If you’ve felt fatigued lately, then it’s possible that you’ve wandered online and come across the claim that B vitamins can give you more energy – as long as you're not deficient.
So is that just hype – or is it right?
Let’s explore that question from two angles: the role that three B vitamins (B6, B9, and B12) play in mental energy and the role they play in physical energy.
If you fail to get enough B vitamins from your diet, you could be in for a fatigue-filled surprise – namely, a drop in your mental energy.
Why? Because B vitamins, it turns out, are deeply involved in some of your brain’s most important functions and activities. Scientific research, for example, shows that both B9 and B12 deficiencies can result in overall cognitive decline (and vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with reduced levels of alertness).
If you fail to get enough B vitamins from your diet, you could be in for a fatigue-filled surprise: a drop in your mental energy.
Clearly, then, B vitamin deficiencies are bad for your mental health and energy levels.
So will loading up on B vitamins put you on the fast-track to enhanced mental performance?
Maybe, but – for the most part – B vitamins only give you a mental improvement if you were deficient in these vitamins in the first place.
That being said, there’s some evidence that B12 supplementation in healthy people (who aren’t deficient) can enhance alertness and concentration.
There’s some evidence that B12 supplementation in healthy people (who aren’t deficient) can enhance alertness and concentration. But most evidence shows that B vitamins only give you a mental improvement if you were deficient in these vitamins in the first place.
Also, supplementing with B vitamins might result in subjectively reduced levels of stress during intensive cognitive tasks – at least according to one study.
Can B vitamins give you a boost in physical energy? Well, yes and no.
First, the “yes.” B vitamins are prominent players in several of the body’s energy-production processes. For example, B6 is essential for the chemical breakdown of glycogen – which gives your body the glucose fuel it needs for physical activity. Seen in this light, B vitamins ultimately do contribute to your physical energy levels – though in an indirect sort of way.
B vitamins are prominent players in several of the body’s energy-production processes.
So, yes – B vitamins are necessary for energy production on the cellular level, but this doesn’t mean that supplementing with B vitamins is going to give you a mighty, noticeable surge in energy (unless you are deficient in one or more of these vitamins). In fact, one study found that female marathon runners who were moderately deficient in folate didn’t witness any improvement in treadmill performance after supplementing with folate for 10 weeks.
In short, the real benefit of getting adequate amounts of B vitamins is that you’re giving your cells and tissues the nutrients they need to consistently produce energy, day after day. This, in turn, can contribute to your health and well-being over the long-term.
B vitamins are extremely important nutrients that your body and brain use for energy production and more. Deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to troubling health conditions – in terms of both mental and physical health.