If you’re suffering from persistent fatigue, it could be down to what you’re putting in your body – or not, as the case may be.
Folate (folic acid – vitamin B9)
Folate enables your body to metabolise protein in foods and produce amino acids that are used to build new body tissue, making it particularly important for pregnancy – it can prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Rich sources include
leafy green veg like spinach, kale and broccoli. Don’t boil them, though, as folate is a water-soluble vitamin and will leach out
into the cooking water.
Also found in liver, yeast extract, some cereals, veg, pulses and oranges.
Iron is a key part of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that ships oxygen around the body. Deficiency causes anaemia.
There are two types of iron; haem and non-haem. Haem is found in animal products, and red meat is one of the best
sources. Plant foods such as pulses give you plenty of non-haem iron, which isn’t as well absorbed as the haem variety.
Also found in oily fish, shellfish, eggs, wholegrain bread, green veg, pulses, nuts and seeds, and fortified wholegrain
Magnesium is essential for releasing energy from food. Wholegrain bread is packed with it, as well as being a great source of iron and B vitamins. Beer is a surprisingly good
source, too, so cheers to that!
Also found in dark green veg, nuts, pulses, fish, seafood, milk and meat.
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Niacin is essential for digesting and producing energy from food, and for healthy skin. It’s present in most protein-rich foods, including turkey and peanuts, and you’ll also get surprisingly generous amounts from potatoes (whoever said they’d had their chips?!).
Also found in meat, fish, dairy, fortified cereals, wholegrains, green veg, nuts, yeast and yeast extract.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
Pantothenic acid plays a big role in helping your body release energy from food and carbohydrates in particular. It’s really easy to keep your levels up as it’s present in most vegetables and meats, so if you’re having a varied diet you’ve got no worries, but to be on the safe side, particularly rich sources
include chicken and porridge (although probably not together).
Also found in meat, fish, beans, wholegrains and fortified cereals.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Riboflavin helps your body to get energy from food, and your nervous system and heart to function normally. Eggs and milk are great sources. As riboflavin is damaged by exposure to sunlight, don’t leave your eggs out on the window sill; store them in a dark cupboard or the fridge.
Also found in other dairy products, meat, fish, fortified cereals, wholegrains, green veg, nuts, yeast and yeast extract.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 helps your body get energy from food, as well as being important for a healthy heart. Chickpeas are one of the richest B6 foods. Houmous and falafel are made from chickpeas, too, so enjoying these regularly will help keep up your B6 levels.
Also found in meat, fish, dairy, fortified cereals and wholegrains, green veg, nuts, yeast and yeast extract.
Vitamin B12 is vital for breaking down protein, producing red blood cells and DNA, and for maintaining a healthy nervous system. It’s only found naturally in animal products, with fish like salmon and trout having among the highest levels. If you’re vegan you need to ensure you get your B12 from fortified foods like wholegrain breakfast cereals, or from food supplements.
Also found in meat, dairy, eggs, liver and kidney, and fortified non-dairy milk.
Nutritional superhero vitamin C is vital for a healthy immune and nervous system, as well as strong bones, teeth and cartilage..
Oranges are not the only high vit-C fruit; it’s found in lots of other non-citrus fruits, too, including berries like strawberries.
Also found in melons, tomatoes, avocados, sweet peppers, leafy green veg, potatoes and sweet potatoes (with skin).