We’ve always been told to take our vitamins, from when we were kids to middle age, and even as older adults. Although vitamins and minerals don’t constitute macronutrients like proteins, carbs, and fats, they are essential for promoting optimal function and balance in the body. While we get many of these vitamins from food, supplementation is often necessary to hit our recommended daily serving of micronutrients.
For many, the challenge is not accessing vitamins or spending the money, but rather finding a compelling reason to take them on a daily basis. If you need some extra convincing, know that vitamins are key to unlocking higher energy levels, allowing you to do more and enjoy life to the fullest without fatigue or exhaustion.
That’s right — vitamins have been shown to support your energy stores and make the most of the fuel you get from food. A well-balanced supplement stack will allow you to expend energy more freely, combat burnout, and skip those afternoon naps more often than not.
Your path to a more energized and vibrant life awaits! Let’s explore the world of energizing vitamins and make some recommendations you can start implementing now.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for the optimal functioning and performance of the human body. Macronutrients may make up the majority of our daily caloric intake, but the micronutrients like vitamins and minerals ensure that the body’s systems run smoothly and according to the ideal blueprint of human physiology.
However, because vitamins are more difficult to track than macronutrients, we often let them fly under the radar when optimizing our intake over days and weeks — and this can lead to deficiencies if left unaddressed.
Thankfully, it’s generally easy to maintain healthy levels of key vitamins and minerals with a balanced diet and supplements. Sunmed is here to help you fill in the blanks and make sense of the key nutrients found in vitamins.
How do vitamins support energy?
Because vitamins don’t provide the actual fuel used by our organs, muscles, and various systems, it can be tricky to attribute their exact role in the human energy equation.
Think of it this way — vitamins might not be a source of energy like carbohydrates or proteins, but they support the body’s energy-producing mechanisms from end to end. Without vitamins and minerals transporting and catalyzing energetic reactions between cells, many of the calories you digest end up being underutilized or wasted altogether.
That’s why people with vitamin deficiencies often get the sense that “something is missing” in their energetic circuitry, even if they can’t put a finger on it. They may be getting all the fuel they need from balanced meals, but shortages of certain compounds leave them unable to tap into those latent energy sources from within.
As we explore the top energy-supporting vitamins, this is the framework you need to keep in mind and apply to vitamins and minerals more broadly. Our bodies can’t run on vitamin and energy supplements alone, but without these essential compounds, we sell ourselves short on the energy we consume and the fuel we should be putting to good use.
What are the best vitamins that give you energy?
We’ve given the basics on how vitamins work and why your body needs them to properly manage and support energy. The science runs deep, but you now understand the fundamentals of vitamins and the roles they play.
Here are some of the best vitamins that help you make the most of your fuel and experience the energy you really deserve.
1. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 assists the body’s metabolic processes to support energy production. B12’s most important role is converting carbohydrates into glucose — the primary form of fuel for all the cells of your body. In cases of a B12 deficiency, carbohydrate metabolism can be impaired and actually work against your energy levels, creating a downward spiral of lethargy and dysfunction.
Getting vitamin B12 is generally easy with B12 supplements and reliable sources from food. With adequate intake, you’ll also benefit from strong red blood cells, which help transport oxygen from your lungs to your cells for aerobic activity. That said, vegans and vegetarians generally need to be more mindful of their B12 intake, as animal foods and dairy products are the primary sources of this vitamin.
2. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Another B complex vitamin, vitamin B1 plays a role in the conversion of carbohydrates into readily available glucose for cells. In fact, B1 acts as a coenzyme, helping break down complex carbs and giving your body the fuel it needs to function, from muscles to cognition and more.
However, while B1 has a hand in glucose production, its key function is in the citric acid cycle that creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As the primary energy carrier in cells, ATP is critical to the proper functioning of cells, particularly in hard-working organs like the heart and lungs, as well as muscles and more.
As expected, the metabolic pathway of ATP production is complex, demanding the breakdown of glucose, fatty acids, and proteins. Only with proper B1 levels can we get the consistent ATP production we need, especially if we’re on a rigorous physical activity schedule and demanding cognitive tasks.
3. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Once again, B2 is a B vitamin involved in the production of glucose and ATP. But where this compound thrives is in the oxidation-reduction reactions that take place throughout the body. To simplify, these reactions are vital to the transfer of electrons between nutrients as they shift from carbs to glucose. This step is energy intensive on its own and requires B2 to create smooth and consistent reactions that don’t tax the body further.
Meanwhile, B2 has a range of other benefits that contribute to energy and output. It’s known for playing a key role in the function of the nervous system, which helps the body’s reaction times and proper signaling for optimal energy usage. B2 also delivers powerful antioxidant protections, limiting the damage of free radicals while assisting in the generation of glutathione.
While these secondary effects might not directly raise energy levels, B2 certainly contributes to the body’s optimal function and supports healthy aging over time.
4. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
The B vitamins we’ve covered so far tend to focus on glucose production and the fundamentals of healthy metabolism, but B5 takes another route in helping our energy levels. With healthy B5 levels, the body is properly equipped to break down fatty acids that are used in energy production, just like carbs and proteins.
You might not think of fatty acids as being the primary source of fuel for the body, but B5 is a powerhouse for converting these complex lipid chains into usable energy. Not only do fatty acids help keep us fueled and functioning, but they’re also essential in maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, and defensive membranes of the immune system.
B5 also helps the body convert available fatty acids into healthy hormones, cholesterol, and neurotransmitters — all key components derived from fat.
To summarize, B5 is your golden ticket to using fatty acids effectively. If you’re taking a fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids supplement, you’ll want to consult your doctor to see if your B5 levels need to be topped up with consistent supplementation to make the most of your stores.
5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Energy production in the body is complex, and vitamin B6 appears to contribute to the many intricate systems that keep us moving. For starters, it takes part in amino acid metabolism, boosting enzymes that break down these molecules so that they can be utilized for muscle synthesis and raw energy.
Meanwhile, B6 supports the synthesis of key “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. These may not be sources of energy like carbs, but they absolutely play a part in how we feel and stay motivated throughout the day. B6 is also involved in hemoglobin production and hormone function in response to stress.
These many factors come together to make the body and mind more resilient and uplifting mood, making our energy stores more accessible and ready to use.
6. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
You may associate biotin with skin and hair health, but B7 is a must-have component of strong energy metabolism, fatty acid synthesis, and amino acid breakdown. Many of our go-to fuel sources, especially complex carb and fatty acid chains, are not readily utilized by cells. B7 streamlines this conversion process so that the food we eat can be safely and effectively transported to where we need nutrients to go.
With biotin, you’re getting a key driver of fatty acid production and structural integrity, which makes this a key part of skin, hair, and nails. The process is energy-intensive, and a lack of biotin means these surface-level structures aren’t getting the support they need. That’s why a B7 deficiency shows up in the form of rashes, skin irritation, and brittle nails and hair.
Of course, more problems are just under the surface when you don’t get enough biotin. These visual symptoms just indicate one piece of the problem that needs to be addressed by getting sufficient amounts of B7. Thankfully, this compound can be found in everything from eggs and nuts to soybeans, mushrooms, and bananas.
7. Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Known as folate in its natural form and folic acid as a synthetic, B9 plays a central role in the metabolism of amino acids and the formation of red blood cells. Amino acids are the individual components of protein, which means B9 intake is vital for anyone on a high-protein diet. If you’re active in the gym or take physical training seriously, adequate folate can help you recover faster, synthesize muscle, and repair cellular damage more readily.
B9 is also involved in DNA synthesis and repair, which assists in the efficient formation and maintenance of all cells. As we age, DNA can lose its integrity, resulting in wear and tear on a cellular level with difficulties bouncing back from injury. With enough B9, you give yourself an extra layer of defense against the trends of aging and maintain a key advantage over time.
Don’t forget about the key function of folate in prenatal development, either. Pregnant mothers need to prioritize B9 intake to ensure the healthy and safe growth of the fetus, in particular the brain and spine in early formational stages.
8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the most commonly known vitamin of all, but you may associate it first with immune function and fending off illnesses during winter. This is true of vitamin C, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
In fact, vitamin C’s primary role is that of carnitine synthesis, a molecule that helps transport fatty acids to the cells’ mitochondria for effective fat metabolism. If your diet is rich in saturated fats from animal sources or plant-based fats like nuts or avocados, be sure to get enough vitamin C from food or supplements to make good of those quality sources.
Vitamin C is also required for the proper absorption of iron, and helps this mineral maintain full stores in the body — which may have benefits when it comes to preventing iron deficiency anemia.
9. Vitamin D
The “sunshine” vitamin can’t be ignored as you build out your supplement stack and optimize your lifestyle for better energy. Specifically, vitamin D helps regulate phosphorous and calcium in the body. These minerals might not be considered vital at first glance, but they contribute to neuromuscular function and cellular processes overall.
Additionally, vitamin D plays a part in cardiovascular health and immune function, having an indirect impact on physical performance and energy output. For those in need of glucose metabolism support, sufficient vitamin D can help support insulin and ensure blood sugar stays in check after eating carb-heavy food sources.
With a vitamin D deficiency, fatigue and muscle weakness can set in fast. Vitamin D supplements, along with safe sunlight exposure, make the perfect recipe to keep these levels up and running.
The bottom line
If you consistently experience a lack of energy or tiredness, or just need the occasional boost of energy, it’s likely that you’re experiencing some sort of vitamin deficiency. Even Americans who eat a balanced diet may find that the optimal vitamin intake is hard to achieve — that’s why we’ve put together a simple, reliable multivitamin with our Supergreens Daily Gummies.
These gummies are packed with all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need to maximize your energy, combined with a well-rounded diet and lifestyle support. While you still might need to address individual deficiencies, you now have all the info to get started, overcome low energy, and unlock the health benefits you deserve.