New review highlights significant benefits of vitamins and mineral supplements for reducing fatigue
The review found these benefits are present whether they’re taken orally or parenterally, meaning they're introduced outside of the intestines – for example, by intravenous injection.
Among the 60 studies included, 50 showed significant beneficial effects (p < 0.05) of vitamin and mineral supplementation on fatigue. The studies investigated nutrients including Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, zinc, methionine, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and vitamins C, D and B.
The authors note that “further studies should explore these novel therapies, both as adjunctive treatments and as sole interventions.”
Fatigue can affect work performance, family life and social relationships. Patients with fatigue often report symptoms like lack of energy, mental exhaustion, poor muscle endurance, delayed recovery after physical exertion and nonrestorative sleep.
Managing fatigue is complex and requires what the authors describe as a “multimodal therapeutic approach”. The most common approach is cognitive behavioural therapy alongside gradual physical exercise.
The authors note that vitamins and minerals, playing essential roles in a variety of basic metabolic pathways that support fundamental cellular functions, affect cognitive and psychological processes including mental and physical fatigue.
They write that: “Efficient and safe vitamin and mineral supplementation of individuals suffering from fatigue, may provide a beneficial treatment option.”
From the literature searches conducted on PubMed, Ovid, Web of Science, and Google scholar, 60 articles met the authors’ criteria and were included in the review.
The searches were conducted without any geographical or time restrictions using keywords including: “vitamin”, “nutrient therapy” and “fatigue symptoms” in combination with vitamins and minerals.
The authors considered articles for inclusion if they reported data from an original study examining the effects of a nutrient supplementation on fatigue status, performed statistical analysis, were accessible in their full text and published in the English language. Conference proceedings, case reports, letters, summaries, expert opinions and comments, and articles published in a language other than English, were excluded.
In most cases studies reported statistically significant positive outcomes after nutrient therapy. However, several studies investigating nutrients such as CoQ10, L-carnitine, vitamin C, and vitamin D, also reported no significant improvements in fatigue symptoms. Only one study reported worsening of symptoms as a result of L-carnitine administration in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The authors say that “…it is well demonstrated that nutrient therapy might be beneficial for management of fatigue symptoms in both healthy and clinical populations. Several nutrients have shown good efficacy and safety at different doses, routes, and frequency of administration in humans.”
They conclude that more research should be done on treating or reducing fatigue using a broader range of nutrients. They note: ”Randomised, placebo-controlled trials should compare existing interventions with these novel approaches, testing both individual and multi-nutrient approaches, in different groups experiencing fatigue.”
These approaches could then be tested as adjuncts to existing interventions – possibly leading to the development of new nutraceuticals, if effective.
"Nutrient Therapy for the Improvement of Fatigue Symptoms"
Authors: Barnish. M., et al