A vacation, a new manager, another job entirely: If you’re constantly tired or stressed out at work, it’s tempting to reach for a big-picture fix. But in reality, a series of easy-to-solve nutritional deficiencies might be to blame.
Can swapping a late-afternoon chocolate bar for fresh veggies actually make a difference? A poor diet can significantly decrease
your quality of life. It takes daily effort to ensure your diet contains the key nutrients
your body needs.
So which vitamins and mineral deficiencies could be to blame for your burnout? Make sure you’re getting enough:
Although it can happen to anyone, iron deficiency is most common in women and vegetarians. Symptoms of an iron deficiency can include fatigue, headache, dizziness, excessive paleness, or otherwise unusual weakness.
Eating foods rich in iron can boost your energy and lower your chances of infection. Red meat, seafood, and cruciferous greens are great sources of iron. Vegetarians can load up on lentils, spinach, and beans. Don’t rely on iron-fortified foods, such as cereals, which may contain poorly absorbed forms of iron.
2. Vitamin B6
Like the other B vitamins, vitamin B6 helps your body turn food into energy. But because the human body can’t store vitamin B6, it’s important to get your recommended daily value each day.
New moms, individuals with compromised immune systems, and those with kidney disease
should pay particular attention to their vitamin B6 intake. Although its role in adult brain function is less clear, vitamin B6 is also key for brain development in unborn babies and young children. This nutrient can be found in chicken, fish, potatoes, bananas, chickpeas, as well as most energy bars.
If you live in a mountainous area or river valley
, where crop-growing soils often contain too little iodine, keep an eye on your iodine intake. Low iodine levels may lead to heart arrhythmia, low body temperature, and metabolic irregularities. Iodine also plays a key role in thyroid function, which can affect mood and energy levels.
To get more iodine, eat plenty of cheese, milk, eggs, and other dairy products. Seafood, eggs, prunes, and certain beans also contain iodine. In the U.S., table salt is commonly iodized.
4. Vitamin D
Although vitamin D supports strong bones, the reason a deficiency can create burnout is that it’s also important for mood health. Because one of the best sources of vitamin D is sunlight exposure, many tanners report
feeling more relaxed than non-tanners.
Individuals who follow a vegan diet may be at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. People with darker skin, older adults, young children, and those suffering from kidney disease are also prone to deficiency. To get more vitamin D, add more fish, eggs, and dairy products to your diet. And of course, spend more time outdoors.
5. Vitamin C
Although many people associate a vitamin C deficiency with scurvy, other symptoms include weakness, dry skin, and fatigue. Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, getting enough of it also protects cells from damage and promotes faster wound healing. Fortunately, it’s easy to eat more vitamin C: Bell peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and plenty of other produce contain the vital nutrient.
Who should watch their vitamin C intake? Alcoholics, smokers, sufferers of kidney disease, and people without access to fresh fruits and vegetables are most at risk of deficiency.
Your friends, family, and employer can’t force you to eat healthier, but burnout might. Spending workdays stressed out and exhausted is unsustainable, no matter how good junk food tastes.
Start small. The reason many dieters fail is that they try to overhaul their diet all at once. Set attainable goals, like eating a leafy green every day. Use a meal-tracking app to check that you’re getting your recommended daily value of these vitamins and minerals. Look at trends, rather than individual days or meals, to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. Sooner rather than later, you’ll start to feel better.