Vitamins For Energy

  • Ellie KerrodBSc, Neuroscience - The University of Manchester, England
  • Amy MurtaghPostgraduate Degree, Science Communication and Public Engagement, The University of Edinburgh
  • Humna Maryam IkramBS, Pharmacology, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK


For a long time, vitamins have been known to play a vital role in energy production. This is significant because humans need energy for cognitive processes, metabolism, and all other essential body functions.1 

Most vitamins are consumed through food, which is why it is so important to have a balanced and nutritious diet. Without the right vitamins and nutrients, you may notice your energy levels decrease, and you experience fatigue and a reduction in cognitive functioning.1 

However, not everyone achieves the recommended amounts of vitamins from their diet each day, and this may result in low energy. To resolve this issue, you might consider taking vitamin supplements in addition to a balanced diet to boost your energy throughout the day. 

The main vitamins and minerals involved in energy production are:1 

If you are looking to boost your energy levels, try incorporating foods that are vitamin-rich or taking additional supplements to meet the recommended amount. 

Some recommended foods include:

  • Seeds, nuts, cereals and legumes for magnesium and zinc
  • Citrus fruits, potatoes and peppers for vitamin C
  • Dairy, eggs, fish and meats for iron and vitamin B12 

Understanding energy metabolism



Energy is derived from food and is needed to maintain all biological processes in the body. However, the feeling of having energy (or low energy) is often what most people are referring to, either the feeling of being energised or fatigued.1


Fatigue is a feeling of mental or physical exhaustion or burnout.1

Energy metabolism 

Energy metabolism is performed at the cellular level in our bodies. The food that we eat contains different macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fatty acids and these nutrients are broken down in different ways to produce ATP (the vital substance that, when broken down, releases energy that our bodies can use).3,1

ATP is very important when it comes to our body's energy levels - to put this into perspective; the body recycles approximately 65 kg of ATP daily in a resting adult.4 That’s a lot of ATP needed to produce enough energy for a normal day; therefore, without it, the body cannot produce as enough as it needs. 

So, how does all this link to vitamins? Vitamins play a crucial role in the steps that enable macronutrients to be broken down and ultimately produce ATP and energy.1 For example, when the body breaks down certain dietary components into energy-rich glucose, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and vitamin C have a significant role in this process.1

It is therefore suggested that low energy levels are associated with a lack of vitamins and minerals due to their heavy involvement in the process of cellular energy generation.2

The role of key vitamins in energy production

Vitamin B

Vitamin B1 plays a crucial role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats into energy and is essential for muscle function, while vitamins B2, B3, and B6 are involved in releasing energy from foods during cellular respiration. All of these contribute to energy production.2

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also important in the metabolism of energy. It is involved in synthesising (making) key molecules such as carnitine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline - molecules that play a vital role in various biological processes that allow our bodies to perform specific functions of energy production and use.2


Magnesium is essential in all processes associated with ATP, so it is extremely important in the context of energy levels. It also plays a vital role in muscle and nerve excitability, which are both necessary for basic functioning.2


Iron is important in the synthesis of ATP and also is necessary for oxygen transport to bodily cells and tissues.2


Zinc is involved in the functioning of multiple enzymes that contribute to energy metabolism (production and use).2

Vitamin recommendations for optimal energy

The table below shows the recommended amount of each key vitamin that should be consumed daily, according to information provided by the NHS and Cleveland Clinic

Vitamin typeDaily recommendationsFood source
B1 (Thiamin)1mg (AMAB)0.8mg (AFAB)Peas, fruit, nuts
B2 (Riboflavin)1.3mg (AMAB)1.1mg (AFAB)Milk, eggs, yogurt, mushrooms
B3 (Niacin)16.5mg (AMAB)13.2mg (AFAB)Meat, fish, flour, eggs
B55mgBeef, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, chicken, tuna
B61.4mg (AMAB)1.2mg (AFAB)Pork, chicken, peanuts, soya beans, oats, bananas, milk
B7/8 (Biotin)15-100mcg (micrograms)Milk, cheese, liver, eggs, peanuts, vegetables
B9 (Folate or folic acid)400mcg (micrograms)Milk, eggs, yoghurt, mushrooms
B121.5mgMeat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs
Vitamin C40mgCitrus fruits, vegetables, white potatoes, peppers
Magnesium (Mg)300mg (AMAB)270mg (AFAB)Spinach, nuts, wholemeal bread
Iron (Fe)8.7mg (AMAB and AFAb aged 50+)14.8mg (AFAB aged 19-49)Red meat, beans, nuts, dried fruits, liver
Zinc (Zn)9.5mg (AMAB)7mg (AFAB)Meat, shellfish, dairy products, bread

The main source of these vitamins is through various foods; however, vitamin supplements can be used in addition to boosting energy levels and reaching these recommendations. It is important to consider factors that might change your individual needs. This includes physical activity, pregnancy, and diseases, as these factors may result in you needing more or less of each vitamin. You should also always consult your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have any other medical conditions or are currently taking any prescribed medications or other supplements. 

Vitamin supplements

Vitamin B2

A daily 2-4mg B2 supplement was reported to decrease muscle fatigue and soreness after exercise.1

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 

Some evidence suggests that a B-complex vitamin or multivitamin with 10mg-1000 mg of vitamin B5 may help improve performance and might make you feel more energised. However,  It is important to note that these findings are limited. 

