Adrenal Fatigue causes not only a deficiency in hormones, but also a deficiency in many of the vitamins, minerals and essential compounds that our bodies need to function efficiently. Your blood tests might show that you are within range for many of these nutrients, but fatigue and low energy levels often suggest otherwise. Just like hormone levels, you should be aiming for the optimal levels of these vitamins and minerals, not just the minimum levels.
Additionally, there are a number of herbs, probiotics and other supplements that play valuable roles in the treatment of Adrenal Fatigue. Using the right combination of these, together with the appropriate adjustments in your diet and lifestyle, will go a long way towards reversing your condition.
Keep in mind that this page includes the most important supplements used to treat Adrenal Fatigue, but it is not a fully comprehensive list. Your healthcare professional may recommend other remedies, and you should follow his or her advice. For more therapies, you can also take a look at our page on hormone replacement.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
There are a number of vitamins and minerals that Adrenal Fatigue sufferers tend to be lacking. Here is a brief summary of the most important. There are other valuable supplements (vitamin D, vitamin E and others) but I will keep this section as simple as possible. It is important to note that not all of these will be appropriate for each individual.
VITAMINS B5, B6, B12
These important B vitamins play an important role in cell metabolism. Improving your metabolic pathways boosts your energy levels and is a great way to reduce the fatigue often felt during AFS. B5 helps to produce co-enzyme A, which contributes to cellular respiration and the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. B6 acts in several of the pathways that are used to create adrenal hormones. And B12 helps with energy production, cell repair and the maintenance of our red blood cells. The amounts that you need of each are quite different, for example you should be aiming for 1000mg of B5, 50mg of B6 and 100mcg of B12 as a good starting dose.
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid (University of Maryland Medical Center)
Vitamin B6 pyridoxine (Mayo Clinic)
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12 (Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health)
This powerful antioxidant vitamin is directly involved in the production of cortisol in your adrenals. So besides the other health benefits it carries (boosting your immune system, protecting from free radicals), vitamin C is also an essential building block for the recovery of your adrenal glands. You can start with a minimum dose 1000mcg of vitamin C and then gradually increase it over time. Buffered or liposomal vitamin C is generally the best form, and it should be in combination with bioflavonoids, just as it often is in nature.
Some studies estimate that 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. In very simple terms, magnesium helps to maintain energy flow, so you can see that deficiency might be a problem! A lack of magnesium can result in symptoms like fatigue and depression, just like Adrenal Fatigue. But there are also a few other tell-tale signs like muscle cramping, stiffness and insomnia. Taking too much magnesium can result in digestive problems, so be careful with your starting dose. Something like 400mg is a good place to start.
The health-affirming benefits of probiotics have been established beyond doubt by a long series of scientific studies. Among other things they can improve your digestion, reduce the side effects of antibiotics, and possibly even lower your stress levels. For Adrenal Fatigue sufferers, many of whom suffer from poor digestion, they are particularly important.
By improving our digestion, probiotics enable us to extract more of the nutrients present in the foods that we eat. This allows our bodies to get more of the essential vitamins and minerals that we need to maintain our energy levels and produce the hormones that we need. Additionally, they support our immune system and prevent regular illness from weakening our adrenals further.
When shopping for a probiotic, look for one that has at least 10 billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units). It should also contain at least 5 different strains of bacteria, preferably including Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1.
What are probiotics (WebMD)
The Role of Probiotic Cultures in the Control of Gastrointestinal Health (Rolfe, 2000)
Probiotics: effects on immunity (Isolauri et al., 2001)
Probiotics as Potential Therapies in Human Gastrointestinal Health (Murali et al., 2010)
Herbs should also play an important part in the recovery from Adrenal Fatigue. These can be taken along with the other supplements mentioned on this page. We can often trace the use of these herbs back for centuries in traditional cultures, where they have been used to maintain vitality and energy, exactly what a typical patient with Adrenal Fatigue needs. Here are a few that you should consider.
This is an herb that has long been used to stimulate hormone production, maintain energy levels and increase endurance. It is a great choice for many individuals with Adrenal Fatigue, as it helps your cortisol to circulate for longer, but there is one significant drawback. Licorice root can raise your blood pressure, so you should not take it if you are experiencing high blood pressure. This is not usually a problem as most AFS sufferers tend to have low blood pressure anyway.
Known as an adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha regulates various systems in our bodies. If cortisol is too high, it acts to lower it, And if cortisol is too low, it acts to raise it.
Used by Russian Olympic athletes to improve their stamina, this herb also increases mental awareness and boosts energy levels. However, just like licorice root it can raise your blood pressure so those with hypertension.
Popular in Scandinavia and Russia, this herb can help with a wide variety of conditions including muscle tension, poor circulation, depression and fatigue. By improving our circulation it enables us to increase our cortisol production further when we need it.
Research has shown maca to have beneficial effects on cortisol regulation and blood sugar. It also allows for more efficient uptake of hormones into our cells, increasing their effectiveness. If you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue and have low hormone levels, maca helps your body to make the most of those low hormone levels.
OTHER SUPPLEMENTS TO CONSIDER
Besides vitamins and minerals, there are plenty of other compounds that the body needs to maintain an efficient metabolism and keep your energy levels high. This is a small list of some of the alternative supplements you might want to consider, and they should all be available from your local pharmacy.
Many of us are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, although we tend to have an adequate supply of Omega-6. This imbalance can lead to increased inflammation, which requires an increase in cortisol production to manage. Taking a good Omega-3 supplement can reduce inflammation throughout your body and relieve the workload placed on your adrenals.
This supplement is particularly useful for boosting metabolism and increasing energy levels. Acetyl-L-Carnitine increases the production of certain neurotransmitters in which we are often deficient, and it helps to move fatty acids into the mitochondria where we need them to produce energy.
Your body produces CoQ10 and uses it to produce energy for growing and maintaining your cells. Some find that it increases endurance and improves recovery time after exercise. Good food sources include beef, sardines and various organ meats, but if you are not getting enough from food then supplementation might be an excellent choice.
This supplement is another way to sustain higher energy levels throughout the day without placing any stress on your adrenal glands. D-Ribose is actually a form of sugar, but it won’t spike your blood sugar like glucose or other sweeteners. Instead, it goes directly to forming ATP, the molecule that facilitates the transfer of energy between our cells. Tissues in the heart and muscles respond particularly well to D-Ribose supplementation, and many Adrenal Fatigue sufferers find it gives a useful boost to their energy levels.