Fatigue is an often-neglected symptom but frequently complained of by older people, leading to the inability to continue functioning at a normal level of activity. Fatigue is frequently associated with disease conditions and impacts health status and quality of life. Yet, fatigue cannot generally be completely explained as a consequence of a single disease or pathogenetic mechanism. Indeed, fatigue mirrors the exhaustion of the physiological reserves of an older individual. Despite its clinical relevance, fatigue is typically underestimated by healthcare professionals, mainly because reduced stamina is considered to be an unavoidable corollary of aging. The incomplete knowledge of pathophysiological mechanisms of fatigue and the lack of a gold standard tool for its assessment contribute to the poor appreciation of fatigue in clinical practice. Inadequate nutrition is invoked as one of the mechanisms underlying fatigue. Modifications in food intake and body composition changes seem to influence the perception of fatigue, probably through the mechanisms of inflammation and/or mitochondrial dysfunction. Here, we present an overview on the mechanisms that may mediate fatigue levels in old age, with a special focus on nutrition.
Keywords: aging; cytokines; exhaustion; frailty; inflammation; mitochondria; nutrition; sarcopenia.