Energy boosters for busy people
Published May 6, 2021
We live in a busy world. While we’re often told to disconnect, take a break and relax to help
manage our stress levels, there are times when you’re genuinely busy and need to get stuff
done. How do you support yourself and your family during the busy times? First, you need to
understand how your body makes energy and what happens to that energy when you’re under
How does your body make energy?
Did you know you have a tiny powerhouse in your cells that makes energy and also helps your
body respond to stress? These tiny powerhouses are called mitochondria. Mitochondria
produce over 90% of your body’s energy. They not only make the energy to get through the
day-to-day, but they also respond to your body’s stress hormones and increase energy
production to meet the enormous amount of energy your body needs when it’s under stress.
To do this mitochondria take the macronutrients — carbs, proteins and fats — from the foods
you eat and convert them into energy. For all of this to take place you also need the help of
many hard-working vitamins and minerals.
Nutrients needed to power the mitochondria
Vitamins essential for energy
• Vitamin B1 — B1 is needed to convert carbs into energy and for healthy muscle
• Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6 & B12 — These B vitamins help release the energy of food by
supporting the production of enzymes involved in energy production.
• Folates — Folates (folic acid is the folate in supplements) are an important part of
converting food into energy. Around 30–50% of cellular folates are located in the
• Biotin — Biotin is a cofactor, involved in the metabolism of fatty acids and protein and it
helps your body use B vitamins.
• Vitamin C — Vitamin C helps you absorb the iron from plant sources, so it’s an
important vitamin for vegetarians and vegans to help support their energy.
Minerals essential for energy
• Calcium — Calcium is needed to help muscles and nerves function. It helps your body
break down fats for energy and carries energy molecules for the mitochondria. Calcium
is also involved in insulin release.
• Magnesium — Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzyme reactions, particularly
those involving metabolism of food. Magnesium is required for all enzymatic reactions
involved in making energy.
• Copper — Copper is essential for mitochondrial function and is involved in iron
• Chromium — Chromium helps insulin work. Insulin helps the body use glucose for fuel.
• Iron — Iron is needed for energy synthesis, oxygenation of muscle and the formation
and function of red blood cells.
• Manganese — Manganese is a cofactor for enzymes involved in the metabolism of
• Zinc — Zinc is an essential part of more than 100 enzymes, including many needed for
Eating well for your mitochondria
As you can see the mitochondria not only need quality macronutrients to function optimally they
also need many vitamins and minerals. What foods do you need to help your body make
• Fruits and Vegetables — Fruit and vegetables provide quality carbohydrates and
vitamins (especially Vitamin C3) and minerals you need for mitochondrial function. Leafy
green vegetables are also a rich source of folates.
• Wholegrain and high fibre carbohydrate foods — Wholegrain bread, high fibre
breakfast cereals, brown rice and pasta, and wholegrain crackers and crispbread, will
provide quality low GI (see below) carbohydrates that will help your body produce
sustainable energy. They are also a great source of B vitamins.
• Protein — Legumes, lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds and dairy products
provide the protein your mitochondria need for energy as well as being excellent sources
of minerals and B vitamins.
• Healthy fats — Healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, oily fish and avocado give
your mitochondria the fats needed to make energy as well as the essential fatty acids
needed to support brain function and a healthy heart.
• Choose foods with a low glycaemic Index —The Glycaemic Index (GI) ranks carbs
based on their effect on blood glucose levels. Low GI foods are digested and absorbed
slowly by the body, causing a lower and slower rise in blood glucose levels; this helps
you to feel full for longer.
Eating a balanced, varied diet is important when you’re busy. But it can be difficult when life
gets hectic. Keep a tub of nuts or an apple in your bag for when you need a quick health boost
on the go. Opting for a pre-prepared salad from the supermarket or some sushi, instead of a
drive-thru burger, will help you get the nutrients you need when you’re busy without slipping into
unhealthy habits. A quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can also help provide the hardworking
micronutrients you need if your dietary intake is inadequate. Speak to your healthcare
practitioner to see if supplementation is right for you.
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