Do you get that 3pm lull in energy? How are you at 7.30am before work or 5.30pm after work?
If you’re finding that you’re struggling multiple times a day and reaching for the coffee pot, there’s a good chance that something is missing in your diet to give you the get-up and go you need.
While chronic fatigue is something you should talk to your doctor about, a lull in energy a few times a day is not uncommon. So what can we do – besides taking caffeine – to give us the energy we need?
Here are the top 8 vitamins that can be sourced naturally in food to give you that much-needed boost of healthy, natural energy.
1. Vitamin B12
B12 and other B vitamins are crucial in ensuring you have enough energy because they convert the food you eat into glucose, which is what we use for energy. When we don’t have enough B12 and other vitamins in our bodies, we aren’t able to use all the energy in the food we eat effectively, leaving us feeling tired and unmotivated.
B vitamins are also required for the formation of red blood cells which carries oxygen around the body. Without this optimum red blood cell production, your body will begin to lack energy as not enough oxygen is being transported to your muscles and organs. Without vitamin B12, your red blood cells do not develop properly, and instead of being small and round they become large and ovoid, preventing them from moving through your bloodstream easily. When this happens in extreme situations, you develop megaloblastic anaemia, which leaves you feeling fatigued and weak.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, you are likely to be more at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency as it cannot be produced by your body, and those who eat meat get it from animals as farmed animals are heavily supplemented with it, and free-range animals get it from bacteria in the earth. Because you’re not getting this naturally, and we can’t predict how much is in vegetables, it’s best to supplement your vitamin B12 intake with a multivitamin.
Iron is an essential nutrient for many processes in your body but is particularly important for your blood. Iron is essential in the production of haemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen within the red blood cells. Without sufficient levels of iron, oxygen cannot be carried effectively to your body’s tissues and this reduction in oxygen leads to impaired function in the cells which leaves you feeling fatigued, weak, and lethargic, and in more extreme cases can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Iron also helps to maintain healthy thyroid hormone levels, which also affects energy output.
Iron can be obtained from leafy greens, like spinach and kale, fortified cereals and bread, beans, nuts and seeds, animal products, and dried fruits, so if you’re gluten-free or allergic to grains and seeds, ensure your diet is high in greens and consider supplementing your iron intake.
Magnesium is required for hundreds of biochemical reactions that take place within our bodies, including energy production. Magnesium works to break down glucose into energy we can use to function. Since magnesium has so much work to do all around your body, even slightly reduced levels can lead to a lack of energy as your body has to work harder with a smaller amount of magnesium to keep your internal processes going.
Sources of magnesium include fish, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews, legumes, many veggies and whole grains.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C maintains the health of your adrenal gland. This produces hormones, like cortisol, which help to regulate your metabolism and respond to stress, and a reduction in these hormones can lead to fatigue and sometimes even depression, which for many causes symptoms of low energy. Vitamin is also great as it helps to facilitate the absorption of iron in our bodies, an essential, energy-boosting, mineral.
Great sources of vitamin C include red pepper, citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit, and broccoli. If you’re allergic to many sources of vitamin C, it’s important to supplement your diet or find a source you enjoy eating to get your daily intake.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight when it is then converted to its active form by the kidneys and liver. A deficiency of vitamin D can leave people feeling tired and lethargic, and in extreme cases can even lead to depression. If you feel like you do not get enough sunlight, due to where you live or your work hours, there are a few sources found in some foods such as cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and orange juice, although you may find that your best option is to take a multivitamin.
6. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
As mentioned above, B vitamins are important for energy generation, and a particularly important one is vitamin B5. Otherwise known as pantothenic acid, it is imperative for synthesising and breaking down fats which are then turned into energy to be utilised. Nearly all foods contain at least a small amount of vitamin B5, but those particularly rich include fortified breakfast cereals, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chicken, and avocados.
7. Vitamin B6
Another important B vitamin is vitamin B6, the most useful form of which is pyridoxal 5 phosphate. This supports the metabolism of proteins and the production of glucose and red blood cells, all of which lead to a boost in energy.
It is also beneficial for several health issues as it aids a healthy immune system and helps to reduce inflammation. Vitamin B6 is particularly necessary for converting amino acids which are responsible for utilising proteins for energy. Vitamin B6 is found in foods such as chickpeas, tuna, salmon, chicken, and bananas.
Biotin is another B vitamin that is used by the body to convert protein and fat, and carbohydrates, into energy and maintains healthy cells. As with the other B vitamins, a lack of biotin can cause a reduction in energy due to lower levels of oxygenation in the blood and less fuel being produced for your body. Biotin is also important for healthy nail and hair growth, so if you’re feeling tired and think your hair and nails are looking a little lacklustre, it’s worth upping your intake.
You will find that only very small amounts of biotin can be found in foods, such as eggs, nuts, mushrooms, salmon, and pork, so you’ll likely need to supplement it into your diet.
There are so many natural sources of these energy-boosting vitamins so the best way to ensure you’re getting enough energy naturally is to eat meals full of vegetables, fruits and whole grains regularly throughout the day, but if you are not able to pack them all into your daily diet, a multivitamin is a great way to support your body. Our multivitamin is entirely natural and eco-friendly and contains all the vitamins and minerals we’ve talked about above.