What Are the Best Vitamins for Energy?
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Have you considered taking a supplement? What was your reasoning, if so? Many people turn to taking vitamins for energy, but which are the best?
The right diet will help you perform at your best. Nutrients perform various functions in the human body, from helping you convert the foods you need into fuel to supporting healthy tissue in your heart, brain and other organs.
You do best to get most of your nutrients from food, letting supplements fill in the gaps. That said, what are the best vitamins for energy? Here are eight you should know.
1. Vitamin B12
If you ever investigated the best vitamins for energy online in the past, you undoubtedly saw B-12 on the list. This stuff has a stellar reputation for increasing your pep, but does it work?
Some physicians claim it benefits those with deficiencies the most. However, it’s not like you run around with a blood test capable of analyzing your blood nutrient count at any given time. Most teens and adults get by fine with 2.4 mcg daily, although requirements are higher for teens and pregnant women. Most Americans consume enough, thanks to a diet heavy in eggs, meat and dairy products.
However, two subsets of the population have to take extra measures to get sufficient vitamin B12.
- Those with pernicious anemia: Some people lack intrinsic factor in their intestines, making it difficult to absorb enough B12.
- Vegans: Since B12 predominates in foods of animal origin, it’s quite common for this population to become deficient.
Are there any plant-based sources of vitamin B12? It’s tricky and depends on how strictly you adhere to the definition of veganism. Fortunately, two types of seaweed, purple laver and nori, contain sufficient amounts of this nutrient if you can stomach the flavor enough to eat it daily.
Nutritional yeast is the go-to for many vegans. This stuff has synthetic B12 added for this purpose. Additionally, some green tea grown in a fish meal substrate absorb B12 through the soil. However, vegans who espouse the lifestyle out of animal welfare concerns may find this growth medium objectionable.
2. Vitamins C and Zinc
You might not think of these two nutrients as energy producers, but how peppy did you feel the last time you got sick? Your answer is probably, “not very.”
Both vitamin C and zinc can shorten a cold’s duration, but there’s a catch — you have to have ample amounts in your system when symptoms first appear. They won’t prevent you from getting sick, but they will help you feel better faster.
Your solution? Keep up with your morning OJ and add some red pepper strips to your lunchtime salad or wrap — each one has three times the vitamin C of an orange.
3. Niacin (B3)
You might notice that the rest of the best vitamins for energy on this list all fall into the B family. That’s because these nutrients play vital roles in helping you convert what you eat into energy or ATP at the cellular level.
Niacin is one you commonly find in over-the-counter supplements for this purpose. You’ll also find it in certain energy drinks. Have you ever noticed an uncomfortable warmth and red flush after consuming such a beverage? If so, what you’re probably experiencing is a niacin flush. While this condition is harmless and should abate in a few minutes to an hour, excessive supplement doses can harm organs like your liver.
Therefore, please take the time to read labels and avoid overdosing on certain nutrients. You won’t gain more energy, and you could cause permanent damage.
4. Folate (B9)
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how important folate is to your unborn child’s development. This nutrient is crucial to neural tube development to prevent cognitive disabilities in your baby.
This nutrient predominates in dark, leafy greens, legumes and nuts. Like all B vitamins, it plays a crucial role in overall neurological functioning. Symptoms of deficiency in adults include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pins and needles sensations, especially in your extremities
- Muscle weakness
- A sore red tongue and mouth ulcers
- Disturbed vision
- Psychological problems like depression
5. Thiamine (B1)
Thiamine is another B vitamin involved in neurological health and converting foods into glucose for energy. Deficiency in this nutrient causes a condition called beriberi, which has many of the same symptoms as too little folate. However, you can also develop trouble breathing, thanks to fluid buildup in the lungs.
Additionally, people with alcohol use disorder often develop a rare form of thiamine deficiency called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. It’s characterized by dementia-like confusion and uncoordinated movements. While high doses of vitamin B1 can restore motor function, the memory loss is permanent.
6. Riboflavin (B2)
You might want to get more riboflavin in your diet if you frequently suffer migraines. According to one government source, taking a supplement reduces migraine days by an average of two attacks per month. It works best in conjunction with other nutrients, so consider a multivitamin supplement. Better yet, work on getting more deep, leafy greens, almonds and lean meats in your diet.
7. Pantothenic Acid (B5)
You might recognize this ingredient from your shampoo bottle. Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 helps keep your hair looking lustrous.
When taken internally, vitamin B5 plays a crucial role in breaking down fat for fuel. It appears in high levels in avocado — perhaps why this fruit appears in so many DIY hair care recipes — so throw a bit of guac on that burger to aid digestion.
8. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 protects your brain and nervous system and also plays a crucial role in your body’s immune response. It plays a pivotal role in the production of T cells and leukocytes, two types of killer cells that fight infection.
One study on intensive care patients showed that intravenous supplements of B6 showed an increase in these vital cells. It might be worth adding a supplement, especially during the cold and flu season.
The Best Vitamins for Energy
You need a mix of nutrients to stay healthy. The ones listed above may be the best vitamins for energy, but you can’t supplement your way out of an unhealthy diet.
Your best approach is to consume a diet rich in whole foods close to their natural forms. You can also supplement with these best vitamins for energy to fill in any gaps and ensure your body functions at its peak.