Finding yourself feeling particularly tired recently? Nutrient deficiencies may be a contributing factor! Below are some key nutrients to support energy levels. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients can contribute to feelings of tiredness, lethargy and fatigue.
Many B vitamins – including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12 – critically support energy production at a cellular level. As B vitamins cannot be stored (in significant amounts) in the body, they must be included the diet daily. Find B vitamins in many foods, including wholegrains, legumes, animal-based protein sources including poultry, meat, fish and eggs, dairy products (particularly milk, yoghurt and cheese), and green leafy vegetables. Importantly, not all B vitamins are found in all these foods, so – as is often the case in nutrition! – variety is key. Vitamin B12 is a particular Vitamin that can result in fatigue when low and is found in animal products such as meat, chicken, eggs and dairy, as well as fortified products such as certain plant-based milks.
Coenzyme Q10 is a nutritional bioactive, found in all cells, that supports both antioxidant activity and energy production. Dietary sources of CoQ10 include oily fish (such as salmon, mackeral and sardines), organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains. Most individuals obtain adequate amounts of CoQ10 through a balanced diet. Supplementation may be beneficial for certain health conditions, as well as some individuals when trying to conceive due to the role of CoQ10 in egg and sperm health.
Iron supports the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles, further helping to meet the body’s energy needs, especially during times of increased demand. Find our guide to dietary sources of both haem and non-haem iron, and tips to boost absorption, here.
An essential co-factor for multiple energy-producing pathways in the body, magnesium can be found in nuts and seeds, wholegrains, legumes, dark chocolate and green leafy vegetables. Most individuals obtain adequate amounts of magnesium through diet and don’t require supplementation.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency prompts the release of parathyroid hormone, which, when elevated, is associated with fatigue and lethargy. Although dietary sources are limited, vitamin D can be found in oily fish, fortified dairy products, eggs, and sun-exposed mushrooms (leave out in the sun for an hour to boost their vitamin D levels!). Sun exposure accounts for the majority – more than 80 per cent – of vitamin D in the body. Safe sun exposure is paramount to reducing skin cancer risk; find the Cancer Council’s SunSmart guide here.
Of course, no one knows your body like you do. If you’re concerned about unrelenting fatigue or something just doesn’t feel right, please speak to your GP. When energy levels are low, it’s important to organise blood tests with your GP to rule out any nutrient deficiencies.
For expert dietary support to support you on your personal health journey, book your first appointment with one of our wonderful Accredited Practising Dietitians today.
Written by Caitlin Branch, Student Nutritionist, and Amanda Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian.