Essential Vitamins for Energy

A good dietary intake of important vitamins can have a significant impact on your health and the amount of energy you experience in each day. Vitamins perform many valuable functions within our bodies and are deeply involved in energy production.

Vitamin B3 niacin for instance, is needed for the digestion of your food, proper cardiovascular function and hormone utilization and you wouldn’t last too long without it. While the B vitamin pantothenic acid is required for your adrenal glands to regulate hormone levels, and inadequate B5 is linked to high stress levels, low immunity, weight gain and difficulty sleeping.

Other vitamins like ascorbic acid, vitamin A and D and vitamin K all play their part in keeping your energy levels high and your body operating at its best.

Health problems, while perhaps minor to begin with, are usually your body telling you that something isn’t quite right in your diet or lifestyle.

While many of the symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies can overlap, this page will summarize each of the recently covered vitamins on Health Ambition. To read more about a particular vitamin’s benefits, deficiency symptoms or best sources, follow the link to its main page.

See what are the best multivitamins for athletes, runners and bodybuilders here

Energy vitamins

5 Important Vitamins for Energy

1. Niacin

Vitamin B3 or niacin is a vital nutrient for a variety of different processes in your body that create energy and keep things running smoothly.

In particular, your circulatory and digestive systems will suffer if you are low in niacin. This leads to ongoing tiredness, slower metabolism, insomnia and poor skin. Chronic niacin deficiency, while rare, is particularly serious and can be fatal.

Best sources of niacin are shiitake mushrooms, brewer’s yeast, poultry and beef (preferably grass fed), seafood and nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds.

Much more on the symptoms of niacin deficiency and how to prevent it here.

2. Pantothenic Acid

Vitamin B5, called pantothenic acid, is needed for the creation of coenzyme-A, a critical substance for the utilization of essential fatty acids in your body.

Certain hormones require good levels of B5 for their manufacturing and when intake is low these chemical messengers may be unable to do the job properly. Often your health will suffer as a result.

Your adrenal glands, the control your energy and stress levels, are especially sensitive to low vitamin B5 intake. Much more on the importance of your adrenals on this page.

Good sources of pantothenic acid include avocados, sweet potatoes, liver, eggs, salmon, bananas and greens.

Further details on the importance of B5 and where to get it can be found here.

3. Vitamin C

Like all of the B vitamins, vitamin C is water-soluble. This means you can’t store it in your body and should try to get some in your meals each day.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help to prevent cardiovascular damage that leads to heart disease. It also helps protect your cells from free radical damage the promotes cancerous changes.

Vitamin C is well known for its ability to boost your immunity and minimize colds, flu and other viral infections. Additionally, it can have a positive effect on your appearance by boosting collagen production for healthy skin.

Stronger general immunity and a healthier cardiovascular system has a naturally energizing effect for most people, qualifying it is one of the vitamins for energy.

For extra merit, vitamin C assists in iron absorption for properly oxygenated blood that improves vitality and mental clarity.

Kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, citrus fruit, strawberries and leafy greens are all good sources and you can look into more of its health benefits and good sources here.

Using vitamins for better energy

4. Vitamin A

Fat-soluble vitamin A can be stored in your body, but it’s so important to cellular functions, gene expression, your immune system and the health of your eyes, skin and digestive tract that you really want to make sure you’re getting enough in the foods you eat.

Apart from actually increasing your chances of putting on weight, low-fat diets can be particularly problematic for getting enough vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins in your meals. For much more on what really works for weight loss, see this page on the real culprit.

Good sources of vitamin A include eggs and milk products from animals that have grazed on real grass, not just fattened up on processed corn mash.

Beta-carotene rich foods, like leafy greens, carrots and sweet potatoes can also usually be converted to vitamin A, provided they are eaten at the same time as healthy fats. Even then, this conversion can be quite poor though and beta-carotene is better utilized as an antioxidant rather than being converted to vitamin A.

By far and away the best source of vitamin A is a good cod liver oil, like this high omega-3 orange oil flavored version. It’s also rich in corresponding vitamin D, another nutrient for energy that fights inflammation, enhances your immune system and even improves brain function.

A much deeper look at vitamin A, vitamin D and their health benefits here.

5. Vitamin K

Another fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin K is more of a long-term energizer. Or rather, your energy levels will almost certainly suffer in the years ahead if you don’t start getting enough vitamin K in your diet now.

This is because vitamin K regulates calcium in your body and helps prevent minerals being lost from your bones leading to crippling osteoporosis.

This same calcium regulation provided by vitamin K also reduces calcification of your cardiovascular system, a condition that promotes hardening of your arteries leading to cardiovascular disease.

Unregulated calcification in your body can even affect the connective proteins of your skin, leading to fine lines and wrinkles on your face. So vitamin K plays its part, not just in keeping you feeling good, but also in keeping you looking good as well.

Recently, vitamin K2 from fermented and animal foods has been discovered to be a lot more physiologically active than plant-based vitamin K1.

Sauerkraut, fermented milk products like kefir and Swiss and emmental cheese are good sources of K2. Liver, kidney, egg yolks from free range chickens and grass fed butter and meats are also sources of vitamin K2.

By far and away the best source though is natto, the Japanese fermented soy product. While you probably won’t want to eat it (I’ve tried it myself, but the slimy texture was a bit much), high potency K2 supplements derived from natto are available. These make for a simple way to get a good daily dose of this essential, but often hard to get vitamin for better health and energy.

There’s much more on the many health benefits of vitamin K2 here and more on how to avoid deficiency in it as well.

Did you know what are the best multivitamins for weight loss? Check here.

While the other B vitamins not yet covered are also very important to your energy levels and vitamin E is a great promoter of cardiovascular health, I hope this brief look at vitamins and their role in energy production has given some good reasons to get more vitamin rich foods onto your plate.

body energy production

Are You Deficient or Maybe Just Lacking a Little?

A chronic deficiency in any of the vitamins listed here will have a profoundly negative effect on your health and you’d probably have little energy for anything.

While most people aren’t likely to be at risk of pellagra or scurvy (life-threatening niacin or vitamin C deficiencies), our over processed food diets are usually sorely lacking in these nutrients.

Many people’s usual daily supermarket meals may give them just enough to prevent an official, by the medical textbook vitamin deficiency, yet still be far from optimal for good health.

There’s often significant benefits to be had in getting more vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, B5 and other vitamins for energy by eating the higher quality foods that contain them.

The best way to do this isn’t generally to just pop a multivitamin from a laboratory each day. The amounts in the supplements are so high because absorption of them is usually so low.

Your body knows good, vitamin rich foods from engineered compounds and isn’t easily fooled. I’d suggest giving it what it really wants and needs.

Try eating a variety of the foods listed here for the coming two weeks in your breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners and really notice what it does to your energy levels in the next fortnight. You may just feel so good you decide to stick with them.

Jim Dillan
 

Jim Dillan is health and wellness researcher, writing about natural nutrition, improving your physical and mental well-being and moving to a healthier lifestyle. His website Superfood Profiles has detailed articles on superfood health benefits, hair and skin treatments and healthy recipes.