Are you tired and lethargic?
- then read more about the best enzymes, vitamins, and minerals for your energy levels
We all need loads of energy to help us through the day feeling on top of the world. Needless to say, this requires stable blood sugar levels, daylight, exercise, and a good night’s sleep. But what are the energy-providing substances in our food? And why are Q10 and particular vitamins and minerals so essential for our energy metabolism and our physical and mental well-being? An article recently published in Medical News Today looks at this and explains that being deficient of a single nutrient can affect our metabolism, energy levels, and weight regulation. Luckily, this can be compensated for so we get the necessary energy boost.
Lack of nutrients plus various types of stress may cause us to feel tired and lethargic. Many people are in the habit of drinking loads of coffee or they feel tempted by cakes, chocolate, alcohol and other quick “energy fixes”, but this may easily turn into a vicious cycle that disrupts blood sugar levels, burdens the nervous system, and causes weight gain. It is therefore vital to start by eating healthy main meals and making sure to get the right amount of the energizing macronutrients -carbohydrate, protein and fat. In order to metabolize these macronutrients, we need different micronutrients – including Q10, B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, chromium, iron, and selenium, each of which support essential enzyme processes and metabolic processes in the body.
|The energizing macronutrients and their sources
|Grains, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, corn, sweet potato, fruit, and sugar
|Meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts
|Animal fat, plant oils, nuts, kernels, seeds, avocado
Q10 for the cellular powerhouses
Q10 is a coenzyme that is present in all the cells in the body, except from the red blood cells. With help from Q10 and the oxygen we breathe, fat, carbohydrate, and protein are converted in to energy inside the cellular powerhouses, also known as the mitochondria. Organs such as the heart, the brain, the muscles, the lungs, the liver, and the kidneys contain the most Q10 because they require so much energy. We humans synthesize most of our own Q10 but the body’s endogenous production gradually decreases with age. Of course, that causes a natural loss of vitality.
Also, cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) inhibit the body’s own Q10 synthesis.
Lack of Q10 can cause physical and mental fatigue.
Most people take Q10 as a way of getting more energy in their daily lives. However, Q10 also happens to be a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the cells and delays the ageing process. In contrast to various stimulants and adaptogenic herbs like Panax ginseng, Q10 delivers a natural energy boost. It is an integrated part of the cells’ own biochemistry.
The body has difficulty with absorbing Q10 in supplemental form. Therefore, you should always choose a Q10 preparation with documented bioavailability to be sure that the Q10 molecules reach the energy-producing mitochondria. The normal Q10 dose for avoiding fatigue is a 100 mg capsule in the morning.
|Always remember to take deep breaths to provide all your cells with the oxygen that they need to burn fat, carbohydrate, and protein.
B vitamins cover a wide spectrum
The different B vitamins are involved in the majority of enzyme processes in the body.
Because B vitamins are water-soluble and are therefore not stored in the body, it is necessary to ingest them in a continuous flow. The only exception is vitamin B12 that is stored in the liver.
The uptake of B vitamins requires sufficient stomach acid and a good digestive system.
Good sources of B vitamins are fresh, green, and coarse foods such as whole grain, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and kernels. Also, liver, meat and fish contain vitamin B.
Vitamin B deficiencies can be caused by too little stomach acid, poor eating habits, too many refined foods, overconsumption of sugar, coffee, and alcohol, birth control pills, diuretics, antacids, and stress.
Vegans, vegetarians, and older people are at particular risk of lacking vitamin B12, as the vitamin is found in animal sources only. Similarly, diabetics who take metformin are also at increased risk. Still, it may take anywhere from months to years for the liver’s vitamin B12 stores to be emptied and deficiency symptoms like fatigue to occur. Therefore, many people fail to see the connection.
A blood sample can reveal a vitamin B12 deficiency.
On the market, you will be able to find strong B vitamin supplements and vitamin B12 lozenges that are easily absorbed in the oral mucosa.
Vitamin D, tiredness, and depression
Many people at our latitudes feel tired and lethargic during the winter period. This is often because of lacking vitamin D which we synthesize during the summer when the sun sits high in the sky. Practically all the cells in the body have vitamin D receptors, so in the case of a vitamin D deficiency, symptoms will occur once the liver’s stores of the nutrient are depleted.
