1. Vitamin Deficiencies Sap Your Energy
Your body uses systems called metabolic pathways1 to deliver energy throughout your body. These pathways consist of various vitamins, minerals, and other substances that essentially relay energy from your lungs, stomach, and other intake organs to your muscles, tendons, and other active, moving body parts.
When you become deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, your metabolic pathways get blocked, which means that your body becomes incapable of delivering energy to where it’s needed most. To sum it up, vitamin deficiencies make your body work harder to make muscle tissue, and they significantly decrease your energy levels. Here are some examples of the vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can destroy your metabolism and make you too tired to work out:
Your blood is the vital pathway that your body uses to deliver energy throughout your tissues. Left without freshly circulated blood for just a few minutes, your bodily tissues will start to die, and decreased red blood cell counts harm your entire body.
A component in your blood called hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen through your body, and your body can’t create hemoglobin without a type of iron called heme iron2. Unfortunately, plants don’t contain heme iron, which means you’ll need to supplement with heme iron if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. Even if you eat plenty of meat, you still might want to supplement with heme iron to avoid the fitness-killing effects of anemia.
According to some estimates, anemia affects up to one-quarter of the world’s population3, and this condition can have disastrous effects. Anemia is when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to properly energise your body, and the results of this condition include fatigue, dizziness, and muscle weakness.
Anemia can also decrease your brain functioning4, and it weakens your immune system. If you want to stay sharp and on top of your game, getting plenty of iron in your diet is the only way to go.
Not only does iodine deficiency cause weight gain5, but it might also depress you so much that you won’t feel like working out. To operate effectively, your thyroid gland needs plenty of iodine, and without enough of this essential mineral, all your body’s rhythms get thrown out of whack.
Your thyroid gland controls your metabolism. From the beating of your heart to the digestion of food, this butterfly-shaped gland in your neck determines how fast everything is done in your body.
When you don’t consume enough iodine every day, you get a condition called hypothyroidism, which slows down your metabolism and causes you to gain weight. Hypothyroidism also slows down your heart rate, which causes energy-carrying hemoglobin to circulate through your body more slowly. Iodine deficiency fights back against your fitness goals by robbing your energy and killing your motivation.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vegan and vegetarian fitness buffs need to be especially careful to get enough vitamin B12 every day. This essential vitamin is only found in meat sources, which means that people who don’t eat animal products will have to supplement with vitamin B12 to stick to their fitness goals. Some estimates suggest that more than 85 percent of vegans and vegetarians are B12-deficient6.
When you don’t have enough vitamin B12, your body won’t be able to make enough blood. As a result, you could develop a type of vitamin B12 anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which is just as dangerous as iron anemia. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also decrease your nervous system functioning and cause neuropsychiatric diseases7, which could pose serious setbacks to your fitness goals.
The main symptom of magnesium deficiency isn’t decreased energy or muscle weakness. This type of deficiency is more well-known for increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
However, magnesium deficiency also causes metabolic syndrome8, which leads to slower metabolism and increased body fat. Fulfilling your fitness goals might not be your primary motivation for getting plenty of magnesium every day, but avoiding deficiency in this essential mineral will certainly improve your ability to exercise effectively.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You need lots of energy to stick to your fitness goals. Don’t ruin your workout routine by becoming deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.