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Ask a Dietitian: Energy and Vitamins
by Nichole Hudon RD/LD
Q: I have always been active and worked out a lot but I am fairly new to the world of competitive sports and adventure races. Although I am not trying to excel at these events, the additional training has been taking it’s toll on my energy levels. Are there any vitamins I should take to help?
A: Vitamins do not provide energy directly but they do assist in turning food into energy. Increasing vitamins may not improve your performance but a deficiency will certainly hinder it.
A few if the core nutrients and the Dietary Reference Intakes are:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): breaks down carbohydrates and protein for energy DRI: 1.2mg (men), 1.1mg (women) Food sources: ‘Whole and enriched grains, fortified cereals
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): aids in energy production and Red Blood cell formation DRI: 1.3mg (men), 1.1mg (women) Food sources: Almonds, milk, yogurt, wheat germ, fortified breads and cereals
- Niacin: Too much or too little can shift your body’s use of energy from fat to carbohydrates or vice versa. DRI: 16mg (men), 14mg (women) Food sources: meat, fish, poultry, peanuts, peanut butter, enriched grains
- Vitamin B6: enhances production of energy and hemoglobin. Levels below the DRI can hurt performance. DRI: 1.3mg (31-50 years old), 1.7 (men 51+), 1.5mg (women 51+) Food sources: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, whole grains, seeds and oysters
- Vitamin B12: crucial for getting oxygen to tissues. Only found in animal products so vegans and vegetarians may need additional supplementation. DRI: 2.4mcg Food sources: seafood, meats, milk and cheese, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals
- Folate: Cell production, heart health and protects against birth defects. DRI: 400mcg. Food sources: Enriched grains, dark/leafy greens, wholegrain breads and cereals, citrus fruits
- Vitamin C: helps produce collagen (the connective tissue that holds bones and muscles together), protects from bruising and helps in the absorption of iron and folate. DRI: 90mg (men), 75mg (women) Food sources: citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes
- Pantothenic Acid: Helps breakdown fats, protein and carbohydrates into usable energy. DRI: 5mg Food sources: Poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, avocados and whole grains
- Biotin: energy production DRI: 30mcg Food sources: Nut, eggs, soybeans and fish
The most important rule to remember is that the old adage of “if a little is good, more bust be better” does not hold true with vitamins and minerals. Stay hydrated, eat well and good luck!
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.
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