Using vitamins or supplements to treat “adrenal fatigue” may do more harm than good, according to Todd Nippoldt, M.D., a Mayo Clinic expert in hormone disorders affecting the adrenal glands.
“Adrenal fatigue is a term that was invented outside the mainstream medical community to explain a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue, body aches, sleep disturbances and digestive problems,” says Dr. Nippoldt. In the March 2010 issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource, Nippoldt explained that the attention focused on adrenal fatigue is worrying.
Adrenal supplements that can be found in stores and on the internet may suppress the amount of hormones produced by the adrenal glands. These hormones are critical to assist the body in converting food into energy, responding to stress, and maintaining the body’s balance of sodium, potassium, and water to keep blood pressure normal.
“By seeking unproven tests or treatments for adrenal fatigue, you could delay the diagnosis of a real, treatable condition or take something that would impair the adrenal glands,” says Dr. Nippoldt. “A doctor can also look for other problems that could be the underlying cause of fatigue or muscle aching, such as depression, fibromyalgia and obstructive sleep apnea,” he advises. Dr. Nippoldt added patients dealing with extreme fatigue or who suspect an adrenal problem should seek care from an internist or primary care physician.