Winter weather and grey days can really zap our energy levels.
Whilst traditionally the worst month of the year, January, is now behind us, it’s not uncommon to continue feeling decidedly lacklustre and in need of an energy boost through the colder months.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her three top nutrients for getting that much needed refuel this winter.
Vitamin B12 is important from the first moment of life because it’s needed for DNA synthesis, production of red blood cells and is essential for normal nerve transmission. However, just like all 8 vitamins within the family of B-vitamins, B12 has many other jobs too, including energy production.
Vitamin B12 is unusual from a soluble nutrient perspective, (and unlike the other B-vitamins) because it can be stored in the liver, kidneys, and other tissues, so deficiency can often be missed for a while. That doesn’t mean that levels will be optimal, and frequently people are lacking, partly because it’s essentially found only in animal produce.
Vitamin B12 is also required for brain function, therefore it’s important to ensure intake is optimal, especially if you want a sharper brain as well as more fuel in the tank.
The best food sources are liver, meat, oysters, sardines, Swiss and cheddar cheese. A warming macaroni cheese might just hit the spot when it’s cold and grey outside. Interestingly, some B12 can be produced in the gut, but this varies from individual, so a supplement is often a good idea especially if you follow a vegan diet.
Coenzyme Q10 is found in the mitochondria of every cell in the body, which is the part that produces energy. So, if you’ve not got enough Co10, energy levels are likely to be low. Its role is similar to a spark plug in a car! It’s especially needed for a healthy heart, as well as energy, because the heart is one of the most metabolically active organs in the body.
Although CoQ10 is found in every plant and animal cell, dietary sources can sometimes be limited, but it seems that vegetarians tend to preserve it better within the body. However, best food sources are liver, fatty fish, meat, soybeans, and vegetables, especially broccoli, so a varied diet is certainly going to help. A bean casserole with loads of vegetables added would be a great meal choice for this time of year and won’t break the budget either.
Production of CoQ10 in the body does diminish as we get older, plus certain medications, especially statin drugs cause its depletion, hence supplementation is often needed.
The mineral magnesium is often misunderstood as it’s used for energy production but can also help us to sleep! In truth magnesium is needed for over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body, including energy production, and is used very successfully in cases of chronic fatigue.
There are different forms of magnesium, which can be confusing to decipher. Magnesium malate (often used for chronic fatigue) and magnesium citrate are used in the Kreb’s cycle (the body’s main way of producing energy). However, magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine can help relieve anxiety but is also effective for aiding sleep.
Magnesium is frequently deficient in the typical western diet which includes lots of processed foods. This is because magnesium is mainly found in whole grains, avocado, green leafy vegetables, and beans including soy produce. A tofu stir fry which includes loads of chopped veggies would make a great, magnesium-rich meal.
So, there’s no need to feel low in energy during the winter months with these energy-boosting nutrients!
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