Contents

Why B Vitamins Are the Secret to More Energy

The more active you are, the more B vitamins you need. “These nutrients are extremely important for energy metabolism,” says Melinda M. Manore, Ph.D., R.D.N., a professor of nutrition at Oregon State University. They’re crucial for breaking down food into fuel, transporting oxygen throughout your body, and increasing your red-blood-cell production to keep your muscles functioning properly.

But the funny thing about B’s is that they’re debilitated by healthy habits-if you work out and limit certain foods, you may be coming up short. For instance, if you cut out meat or dairy or ease up on carbs in the form of grains, three top sources of B vitamins, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough. (BTW here’s another reason you might not want to eliminate dairy.) Exercising regularly causes you to drain your supply of B’s faster than being sedentary as well. What’s more, marginally low levels of certain B’s have been shown to negatively affect athletic performance.

Fortunately, all it takes is a few simple eating upgrades to turn things around. This checklist spells out exactly what you need and why.

B2 (Riboflavin)

This breaks down the carbohydrates, protein, and fats you eat and converts them into glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids-the substances your body uses as fuel. “It’s what gives you energy when you exercise,” explains Nicole Lund, R.D.N., a sports performance dietitian and personal trainer at NYU Langone Sports Performance Center. That’s important for everyone, but women who work out regularly need more energy throughout the day than those who don’t, so they may be more likely than most to have low B2 levels, Lund adds.

B6 (Pyridoxine)

It helps you convert food into energy like riboflavin does. In addition, B6 also assists with muscle contractions, which are key for movement inside and outside of the gym. What’s more, the vitamin helps your body produce serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that improve your mood and your sleep, says Keri Glassman, R.D.N., a nutritionist and founder of Nutritious Life, a wellness company.

B12 (Cobalamin)

A powerhouse essential for energy, B12 assists with the production of red blood cells and helps iron create hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body, Glassman says. (The vitamin also plays a surprising role in brain health). But since it’s found mostly in meat, vegetarians and vegans are often deficient. In fact, as many as 89 percent of vegans don’t get enough B12 from food alone, a recent study in the journal Nutrition Research reported.

Fit women need about 2.4 mcg daily. If you eat meat or fish, that’s pretty easy to achieve-3 ounces of salmon has 2.38 mcg and 3 ounces of beef, 3.88 mcg. But if you don’t, Glassman suggests consuming fortified foods such as soy milk (8 ounces, 2.7 mcg), fortified cereals (3⁄4 cup, 6 mcg), and nutritional yeast (1 tablespoon, 2.4 mcg). Just be sure to split it up: The body can only absorb so much B12 at once. Eat or drink roughly 25 percent of your daily target with each meal or snack.

Choline

This nutrient serves as a link between your muscles and your brain. (Although it’s not technically a B vitamin, experts consider it one because it’s so essential for energy production.)

“You need choline to activate acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that tells the muscles to move,” Lund says. “Learning new skills at the gym, like kettlebell swings or barre routines, requires attention, cognitive function, and coordination-all of which depend on choline to happen.”

Yet 94 percent of women don’t get the recommended 425 mg a day, reports the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. To increase your intake, eat eggs (1 hard-boiled has 147 mg), turkey (3 ounces, 72 mg), and soy protein powder (one scoop, 141 mg), or one of these choline-filled recipes.

  • By Alyssa Sparacino @a_sparacino

Vitamin B6, along with the other B vitamins, helps the body turn food into energy. On its own, vitamin B6 has many other uses that are important to maintaining a healthy body and developing a healthy brain. Vitamin B6 is so important it may have triggered the growth of the first living creatures on Earth.

Sources

“The fact that B vitamins are so important to our nutritional status coupled with the fact that they are “water soluble” — they are not stored in your body to any major extent — makes it quite easy to run dry on supplies,” said Dr. David Greuner, director and co-founder of NYC Surgical Associates.

Since the body can so easily run out of B6, it is important to consume foods that contain B6. Some of the best sources of B6 include beans, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, papayas, oranges and cantaloupe, according to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). Bananas are another good source.

First breath

Vitamin B6 may have given rise to Earth’s first oxygen-producing organisms, according to researchers at the University of Illinois. Around 2.4 billion years ago, the planet experienced a huge spike in atmospheric oxygen levels. Scientists have long held that this rise in oxygen, called the Great Oxygenation Event, was tied to the arrival of the first photosynthetic organisms. (Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis, which uses sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into sugary foods.) But nobody knew why these oxygen-producing organisms emerged in the first place.

Researchers found that the oldest oxygen-based process involved the production of pyridoxal, a form of vitamin B6, about 2.9 billion years ago, the same time that the enzyme manganese catalase appeared.

Manganese catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Early organisms may have come across this enzyme when trying to cope with environmental hydrogen peroxide, which some geochemists believe was abundant in Earth’s glaciers at the time and was released by the bombardment of solar radiation. The organisms essentially got the oxygen they needed to produce pyridoxal by breaking down the glacial hydrogen peroxide with manganese catalase.

Benefits

Besides producing energy for the body, the B vitamins also have several other uses. “B complex vitamins are often looked at as the metabolic enhancers of their group,” Greuner said. “They are responsible for the way your body unlocks the energy in food to be able to utilize the nutrients effectively, assist in hormonal optimization, cell health and energy utilization.” Furthermore, he said, without B6, the body wouldn’t be able to absorb vitamin B12.

Along with several other B vitamins, pyridoxine, a form of vitamin B6, controls levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, which may be key to lowering susceptibility to heart disease and stroke, according to HSPH, though studies have been inconclusive thus far.

B6, specifically, is a vitamin that is used to make several neurotransmitters in the brain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry signals from one nerve cell to another. These chemicals are important for processing thought and healthy brain development. They are also responsible for telling the body to make hormones that influence mood and the body’s sleep cycles.

Vitamin B6 is also important for women’s and baby health, in particular. “During pregnancy and infancy, vitamin B6 is used in brain development and to support immune function,” said Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) also reports that administering pyridoxine intravenously is an effective treatment for controlling seizures in infants caused by pyridoxine dependence. Women also use vitamin B6 for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), depression related to pregnancy and the birth control pill, and symptoms related to menopause. A study by the State University of New York found that 30 mg of B6 may help reduce morning sickness.

