B vitamins have been toted as the cure all for low energy - but today we'll talk about how exactly they can help with fatigue and how important they are for your body. One misunderstanding is that they in and of themselves provide the body with energy. How it really works is the body used nutrients from carbohydrates, protein and fat for fuel, but B vitamins help your body utilize those nutrients as fuel. We need them for energy production, supporting our nervous system, maintaining healthy skin and hair and making red blood cells amongst other functions.
Maintaining necessary levels of all 9 B vitamins can easily happen through a whole foods diet or in addition to a high quality B Complex supplement taken daily. Most of these vitamins can't be stored by the body so they must be consumed on a daily basis to properly be utilized.
The most commonly discussed B vitamin deficiency is for B12 - especially amongst the vegetarian and vegan community. The reason for this is B12 can only be found in animal sources such as dairy, organ meats, eggs, meat and in nutritional yeast. Many non-dairy milks, meat substitutes and breakfast cereals have been fortified with B12, but it's still debated whether these are absorbed as efficiently as from animal sources. Also, fortified foods tend to be highly processed so it's better to choose whole food options first, or rely on a whole foods based supplement.
Those with celiac or Crohn's Disease may also struggle to retain B vitamins as their conditions interfere with food absorption. A B12 deficiency can show up gradually over time, and have a range of symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, light sensitivity, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet and difficulty thinking or memory loss. Drugs such as antibiotics, oral contraceptives, heavy alcohol or caffeine consumption can inhibit absorption of certain B vitamins as well.
The B vitamin group consists of the following:
B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Panthothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate) and B12.
To cover all of your bases, it's recommended you aim to eat food sources of these vitamins throughout your day. Try to choose organic beef or chicken for the best sources of these vitamins. Here are foods recommended to increase your B vitamin levels and start having more energy:
- Vegetables such as asparagus, peas, dark leafy greens and Brussel sprouts
- Fermented foods such as tempeh, mushrooms and miso
- Sea vegetables such as dulse, kombu and nori
- Fruits - especially citrus, currants, bananas
- Whole grains such as millet, wild rice, brown rice, wheat germ, brewer's yeast and quinoa
- Nuts and Seeds - unsalted and raw
- Legumes such as lentils, black beans and navy beans
If you're seeing the signs of B vitamin deficiency, be sure that you are covering your grounds with nutrition first. Many times we believe we are consuming more of a variety than we really are, and the key to improving these symptoms could be in our very own kitchen. If you know you need the added insurance of a supplement, we carry three options from both Standard Process and Innate Response Formulas can help you get on the track to feeling better.