Most people are aware that vitamin D is important for the bones and the immune system. However, the vitamin also supports a number of functions that are important for neurons in the brain, including neurotransmitters and the reward center that affects our mood and energy levels. A large Irish study showed that lack of vitamin D increases the risk of depression, where fatigue is a key symptom. The study also showed that vitamin D supplementation can significantly improve mood and energy levels over time.
Many people become vitamin D-deficient due to a variety of factors such as spending too much time indoors, growing old, using sun factor cream, having dark skin, and being overweight. More than half the world’s population is believed to lack vitamin D.
There are varying reference intake (RI) levels for children and adults (depending on the country), but many experts believe that the actual need for vitamin D is a lot higher than the RI levels. Their recommendations vary from 30-100 micrograms daily. Humans can easily synthesize that amount by spending time in the sun during the summer period.
Vitamin D is lipid-soluble. Therefore, you get the best absorption of the nutrient when you take it in capsules where the vitamin D is bound to oil.
Optimal levels and how to measure vitamin D in the blood
Vitamin D in the blood is measured as 25-hydroxy-vitamin D. In Denmark, the official threshold value is 50 ng/ml but many experts believe that this is too little and therefore recommend as much as 75-100 ng/ml to cover the body’s need for the nutrient.
Magnesium activates vitamin D and supports the nervous system
The type of vitamin D that we produce with help from the sun is called cholecalciferol, and this form is also what we take in supplement form. Magnesium-containing enzymes are needed to activate vitamin D by converting it into the form that is measured in blood and is the active form in cells. Consequently, a magnesium deficiency may lower the effect of vitamin D and impair all the processes, in which vitamin D is involved.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of enzyme processes that are vital for e.g. our stress threshold and nervous system, including our ability to relax and sleep, which is essential for ability to feel recharged the following day.
We get magnesium from whole grains, kernels, almonds, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Before the Industrial Revolution, the average daily magnesium intake from a green and coarse diet was around 500 mg. Today, most people in the Western world get far less magnesium than the recommended daily intake level (in Denmark, it is 375 mg). The main reason for this is the nutrient-depleted soil, refinement of foods and poor eating habits. Stress, stimulant use and medicine can also increase the need for magnesium.
Chromium for stabilizing your blood sugar
As mentioned above, we get our energy from carbohydrate, fat, and protein. The heart and muscles mainly use carbohydrate and fat to make energy, while the brain and nervous system (under normal circumstances) only use glucose. Glucose enters our cells with help from insulin and a chromium-containing compound that improves insulin’s effect. Chromium therefore potentiates the effect of insulin, while helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels and prolonged satiety.
Having stable blood sugar is very important. Large fluctuations cause fatigue, poor concentration, mood swings, and a craving for quick energy “fixes” such as candy, cake, chocolate, and alcohol. While these sources do deliver fast energy, blood sugar levels drop rapidly afterwards. This can cause around 20 percent of the body’s chromium to be excreted in the urine. Consuming too many refined carbohydrates with a high glycemic index may therefore result in a chromium deficiency, which can easily turn into a vicious cycle and increase the risk of carbohydrates being converted into excess fat in the body. In worst case, it can turn into non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFDL), which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Chromium is mainly found in things like almonds and other nuts, fish, and meat. Chromium-depleted soil lowers the chromium content in crops, and our modern and refined diet only contains small amounts of the vital nutrient. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved chromium for its ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Also, EFSA has concluded that organic chromium yeast is up to 10 times more bioavailable than synthetically manufactured chromium sources like chromium picolinate and chromium chloride.
We need chromium and carbohydrates (from healthy sources) to maintain stable blood sugar levels, but it is also a good idea to reduce your carbohydrate intake and include more protein and healthy fats in your main meals. This helps lower your carbohydrate intake and improves your metabolism.
Choose the most bioavailable chromium source
Chromium yeast is absorbed up to 10 times better than chromium picolinate and chromium chloride.
Iron deficiency – a widespread and often overlooked problem
Iron binds oxygen in the hemoglobin of our red blood cells. Hemoglobin is what delivers oxygen to our cells. Without oxygen, cells are unable to burn calories. Iron is therefore crucial for our energy turnover, but it is vital not to get too much iron.
It is mainly women of childbearing age that need iron because they lose it during their menstrual period. However, infants, teenagers, athletes, vegetarians, blood donors and many others may also become deficient. Good iron sources include foods like liver, meat, fish, pumpkin seeds, beetroot, spinach, broccoli, apricot, and stinging nettle.
