Are your energy levels at an all time low?

General Health

In the second part of our stress, energy and sleep series, we talk about the possible causes of low energy levels and explain how easy it is to investigate further with Medichecks.


Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

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Feeling tired all the time is one of the most common reasons why people visit their doctor, but sometimes finding out the underlying cause of low energy levels can be a journey of trial and error. Not getting enough good quality sleep can be detrimental to our health and cause a range of problems including fatigue, a weakened immune system, weight gain and cognitive impairment (stay tuned for next week's instalment in the series to find out more about the power of sleep).

Not getting enough sleep is a common reason for low energy levels, but many people are left feeling exhausted even when they have had a good night's sleep. If this is the case, it can be difficult to know whether you are simply doing too much or if your low energy levels are a symptom of an underlying health condition. Here are 5 common causes of fatigue:

1. Low iron

Iron is an element that we require for many different bodily processes such as creating new red blood cells, carrying oxygen around our body and strengthening our immune system. Low levels of iron can lead to a decrease in the amount of oxygen carried around the body, eventually causing iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anaemia. Symptoms can include fatigue, heart palpitations, dizziness and headaches. Iron deficiency anaemia is thought to increase the risk of heart disease as the heart needs to pump more blood around the body to compensate for low oxygen levels. Increasing dietary intake of iron-rich foods including leafy greens and whole grains will improve iron levels in the body.

2. Diabetes 

Diabetes is a condition where the body has trouble controlling blood sugar levels. When your sugar levels are too high it can cause a whole host of issues, ranging from problems with your sight and extremities as well as increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Diabetes is currently one of the biggest health issues in the UK. Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, fatigue, extreme thirst and unexplained weight loss. For many, a diabetes diagnosis can go undetected for many years.

3. Thyroid disease

The thyroid is responsible for producing key hormones which affect almost every cell in the body. The two main thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). An underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, occurs when the gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormones, ultimately slowing down the body’s metabolism. With an overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, the thyroid makes too much T4 and T3. An excess of thyroid hormones speeds up metabolism in the body. Fatigue is a symptom of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

4. Low vitamin B12

One of the most important nutrient groups to give you an energy boost is the B vitamins, as many are directly involved in creating energy at a cellular level. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is important for tissue and cell repair, energy and red blood cell production and the functioning of nerves and DNA. The body absorbs B12 from the foods we eat with the best sources including dairy products, meat and fish. Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause red blood cells to be large and misshapen which affects their oxygen-carrying capacity, causing pernicious anaemia. Symptoms include fatigue, feeling faint and constant headaches. 

5. Low vitamin D

Vitamin D, which is commonly referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is important in maintaining healthy teeth, muscles and bones. When we are exposed to the sun, our body creates vitamin D using nutrients obtained from certain foods including oily fish. Many of us in the UK are vitamin D deficient - with symptoms including fatigue, muscle weakness and mood swings. By implementing a few easy lifestyle changes such as getting out more in the sunshine, eating more oily fish and taking a vitamin D supplement, vitamin D levels can be improved. 

Get Medichecked

Medichecks' Tiredness and Fatigue Check Plus includes tests for all 5 of these things above, offering an easy and convenient way to rule out some of the most common and treatable causes of fatigue. This advanced tiredness and fatigue profile was designed by our medical director and GP, Dr Sam Rodgers and is recommended for anyone who wants to get to the bottom of why they are feeling tired all the time.

Don’t just assume feeling tired is part of a busy lifestyle and something you must put up with. Our Tiredness and Fatigue Check Plus helps you to understand more about the possible causes of your low energy levels. One of our doctors will comment and advise on your results to help you get the spring back in your step!

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