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Physical and mental fatigue, the nutrients that come in handy

May 08, 2023
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Physical and mental fatigue, the nutrients that come in handy

Physical and mental fatigue, nonrestorative sleep, feeling of exhaustion and poor concentration, we all experience these periods. An aid to overcome this generalized fatigue comes from lifestyle, and above all from nutrition and some supplements. This emerges from a very recent review that appeared in the journal Nutrients thanks to a collaboration between Australian and English scientists (Barnish et al, Nutrients, 2023).

Fatigue and exhaustion, causes and symptoms

It can happen that we always feel exhausted and tired as if we lack energy, we can have difficulty maintaining concentration but even the body seems not to hold, with the muscles that do not resist the effort and the body who cannot recover after exercise. And even sleep does not help to recover energy, making us wake up as tired as we were when we went to sleep. Fatigue is one of the most common conditions that can happen. But the fact that it is common does not mean that it is of little importance, having an impact on the quality of life, work and sociality. Sometimes fatigue can be secondary to other conditions, such as illness, anemia, depression and viral infections, as in the case of Long Covid. However, many times, and this happens in more than a third of cases, it is not possible to trace the cause. What can we do to counteract tiredness and exhaustion and regain our strength? The review we are talking about today offers interesting indications.

Some nutrients help against tiredness, the study

The scientists based themselves on data from previous studies, which reported the effects of lifestyle interventions aimed at counteracting tiredness. What has emerged is that help against tiredness comes from a gradual recovery of physical activity, combined with the intake of some vitamins and mineral salts, through diet and supplements. The B vitamins play an essential role in the production of energy in our body, so they must always be taken into consideration to counteract physical and mental tiredness. In particular, taking vitamin B1, or thiamine, for at least a month has been shown to counteract fatigue even in the presence of conditions such as colitis and other intestinal inflammation. In addition to vitamin B1, vitamin D has also been shown to counteract fatigue and tiredness, making the body more resistant to physical exercise and efforts. It should be emphasized that it is very likely to observe low levels of vitamin D in those who experience physical and mental tiredness, estimates indicate that this condition affects up to 80% of this group of people. From here it can be understood that supplementing vitamin D in case of tiredness can lead to important results.

In addition to this, vitamin D, since it stimulates muscle mass and supports muscle work, can also be useful in counteracting sarcopenia, which is often associated with fatigue.

Then, oxidative stress is also associated with a feeling of chronic tiredness.

Therefore, taking vitamin C can help since this vitamin is a powerful antioxidant. Finally, also the intake of nutrients such as coenzyme Q10, a substance with a cardioprotective action but which also plays a key role in the processes of energy production inside the cell, L-carnitine, an amino acid which guarantees the mitochondria the supply of fuel for energy production, and zinc, involved in energy processes and aimed at fighting inflammation, have been shown to reduce fatigue, especially in healthy people who presented tiredness without being able to trace the cause.


Physical and mental tiredness can also be counteracted with diet or with supplements by guaranteeing the intake of certain nutrients. As we have seen, in fact, some vitamins, minerals or amino acids can help, helping to improve energy production, muscle functionality and counteracting the feeling of fatigue. As mentioned, these substances can be included in the formulation of supplements that you can easily find in chemist's and herbalist's shops, but, before starting any treatment, it is always better to ask your doctor for advice. Not only that, these vitamins and mineral salts are also present in some foods that we can bring to the table. Vitamin B1 is found in whole grains, legumes, eggs and brewer's yeast. Vitamin D is synthesized by the skin when we expose ourselves to the sun but it can also be contained in mushrooms, especially if wild, in fatty fish, eggs, milk and dairy products as well as fortified foods. Vitamin C is present in citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, but also in green leafy vegetables, broccoli and sweet peppers. Zinc is found in whole grains, shellfish, dark chocolate, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. L-carnitine is contained in red meat and poultry, fish and milk. Coenzyme Q10 is found in meat, fatty fish, dairy products, eggs, but also legumes and whole grains.

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