6 Essential Nutrients to Triumph Over Adrenal Fatigue


Clare Kelway DIHom BCHN®

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Are you exhausted no matter how much rest you get?

As you hit your 40s, juggling the demands of work, family, and personal growth can often mean a constant battle with fatigue and stress.

This kind of busyness has become commonplace causing hormonal havoc, metabolic chaos, and a gut that hurts and bloats all day.

Don’t wait until it is serious burnout – learn how you can take steps early to manage stress and reboot your adrenal health to regain your energy, sleep more soundly, and lose weight more easily.

The term ‘adrenal fatigue’ is controversial in Functional Medicine because we consider it to be more hypothalamic:pituitary: adrenal dysregulation rather than just adrenal fatigue. It is endocrine dysfunction coming from your brain.

Our 40s are the years when our adrenal glands, those small but mighty organs sitting on top of your kidneys, start to show signs of overloaded stress and burnout.

But don’t freak out, this isn’t a one-way ticket to feeling depleted; because you can absolutely revamp your nutrition and bolster your body with the right nutrient support.

Key Takeaways

  • Adrenal fatigue is a controversial health issue linked to prolonged stress and characterized by symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, and hypotension, but your concerns might not always be taken seriously when you express them.
  • Essential vitamins such as Vitamins C, and B; minerals like magnesium; cell membrane lipid support such as phosphatidylcholine, and phosphatidylserine, and trace minerals; along with adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, and eleuthero, play a crucial role in supporting adrenal health and managing stress.
  • Recovery from adrenal fatigue includes rest and relaxation in your daily life, eating a nutrient-dense diet including healthy grains, high-quality proteins, and fruits and vegetables while avoiding processed and sugary foods.

Understanding Adrenal Fatigue and Its Impact on Your Health

Adrenal fatigue is a result of long-sustaining chronic stress that impairs your adrenal gland function.

Adrenal glands physiology - glands sitting on top of your kidneys

Adrenal fatigue, or HPA axis dysfunction, is a complex issue that is often ignored, yet its health impact on women is profound. Your hypothalamus interprets the stressor, your anterior pituitary gland responds and they send signals to your adrenal glands to kick in.

When this system malfunctions, you suffer from chronic stress and can feel exhausted, stressed out, and overwhelmed. Like any system, when it gets overused and isn’t maintained, things can go haywire.

Under continual stress, your normal adrenal hormone function will drop and adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency occurs.

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

afternoon fatigue and energy slump

Continual stress can exhaust the adrenal glands, leading to a reduction in cortisol and potentially causing adrenal fatigue.

The hormone cortisol is key to controlling the body’s response to stress. It also interacts with certain areas of the brain to handle mood, motivation, and fear, influencing multiple bodily functions.

Identifying the Cause

It’s important to note that adrenal fatigue is often considered a subclinical state of adrenal hormonal imbalance.

The precise causes are multifaceted but usually involve chronic stress, poor nutrition, and in some cases, compromised adrenal or pituitary function.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include fatigue, sleep issues, body and joint pains, unexplained weight loss or gain, blood pressure changes, dizziness, hair loss, and skin discoloration when extreme.

Low blood pressure is as common in adrenal fatigue as high blood pressure.

Essential Nutrients for Supporting Adrenal Health

Nutrition plays an indispensable role in adrenal health. Key nutrients such as:

  • Vitamin C
  • B vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • Trace minerals
  • Phosphatidylcholine
  • Phosphatidylserine

Nutrients are vital for the regulation of stress hormones, balancing cortisol levels, and supporting your immune system. These nutrients result in your adrenal glands being able to produce hormones that then affect your entire female hormone system.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is vital for adrenal health as it is required for the production of stress hormones. It contributes to the reduction of cortisol levels in the body.

The adrenal gland is among the organs with the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body. Both the adrenal cortex and the medulla accumulate such high levels of ascorbate. Ascorbic acid is a cofactor required for catecholamine biosynthesis (stress neurotransmitters) and adrenal hormone production.

B Vitamins (B5, B6)

Vitamin B for improved stress management

B vitamins, particularly B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6 (p-5-p), support adrenal function by balancing cortisol production and aiding neurotransmitter production.

Vitamin B5 stimulates adrenal cells to secrete corticosterone and plays a role in the production of adrenal hormones, contributing to the regulation of cortisol levels.


Magnesium helps improve adrenal health by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing cortisol production, and promoting sleep quality.

It plays a significant role in maintaining adrenal health by regulating cortisol levels, supporting a healthy response to ACTH, and promoting restful sleep, all of which contribute to the stability of the adrenal glands and maintaining energy levels.

Magnesium is needed by our bodies for over 400 enzymatic functions, and our soils are heavily depleted of magnesium today so supplementing magnesium (know the best type for you) is a critical piece to your health.

Trace Minerals (Zinc, Manganese, Selenium, Iodine)

Trace minerals such as zinc, manganese, selenium, and iodine are necessary for balancing hormones and supporting overall adrenal health. Here’s why each of these minerals is important:

  • Zinc is essential for regulating cortisol release
  • Manganese contributes to metabolism and blood sugar control
  • Selenium provides defense against oxidative stress
  • Iodine is vital for thyroid and immune function, both of which are closely related to adrenal health


Phosphatidylcholine is a source of choline in the body. It is crucial for adrenal health because it supports the production of stress hormones such as cortisol.

It maintains adrenal cell membrane integrity(outside of your adrenal cells) helps manage stress responses, and has anti-inflammatory properties.

It also aids liver function, which is essential for hormone metabolism.


