As the sunlight hours shorten, it’s common for people to start to feel less energetic. I know I see that a lot in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA. So when that happens, what do I see people start to do?

Many people start to drink more coffee or tea, others start to eat more sugar or carbs to get energy, and then I see people overdosing on B vitamins for energy. None of these are good ideas.

"Fighting Fatigue: Here's What You Need to Know 2"

First, too much caffeine sometimes can lead to draining more of your adrenal function by chemically trying to give false energy when the body’s true needs aren’t met. Also, it’s concerning to get your body dependent on caffeine. Some people are also prone to getting insomnia or palpitations with too much caffeine.

Regarding eating more sugars and carbs, that also isn’t ideal in supporting adrenal function. Then when your insulin spikes and dips, you feel more tired. The weight gain also makes a lot of people feel even more sluggish. Eating too much sugar is also bad for gut flora health and your sleep…so overall, not the best idea.

Finally, overdosing on B vitamins also are not ideal. All too often, I see patients with high levels of B vitamins on labs and there are more studies now showing that too much B vitamins aren’t good for you and can lead to detrimental impact. Besides, in general, when it comes to nutrients, you never want to be too high or too low, those too states typically lead to negative impact. So, if you think you are low, have your doctor check B vitamin levels and if they are truly low, then you should replete. But if your levels are high normal, then giving more isn’t the solution for energy. For those of you who aren’t sure if your B12 is being absorbed, ask your doctor for methylmalonic acid and homocysteine labs to see if you’re absorbing ok. That should help to allay your concerns.

So, if you’re tired, what do you do?

First, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. For those of you who don’t know how much sleep to get, think back to the last vacation you took. If you could sleep when you want and wake up when you want and feel refreshed, how many hours would that be? That’s one way to gauge how much sleep you need.

"Fighting Fatigue: Here's What You Need to Know"

Second, if your diet is high in sugars, processed carbs and alcohol. Please clean up your diet. Your energy naturally should improve. Up your vegetable variety and quantity and that should help also.

Finally, if you want supplements to help with energy, there are a few you can ask your doctor about. For those of you on statin therapy for high cholesterol, ubiquinol or CoQ10 is a good option since that class of drugs usually deplete body of CoQ10. This will also help with energy. There are other supplements for energy like glutathione for liver support and energy support, rhodiola for low mood support and energy support, and even vitamin D if you’re deficient in it.

"Fighting Fatigue: Here's What You Need to Know"There are obviously many other energy supporting supplements like ginseng, DGL, SAMe, etc but these should not be taken without medical clearance from your medical doctor. All too often, people think supplements are without concerns but DGL and ginseng can worsen blood pressure and palpitations and cardiac arrhythmias and SAMe can worsen bipolar mania etc. I’m not trying to worry anyone but your safety is important to me. Basically, all I’m saying is check with your doctor on safety. Your health and wellbeing are worth that extra effort.

At the end of the day, basic factors like a healthy balanced diet, avoiding foods/drinks that make you lethargic, getting enough sleep and making time for exercise are the most important factors for feeling energetic. Even when the hours of darkness are longer than those with sunlight, if you treat your body right, you’ll still feel light and bright even in the darker days of winter.