Deficiency and dosage

Though a major deficiency in vitamin B6 is rare, many people may have a slight deficiency, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. People most likely to have a deficiency are children, the elderly, and those who take certain medications that can cause low levels of B6.

People who have trouble absorbing vitamin B6 from food or dietary supplements can develop a deficiency, as well. They include those with kidney disease, alcoholism, hyperthyroidism, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease such as celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease, said Ross.

Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include weak immune system, anemia, itchy rashes, scaly skin on the lips, cracks at the corners of the mouth and a swollen tongue. Other symptoms of a very low vitamin B6 levels include depression and confusion, according to NLM.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult men and women up to the age of 50 is 1.3 milligrams daily. Men over 50 have an RDA of 1.7 mg, while women over 50 have an RDA of 1.5 mg, according to NLM. One cup of cooked kidney beans contains 0.2 mg of vitamin B6, while a large orange has about 0.1 mg.

Vitamin B6 causes interactions with some medications, so be sure to contact a medical professional before taking a pyridoxine supplement. For the most part, though, B6 is considered safe to consume naturally through foods and through moderate supplementation because it is a water-soluble vitamin. “In general, most vitamins fall into either one of two broad categories — water or fat soluble,” Greuner said. “Why is this important? Water soluble vitamins are for the most part eliminated daily, where fat soluble vitamins are stored within the body’s tissues.”

Though typically safe, too much B6 isn’t a good thing. “Symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to sunlight and nerve damage can occur when people regularly take over 250 mg daily, but can occur at even 100 mg every day,” said Dr. Kristine Arthur, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.

Persistent consumption of excessively high doses of B6 can cause severe sensory nerve damage, leading to numbness, sensory changes and loss of control of bodily movements. The NLM rates B6 as possibly unsafe for long-term use in high doses.

Additional resources

  • NIH: Vitamin B6 Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet
  • Oregon State University: B6 Summary
  • Mayo Clinic: Vitamin B6

You’re probably familiar with Vitamin B6 and B12, but did you know there are actually eight B vitamins?

  • B1 (thiamin)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folate )
  • B12 (cobalamin)

These vitamins help a variety of enzymes do their jobs, ranging from releasing energy from carbohydrates and fat to breaking down amino acids and transporting oxygen and energy-containing nutrients around the body.

Spotlight on Three of the Bs: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12

One of the advances that changed the way we look at vitamins was the discovery that too little folate is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Folate (Folic Acid) – Vitamin B9

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9, water-soluble and naturally found in many foods. It is also added to foods and sold as a supplement in the form of folic acid; this form is actually better absorbed than that from food sources—85% vs. 50%, respectively.Learn more about folate and health.

Another line of research about folate and two other B vitamins, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, explores their roles in reducing some types of cancer and heart disease.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in many foods, as well as added to foods and supplements.Learn more about vitamin B6 and health.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is naturally found in animal foods. It can also be added to foods or supplements. Vitamin B12 is needed to form red blood cells and DNA. It is also a key player in the function and development of brain and nerve cells.Learn more about vitamin B12 and health.

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Vitamins and Minerals

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Vitamin B12: The Energy Vitamin

Short on time?

Names: Vitamin B12, cobalamin

Best known for: Turning nutrients into energy; formation of red blood cells; keeping your nervous system in shape

Good sources: Mostly animal products, including meat, eggs, milk and dairy. Fortified breakfast cereal serves as a good alternative for vegans and vegetarians.

Adequate intake (AI): 4 mcg/day for healthy adults; 4.5 mcg/day for pregnant and lactating women. No tolerable upper intake level (UL) has been established.

Good to know: Vitamin B12 deficiency can often be ‘hidden’ by high levels of vitamin B9 (folic acid) in the blood. This can delay diagnosis and treatment.

Vitamin B12 in Jake:
Jake Light and Original: 37-50% of AI
Jake Sports: 31-38% of AI
Vitaminbars: 38% of AI

What is vitamin B12?

The name vitamin B12 can refer to any of four vitamersThe vitamers of vitamin B12 are cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin., chemically related compounds which exhibit the same function in the body. They are all considered equivalent to each other.

As a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin B12 cannot be stored in the body and needs to be regularly present in your diet.

Health benefits of vitamin B12

Similar to other vitamins from the B-complex, vitamin B12 acts as a coenzyme, enabling enzymesAn enzyme is a substance, usually a protein, that speeds up biochemical reactions within the body. to fulfil their function in your body.

The key processes that depend on vitamin B12 are:

  • Energy metabolism: The process of converting nutrients into energy.
  • Formation of red blood cells.
  • Plays an important role in the functioning of nerves
  • Contributes to the functioning of the memory

Can you really get an energy boost from vitamin B12? It depends. If you are vitamin B12 deficient, a supplement can get you from a fatigued state to a normal energy level, which will feel like a boost. However, if you already have a sufficient intake of vitamin B12 in your diet, there is no evidence that further supplementation will make a difference in how energetic you feel.

How much vitamin B12 do you need?

Healthy adults need 4 mcg per day to meet their dietary needsThis amount is the adequate intake (AI) established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). An adequate intake (AI) is an amount assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy.. Pregnant and lactating women require more vitamin B12, which can be compensated for by increasing their daily intake with 0.5 mcg.

A piece of salmon of around 130 grams already contains the full daily amount of vitamin B12 you need. If you’re pregnant, just go for a slightly larger piece.

Some bacteria in your gut flora can make vitamin B12 themselves. However, you cannot absorb it directly as it is produced in the colon, already past the small intestine, where vitamin B12 is absorbed.

Vitamin B12 in foods

Vitamin B12 is most abundant in animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy. Breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin B12 can be a good alternative for vegetarians and vegans. Usually, one serving of 35-40 grams contains close to 100% of the recommended dietary allowance.

