Misconception: “B-vitamins Give Me Energy”

Vitamins don’t give me energy?  Say it ain’t so!  Sorry Joe, vitamins and minerals do not provide energy (physical or caloric) to the body.  Here is why B-vitamins have an energy-misconception.

B-vitamins: what’s the energy link?

B-vitamins are responsible for playing an integral role in the production of ATP (your energy currency).  Thus, B-vitamins can sometimes be misconstrued as providing energy.  But they do not…

Most functions in the body require enzymes.  Although the body is able to endogenously make these enzymes (meaning, your body produces them on its own), enzymes require a catalyst to render them biologically active.  Remember from high school biology how enzymes are inactive until they have a coenzyme and substrate (cofactor)?  Well, B-vitamins act as coenzymes.

Coenzymes are the catalysts that help the body create energy from food.  Coenzymes are derived from vitamins – which is why B-vitamins aren’t coenzymes, but act like them in the case of producing ATP.  This educational video on how B-vitamins act as a coenzyme is pretty awesome in describing how it all occurs (just in case you aren’t convinced yet).

Should I take a B-complex vitamin?

Likely, you are getting enough B from your diet (especially since most foods are now fortified with vitamin B: breads, cereals, pastas, drinks, bars, protein shakes, etc).  If you are eating a whole food diet most of the time (or if you are a vegetarian), then it might be a good idea to focus on foods that are high in vitamin B and/or take a B-complex.  Leafy greens, eggs, cheeses, whole grains and meats will offer the best sources.

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