Energy Low? Let’s Talk About B Vitamins

Vitamin B actually consists of 8 water-soluble vitamins that are known mostly as the “energy vitamins”. The complex is needed to help your body convert dietary carbohydrates, protein and fats to energy that you use to pump blood, nerve transmission, to beat your heart, digest food and to move.  So, if you are finding yourself still tired after you eat, consider these 3 things:

  1. what you are eating
  2. food combinations
  3. are you getting enough B vitamins?

Before supplementation, I often aim to get in all the vitamins and minerals through real food. The B vitamins themselves don’t provide you with the the energy- they help you convert your food into energy for utilization. Some lifestyle factors, poor diet, medications and diseases can deplete B vitamins and vegetarians/vegans have to find alternative source of B12 as it is mostly found in animal or fortified products.

B vitamins are water soluble, which means they are not stored in our body and they have to be replenished on a daily basis. In times of illness, deficiency and stress, your body might need an extra boost of the B’s, paticularly B12. This is where you might see the Naturopath for a B12 shot, and some fancy hotels offer them as a hangover cure. And, deficiencies in the B’s can lead to depression, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, birth defects, and fatigue. (pg 487, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Murray and Pizzorno)

Alternatively, here are foods and recipes rich in the B’s to keep up your well-oiled machine, plus a recipe for a super B12 plant-based food for our vegetarian and vegan friends:

B6: Pyridoxine for glycogen production which is your body’s energy storage for times of hunger. Find it in bananas, tempeh, chickpeas, pistachios, lentils, and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try this recipe for roasted chickpeas.

B3: Niacin for metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Find it in meat, cheese, oats, portobello mushrooms, tuna and pumpkin. Bonus: Try this dairy alternative recipe for oat milk.

B1: Thiamine for metabolism of protein and fat. Find it in soybeans, green peas, oats, lentils and sunflower seeds. Bonus: Try sprinkling sunflower seeds on your salads.

B2: Riboflavin works with the other B’s for enzyme reactions and metabolism.  Find it in eggs, organ meat, soy, dairy, spinach and mushrooms.  Bonus: Try adding spinach to your daily smoothies.

Folate: for DNA and RNA production, and red blood cell formation. Find it in spinach, soybeans, asparagus, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, organ meats and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try this recipe for a bean-packed, vegetarian chili.

B5: Pantothenic Acid for brain nerve transmission, mental and physical stress and anxiety, sex and stress hormone production, and healthy skin and hair. Find it in milk, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs, portobello mushrooms and broccoli. Bonus: Try using portobello mushrooms in place of burger buns for the ultimate veggie burger.

B12: Cobalamin for DNA formation, nerve transmission and blood cells. Find it in milk, meat, cheese, fortified soy products, avocado and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try the spicy fried tofu recipe below, made with nutritional yeast.

Crispy Nooch Tofu 3

Crispy Nooch Tofu 1

In a bowl, combine

  • 2 Tbls flour (I used rice flour)
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 2 Tblsp nutritional yeast (a I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • pinch sea salt
  • cracked pepper to taste

Press out moisture from a brick of extra firm, non-GMO tofu (I used Soyganic by Sunrise-Soya), slice into pieces and roll into flour mixture. Fry coated pieces in a small pan with coconut oil until golden! .
Use as a side dish, crumble up on salads, add to wraps…how would you use it?

Crispy Nooch Tofu 2

Recipe from Next Bite Nutrition Coaching

Advertisements

5 Ways to Increase Your Energy at Work

It is easy to get caught up at work and forget about the most important thing in your day…YOU! By Friday, you might feel exhausted, over-worked, and down right done.  There are a few ways to amp up your energy during the week and enhance your mood so you feel a little less exhausted by week’s end.  And, you don’t have to drink coffee on your breaks to get that energy boost. Here, we use nutrition and movement as your 2 best tools:

  1. Eat Snacks with Staying Power: Choose snacks that do not come from a package and do contain protein and fat. This way, they take longer to digest as they regulate blood sugar better than eating simple carbs. Always be prepared and bring your snacks to work.  When hunger strikes or energy is low, you won’t be tempted to grab for the ‘wrong’ choice.  Try peanut butter + banana, walnuts + blueberries, roasted chick peas + fruit, hard boiled egg + veggies sticks, or hummus  + cucumber.chickpeas
  2. Hydrate Without Coffee or Sugar: Avoid soda pop, bottled drinks, and fancy coffee drinks that are high in sugar and will spike your blood glucose levels…leading to a crash. Try replacing coffee with green tea, flavoured water with lemon and mint, ginseng tea, and coconut water for ultimate hydration.
  3. Get Outside: 15-20 minutes of vitamin D from the sunshine increases mood and energy, and decreases your risk of many diseases and depression.  Fresh air lowers anxiety, cleans your lungs, lowers your heart rate and aids in digestion.  Try even a short walk around the block during your break.
  4. Turn Away From All Screens: This also means phones, games, social media. Try not to take your coffee break at your desk.  Get a fresh perspective and view, and let your eyes rest.  Try closing your eyes and listen to a guided coffee break meditation. This is your time to recharge and not work.
  5. Stretch It Out, aka Deskercise: Standing up and stretching will revitalize you, increase blood flow and instantly energize.  Staring at a computer, sitting too long, lifting and sorting will all leave your body feeling sore and tired.  Try some simple stretches once or twice a day to get blood flowing, stay limber, ease muscle tension, reduce headaches and eye strain, and improve your overall health.forest

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy recipes on Instagram.