Here are the best sources of vitamin B12:

* Based on the adequate intake (AI) established by EFSA for healthy adults (4 mcg/day)

What if you’re not getting enough vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is not only very common, it can also be quire serious.

Groups vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiency are:

  • Vegetarians and vegans: As vitamin B12 is naturally present in animal foods, people who exclude them from their diet are at a higher risk of deficiency. This especially applies to vegans, as they don’t consume any animal products. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also affect exclusively breastfed infants whose mothers are vegan or vegetarian. If you exclude animal foods from your diet, sufficient vitamin B12 supplementation is important to prevent deficiency.
  • The elderly: The ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food naturally decreases with age. However, vitamin B12 from supplements and fortified foods can still be well absorbed in most cases.
  • People with gastrointestinal and malabsorption disorders.

If you don’t belong to one of these groups and have a diverse diet, you’d be unlikely to develop a vitamin B12 deficiency.

How much vitamin B12 is too much?

There are no known adverse health effects associated with high doses of vitamin B12. As a result, no tolerable upper intake level (UL) has been established.

Take-aways

These are the top things to keep in mind about vitamin B12:

  • It helps you turn food into energy and keeps your nervous system in shape.
  • You can find vitamin B12 primarily in animal foods, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin B12 provides a good alternative for vegans and vegetarians.
  • If you’re vegan, take vitamin B12 supplements to avoid a deficiency. Depending on your level of restriction of animal foods, this also applies if your vegetarian.
  • Not getting enough vitamin B12 can cause you to lose appetite, feel tired and weak.

The Basics of Vitamin B12 and Weight Loss

If weight loss were a question, there would be a lot of given responses. The problem is identifying which is the right one. According to some, Vitamin B12 falls into the category of correct answers.

The use of Vitamin B12 for weight loss is part of a growing trend of supplementing deficiencies to allow the body to correct and effectively manage itself. The ratio behind it is that if you give the body what it needs, you will have the proper tools to get optimum performance from it.

Vitamins are considered prime resources for weight loss because of how they help the metabolic processes of the body. In this case, here is a rundown of the role of Vitamin B-12 for weight loss.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a naturally occurring vitamin in some types of food. It is mainly found in food high in protein, like eggs, fish, and shellfish.

It is a water-soluble substance, meaning it can dissolve in water. This is an advantage for Vitamin B-12 for weight loss supplements because it means that it can easily be absorbed by the body. It does not need any special delivery methods. If you consume it, it can be dissolved and distributed with no absorption issues from an inability to mix with fat.

As a practical result, Vitamin B12 can be taken orally or by syringe. It can also be given as medication for severe cases or as a supplement to improve the levels found in the body.

The importance of Vitamin B-12 for weight loss is associated with the way it functions. This vitamin can come in many forms and each form has its own task to perform.

Examples of these are Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin, which are essential for human metabolism. The Vitamin B12 works by helping turn the food that you eat into glucose.

Glucose a type of sugar that acts as the body’s fuel to do everyday activities. Getting the right amounts of glucose is essential because, without it, a person feels lethargic.

Vitamin B12 also functions as a cofactor, which means it assists, the enzyme L methylmalonyl-COA in fat and protein metabolism.

Its association with metabolism and energy-provision is the reason why Vitamin B12 is considered a tool for weight loss.

Why is Vitamin B12 Useful for Weight Loss?

Vitamin B12 works to assist in weight loss in several ways. Some are more direct, such as a means to influence metabolism. Others, on the other hand, are less direct. An example of this is by addressing the symptoms of mental stress.

First, it is necessary to see what happens when you have a deficiency to know how Vitamin B12 can assist in weight loss.

A deficiency can occur when you do not get enough Vitamin B12. This can be caused by certain factors. Older people are susceptible to deficiency because they do not produce enough hydrochloric acid in their stomachs to absorb the Vitamin B12 in the food they eat.

In fact, most people over the age of 50 will most likely need to eat fortified food items or take dietary supplements to offset their body’s inability to get enough levels of Vitamin B12 from regular food.

Medical conditions like pernicious anemia and those who have had gastrointestinal surgery also cannot absorb enough Vitamin B12.

Since the main source of Vitamin B12 is food, the stomach is its usual gateway. If there are diseases that make digestion difficult such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, then it also can lead to a Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Lifestyle choices are also associated with insufficient amounts of Vitamin B12. Those who choose to refrain from animal consumption like vegetarians and vegans cannot access Vitamin B12 naturally. This is because this vitamin only appears in animal food. They will need to supplement.

Lack of Energy and Mental Issues

One of the results of a deficiency is anemia, which is a condition where the body has low levels of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is tasked with helping form hemoglobin inside the red blood cells.

Without these hemoglobin molecules, it can be difficult to transport oxygen to the different parts of the body. Low oxygen levels result in fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and even nausea.

Another way the Vitamin B12 can help in weight loss is by addressing anxiety and stress. A deficiency can cause psychiatric symptoms like panic and trigger existing conditions of anxiety and depression. The reasoning behind this is that vitamin B12 regulates the proper function of the nervous system.

Nerves have a protective covering surrounding them called the myelin sheath. If there is not enough Vitamin B12, the myelin sheath is damaged. A mild deficiency can interrupt the proper functions of the brain. At its worst, the deficiency can cause permanent damage.

When it comes to weight loss, the mental effects of Vitamin B12 relates to the connection of chronic stress with an increased risk of weight gain. People with anxiety, stress, or depression can feel lethargic and feel a lack of motivation to do physical activities.

When someone is physically limited, it can be difficult to lose weight. The same goes when they do not feel the desire to do physical activities.

In the instances mentioned, Vitamin B12 is then considered an essential component in providing a person the motivation to engage in physical activity. Studies have repeatedly shown that those who get regular exercise are more likely to be within the normal weight range.

Cardio activities like walking and running are vital in any weight loss method. The same goes for muscle-building activities. An increase in muscle means more fat-burning capability. The body uses the respiratory and circulatory systems in order to properly do these activities.

But in both these types of exercises, it is important to be physically and mentally prepared. If there is a Vitamin B12 deficiency, the lack of exercise can produce low results in weight loss simply because the body is not equipped to do so.

