Nutrition

Always Tired? Your Diet May Be Missing These Nutrients

Your newfound energy is only a few bites away!

By: Lexy Parsons

If you’re constantly running on fumes regardless of how much you sleep, it may be time to take a closer look at your diet. Research suggests nutrient deficiencies can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome, which may explain your lack of energy! Rather than reaching for that extra cup of coffee, kick your afternoon slump once and for all by addressing why you feel so fatigued to begin with. It may be as simple as eating food for energy! If you’re always tired, you may be missing these eight energy-boosting nutrients. 

8 Nutrients To Boost Your Energy 

Vitamin B Complex

B Complex Vitamins (such as riboflavin, thiamin, and folate) are water-soluble vitamins that act as coenzymes in energy metabolism. While these nutrients do not provide direct energy, they assist the body in producing it! Simply put, without B Vitamins, the body cannot properly utilize food for energy. So, if you find yourself feeling sluggish on a regular basis, it may be a sign you’re not getting adequate amounts of B Complex! A balanced diet rich in foods such as leafy greens, salmon, and eggs will provide you with your daily dose. 

Food sources: dark leafy greens, eggs, salmon, shellfish, legumes, and meat.   

Vitamin B12 

Speaking of B Vitamins, B12 deserves a category of its own. Research suggests one of the biggest symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency is extreme fatigue. Vegetarians and vegans are especially susceptible to deficiency, as meat is the primary dietary source of Vitamin B12. 

Plant-based eaters may benefit from a high-quality B12 supplement, while meat-eaters can utilize food for energy by eating a diet rich in meat and eggs. 

Food sources: beef, eggs, salmon, sardines, fortified foods such as nutritional yeast. 

Iron 

Iron is an essential mineral that must be obtained from food for energy. Our body cannot make it, so eating an iron-rich diet is key. If your diet is lacking this nutrient, you may feel lethargic, weak, and even short of breath. Iron is responsible for producing red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout the body — low oxygen equals low energy! 

Keep in mind, there are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme iron. Heme iron is best absorbed by the body and is found in animal sources such as meat and seafood. But, don’t worry vegans — iron can be readily obtained through plant-based sources too! Spinach, legumes, and sweet potatoes are all iron-rich food sources. 

While the body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron as easily, there’s a hack to increase this! It may be as simple as pairing vegan iron sources with foods rich in Vitamin C. One study found the addition of Vitamin C increased nonheme iron absorption by 67%! 

Food Sources: red meat, poultry, seafood, dark leafy greens, sweet potato, legumes, and cashews.

Vitamin D 

Do you have the winter blues? If you find yourself feeling increasingly exhausted (and even depressed) during the winter months, you’re not alone. This condition is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which may be caused by a lack of sun-induced Vitamin D. Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, depression, anxiety, and excessive sleepiness. So, what’s one to do when the sunshine vitamin isn’t available in nature? Combat fatigue year-round with food for energy. Research suggests correcting Vitamin D deficiency can reduce symptoms of fatigue! So, go ahead and fill up your plate with foods rich in this nutrient such as fish, mushrooms, eggs, and fortified sources such as tofu or yogurt.

Food Sources: salmon, canned tuna, mushrooms, egg yolks, fortified foods such as orange juice, and cereal.

RELATED: 6 Daily Habits to Support Mental Health During Colder Weather 

Magnesium 

Magnesium is one of those overachieving nutrients that seemingly does it all. As a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic processes, it’s no wonder magnesium deficiency could impair the body’s ability to efficiently utilize energy! If you’re feeling drained, make sure you’re incorporating enough magnesium-rich sources of food for energy such as dark leafy greens, beans, and nuts.

Food Sources: pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans, swiss chard, dark chocolate, and almonds.

Omega 3s 

We all know our beauty sleep is a must when it comes to recharging and repairing our body. Without adequate sleep, feeling tired is inevitable! Luckily, increasing the amount of Omega 3’s in our diet is associated with increased sleep. Fatty fish like salmon are rich in omega-3’s and are a delicious way to utilize food for energy. 

Speaking of sleep, are you struggling to get enough shuteye? Try these 20 life-changing sleep hacks!

Food Sources: Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, walnuts, hemp seeds, and flax seeds.

Vitamin C 

It turns out Vitamin C is important for much more than immunity! Did you know this water-soluble nutrient increases collagen synthesis, acts as an antioxidant, and can even increase your body’s ability to burn fat? With a balanced diet, you can easily utilize food for energy by eating Vitamin C rich sources such as citrus fruits and leafy greens. 

But, beware — while many foods are plentiful in Vitamin C, it’s easy to become deficient, too! If you’re feeling worn down, make sure you’re keeping up with your daily Vitamin C intake. 

Food Sources: citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwi, and tomatoes.

Zinc 

Zinc plays a major role in modulating ATP production, our body’s main fuel source. Our body needs ATP for well… everything! So, it goes without saying, zinc deficiency could be a major reason why your energy levels are less than optimal. Zinc deficiency has been associated with fatigue, reduced muscle capacity, and reduced immunity. Luckily, recent research suggests zinc supplementation can not only reduce fatigue but also prevent it.

Eat your food for energy by incorporating foods high in zinc such as sesame seeds, shellfish, and even dark chocolate!

Food sources: pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beef, dark chocolate, oysters, and tofu.

Eat For Lasting Energy

So, the next time you feel like you’re falling asleep in your chair, take a look at what’s on your plate. Are you eating the right food for energy? By eating a balanced diet and incorporating these eight energy-boosting nutrients, you’ll have all the energy you need to power you through the day!