could sleep for days, no motivation, I get the worst headaches, I’m moody, and have no sex drive. Sounds great right? It’s affecting my life and relationships so much. I am 24 and feel like I am 90 most days. I sleep amazing but wake up feeling like I can’t even move from my bed because I am so exhausted.i have been on Levothyroxine for many years now and am also prescribed vitamin B12 and nothing helps. I’ve been to the endocrinologist and they don’t help at all.
    Thank you for all of the tips. I am going to give some a try. I have every single one of the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and I am going to ask my endocrinologist to give me this test next time I go. I hope it helps, I have tried everything.. I hope they listen and will give me the test.

  3. I am 44 years old, mother of 3 grown kids, a wife and work full time in a demanding medical field. i went to the doctors 3 months ago because I thought I had mono. I had been sick since November and nothing was working. We did every blood work we could think of and then I got the call I had Hypothyroidism and my numbers were dangerously bad. I cried for days, my husband and I cleaned out the fridge and went all organic and did a lot of research. I work 10-12 hrs a day and since the exhaustion was getting the best of me I was told I could only work 6 hrs a day for a month. Being a supervisor that wasn’t easy and that raised my anxiety but I did it. I would get home and be exhausted. I would sit down on the couch around 6pm and be a sleep in 5 min and would not wake up til 6 am the next morning and still feel tired.
    I am adhd and my house used to be spotless. Now I cant clean to save my life. it’s affecting my relationship with my husband. He tries to understand but he feels if I just get up and move around I can kick this. I can’t. I am not an emotional person. I feel crying is a waist of time. All I do now is cry and sleep. I used to be a fighter for my patients but now I don’t have the energy. I forget most everything in 5 minutes. I take so many notes its crazy.My body hurts. I take medications like its candy. I forgot how to get home one day my husband had to come get me. I’m always cold. I rarely have an appetite but gain weight.
    I see an endocrinologist tomorrow because i can not live like this anymore. I need my energy back, i need to be sharp again, i want to be thin again. I want my life back.

  4. I started weight lifting and running 5 months ago and I was very tired a lot. Once my body got use to, I can’t miss more than one day. So my body thanks me, but I still have days that I don’t want to workout but once I get to the gym, I’m glad I went. After I stopped smoking, starting eat right and working out, my levels skyrocketed. I figured my levels would go down. The thyroid is a weird thing. 😉 I have anxiety issues as well and low iron levels. But working out helps me.

  5. Mufaiz Ul Zaman says:

    I m 18 years old …India
    I am 6 ft 5 inch
    I am suffering from hypothyroidism from last 8 years ….
    From past few years I feel lazy and tired …n more sleepy…what can I do beside taking medicine to reduce fatigue…

  6. @michelle. I am going to get my thyroid checked as well and haven’t been diagnosed yet but I have all your same symptoms of misery, exhaustion and despair. I know it’s togh having no friends and going through something like this. I moved away from my family thinking I would relieve some stress but have been more stressed since developing these symptoms. I really hope you recover soon and can get treated for your thyroid. Be sure to look at sites like Stop the Thyroid Maddness and other forums. You will find a lot of people going through what you’re going through. I’m sorry I can’t iffer more help but your listing touched my heart and I wanted you to know there’s someone out here that is praying for you and sending you all the love and hugs I can. Try to keep your head up. Get your vitamin levels checked (especially vitamin d) and try some magna calm for anxiety. Best wishes for a speedy healing love.

  7. I started having symptoms when my daughter was about 8 months old. I intentionally missed my depo appointment because I wanted to start trying for another child, (I was told it would be 6-12 months after being off depo before I could conceive again). I was so angry all the time. Any little thing would set me off. I had hot flashes and felt like I was going to pass out almost every morning after starting work. My doctor said it was Insulin Resistance. My problems continued and got worse. They finally sent me to an endocrinologist who said it was hypothyroidism. I gained 80lbs, I stay tired all the time, I am so depressed, I have no sex drive, I lost my job, I cant remember anything and have no ambition to do anything. I stay at home with my now 3yr old. Her dad works. I wonder if it will ever get better. I don’t want to live like this. On top of everything I have no friends. I am a recovering addict who has been clean for 7yrs. I quit talking to everyone I know, to stay clean I take 19 pills a day and I am 32. I wish there was something to help with the energy problem. That is the hardest for me. I cant even keep my house clean. I have so much I want to do but when I get up to try, I get so overwhelmed. I wish I knew what to do or how to make things better. Any suggestions? I am open to any advice.

    • Mama4jc says:

      If you are not taking a natural thyroid medication, like Armour or Naturethroid, you need to have your endo switch you. Read about natural thyroid. Also, eat clean Paleo style. NO processed food, no Sugars, no gluten. Yes, this is difficult, but completely helps. Give it time, because it took my body almost 9 months to detox. Then 30 pounds fell off without trying.

  8. LOVE THIS! Yes, I agree 110% with it all. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I need help…. I can’t live my life or help my 5 year old son live his because I live almost every day with episodes of light headedness, faint feeling, trembling, nausea, increases of BP and pulse during episodes. My thyroid levels under treatment with tirosint show normal but progesterone is low very low I’m a 38 year old woman with a 5 year old son……please help me It is so hard to function and live with these episodes. What can I do?

    • Heather Fitzgerald says:

      You need to see an endocrinologist. You will prob need a referral from your PCP. I hope you get answers. Those are not fun symptoms to deal with. Best wishes.

    • I’m sorry I’m going through the same thing. I had medullary thyroid cancer had thyroid removed. I’m also on Synthroid for the rest of my life . I still feel horrible all the time . I’m 38 with a 15 year old son and a one year old! I am so tired and stressed dealing with all this and having memory loss and can’t concentrate. Sucks! I take meds for depression and anxiety and adhd-add and still feel horrible and even worse I know i couldn’t get a job and keep it feeling the way I do..

      • If there us a homeopath or functional medicine doc you can see, I would. Diet is a big part of healing and natural medicine worked for my daughter. Also have you been tested for celiac? It causes many symptoms, iron deficiency is one of them. Celiac.org has more information. Worth a try.

  10. Sheila Góis Habib says:

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

    • Mama4jc says:

      Yes because you are probably not digesting it properly. You need a sublingual(goes under the tongue) liquid, or quality B12 sublingual tablet.

  11. 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!

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