8 Energy-Boosting Supplements for Fibromyalgia Fatigueby Karen Lee Richards Patient Advocate
Fatigue, a key symptom of fibromyalgia, is nothing like the kind of tiredness most people feel after a long day. It is a pervasive, all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with even the most basic daily activities. Some fibromyalgia patients say it can be even more debilitating than the pain.
How energy is produced
Almost every cell of the body contains mitochondria. It is the job of the mitochondria to supply energy to the cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Researchers have found that people with fibromyalgia have low levels of ATP and a reduced capacity to produce ATP in the muscles. Following are eight supplements often recommended by fibromyalgia specialists for increasing energy and reducing fatigue.
CoQ10 is the catalyst that makes it possible for the mitochondria to produce ATP, the molecule upon which all cellular functions in the body depend. A CoQ10 deficiency, such as is seen in fibromyalgia patients, can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, which in turn can have a serious negative impact on multiple organs and body systems.
NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide + hydrogen) sets off a chemical chain reaction by transforming Coenzyme Q10 into its reduced form, which then serves as the catalyst that makes it possible for the mitochondria to produce ATP. Every molecule of NADH results in the production of three molecules of ATP energy. Without NADH, the mitochondria cannot produce energy and the cells will die.
Often people with fibromyalgia are low in vitamin B12. Researchers have found that even when fibromyalgia patients have normal B12 levels in their blood, they may have extremely low B12 levels in their spinal fluid, indicating that they are not metabolizing B12 properly. Even minor B12 deficiencies can cause anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness. B12 is best taken in a sublingual form or by injection because it is not absorbed well in the stomach.
Perhaps best known for its ability to improve memory and cognitive functioning problems, Acetyl-L-Carnitine also aids in reducing fatigue. According to a 2007 study, L-Carnitine supplementation improved both physical energy levels and cognitive function in centenarians (people 100 years of age and older).
D-Ribose is a naturally-occurring sugar used in cell metabolism and the production of energy. It has been shown to increase cellular energy synthesis in the heart and skeletal muscles. A 2006 pilot study showed that D-ribose significantly reduced clinical symptoms in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Magnesium and malic acid
It has long been known that fibromyalgia patients usually have low magnesium levels. When intracellular magnesium is low, the muscles are not able to relax and make energy. The combination of magnesium and malic acid works with the muscles to help them manufacture more ATP, resulting in more energy.
Studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia have decreased growth hormone levels (IGF-1). A major symptom of low growth hormone is fatigue. Bovine colostrum contains growth hormone that is essentially identical to human IGF-1. Fibromyalgia expert Dr. Mark Pelligrino says that 75 percent of his fibromyalgia patients report improvement in their energy level and ability to concentrate when taking bovine colostrum.
More than 34 human studies on ginkgo biloba show that it increases the body's production of the energy molecule ATP. This in turn boosts the brain's energy metabolism of glucose and increases electrical activity, resulting in more energy and improved cognitive functioning.
Remember that nutritional supplements have to build up in your system, so it may be a few weeks or in some cases a few months before you begin to notice a difference. Be sure to check with your doctor about any supplements you want to add to your treatment plan. Some supplements may interact with medications you are taking or may not be recommended for other health issues you have. For more information, read “Need-to-Know Facts About Supplements.”