This is a real discussion I had with one of my patients:
Patient: “I don’t have much energy to exercise. I’m so tired all the time!”
PT: “Have you talked to your doctor about it?”
PT: “What did he say?”
Patient: “He said, ‘You’ve been telling me that for 17 years.’ “
Fatigue and Aging- Are they always united?
It is normal to have less energy as we get older. The cat curled up in front of the fireplace is surely different than the frisky kittens running all over each other! But I say there could often be factors causing the fatigue that could be addressed. For example, our ability to absorb vitamin B12 declines as we age and fatigue is one of the symptoms of B12 deficiency. However, we can test for B12 levels and take supplements as necessary. As we address the root of the problem, the fatigue diminishes. Don’t we give our cars tune-ups every so many numbers of miles? Little adjustments to our bodies can also help us feel more energy and vitality as we age.
My mother lived an extremely active lifestyle when we were growing up, running the steps from our basement to the second level of the house two-at-a-time, walking 3 miles a day rain or shine (and loving it!), and eating healthy well-balanced meals, managing three children, and participating in activities she loved. Now that she’s in her later 80’s, her exercise program consists of walking 12 laps around her building’s LONG halls, riding a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes, and climbing 4 flights of steps back to her apartment. Some years back, on seeing her spring out of her chair in his office, her doctor asked her how she managed to stay so fit. Her answer was, “Just start young and keep going.”
Here are some questions that may address problems underlying fatigue:
- How are your levels of B12, B6, folate, TMG (trimethylglycine), choline, zinc, and magnesium? These nutrients are needed for the methylation cycle that is important for energy and feelings of vitality. Fatigue is a symptom of B12 deficiency.
- Are you sleeping well? (Scroll sown to the section on drugs for sleeping problems).
- Is there any possibility you could have sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a cause of daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
- Are you drinking enough water? Fatigue is a symptom of dehydration.
- Could any of your medications be making you fatigued? Do you need vitamins to offset the “drug-mugging effect” of your medications? (Link tip: Scroll down to “Drugs Can Deplete Nutrients.”) These are good questions for your doctor, nutritionist, or other qualified health professional.
- Do you have amalgam fillings (40% – 50% mercury) that could be causing your fatigue? Mark Breiner, DDS and author of Whole Body Dentistry: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health, explains that mercury inhibits the binding of oxygen to hemoglobin, thereby decreasing energy.
- Could your fatigue be related to boredom or depression?
- Do you participate in a regular exercise program? Exercise increases blood flow throughout the body. As the muscles become stronger, daily activities feel easier and take less energy to perform. In addition, it is now possible to explain the anti-aging effect of exercise at a cellular level. Telomeres are the structures on either end of thread-like chromosomes. Researchers have found that telomere length is related to activity level and longer telomeres have a protective effect on the cells. SpectraCell Labs offer testing of telomeres, although not in New York (testing is available in New Jersey and Connecticut).
- Have you checked the tests Genova Diagnostics uses to get to the root of fatigue? One of these tests may be the answer for you!
Fatigue in not an inevitable consequence of aging!
Seeing is believing! This lady has ENERGY!
Her age is being debated, but it appears she is at least 75 years old. Hint: Make sure you watch at least 2 minutes to get the full impact!