5 vitamins for energy
If you feel as though you are in a perpetual state of exhaustion, it might be time to look at your diet, lifestyle and vitamin intake. If you are not getting enough energy from your diet or lifestyle (i.e. getting enough sleep and regular exercise), then you may need extra support.
There are many supplements and vitamins that can help boost your energy when you need it most.
1. CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10)
This is an antioxidant that improves energy and strengthens the immune system. It exists naturally in the body and cells use it to make energy and protect themselves from oxidative damage.
CoQ10 can be found in foods such as meat (liver or other organ meats), oily fish and wholegrains.
In a 2014 review, researchers found a consistent link between low levels of CoQ10 and fatigue. When levels of CoQ10 deplete, your body’s cells cannot produce the energy they need to grow and stay healthy, which can contribute to fatigue.
People with certain health conditions (i.e. those taking blood thinners, taking insulin or receiving cancer treatment) and those not getting enough from their diet need to speak to their GP before supplementing with CoQ10.
2. Vitamin B12
Along with the other B vitamins, vitamin B12 helps to maintain energy levels and transform the food you eat into energy that your cells can use. It also keeps your body’s nerves and blood cells healthy and helps prevent a type of anaemia that can make you feel weak and tired.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a variety of animal proteins, such as meat, fish and dairy products. Many foods are also fortified with B12, allowing most people to meet their vitamin B12 needs by consuming a balanced diet containing such B12-rich foods.
Nevertheless, some people (i.e. older adults, vegetarians, vegans) may be at a higher risk of a B12 deficiency, as it is only in animal products or fortified foods. A B12 deficiency can cause anaemia, making people feel low in energy.
As a result, some people’s energy levels may receive a boost with B12 supplements.
Without sufficient levels of iron in your body, your red blood cells cannot effectively carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. This results in what is called iron deficiency anaemia, leaving you feeling fatigued and weak.
Causes of iron deficiency anaemia include:
- A low-iron diet: The richest sources of iron include meat and seafood. For this reason, iron requirements for vegans are 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat.
- Blood loss: More than half of your body’s iron is in your blood. Therefore, blood loss through heavy periods or internal bleeding can dramatically deplete levels. Donating blood regularly may also have an effect.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Pregnant women require twice as much iron to support normal foetal growth. Unfortunately, about half of all pregnant women develop iron deficiency anaemia.
- Intense exercise: this can result in iron deficiency anaemia, especially in women
In these cases, an iron supplement may be needed to avoid complications associated with iron deficiency anaemia, such as fatigue.
Eating iron-rich foods with vitamin C can increase absorption, so people should be sure to consume enough fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and leafy greens.
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including breaking down glucose into energy and supporting muscle and nerve function. As a result, when your magnesium levels are even a little low, you can feel a drop in energy.
Many people do not get enough magnesium in their diets, however just a few servings of magnesium-rich foods each day can meet your need for this important nutrient.
Nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, leafy vegetables, milk, yogurt and fortified foods are good sources:
- Add a handful of almonds, hazelnuts or cashews to your daily diet
- Increase your intake of whole grains, particularly bran cereal
- Eat more fish, especially halibut
5. Vitamin D
Certain people are more at risk of being deficient in vitamin D than others. This group includes:
- Older adults
- People with darker skin
- People who get less sun exposure, such as those in colder climates
- People with obesity
A vitamin D deficiency can be helped by simply taking a vitamin D supplement.
All the above supplements mentioned are available in your local StayWell Pharmacy. However, it is important to remember that it is advised to check with your doctor or registered dietitian to determine if these supplements are safe for you to use before beginning to take them.
Information sourced: Google (2020)