In addition, prolonged inactivity can lead the body to have metabolic issues. There are studies that indicate that a sedentary lifestyle can affect the body’s metabolic flexibility. This is a term that is used to refer to how effectively the body can go from using carbohydrates to using fat as energy for the body.

In a healthy metabolism, the body will use fat for energy while resting and in even most kinds of exercise. If you do not have a healthy metabolic flexibility, you will have difficulty mobilizing fat stores. There is also a tendency to have more fat in the blood. Poor metabolic flexibility also reduces the muscles that burn fat and instead stores more fat tissue.

A deficiency in B12 can lead to this cycle of being unable to exercise and increasing fat. In the long-run, this can lead to even more difficulty resulting in a compounded weight-loss problem.

Vitamin B12 as an essential component of metabolism

The next part in which Vitamin B12 helps in weight loss is in its role in metabolism. It is generally believed that vitamins and minerals are part of the metabolic process. In the case of Vitamin B12, it acts as a key to activate the succinyl-CoA, which is a part of the Krebs cycle.

The Krebs cycle is a series of reactions done by living cells to produce energy during aerobic respiration. Inside the mitochondria of the cells, the Krebs cycle allows for the consumption of oxygen and then the production of carbon dioxide and water.

If you have a Vitamin B12 deficiency, this sequence is disrupted. As a result, your body is unable to get the energy from the breaking down of sugar. An inefficient metabolism leads to the body trying to store more fat as a reserve for energy.

Vitamin B12 is also essential in the metabolism of fatty acids and proteins. Fatty acids are important in the body because that is where energy is stored. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 leads to inefficient use of energy, making it more difficult to do physical activities for weight loss.

It should be noted that there’s some controversy when it comes to Vitamin B12 as a weight loss tool. However, most of criticism is the lack of scientific studies surrounding it, rather than an actual critique of its effectiveness.

It is generally considered that supplements do not improve the metabolic rates of people who have sufficient levels of Vitamin B12. However, it can be extremely useful for those with deficiencies.

What is an Effective Vitamin B12 Dose for Weight Loss?

Vitamin B12 can be consumed in different ways. First, it can come as a pill or a tablet. Vitamin B12 supplements are purchased over-the-counter from supermarkets or health food stores.

The most natural way to increase the intake of Vitamin B12 is by the consuming more food items that contain Vitamin B12. It is found primarily in animal products, such as fish, shellfish, and byproduct items like cheese and milk.

As for the fastest way to address a Vitamin B12 deficiency, an option is to get prescribed a Vitamin B12 injection. This method requires the assistance of a licensed medical professional.

In an injection, the Vitamin B12 is more concentrated. It delivers the vitamin directly into the bloodstream and is usually prescribed to people with severe anemia. An injection is also given to people who cannot tolerate the oral absorption of Vitamin B12.

The standard intakes of Vitamin B12 widely used are based on the age of a person. The average daily recommended amounts for adults are 2.4 mcg. It increases to 2.6 mcg for pregnant women.

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Vitamins and Minerals

A Harvard Health article

Are You Getting What You Need?

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body. There is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients (which is healthy) and getting too much (which can end up harming you). Eating a healthy diet remains the best way to get sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need.

Essential nutrients for your body

Every day, your body produces skin, muscle, and bone. It churns out rich red blood that carries nutrients and oxygen to remote outposts, and it sends nerve signals skipping along thousands of miles of brain and body pathways. It also formulates chemical messengers that shuttle from one organ to another, issuing the instructions that help sustain your life.

But to do all this, your body requires some raw materials. These include at least 30 vitamins, minerals, and dietary components that your body needs but cannot manufacture on its own in sufficient amounts.

Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients—because acting in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage.

But trying to keep track of what all these vitamins and minerals do can be confusing. Read enough articles on the topic, and your eyes may swim with the alphabet-soup references to these nutrients, which are known mainly be their initials (such as vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K—to name just a few).

In this article, you’ll gain a better understanding of what these vitamins and minerals actually do in the body and why you want to make sure you’re getting enough of them.

Micronutrients with a big role in the body

Vitamins and minerals are often called micronutrients because your body needs only tiny amounts of them. Yet failing to get even those small quantities virtually guarantees disease. Here are a few examples of diseases that can result from vitamin deficiencies:

  • Scurvy. Old-time sailors learned that living for months without fresh fruits or vegetables—the main sources of vitamin C—causes the bleeding gums and listlessness of scurvy.
  • Blindness. In some developing countries, people still become blind from vitamin A deficiency.
  • Rickets. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause rickets, a condition marked by soft, weak bones that can lead to skeletal deformities such as bowed legs. Partly to combat rickets, the U.S. has fortified milk with vitamin D since the 1930s.

Just as a lack of key micronutrients can cause substantial harm to your body, getting sufficient quantities can provide a substantial benefit. Some examples of these benefits:

  • Strong bones. A combination of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, and phosphorus protects your bones against fractures.
  • Prevents birth defects. Taking folic acid supplements early in pregnancy helps prevent brain and spinal birth defects in offspring.
  • Healthy teeth. The mineral fluoride not only helps bone formation but also keeps dental cavities from starting or worsening.

The difference between vitamins and minerals

Although they are all considered micronutrients, vitamins and minerals differ in basic ways. Vitamins are organic and can be broken down by heat, air, or acid. Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure.

So why does this matter? It means the minerals in soil and water easily find their way into your body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume. But it’s tougher to shuttle vitamins from food and other sources into your body because cooking, storage, and simple exposure to air can inactivate these more fragile compounds.

Interacting—in good ways and bad

Many micronutrients interact. Vitamin D enables your body to pluck calcium from food sources passing through your digestive tract rather than harvesting it from your bones. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron.

The interplay of micronutrients isn’t always cooperative, however. For example, vitamin C blocks your body’s ability to assimilate the essential mineral copper. And even a minor overload of the mineral manganese can worsen iron deficiency.

A closer look at water-soluble vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins are packed into the watery portions of the foods you eat. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves.