Vitamin B9 (Folate) 

This type of supplement is beneficial in those with beta-thalassemia. After taking a folic acid supplement, some patients reported less fatigue.1

Vitamin C

Reports show that taking additional supplements reduced fatigue and insomnia as well as improved general health. This included better cognitive and physical performance. Additionally, vitamin C may improve iron absorption, which could help prevent iron deficiency.1


Iron deficiency anaemia is very common, particularly in people assigned to female-at-birth (AFAB) and people with a low iron diet.

Others who are more at risk include: 

  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding, 
  • People with major physical trauma
  • Gastrointestinal disease sufferers 
  • Vegetarians and/or vegans 
  • Children who consume over 16 ounces of cow's milk (cow’s milk is low in iron and reduces the absorption of iron)

To overcome this, iron supplements have been shown to correct symptoms, including fatigue and low energy.1


Magnesium supplements of 400-800 mg daily have been shown to improve muscle and perceived fatigue as well as improve performance in exercise. Some theories suggest that this is because magnesium may delay lactic acid buildup in muscles after exercise.1

Vitamin deficiencies

Most vitamins are associated with causing fatigue or some sort of decrease in energy when an insufficient amount is consumed.1 Sometimes, symptoms of vitamin deficiencies are difficult to identify and understand which vitamin is deficient. 

Vitamin B deficiencies 

Vitamin B deficiencies are often linked to physical fatigue, for example: 

  • Vitamin B1 deficiency can result in a serious disease called beriberi. This (a disease affects the nervous system, resulting in muscle weakness and pain)1 
  • Vitamin B2 deficiencies normally present alongside another deficiency1 
  • Vitamin B5 deficiency can have more severe effects, such as fatigue, headaches, and insomnia, that can contribute to the feeling of low energy levels.1
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency (also referred to as microcytic anaemia) also has significant health consequences, such as reducing the effect of iron and iron supplements if the patient is also suffering from a Vitamin B6 deficiency. This means that any symptoms of iron deficiency are harder to treat and may cause further complications1
  • Vitamin B9 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, which produces similar effects.1 
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is also linked to low energy but can be treated by supplementing B12.1

Vitamin C deficiency 

Vitamin C deficiencies can also contribute to low energy levels. Studies show that there is a link between vitamin C levels and healthy functioning, and individuals with low vitamin C levels had a resultantly low self-reported health score and a poor vitality score. 

Vitamin C supplements can help treat vitamin C-associated deficiency, though research suggests that it's better to attain vitamin C through food sources instead, as this can improve your energy levels.1

Iron deficiency 

Iron deficiency is associated with:

These symptoms can have negative effects on your day-to-day life, such as reduced working capacity, efficiency, and physical performance. 

Iron deficiency can be treated by increasing iron in your diet, but iron supplements have also been shown to be effective.1

Magnesium deficiency 

Magnesium deficiency most commonly causes;

  • Muscle cramps
  • Vertigo 
  • Weakness  
  • Fatigue1 

Interestingly, research suggests that because magnesium plays such a big role in muscle contraction, people who are more active and have accelerated metabolism may need more magnesium than the average person. This is important to consider as it puts certain people at a higher risk of developing a magnesium deficiency without knowing it, and additional magnesium supplements may be useful.1 


Vitamins such as B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and zinc all play a vital role in energy metabolism, and therefore, the daily recommendations must be met. The best approach to reach this goal is through a balanced and healthy diet (which means ensuring proteins, carbohydrates, and lots of fruit and vegetables are included). Most fruits and vegetables are great sources of many nutrients, and they are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. Additionally, alternatives like vitamin supplements can be taken to achieve a typical amount and to help boost your energy levels. One of the easiest vitamins to take is a multivitamin; however, a more specific one can be taken as well; for example, iron supplements can be very beneficial in treating iron deficiency anaemia. 

You should always visit your doctor to check if you have any underlying conditions or nutritional deficiencies that could explain your symptoms of tiredness, fatigue and lack of energy as they will help to recommend the best course of action. You should also always consult your doctor before taking any new over-the-counter supplements, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have any diagnosed medical conditions or are already taking any prescribed supplements or other medications. Additionally, it is important to not ingest too much of any one vitamin per day whether through supplementation or diet, as too much of one vitamin/mineral can cause harm as much as a deficiency can. 


  1. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A. Vitamins and minerals for energy, fatigue and cognition: a narrative review of the biochemical and clinical evidence. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Jan 16 [cited 2023 Jul 27];12(1):228. Available from:
  2. Huskisson E, Maggini S, Ruf M. The role of vitamins and minerals in energy metabolism and well-being. J Int Med Res [Internet]. 2007 May [cited 2023 Jul 27];35(3):277–89. Available from:
  3. Galgani J, Ravussin E. Energy metabolism, fuel selection and body weight regulation. Int J Obes (Lond) [Internet]. 2008 Dec [cited 2023 Jul 27];32(Suppl 7):S109–19. Available from:
  4. Zimmerman JJ, von Saint André-von Arnim A, McLaughlin J. Chapter 74 - cellular respiration. In: Fuhrman BP, Zimmerman JJ, editors. Pediatric Critical Care (Fourth Edition) [Internet]. Saint Louis: Mosby; 2011 [cited 2023 Jul 27]. p. 1058–72. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Ellie Kerrod

BSc Neuroscience - The University of Manchester, England

I’m a Neuroscience BSc student studying at The University of Manchester, UK and have experience in medical writing. I am passionate about ensuing that everyone can assess accurate medical information and I am committed to bridging the gap between complex medical concepts and the public. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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