Want more energy without the added sugar and caffeine and crash later on? A B-Complex supplement may be the answer for you.
Though many drinks on store shelves claim they give you energy, they typically contain caffeine so you temporarily feel “awake.” But, a food or beverage that really provides more energy must have calories, typically from carbohydrates and fats – the two primary sources of energy in our diets. In addition to calories, there is another necessary component to the energy equation – B vitamins
The B vitamins help convert carbohydrates and fats into energy your body can use to move, think and perform. In addition, certain B vitamins help form red blood cells – the cells that carry oxygen to tissues throughout your body.
B vitamins are prevalent in our diets. They are found in a wide variety of protein-rich foods including fish, chicken, meat, eggs and dairy foods. Leafy green vegetables, beans and peas also contain certain B vitamins. In addition, some cereals and breads are fortified with B vitamins (look at the Nutrition Facts panel to see which B vitamins a cereal contains; if none are listed then the cereal probably isn’t fortified). And while B vitamins are prevalent in the diet, you need to consume them on a consistent basis because there’s only one that is stored in the body – B12. The rest are water-soluble meaning that they leave the body in your urine.
What Are The Best Sources of B Vitamins?
So how do you know if you need more B vitamins? You may not know unless you have a registered dietitian take a thorough look at your diet and determine which nutrient-rich foods you aren’t eating on a consistent basis or by having your blood levels checked by a doctor. Keep in mind that most physicians will only test for folate and B12.
Another clue may come from your overall energy levels. If you are dragging from day to day, you may not be getting enough of certain B vitamins.
Will taking a B complex supplement help? If your intake of certain B vitamins is below recommended daily values than yes, a supplement may help. Or if you have certain conditions or have had surgery that causes decreased absorption of key nutrients like B12 and folic acid, a supplement may be needed. Consult with your healthcare professional to be sure.
Feeling drained and lacking energy? Analyze your B vitamin intake. Together, the group of B vitamins commonly referred to as the B-Complex group work together to produce energy in cells throughout your body. Fall short of getting enough, and you may feel a lack of energy.
Though B vitamins are prevalent in a variety of foods, you may not be getting what you need if you cut out certain food groups from your diet, if you are on a low-carb diet or don’t get enough variety in your diet. There are also certain circumstances that deplete your body’s available B vitamins or that don’t allow for proper absorption, such as gastric bypass surgery, aging, alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine consumption and excessive stress. Vegetarians and vegans typically do not get enough vitamin B12.
A B-Complex supplement is a great idea if you know you fall into dietary, circumstantial or malabsorptive reasons that your body may not be getting enough B’s.
- All B Vitamins – Fortified cereals. Can’t go wrong here, just be sure to stay away from the sugary ones, most are good source of fiber too.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) – Necessary for energy production. Chronic alcoholics are most likely to be deficient in thiamin. Top food choices: grains (cereal, bread, etc.), pork, beef, rice, nuts.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), and Pantothenic Acid – Deficiencies for these three B’s are not very common in the U.S. If you consume an adequate amount of protein (vegetarian or vegans may not), you are most likely getting enough B3.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – Like all B’s it helps to convert energy from the food you eat in to a usable form in your body, and it also contributes to red blood cell formation and is necessary to proper nervous system function. A poor diet, some medications and conditions could cause a shortage of this vitamin. Top Food Choices: chicken, pork, peanut butter, black beans, almonds.
- Biotin – Important to skin, hair and nails, energy conversion from food and nervous system function. Pregnant women, malnourished people and those who have lost a large amount of weight quickly can all be affected by a deficiency. Top Food Choices: cooked eggs, wheat germ, peanuts, cottage cheese, and whole-wheat bread.
- Vitamin B12 – An outlier of the B vitamin group, B12 is the only one that can be stored in the body. Strict vegetarian/vegan diets run the risk of B12 deficiency since it can only be sourced from animal-based foods, as are those who have had certain kinds of gastric bypass surgery in which parts of the small intestine where B12 is absorbed have been removed. Top Food Choices: liver, salmon, clams, trout, beef, yogurt, haddock, tuna, milk, and cheese.
What happens if you get B vitamins from food and from a supplement? Can you get too much?
Because B vitamins are water soluble, what your body needs will be excreted, so there’s a low risk of getting too much. Look for a good liquid multivitamin or B-Complex supplement that contains at least 100% of the recommended daily intake for each vitamin. It’s the best way to insure you get all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy.
See where to get your next B-Vitamin Boost Here!
SEE ALSO: B Vitamins Help Reduce the Affects of Stress
Some diseases can really upset your nutritional balance. Celiac disease, a common autoimmune genetic disease, doesn’t just damage the digestive system. Left untreated, celiac causes widespread destruction throughout the body.
For those with this disease, the protein gluten, found in many grains and foods main from those grains, causes an immune reaction, which destroys villi in the small intestine.
Because villi help the body absorb nutrients from food, damage to these small finger-like projections results in impaired absorption of several nutrients, which over time could lead to anemia, osteoporosis and several other issues.
The most common nutrient deficiency in those with untreated celiac disease is iron deficiency anemia. However, absorption of several other nutrients may be compromised as well including folate, vitamins A, B12, D, E and K as well as key minerals calcium and phosphorus.
The only way to prevent issues with nutrient absorption is to treat celiac disease by following a gluten-free diet.A gluten free diet will typically help reverse intestinal damage caused by celiac disease. However, healing of the intestines may take a few years and therefore, nutrient absorption could be compromised during this time. Because only about 5-10% of those living with celiac disease are diagnosed, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and talk to your physician if you think you have celiac disease.
In addition to knowing the symptoms, keep in mind that people with Graves’ Disease, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s Disease or a family history of celiac disease have a greater chance of developing celiac disease.
SEE ALSO: Celiac Disease and a Gluten Free Diet – Watch for Nutrient Deficiencies in Both