Because much of your body consists of water, many of the water-soluble vitamins circulate easily in your body. Your kidneys continuously regulate levels of water-soluble vitamins, shunting excesses out of the body in your urine.

Water-soluble vitamins

B vitamins

  • Biotin (vitamin B7)
  • Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9)
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12

Vitamin C

What they do

Although water-soluble vitamins have many tasks in the body, one of the most important is helping to free the energy found in the food you eat. Others help keep tissues healthy. Here are some examples of how different vitamins help you maintain health:

  • Release energy. Several B vitamins are key components of certain coenzymes (molecules that aid enzymes) that help release energy from food.
  • Produce energy. Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin engage in energy production.
  • Build proteins and cells. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid metabolize amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and help cells multiply.
  • Make collagen. One of many roles played by vitamin C is to help make collagen, which knits together wounds, supports blood vessel walls, and forms a base for teeth and bones.

Words to the wise

Contrary to popular belief, some water-soluble vitamins can stay in the body for long periods of time. You probably have several years’ supply of vitamin B12 in your liver. And even folic acid and vitamin C stores can last more than a couple of days.

Generally, though, water-soluble vitamins should be replenished every few days.

Just be aware that there is a small risk that consuming large amounts of some of these micronutrients through supplements may be quite harmful. For example, very high doses of B6—many times the recommended amount of 1.3 milligrams (mg) per day for adults—can damage nerves, causing numbness and muscle weakness.

A closer look at fat-soluble vitamins

Rather than slipping easily into the bloodstream like most water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins gain entry to the blood via lymph channels in the intestinal wall (see illustration). Many fat-soluble vitamins travel through the body only under escort by proteins that act as carriers.

Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins

  1. Food containing fat-soluble vitamins is ingested.
  2. The food is digested by stomach acid and then travels to the small intestine, where it is digested further. Bile is needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. This substance, which is produced in the liver, flows into the small intestine, where it breaks down fats. Nutrients are then absorbed through the wall of the small intestine.
  3. Upon absorption, the fat-soluble vitamins enter the lymph vessels before making their way into the bloodstream. In most cases, fat-soluble vitamins must be coupled with a protein in order to travel through the body.
  4. These vitamins are used throughout the body, but excesses are stored in the liver and fat tissues.
  5. As additional amounts of these vitamins are needed, your body taps into the reserves, releasing them into the bloodstream from the liver.

Fatty foods and oils are reservoirs for the four fat-soluble vitamins. Within your body, fat tissues and the liver act as the main holding pens for these vitamins and release them as needed.

To some extent, you can think of these vitamins as time-release micronutrients. It’s possible to consume them every now and again, perhaps in doses weeks or months apart rather than daily, and still get your fill. Your body squirrels away the excess and doles it out gradually to meet your needs.

Fat-soluble vitamins

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Together this vitamin quartet helps keep your eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system in good repair. Here are some of the other essential roles these vitamins play:

  • Build bones. Bone formation would be impossible without vitamins A, D, and K.
  • Protect vision. Vitamin A also helps keep cells healthy and protects your vision.
  • Interact favorably. Without vitamin E, your body would have difficulty absorbing and storing vitamin A.
  • Protect the body. Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant (a compound that helps protect the body against damage from unstable molecules).

Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body for long periods, toxic levels can build up. This is most likely to happen if you take supplements. It’s very rare to get too much of a vitamin just from food.

A closer look at major minerals

The body needs, and stores, fairly large amounts of the major minerals. These minerals are no more important to your health than the trace minerals; they’re just present in your body in greater amounts.

Major minerals travel through the body in various ways. Potassium, for example, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it circulates freely and is excreted by the kidneys, much like a water-soluble vitamin. Calcium is more like a fat-soluble vitamin because it requires a carrier for absorption and transport.

Major minerals

  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Sulfur

One of the key tasks of major minerals is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body. Sodium, chloride, and potassium take the lead in doing this. Three other major minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—are important for healthy bones. Sulfur helps stabilize protein structures, including some of those that make up hair, skin, and nails.

Having too much of one major mineral can result in a deficiency of another. These sorts of imbalances are usually caused by overloads from supplements, not food sources. Here are two examples:

  • Salt overload. Calcium binds with excess sodium in the body and is excreted when the body senses that sodium levels must be lowered. That means that if you ingest too much sodium through table salt or processed foods, you could end up losing needed calcium as your body rids itself of the surplus sodium.
  • Excess phosphorus. Likewise, too much phosphorus can hamper your ability to absorb magnesium.

A closer look at trace minerals

A thimble could easily contain the distillation of all the trace minerals normally found in your body. Yet their contributions are just as essential as those of major minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which each account for more than a pound of your body weight.

Trace minerals

  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Fluoride
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Trace minerals carry out a diverse set of tasks. Here are a few examples:

  • Iron is best known for ferrying oxygen throughout the body.
  • Fluoride strengthens bones and wards off tooth decay.
  • Zinc helps blood clot, is essential for taste and smell, and bolsters the immune response.
  • Copper helps form several enzymes, one of which assists with iron metabolism and the creation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

The other trace minerals perform equally vital jobs, such as helping to block damage to body cells and forming parts of key enzymes or enhancing their activity.

Trace minerals interact with one another, sometimes in ways that can trigger imbalances. Too much of one can cause or contribute to a deficiency of another. Here are some examples:

  • A minor overload of manganese can exacerbate iron deficiency. Having too little can also cause problems.
  • When the body has too little iodine, thyroid hormone production slows, causing sluggishness and weight gain as well as other health concerns. The problem worsens if the body also has too little selenium.

The difference between “just enough” and “too much” of the trace minerals is often tiny. Generally, food is a safe source of trace minerals, but if you take supplements, it’s important to make sure you’re not exceeding safe levels.

A closer look at antioxidants

Antioxidant is a catchall term for any compound that can counteract unstable molecules such as free radicals that damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells.

Your body cells naturally produce plenty of antioxidants to put on patrol. The foods you eat—and, perhaps, some of the supplements you take—are another source of antioxidant compounds. Carotenoids (such as lycopene in tomatoes and lutein in kale) and flavonoids (such as anthocyanins in blueberries, quercetin in apples and onions, and catechins in green tea) are antioxidants. The vitamins C and E and the mineral selenium also have antioxidant properties.

