Energy is essential for every function in our bodies, from our heartbeats to the firing of our neurotransmitters.
When your energy levels dip, it's not just your body that feels the impact. Low energy can also cloud our minds, dampen our spirits, and leave us feeling like we're moving through life in slow motion.
Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, canned energy drink, or other stimulant, we recommend looking for more natural energy supplements.
Today we’re discussing the crucial role that vitamins play in your body and how they can support energy production.
How Is Energy Produced in Our Bodies?
The human body is powered by an intricate energy production system. A lack of energy typically means that there’s a cog somewhere in the machine. Understanding how energy metabolism works can help you identify that cog and address it.
At the heart of the energy production system are carbohydrates and glucose. Whenever you consume carbohydrates, your body gets to work breaking them down into simple sugars, including glucose. This glucose is then absorbed into your bloodstream and transported to the cells throughout your body.
However, glucose isn't ready to be used as energy just yet — first, it needs to undergo a process called cellular respiration, which occurs in the mitochondria (the powerhouses) of your cells. Through a series of chemical reactions, glucose is converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary energy currency of your cells.
Which Vitamins Are Essential for Energy Production?
As you surely already know, your body needs a variety of vitamins in order to function properly. Unfortunately, vitamin deficiencies are fairly common for many Americans. If you’re looking to increase your energy levels, then it’s best to start by getting more of the following vitamins in your daily life.
1. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine helps your body convert the food you eat into the energy you need. It's particularly important for the metabolism of carbohydrates, and a deficiency can lead to a condition known as beriberi, which causes symptoms such as fatigue and weakness. You'll find thiamine in whole grains, pork, brown rice, eggs, and oranges.
2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is a key player in energy production and cellular function. It helps break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, turning them into the energy your cells crave. A deficiency can cause symptoms such as skin disorders and hair loss, and you can load up on riboflavin with dairy products, green veggies, eggs, lean meats, and legumes.
3. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin is a multitasker involved in cell signaling, making and repairing DNA, and converting food into energy, and a deficiency can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, dermatitis, and cognitive problems. You'll find niacin in poultry, fish, brown rice, mushrooms, and peanuts.
4. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Pantothenic acid helps your body break down fats and carbohydrates for energy and is essential for the production of red blood cells and cholesterol. Deficiency is rare, but can cause symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and numbness. Pantothenic acid is plentiful in avocados, mushrooms, broccoli, dairy products, and legumes.
5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine is vital in the creation of red blood cells, which transport oxygen in the body, and neurotransmitters, the body's chemical messengers. A deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system, skin conditions, and depression. Pyridoxine is found in poultry, fish, bananas, potatoes, and chickpeas.
6. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin is known for promoting healthy hair, skin, and nails, but it also supports metabolism and helps convert food into energy. Deficiency can cause thinning hair, skin rashes, and neurological disorders. You can find biotin in eggs, almonds, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cheese.
7. Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Folic acid, sometimes known as folate, is crucial for proper brain function and plays an important role in mental and emotional health, and it also helps with the creation of DNA and RNA. Deficiency can cause fatigue, poor growth, and tongue inflammation. You'll find vitamin B9 in leafy greens, beans, peas, and lentils.
8. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Cobalamin is essential for brain function and the creation of red blood cells, cobalamin also helps with DNA production. A B12 deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, and loss of appetite. Since B12 is primarily found in animal products, vegans and vegetarians often need to use B12 supplements or eat fortified foods to get enough.
9. Vitamin C
Vitamin C aids in iron absorption, the production of collagen, the repair of body tissues, and energy metabolism. A deficiency can cause scurvy, characterized by fatigue, swollen gums, and joint pain. You can find Vitamin C in a variety of fruits and veggies such as oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli.
10. Vitamin D
Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” helps with energy production and plays a crucial role in helping your body absorb calcium and phosphorus from your diet, contributing to bone health. Deficiency can lead to bone pain and muscle weakness. You can find vitamin D in fatty fish, cheese, and fortified dairy products.
How Can You Get More of These Vitamins Each Day?
Any qualified dietitian or healthcare professional will tell you that a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains is the best way to ensure you're getting these vitamins. Not only can such a diet help combat low levels of energy, but it can also provide additional health benefits and help with weight loss.
However, we all know that life sometimes gets busy, and even the best-laid plans for a healthy diet can quickly be derailed. Fortunately, there are a variety of dietary supplements that can help you ensure you’re getting enough vitamins each day. If you’re unsure which vitamin is lacking, consult your doctor to see if you should take a multivitamin or B-complex supplement.
It’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing. Make sure that you’re only taking the recommended dosage for each supplement. High doses won’t give you any extra energy, but they could result in side effects, including digestive issues, headaches, and more.
What Other Nutrients Can Support Energy Levels?
Vitamins are absolutely essential to preventing low energy. However, they’re not the only nutrients that your body needs to keep your energy levels high. Here are a few other nutrients that you also need to support energy production:
Iron is a key nutrient in the production of hemoglobin, a protein that allows red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. An iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which often results in fatigue and diminished energy. Iron is found in a variety of foods, including lentils, spinach, and red meat. For those struggling to get enough iron in their diet, iron supplements can be a beneficial addition.
Magnesium, known as the “relaxation mineral,” is heavily involved in energy production. It participates in hundreds of biochemical reactions, including those that convert food into energy. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and irregular heartbeat. Magnesium is found in foods like almonds, black beans, and avocado.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an antioxidant that is found in almost every cell of our bodies and is crucial for energy synthesis. CoQ10 aids in the production of ATP, the main energy source for our cells. A deficiency in CoQ10 can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, and in severe cases, heart failure. CoQ10 is commonly found in organ meats, fatty fish, and whole grains.
L-theanine is an amino acid primarily known for its ability to promote relaxation without drowsiness, but it's also beneficial for increasing focus and mental alertness. While it doesn't directly produce energy, it can help enhance mental energy. You can find L-theanine in black tea, green tea, and certain types of mushrooms.
Creatine is naturally found in muscle cells and is popular among athletes for improving strength and lean muscle mass. It's also beneficial for energy production, particularly during high-intensity workouts. Creatine is naturally found in red meat and fish, but supplements can be a useful addition for those who don't consume these foods regularly or need an extra boost for their workouts.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA, are vital for energy production. They play an essential role in the function of our cell membranes, affecting how well our cells can produce energy. Here at iwi life, we offer a variety of omega-3 supplements that can support your energy levels and other aspects of your health. What’s more, our omega-3 supplements are sourced from Nannochloropsis algae, providing a sustainable and plant-based option.
Understanding the role of vitamins in energy production is key to maintaining or improving your energy levels. Vitamins, along with the other nutrients mentioned above, are essential players in our body's energy production system.
A balanced diet is the ideal way to ensure you're getting these necessary nutrients. However, life can sometimes throw us off track. That's where supplements, like those from iwi life, come in handy.
At iwi life, our omega-3 supplements provide a sustainable, plant-based option to support your energy levels and overall wellness. Our supplements are sourced from algae and can support your efforts to put constant tiredness behind and live your life to the fullest.