Vitamins and supplements when used can be converted by the body to give the energy the body required. That implies that vitamins and supplements do indirectly give energy. Energy is the ability of a physical system or body to perform a task or work. Starting from the minute cells of the body to the tissues, and then to the body organs that need the energy to perform their respective functions.
This required energy comes naturally from the food we eat. Our body’s digestive system works in a way that the food we eat is been masticated and acted upon by the saliva, before moving to the stomach where it is been mixed with another set of digestive fluids (acids and enzymes). The endpoint of carbohydrate digestion is glucose, and this carbohydrate is the main source of energy from foods.
It is the work of the stomach and small intestines to absorb and release glucose into the bloodstream. The bloodstream now transports the glucose to the necessary site where it can be used immediately for energy or stored in our bodies, to be used later.
When people talk about vitamins for energy, what they’re referring to is not caffeine which can give almost transient energy. They’re referring to something like Vitamin B12, CoQ10, Magnesium, and Iron. All these play major roles in converting the food you eat into usable energy. The best sources of these vitamins/minerals are through the food you eat, but you can still have them through supplements. And these are the reasons why it’s important to get the right amount of these nutrients either from food or supplements to keep your body functioning at the optimal level.
Why Do You Need Vitamin B12 for Energy?
Vitamin B12: It helps in energy metabolism by functioning in the breakdown of the food you eat into the energy your body needs. Vitamin B12 does this as a co-factor in kick-starting the reactions of converting food, especially fats and protein, into usable energy. This is the reason why vitamin B12 is often regarded and marketed as one of the best vitamins for energy.
Vitamin B12 is also needed in the body for the proper functioning of the nervous system, including brain function, where it is needed when it comes to certain neurotransmitters like serotonin. The importance of vitamin B12 is also effective when it functions as a co-factor in making SAM-e (a compound that supports a healthy mood).
Vitamin B12 can be mainly found in foods of animal origin, the sources are:
- Brie cheese
CoQ10: This helps turn carbohydrates & fats into energy your body can use. CoQ10 is not a vitamin, but a vitamin-like compound that can be made in the body and can also be obtained from food and supplements. The thought of some people that CoQ10 is one of the best vitamins for energy is wrong. It is just a coenzyme (hence the word “Co”) It is one of the essential molecules in the body which helps to kick-start the biological process the body needs.
Nearly every cell in your body contains CoQ10 which helps in converting carbohydrates and fats into energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphates i.e. the energy your cells can use). This energy generated in form of ATP is stored in your cells’ mitochondria (the “powerhouse” of each cell) and then used later to power the system in any part of the body it’s needed like the heart, liver, and kidneys. Beef, chicken, and fish stands out as the best source to get CoQ10, but can also be found in:
- Canola and soybean oils
Although CoQ10 can be synthesized in the body, adding a CoQ10 supplement to your daily routine can be a great way to replenish CoQ10 levels to support cellular energy production.
Magnesium: It is another essential mineral also required in the body for energy production by converting carbohydrates and fats into ATP (i.e. the energy the body can use). Apart from the structural role magnesium plays in bones and teeth, and also helping the muscles relax, many of the enzymes involved in energy production are dependent on it.
Can be found in:
- Black beans
- Peanut butter
- Baked potatoes with the skin
- Cooked brown rice
Magnesium can also be purchased as a supplement, which can be in form of magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, or magnesium glycinate.
Iron: Iron is among the key nutrient the body needs for its biological processes, and this includes energy production. Like magnesium, certain enzymes are dependent on iron for energy metabolism in converting food into energy (ATP). Red blood cell formation in the bone marrow also requires iron for its development and maturation.
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body lacks enough iron to support normal red blood cell production. This lack of iron in red blood cells causes a decrease in the amount of oxygen delivered to cells and impairs energy production thus leading to fatigue.
Iron deficiency anemia might manifest its symptoms in form of tiredness and fatigue, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing after exercising. The natural source of iron can be found in both animal- and plant-based foods (as heme and nonheme iron).
Other natural food sources of iron are:
- Raisin bran cereal
- White beans
Apart from the natural sources of obtaining iron from food listed above, iron supplements are available, and these are formulated to address cases of iron deficiency anemia. Depending on your situation and needs, your health consultant will advise you better on your daily iron needs.