Why free radicals may be harmful

Free radicals are a natural byproduct of energy metabolism and are also generated by ultraviolet rays, tobacco smoke, and air pollution. They lack a full complement of electrons, which makes them unstable, so they steal electrons from other molecules, damaging those molecules in the process.

Free radicals have a well-deserved reputation for causing cellular damage. But they can be helpful, too. When immune system cells muster to fight intruders, the oxygen they use spins off an army of free radicals that destroys viruses, bacteria, and damaged body cells in an oxidative burst. Vitamin C can then disarm the free radicals.

How antioxidants may help

Antioxidants are able to neutralize marauders such as free radicals by giving up some of their own electrons. When a vitamin C or E molecule makes this sacrifice, it may allow a crucial protein, gene, or cell membrane to escape damage. This helps break a chain reaction that can affect many other cells.

It is important to recognize that the term “antioxidant” reflects a chemical property rather than a specific nutritional property. Each of the nutrients that has antioxidant properties also has numerous other aspects and should be considered individually. The context is also important—in some settings, for example, vitamin C is an antioxidant, and in others it can be a pro-oxidant.

Articles and advertisements have touted antioxidants as a way to help slow aging, fend off heart disease, improve flagging vision, and curb cancer. And laboratory studies and many large-scale observational trials (the type that query people about their eating habits and supplement use and then track their disease patterns) have noted benefits from diets rich in certain antioxidants and, in some cases, from antioxidant supplements.

But results from randomized controlled trials (in which people are assigned to take specific nutrients or a placebo) have failed to back up many of these claims. One study that pooled results from 68 randomized trials with over 230,000 participants found that people who were given vitamin E, beta carotene, and vitamin A had a higher risk of death than those who took a placebo. There appeared to be no effect from vitamin C pills and a small reduction in mortality from selenium, but further research on these nutrients is needed.

These findings suggest little overall benefit of the antioxidants in pill form. On the other hand, many studies show that people who consume higher levels of these antioxidants in food have a lower risk of many diseases.

The bottom line? Eating a healthy diet is the best way to get your antioxidants.

Adapted with permission from Making Sense of Vitamins and Minerals, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publishing.

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds found in very small amounts in food and required for normal functioning—indeed, for survival. Humans are able to synthesize certain vitamins to some extent. For example, vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight; niacin can be synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan; and vitamin K and biotin are synthesized by bacteria living in the gut. However, in general, humans depend on their diet to supply vitamins. When a vitamin is in short supply or is not able to be utilized properly, a specific deficiency syndrome results. When the deficient vitamin is resupplied before irreversible damage occurs, the signs and symptoms are reversed. The amounts of vitamins in foods and the amounts required on a daily basis are measured in milligrams and micrograms.

Unlike the macronutrients, vitamins do not serve as an energy source for the body or provide raw materials for tissue building. Rather, they assist in energy-yielding reactions and facilitate metabolic and physiologic processes throughout the body. Vitamin A, for example, is required for embryonic development, growth, reproduction, proper immune function, and the integrity of epithelial cells, in addition to its role in vision. The B vitamins function as coenzymes that assist in energy metabolism; folic acid (folate), one of the B vitamins, helps protect against birth defects in the early stages of pregnancy. Vitamin C plays a role in building connective tissue as well as being an antioxidant that helps protect against damage by reactive molecules (free radicals). Now considered to be a hormone, vitamin D is involved in calcium and phosphorus homeostasis and bone metabolism. Vitamin E, another antioxidant, protects against free radical damage in lipid systems, and vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting. Although vitamins are often discussed individually, many of their functions are interrelated, and a deficiency of one can influence the function of another.

Vitamin nomenclature is somewhat complex, with chemical names gradually replacing the original letter designations created in the era of vitamin discovery during the first half of the 20th century. Nomenclature is further complicated by the recognition that vitamins are parts of families with, in some cases, multiple active forms. Some vitamins are found in foods in precursor forms that must be activated in the body before they can properly fulfill their function. For example, beta(β)-carotene, found in plants, is converted to vitamin A in the body.

The 13 vitamins known to be required by human beings are categorized into two groups according to their solubility. The four fat-soluble vitamins (soluble in nonpolar solvents) are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Although now known to behave as a hormone, the activated form of vitamin D, vitamin D hormone (calcitriol), is still grouped with the vitamins as well. The nine water-soluble vitamins (soluble in polar solvents) are vitamin C and the eight B-complex vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, and biotin. Choline is a vitamin-like dietary component that is clearly required for normal metabolism but that can be synthesized by the body. Although choline may be necessary in the diet of premature infants and possibly of those with certain medical conditions, it has not been established as essential in the human diet throughout life.

Different vitamins are more or less susceptible to destruction by environmental conditions and chemical agents. For example, thiamin is especially vulnerable to prolonged heating, riboflavin to ultraviolet or fluorescent light, and vitamin C to oxidation (as when a piece of fruit is cut open and the vitamin is exposed to air). In general, water-soluble vitamins are more easily destroyed during cooking than are fat-soluble vitamins.

The solubility of a vitamin influences the way it is absorbed, transported, stored, and excreted by the body as well as where it is found in foods. With the exception of vitamin B12, which is supplied by only foods of animal origin, the water-soluble vitamins are synthesized by plants and found in both plant and animal foods. Strict vegetarians (vegans), who eat no foods of animal origin, are therefore at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are found in association with fats and oils in foods and in the body and typically require protein carriers for transport through the water-filled compartments of the body.

