Best Vitamins to Boost Energy

Your everyday life – the office, the kids, meeting friends, and moderate cardio or weight workout – demands a level of high energy.

Of course, the first step for daily high energy is to eat, hydrate, exercise, and sleep properly.  (More about eating a diet that fits your body type here).

After that, what are the best vitamins and supplements to give you the extra boost in everyday energy?  The answer for you may be vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin B12.

Why?

Because these three vitamins play a critical role in the daily functions of your body and most of us have a hard time keeping adequate levels in our bodies.

Vitamin D: Because We’re Indoors Instead of Out in the Sun

Four People Watching A Sunset

Why is Vitamin D So Important?

Vitamin D is one of your body’s critical 24 micronutrients.  For example, the mitochondria in your cells use vitamin D to generate ATP, which produces the energy your body uses for everything.

Vitamin D is also critical for a properly functioning immune system, basic brain (cognition) functions, muscle strength, and bone health (necessary for absorption of calcium for strong bones).

Signs of low vitamin D include ongoing fatigue, muscle weakness, and joint pain.  Many people that have low levels of vitamin D, for example, suffer from fatigue that can be misdiagnosed as depression.

How Do You Know If You Have Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is produced by your skin when you’re out in the sun.  If you’re not regularly outside, you may not be producing enough vitamin D.

This is because vitamin D is not found naturally in high concentrations in many foods (exceptions here being fatty fish — e.g., salmon, herring, sardines, cod — and eggs).  

Note that dairy products are often touted as a good source of vitamin D but this is because the vitamin has been added during the bottling process.

Because of this, it’s estimated that more than 35% of the US adult population is vitamin D deficient and the percentage increases with age.

You should have your vitamin D levels checked by your doctor during your annual blood test.  For most people, a minimum level of vitamin D should be over 25 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter), though as has been discussed before on Nutrishatives, this figure is subject to some debate.

How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?

Studies suggest that for people with low levels of vitamin D, taking a vitamin D supplement can improve mood and nervous system function and, hence, energy.

Vitamin D is safe and comes in two forms: ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3).

Ergocalciferol (D2) is produced by irradiating certain plants and fungi.  Cholecalciferol (D3) is the type vitamin D your body creates from the cholesterol in your skin when combined with sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Make Sure the Supplement You Take is Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the supplement to take because it helps maintain higher levels of vitamin D than vitamin D2.  For most people, taking around 1,500 to 2,000 IU (International Units) of D3 daily with a meal containing fat fixes a low level of vitamin D.

Check with your doctor on how much D3 you should take and for how long.

You can take the supplement all year or during the winter (colder, darker) when you’re less likely to be outside in the sun.

Summary

Vitamin D plays a key role in a healthy nervous system, a balanced mood, muscle, and bone health.  It’s a big part of operating with high daily energy.

Related Reading: 6 Ways to Boost Your Energy Without Caffeine

Vitamin C: Keep Your Body in Fighting Shape

Woman with hands wrapped for boxing

Why is Vitamin C Important For Your Energy Levels?

Vitamin C serves two primary roles in the body:

  • aid growth and repair
  • neutralize free radicals as an antioxidant

As the body grows and repairs, vitamin C is used to:

  • produce a protein to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
  • heal wounds and form scar tissue
  • repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth
  • assist in the absorption of iron

As an antioxidant, vitamin C blocks some of the damage caused by free radicals.  Free radicals are made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.

The buildup of free radicals over time is largely responsible for the aging process.  Free radicals may play a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.

Vitamin C: If You’re Going to Get a Cold, Keep It Short and Mild

For many years, now, vitamin C has been a popular household remedy for the common cold.

Research shows that, for most people, vitamin C supplements do not actually reduce the risk of getting the common cold.

People who take vitamin C supplements regularly, however, might have slightly shorter colds and/or somewhat milder symptoms.

How Do You Get the Vitamin C You Need Every Day?

The body is not able to make vitamin C on its own, and it does not store vitamin C.  It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.  Any excess amount will leave the body in your urine and will not be stored.

Vitamin C is plentiful in a variety of fruits and vegetables.  The best sources include citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, and red peppers (both hot and sweet).

Research shows that the amount of vitamin C that the body needs is anywhere from 75 mg to 150 mg per day.  People under environmental stress (e.g., from environmental pollution or exposure to tobacco smoke) should aim for the upper end of the range.

When obtained from supplements in the recommended dosages, vitamin C is generally regarded as safe.  Most people take vitamin C with food to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.

Summary

Vitamin C is important for growth and repair, as an antioxidant and to boost your immune system.  Your body can’t produce or store excess vitamin C, so daily intake is necessary.

Do you know everything you should about all the vitamins your body needs every day?  Make sure by checking out our definitive Vitamins Guide!

Vitamin B12: Let the Oxygen Flow

How Does Vitamin B12 Support Your Energy Levels?

Vitamin B12 is responsible for forming red blood cells, which transport oxygen in the blood throughout the body.  Once the oxygen arrives in your body’s cells, it is utilized for energy production.

Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in neurological function.  If you don’t consume enough vitamin B12 in your diet, you will be at a greater risk of fatigue, weakness, or weight loss.

Vegetarians and vegans are likely to be low on vitamin B12 since it’s most commonly found in fish, meat, eggs, and dairy.

Older adults and people with digestive disorders, like Crohn’s disease, are also at risk for a deficiency because they are less able to absorb the B12 they consume.

How Do You Know If You Have Enough Vitamin B12?

Nearly 15% of the US is deficient in B12 and an even higher percentage of people consume less B12 each day than the FDA recommends.  Deficiency rates also go up for older populations.

B12 deficiency can cause tiredness, constipation, nerve problems, and other issues.  If you have a severe deficiency, you could end up with too few healthy red blood cells causing numbness in your hand and feet, mental disorientation, weight loss, and fatigue.

If you are feeling fatigued, eating foods rich in vitamin B12 or taking a supplement just might improve your energy levels.

How Much Vitamin B12 Should You Take?

A simple blood test will tell you if you’re low in vitamin B12.  Low levels may be caused by medical conditions, a low level of B12 absorption by the body, or simply not eating enough foods rich in B12.

The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends that:

  • healthy adult men and women over 19 years old consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12
  • pregnant women consume 2.6 micrograms daily
  • women who are breastfeeding consume 2.8 micrograms daily

However, due to the absorption rate decreasing with age, people over age 50 may need higher doses to keep the levels in their body healthy.

If you’re low on B12, consider supplementation.

Summary

Vitamin B12 plays a key role in transporting oxygen through the blood to support energy production, as well as neurological function.  If you can’t get enough B12 through your diet, take a B12 supplement.

Take Home Message

You’ve got a lot you want to do every day.

Fortunately, you can maintain your energy with the proper diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep

However, when you need an extra boost, taking vitamins D3, C, and B12 may really help.

These three vitamins are critical to the body’s production of energy and many of us don’t get enough of them through our daily diets.

Remember to check with your doctor to determine if these supplements are the right option for you.

About the Author

Greg Porto is a Partner at myMetabolix, a wellness company that helps executives stay healthy while meeting the demands of the executive lifestyle.

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