by Karen Appold
A lack of energy can be the result of many things, albeit sleep deprivation, low activity level, or the type of food you eat. But when you can’t afford to be sluggish and tired, vitamins may be an answer.
John Lee, DC, of Lee Chiropractic in Irvine, California, said he believes it is appropriate for someone to take vitamins to boost energy if he or she has already tried to attain a well-balanced diet but still feels tired. However, some people have busy schedules and find it difficult to maintain good nutrition.
“A lot of the food that Americans eat is depleted of nutrients and natural vitamins due to the mass production of crops and food over the last 100-plus years,” Lee said. “Much of the soil on farms is not as dense in minerals and nutrients as in earlier years.”
Many people tend to reach for a cup of coffee or take a swig of an energy drink when they’re beginning to feel fatigued. Vitamins are a better solution to increasing energy long-term compared those alternatives because they are both more natural and more healthy.
“Although caffeine and energy bars increase energy immediately, they do so in an unhealthy way,” Lee said. “Too much caffeine can cause all kinds of health problems, as well as dependence. Energy bars are typically full of sugars, which are not good for you.”
Being deficient in certain vitamins makes the body have to work harder to do simple tasks, which could lead to lethargy, illness, or other health problems.
Work toward a diet rich in the following vitamins to ensure adequate energy levels:
- Vitamin B complex is found in whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, beans, nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast, and molasses.
- Vitamin B12 is found naturally in seafood, such as shellfish (clams, mussels and crabs), red meat, poultry, milk, milk products, cheese, and eggs.
- Very few foods contain vitamin D unless they are fortified with them. The few foods that contain it are salmon, tuna, mackerel, fish liver oils, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. You can also get vitamin D from sunlight.
- Iron is found in red meat, chicken, tuna, fish, whole grains, dried beans, and dried fruit.
- Magnesium is found in whole grains, bananas, avocados, nuts, leafy green vegetables, beans, and soy products.
- Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, leafy greens, and potatoes.
If you don’t get enough of these foods naturally in your diet, you may want to take vitamin supplements, but do not exceed the recommended daily allowances.
“During times of fatigue, however, you can take them in higher doses temporarily,” Lee said. “The body can only process certain amounts of vitamins, so it is not a good idea to take mega doses of vitamins daily. This sets the balance off in the body.”
While supplements are a good way to help get your body what it needs, Lee added that you should try to get as much of your nutrients and vitamins from consuming food as possible.
“Supplementing with vitamins should be to enhance your daily nutrition and never to replace or substitute real food,” he said. “This approach will create optimal nutritional health.”
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.