Water-soluble vitamins are not appreciably stored in the body (except for vitamin B12) and thus must be consumed regularly in the diet. If taken in excess they are readily excreted in the urine, although there is potential toxicity even with water-soluble vitamins; especially noteworthy in this regard is vitamin B6. Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissue, they do not necessarily have to be taken in daily, so long as average intakes over time—weeks, months, or even years—meet the body’s needs. However, the fact that these vitamins can be stored increases the possibility of toxicity if very large doses are taken. This is particularly of concern with vitamins A and D, which can be toxic if taken in excess. Under certain circumstances, pharmacological (“megadose”) levels of some vitamins—many times higher than the amount typically found in food—have accepted medical uses. Niacin, for example, is used to lower blood cholesterol levels; vitamin D is used to treat psoriasis; and pharmacological derivatives of vitamin A are used to treat acne and other skin conditions as well as to diminish skin wrinkling. However, consumption of vitamins or other dietary supplements in amounts significantly in excess of recommended levels is not advised without medical supervision.

nutrition, human; vitaminLearn why natural is not always better than synthetic, especially when it comes to vitamins.© American Chemical Society (A Britannica Publishing Partner)See all videos for this article

Vitamins synthesized in the laboratory are the same molecules as those extracted from food, and they cannot be distinguished by the body. However, various forms of a vitamin are not necessarily equivalent. In the particular case of vitamin E, supplements labeled d-α-tocopherol (or “natural”) generally contain more vitamin E activity than those labeled dl-α-tocopherol. Vitamins in food have a distinct advantage over vitamins in supplement form because they come associated with other substances that may be beneficial, and there is also less potential for toxicity. Nutritional supplements cannot substitute for a healthful diet.

Pick up a bottle of vitamin B supplements and you’re likely to see some sort of claim that the pills inside will boost your energy. Peruse the energy-drink section of the grocery store and you’ll find that many of them have added B vitamins and make the same claim.

Trouble is, B vitamins don’t give you energy. No vitamin gives you energy.

Calories give you energy. Specifically, calories in the form of glucose, which is found in carbohydrate-containing foods (grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, dairy).

Let me explain. Your body’s cells break down glucose into an important molecule commonly known as ATP, which is the form of energy that cells use to power their life-sustaining operations. If your cells couldn’t generate ATP, you would die.

The B vitamins play essential roles in the complex biochemical machinery that breaks glucose into ATP, releasing energy from the food we eat. In that way, B vitamins make it possible for your body to use energy — but they don’t contain energy.

If you are deficient in B vitamins (most people are not), this can affect your energy levels. But so can other things, including lack of sleep. If you have adequate B-vitamin levels but pop a supplement anyway, you won’t gain extra energy. Your body will simply excrete the excess in your urine. Don’t waste your money.

Another problem with taking nutrients in supplement form is that they often work closely together, and levels of one vitamin affect how another vitamin works. For example, if Vitamin X relies on Vitamin Y, but you have a lot of X and not enough Y, it’s as if you have too little of both.

This is especially true with the B vitamins, which are highly dependent on each other. Yet, it’s common for B-complex supplements to contain 50 milligrams of each individual vitamin. That means it has 3,333 percent of the thiamin you need each day, but only 17 percent of the biotin. The potential imbalance could be even greater if you take supplements of a single B vitamin.

The richest sources are fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Leafy green vegetables, lentils, beans, peas and whole grains also have B vitamins. Many cereals and some breads have B vitamins added. Nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast (but not baker’s yeast) are other B sources.

If you eat a varied diet, you’re probably getting enough B vitamins. B12 is found only in animal products, so vegans often need B12 supplements, unless they are eating foods fortified with B12. Low levels of B12 or B6 can cause anemia, and many people have trouble absorbing B12 as they get older.

Next time: How to handle food pushers.

Carrie Dennett: [email protected]

Dennett is a graduate student in the nutritional-sciences program at the UW; her blog is nutritionbycarrie.com.

Do B Vitamins Really Give You Energy?

The claim: B vitamins give you energy.

The facts: The claim that B vitamins are the go-to solution for low energy remains popular—but is just as misleading today as it has always been. That doesn’t stop dietary supplement manufacturers from loading up their capsules and tablets with these vitamins. B-complex supplements often provide several thousand times the Daily Value of various B vitamins. Energy drinks and shots—marketed to “vitalize body and mind”—also tend to contain high doses of B vitamins.

As with so many claims, there is some twisted “truth” behind this one, which marketers use to spin the story to their own advantage. In this case, it’s true that B vitamins—thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (B6), B12, biotin, and folate (B9)—are all involved, one way or another, in energy production. But the vitamins don’t provide energy directly. Only food provides “energy” in the form of calories, from carbs, fat, and protein. Rather, B vitamins help convert dietary energy into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the form of energy that your body uses, in a series of complex chemical reactions carried out by the mitochondria in cells.

Your body only needs a certain amount of B vitamins to function normally. And if you’re getting adequate amounts in your diet, as most people do, additional B vitamins won’t provide a surge in energy. In fact, unless you’re severely deficient (because of illness, extreme dieting, or alcohol abuse, for instance), your energy levels won’t be affected at all. That is, taking B vitamins only benefits people who are very deficient in one or more of the vitamins to begin with. Actually, B vitamins are water soluble, and any extra that you take simply pass through the body and get eliminated in your urine.

Also, not a lot is known about the potential negative effects of taking B vitamins at the high amounts many supplements provide—but one new study, in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, raised concern that high daily doses of B6 might increase the risk of hip fractures in older people

So why might you feel a kick of energy after having an “energy drink? It’s not from the B vitamins, as we’ve established, but rather from the caffeine or other herbal stimulants that these products contain.

The good news is that it’s relatively easy to get enough B vitamins if you eat a healthy and balanced diet that includes green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms, and other plant foods. Many foods, like cereals, are also fortified with B vitamins. Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal-based foods, such as meat, dairy, and eggs, so vegans run the risk of being deficient unless they eat fortified vegetarian foods or nutritional yeast or take a multivitamin. But most people don’t need even a multivitamin, let alone a B-complex supplement, to feel “energized.”

Also see Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Worse Than Regular Sugar?

7 Supplements to Fight Tiredness, Stress and Fatigue

We’re all busy. But some of us are more stressed than others. Students, parents and busy executives know all about fatigue. But do you know how to combat it? Here are 7 supplements to help you fight back against life.