Phosphatidylserine is crucial for adrenal health because it plays a central role in managing stress. It helps regulate cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, ensuring a balanced response to stressors.

Additionally, phosphatidylserine supports cognitive function, helping you stay clear-headed during challenging situations, and contributes to mood stability, promoting overall well-being during stressful times.

Its multifaceted benefits make it an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy adrenal function and effectively coping with stress. We often recommend phosphatidylserine when your cortisol levels are higher at night than during the day – a circadian rhythm pattern issue.

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Top Adaptogenic Herbs for Adrenal Support

adaptogenic herbs for adrenal hormone balance

Adaptogenic herbs including ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, and eleuthero are beneficial for stress management and adrenal health. They maintain cortisol balance, help the body cope with stress, and promote overall well-being.


Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb known for its various health benefits, including:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Regulating cortisol levels
  • Managing adrenal fatigue
  • Nourishing the adrenal glands
  • Enhancing thyroid function
  • Supporting overall adrenal functions

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogenic herb that reduces stress-related fatigue, improves mental clarity, and offers immune support. This herb aids in stress management and fatigue reduction by stimulating the nervous system, enhancing mental and physical stamina, and providing temporary relief from symptoms like fatigue and weakness.

Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng)

Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, has several benefits including:

  • Limiting excess cortisol
  • Shortening stress recovery time
  • Decreasing fatigue
  • Regulating blood sugar levels
  • Enhancing hypothalamic receptor sensitivity
  • Decreasing aberrant cortisol production
  • Reducing immune suppression

All of these benefits assist in stress recovery. We don’t recommend taking adaptogens without discussing this with your functional health practitioner who can match the right adaptogens to your situation.

Herbal supplements are natural medications that have a therapeutic effect on the body so they should always be supervised by a professional.

Dietary Recommendations for Adrenal Fatigue Recovery

Healthy foods for adrenal stress

What does an adrenal fatigue diet look like? Lots of nutrients…

Adrenal fatigue requires a balanced diet, rich in nutrients and devoid of foods that may worsen symptoms.

Avoiding foods that may harm adrenal health during recovery, such as sugary junk foods and unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and chemically enhanced fats is key.

Foods to Include

Foods to include in an adrenal fatigue diet for recovery are specific whole grains, high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

High-quality proteins contribute to adrenal fatigue recovery by providing support to the adrenal glands and helping to prevent adrenal exhaustion.

Foods to Avoid

Foods to avoid when recovering from adrenal fatigue include processed foods, high-sugar items, and excessive caffeine intake.

Removing caffeine or reducing caffeine from your diet can be helpful when you are suffering from chronic stress and exhaustion. It may feel helpful initially but it is actually contributing to your issues!

Coffee can have a negative impact on adrenal health, and it’s best to avoid it during recovery.

“People with adrenal fatigue often look and act relatively normal. They may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet they are not well and live with a general sense of unwellness or “gray” feelings. They often use coffee, colas”
― James L. Wilson

Seeking Professional Guidance for Adrenal Fatigue

Consulting functional medicine professionals is crucial for determining the real state of your circadian cycle and adrenal fatigue and they will help you put together a tailored recovery plan.

Lifestyle Changes to Enhance Adrenal Health

Lifestyle for adrenal health

Adopting lifestyle modifications like stress management, regular physical activity, and adequate sleep can boost healthy adrenal function, contributing to improved adrenal health and overall wellness.

Stress management techniques like yoga, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises, coupled with sufficient sleep, can absolutely improve your adrenal health.

They work by reducing stress levels, allowing the adrenal system to recalibrate to a less stressful state. Lifestyle changes are the most effective strategies for improving adrenal function. After all, it is stress that led to this issue in the first place!


To sum up, adrenal fatigue is a complex health challenge influenced by a variety of factors, including stress, lifestyle, and diet. It’s important to remember that while adrenal fatigue may not be recognized by your doctor, the symptoms are real and can significantly impact your quality of life.

You must get help from your friendly functional health team.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the impact of stress on the adrenal glands?

Prolonged stress can impair adrenal gland function, leading to symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

How does Vitamin C support adrenal health?

Vitamin C supports adrenal health by aiding in the production of stress hormones and reducing cortisol levels in the body. This is essential for maintaining overall adrenal function.

What foods should I avoid when recovering from adrenal fatigue?

Avoid processed foods, high-sugar items, and excessive caffeine intake when recovering from adrenal fatigue. These can exacerbate symptoms and hinder recovery.

How can lifestyle changes enhance adrenal health?

Implementing stress reduction techniques, regular exercise, and proper sleep can enhance adrenal health by supporting overall well-being.

Are adaptogenic herbs beneficial for adrenal health?

Yes, adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, and eleuthero can help manage stress and support adrenal health. Incorporating them into your routine may be beneficial for overall well-being.

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Clare Kelway Experienced Functional Medicine practitioner specializing in natural health solutions.

Clare Kelway

Functional Medicine Practitioner

Metabolix Health Clinical Director, Clare Kelway BS DIHom HHP BCHN® is recognized as an expert in functional metabolism. She is a  Functional Medicine practitioner with decades of experience in natural health solutions.  She specializes in optimizing your metabolism, hormones, and gut health. Her own health turnaround in her 30s led to her career in functional medicine. She is the Founder of Metabolix Health, a virtual functional medicine practice in Erie, Colorado. A lifelong learner and researcher, her passion is helping clients reverse their health issues in the simplest way. She is a candid, direct communicator who clients often refer to as a “breath of fresh air”. She champions their journeys and says her reward is watching her clients restore their health and regain their vitality for life.