In simple terms, metabolism is the internal process by which your body expends energy and burns calories. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, taking care of your stress and mental well-being and getting enough sleep at night are part of a healthy lifestyle and can help maintain good energy levels and weight.
“You can manipulate your metabolism to a degree,” says Dr. Chih-Hao Lee, professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It is often a small change that may help you burn more calories. That, along with adopting a healthier diet and making sure you get enough exercise, may give people the extra push they need to lose and maintain weight.”
When life gets busy or during intensive physical activity, you may need an extra boost of energy. This is when vitamins, minerals and supplements come into play.
It’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from your food. But if you’re not able to achieve this through food alone, you may consider taking supplements to reach the needed intake of vitamins and minerals.
“The supplements should be tailored by your doctor to the level of your deficiency, as overreplacement beyond the deficiency provides little or no increase in metabolism,” says Spencer Kroll, MD, PhD, FNLA, of the Kroll Medical Group in New Jersey.
What are the best vitamins and supplements for energy and weight management?
The B Vitamins
B vitamins help create energy in cells. B-complex vitamins are often used to reduce fatigue and boost mood and energy levels.
Best food sources of vitamin B include whole grains, meat, eggs and dairy products, legumes (beans and lentils), leavy greens (broccoli, spinach, kale), nuts and seeds, fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas).
Some studies suggest that B-complex vitamins can lift your spirits and improve your cognitive performance.
Other factors like age, gender, medical conditions, genetics, medication, pregnancy, surgery, alcohol use, can also increase the body’s demand for B vitamins. In these cases, you should assess, together with your doctor, if a vitamin B complex or other supplement is recommneded and in what quantities.
Vitamin D is good for the immune system and the metabolism. It’s called the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin produces it when it’s exposed to the sun’s UV rays. Muscle fatigue is a frequent symptom in people who do not get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D is also found in foods like fatty fish and egg yolks.
Taking a vitamin D supplement is often needed during the winter months when people are not getting much sun.
Coenzime Q10 is a vitamin-like substance that is found in nearly every cell within your body and the body production decreases with age.
Coenzime Q10 (also known as ubiquinol) has antioxidant properties, supports the heart function, strengthens the immune system and helps provide energy to the cells.
Most people can get Coenzime Q10 by eating a balanced diet including whole grains, oily fish, liver or other organ meats.
However, if you’re over 30 or have a medical condition, have increased physical activity levels, experience fatigue or high stress levels, a supplement can help get you to a healthier level. Health conditions like heart disease, brain disorders, diabetes, and cancer have been linked to low levels of CoQ10.
Supplementing with CoQ10 can help increase power during exercise and reduce fatigue, both of which can improve exercise performance.
Foods that contain Coenzime Q10 include especially organ meats, but also fatty fish, vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds.
People with certain health conditions and those not getting enough from their diet might want to ask their doctor about supplementing with CoQ10.
Supplements for a healthier brain
Because the brain demands such high amounts of energy, the foods we eat greatly affect the brain function. While the brain represents just 2% of a person’s total body weight, it accounts for 20% of the body’s energy use. This is why maintaining and improving the brain function is critical.
Many brain supplements often have omega-3 fatty acids (usually found in oily fish and nuts), vitamin E, B vitamins, or various combinations.
Foods linked to better brainpower include greeny leaves (kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli), fatty fish, berries, walnuts, tea and coffee.
Omega-3 fatty acids may help build the cell membranes in the brain and protect it against oxidative damage.
There are also other supplements for brain wellness, with more targeted ingredients.
Iron is in charge of producing hemoglobin in red blood cells that carries oxygen through the entire body and is a key player in your overall energy levels. Iron deficiencies can cause tiredness and anemia.
Women are more likely than men to be deficient in iron, this is why they should have the iron levels checked regularly.
Foods high in iron include red meat, animal organs such as liver, whole grains and fortified breakfast cereals, beans, nuts, dried fruits.
Or consider taking a supplement with iron:
The body needs magnesium for muscles and the correct function of the nervous system, to produce energy and regulate mood.
You can find magnesium in whole grains, nuts, seeds and dairy products.
You can also take a supplement with magnesium.
Helps keep the immune system healthy, helps with cell growth regulation and is good for your skin, hair and nails.
Zinc is found in foods like meats, poultry, seafood.
Is an essential mineral, which you only need in small amounts, but it plays an important role in your body, including your metabolism, immune system and thyroid functions. It is an antioxidant, which helps keep in check the free radicals responsible with oxidative damage.
This micronutrient can be found in foods ranging from oysters to mushrooms and Brazil nuts.
You can also supplement your Selenium intake with a quality supplement.
Probiotics can boost energy levels by improving digestion and producing B-vitamins.
Some research has found that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function and lower stress and anxiety.
Probiotics, which are usually called “friendly bacteria” are found in foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and other fermented soybeans, dairy, and vegetables.
You can also take supplements with probiotics to maintain a healthy gut, improve digestion and the brain function, and your overall wellbeing and energy levels.
Collagen has also been shown to help boost metabolism, energy levels, mood and appetite. It also helps maintain healthy joints, skin, hair and nails.
Good food sources of collagen include fish, chicken, egg whites, garlic, berries and other fruits rich in vitamins C such as oranges and vegetables.
Collagen supplements can help replenish the collagen levels.
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Often, determining the exact nutritional balance is difficult unless your doctor suggests a blood test to spot nutritional deficiencies.
In this case, when you feel a lack of energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, your first option should be a multivitamin complex.
A multi-vitamin complex can help boost energy and vitality, the normal function of the immune system, cognition.
Additional ways to boost your energy levels include getting plenty of sleep, staying physically active, staying hydrated throughout the day. Studies suggest that even mild dehydration can impact physical performance and negatively impact cognitive functions, your mood and energy levels.
Words of caution:
Supplements can interact with certain drugs and make them less effective.
There are also risks associated with taking too much of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron and vitamin A and D.
In all cases, people should check with their doctor before taking any supplements, especially if they are taking other medications or have an existing health condition.