Iron from animal sources (heme iron) has better absorption in the body than iron from vegetable sources (non-heme iron). Lack of stomach acid and overconsumption of calcium from dairy products interferes with the body iron absorption. Iron supplements taken together with vitamin C helps improve the absorption and utilization of iron. If you take a calcium supplement and medical drugs that lower your stomach acidity or impair your iron uptake, it is best to take them three to four hours apart. It is also a good idea to let the doctor measure your iron status in the case of a suspected iron deficiency. Only take iron supplements if advised by your physician.
Iron catalyzes potentially harmful free radicals and should therefore only be ingested in the needed amounts and together with antioxidants that can protect against free radicals. This calls for a diet with plenty of vitamins A, C, and E plus zinc, selenium, and various plant compounds.
The thyroid gland needs selenium – and thyroid disorders are rather common
The thyroid gland produces hormones that help oxygen into the cells. The more oxygen that enters our cells, the more energy they produce.
We need both iodine and selenium to produce thyroid hormones. In fact, it is common to enrich table salt with iodine as a way of preventing goiter, but there is not enough focus on the widespread selenium deficiencies and the serious consequences of lacking this essential nutrient.
An estimated 500,000 Danes suffer from hypothyroidism (slow metabolism) because of selenium deficiency, including Hashimoto’s disease that causes extreme fatigue, constipation etc. Only around 100,000 individuals have been diagnosed with the condition, and many people in thyroid hormone therapy do not feel any improvement, which may be because they lack selenium.
There are two thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, depending on the number of iodine atoms. T4 is a precursor, while T3 is the active hormone that helps oxygen into the cells so they can produce energy. Selenium supports a variety of different selenoproteins such as deiodinase that removes an iodine atom from the inactive T4 hormone. This converts it into T3 and activates it.
If levels of T3 hormone are too low, the metabolic rate slows down. If T3 levels are too high, the metabolic rate goes up. It is therefore vital to have enough selenium to help control the T3/T4 ratio. But research shows that the average selenium intake has decreased over the past decades, especially due to depleted soil and diets with less fish and offal.
Selenium supports around 30 different selenium-dependent proteins, enzymes, and antioxidants that have a number of essential functions. If you decide to take a selenium supplement, choose a selenium yeast with a variety of different organic selenium. That way, you get the same selenium spectrum as you would get by eating a diet with many different selenium sources. If you suspect that you have a thyroid disorder, ask your doctor to do the necessary blood work.
Lacking fluid can make you tired – so remember to hydrate
The human body consists of around 70% water. We need water to carry out a number of essential functions such as the transportation of nutrients and renal excretion of salts and toxic waste from metabolic processes. If you lack fluid, your blood gets thicker, and that impairs its ability to carry oxygen and nutrients to the cells and remove toxins. Also, lack of fluid can cause fatigue, poor concentration, headache, and constipation. A human requires around 30 ml of fluid for every kilogram of body weight, so a person that weighs 60 kilos needs around 1.8 liters of fluid daily, while the daily fluid need of someone weighing 80 kilos is around 2.4 liters. The need for fluid increases with heavy sweating and diarrhea.
Beth Sissons. The best vitamins and supplements for energy. Medical News Today. October 22. 2019
David Mantle and Iain Hargreaves. Coenzyme Q10 and Degenerative Disorders Affecting Longevity: An Overview. Antioxidants (Basel) Published online 2019 Feb
Alexander Muacevic and John R Adler: The Role of Vitamin D in Brain health: A Mini Literature Review. Cureus 2018
Robert Briggs et al. Vitamin D Deficiency is Associated With an Increased Likelihood of Incident Depression in Community-Dwelling Older adults. J Am Med Dir Asso 2019
Anne Marie Uwitonze, Mohammed S Razzaque. Role of magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2018
Huang H et al Chromium supplementation for adjuvant treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: Results from a pooled analysis. Molecular Nutrition Food Research 2017 and 2018
EFSA: Scientific Opinion on ChromoPrecise cellular bound chromium yeast added for nutritional purposes as a source of chromium in food supplements and the bioavailability of chromium from this source. EFSA Journal 2012
Yoon Moberg. Får du nok jern? Det Natur- og Biovidenskabelige Fakultet.
Pernille Lund. Q10 - fra helsekost til epokegørende medicin. Ny Videnskab 2014
Pernille Lund. Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker og din vægt. Ny videnskab 2013
Pernille Lund. . Har du problemer med dit stofskifte. Ny Videnskab 2015
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