The Norman Transcript

February 6, 2013

Picking the right foods to turn into useful energy is key

By Nichole Hudon, RD/LD
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Q: I have always been active and worked out a lot, but I am fairly new to the world of competitive sports and adventure races. Although I am not trying to excel at these events, the additional training has been taking its toll on my energy levels. Are there any vitamins I should take to help?

A: Vitamins do not provide energy directly, but they do assist in turning food into energy. Increasing vitamins may not improve your performance, but a deficiency will certainly hinder it. A few of the core nutrients and the Dietary Reference Intakes are:

· Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Breaks down carbohydrates and protein for energy. DRI: 1.2mg (men), 1.1mg (women). Food sources: Whole and enriched grains, fortified cereals

· Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Aids in energy production and red blood cell formation. DRI: 1.3mg (men), 1.1mg (women). Food sources: Almonds, milk, yogurt, wheat germ, fortified breads and cereals

· Niacin: Too much or too little can shift your body’s use of energy from fat to carbohydrates or vice versa. DRI: 16mg (men), 14mg (women). Food sources: Meat, fish, poultry, peanuts, peanut butter, enriched grains

· Vitamin B6: Enhances production of energy and hemoglobin. Levels below the DRI can hurt performance. DRI: 1.3mg (31-50 years old), 1.7 (men 51+), 1.5mg (women 51+). Food sources: Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, whole grains, seeds and oysters

· Vitamin B12: Crucial for getting oxygen to tissues. Only found in animal products, so vegans and vegetarians may need additional supplementation. DRI: 2.4mcg. Food sources: Seafood, meats, milk and cheese, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals

· Folate: Cell production, heart health and protects against birth defects. DRI: 400mcg. Food sources: Enriched grains, dark/leafy greens, whole-grain breads and cereals, citrus fruits

· Vitamin C: Helps produce collagen (the connective tissue that holds bones and muscles together), protects from bruising and helps in the absorption of iron and folate. DRI: 90mg (men), 75mg (women). Food sources: Citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes

· Pantothenic Acid: Helps breakdown fats, protein and carbohydrates into usable energy. DRI: 5mg. Food sources: Poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, avocados and whole grains

· Biotin: Energy production DRI: 30mcg. Food sources: Nut, eggs, soybeans and fish

The most important rule to remember is that the old adage of “if a little is good, more must be better” does not hold true with vitamins and minerals. Stay hydrated, eat well and good luck.

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