Being constantly stressed and tired does more than make you feel terrible. It actually has a huge impact on your body, making it harder to build muscle, lose fat, and maintain a healthy body weight. If your lifestyle is hectic and you often feel overwhelmed, there’s plenty you can do to fight back the natural way.

Tryptophan

This is one of the 8 “essential” amino acids (essential because our bodies can’t make them, so we need to get them from our diets or supplements). It’s known as a great supplement for boosting mood, recovery and sleep, but do you know why?

Tryptophan is actually a precursor of melatonin, niacin/vitamin B3, and serotonin (the “happy hormone”), all of which help us recover from any lifestyle stress. We can get seratonin from food sources but it’s difficult to get optimal amounts (and monitor dosage) without overdoing the calories. So supplementing with Tryptophan itself is a fantastic way to support mood and get better quality sleep.

As you probably know, low seratonin levels are associated with anxiety and mild depression and can be a factor in snacking on comfort foods or eating late at night. So if you’re training hard, going though a stressful time, or suffering poor sleep, try Tryptophan. It’s totally natural and extremely cost-effective. Tryptophan can be found in our slow release casein protein – Complete Bedtime™, working in synergy with L-Theanine.

ZMA – zinc, magnesium and Vitamin B6

ZMA is a hugely popular supplement with people who want better quality sleep. It’s particularly popular with men, but women can and do benefit from it, too. Our ZMA capsules deliver a huge 500mg blend of highly bioavailable forms of Zinc and Magnesium and (importantly) includes the original l-OptiZinc supplement. That’s the only Zinc-Mag supplement validated by published research. Be sure your ZMA supplement contains it (many don’t).

Here’s why ZMA might help you sleep and recover better. Zinc is responsible for testosterone production. Magnesium is well-known for increasing sleep quality. And Vitamin B6 helps both Zinc and Magnesium to be better absorbed and used by the body. Regardless of your training or diet, ZMA will help increase natural hormone levels, support better sleep, and help with brain function and clarity. All of which will make you feel a lot better no matter how stressful life gets.

Magnesium (ideally Magnesium Bisglycinate)

We’ve just touched on Magnesium as a sleep, rest and recovery aid. If you go for a single Magnesium supplement to fight bad sleep, fatigue and tiredness, Magnesium Bisglycinate could be the best bet. Magnesium Bisglycinate is a form of the mineral which is naturally bonded to the amino acid Glycine. This means it’s absorbed more easily by the body. Ours has 500mg per capsule, of which 100mg is active Magnesium. If those numbers don’t mean much to you, trust us when we say it’s a high level designed for optimal dosage at a low price!

A Quality B Vitamin Complex

The B-Vitamins are important for a healthy body which can withstand periods of stress and tiredness. We stock various B-Vit products but our B-Vitamin Complex is (as the name suggests) a complete combination of everything you need, all in one dose.

Here’s how the ingredients could help you fight off fatigue. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) supports mental wellbeing and mood, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) helps reduce oxidative stress (and therefore tiredness), Vitamin B3 (Niacin) has been shown to be effective in supporting brain functions and Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) helps support important neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). Then we have Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride) which plays a part in reducing fatigue and strengthening immunity, even when you’re under stress and Vitamin B8 (Inositol, Myoinositol) which helps nerve signals “communicate”.

There’s plenty more in our B-Vitamin Complex, including Choline which isn’t a B-Vit, but we added it in anyway because it works with all the B-Vitamins and helps maintain brain health. Oh and did we mention that our B Vitamin Complex is just 8p a serving!?

An Iron Supplement

Iron supplementation is often mentioned as a solution for combating low energy (particularly in the case of women). Whilst it’s true that females can be commonly deficient in iron, men shouldn’t think they’re immune. In fact, lifestyle stress, dieting and training can lead to iron deficiency in anyone regardless of age or gender.

Our K-Pure iron capsules are a top-quality choice, containing Ferrous Bisglycine (“gentle iron”) – a highly bioavailable source of iron. A lot of iron supplements are just Ferrous Oxide. Ferrous Bisglycinate has a 24% iron content and it’s absorbed much better by our bodies than Ferrous Oxide.

Why supplement with iron? It helps reduce tiredness, can stop you getting run-down and can make you feel less fatigued. Ideal for women, anyone suffering from anaemia, or anybody who doesn’t get a lot of iron in their diets (our vegetarian and vegan friends).

A Complete Multivitamin

If your life is hectic and you feel stressed, it can be sensible to supplement with a complete multivitamin. Not only will this support your general health but is a good “safety net” if things get so busy that your food choices suffer.

Our Complete Multivitamin Complex™ isn’t just vitamins and minerals. In fact it contains antioxidants, probiotics, fruit and plant extracts too – 30 separate ingredients in total. They’ve all been chosen for quality, bioavailability and effectiveness.

Why does a top quality multivitamin make sense? It’s easy to become deficient in certain vitamins or minerals when you’re stressed, and being deficient in just one thing can have a knock-on effect on your body’s metabolic pathways. And stress can often cause gut issues, sensitivities and digestive problems (that’s why we put probiotics and digestive enzymes in to this formula).

Cover all your bases with one complete formula like our Complete Multivitamin Complex™: vitamins, minerals, probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidants and plant extracts. We’re rather proud of it!

A Natural Energy Booster

Some people say it’s counter-productive to take an energy-boosting supplement when you’re already stressed and tired, but we know you live in the real world. If you’re knackered from a day at work but need to go and train legs, what option do you have? There are a few all-natural supplements you could use to boost energy (see our caffeine tablets or taurine supplement) but let’s look at our Complete BCAA Energy™ powder.

Forget cans of fizzy energy drink. Complete BCAA Energy™ is a much better choice of energy supplement to sip on when you need a boost: it will hydrate you, give you those all-important BCAAs, and support your energy too without over-stimulating you.

This is a branched-chain amino acid formula with a boost! It actually contains BCAAs in a 3:1:1 ratio. But then we added guarana and green coffee extract, two effective natural energy sources which give you 100mg natural caffeine. Enough for a good boost without jitters or a “crash”.

What are your favourite supplements for combating fatigue, tiredness and stress?

About the Author:

Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.

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