4. Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli
When 17th-century sailors swooning with scurvy sipped lemon juice, their lethargy vanished. Present-day studies have found that vitamin C deficiency is associated with fatigue. C is necessary for a healthy adrenal system, which helps prevent fatigue from physical or emotional stress. It also helps fight off infections and helps us absorb iron.
Aim for: The recommended amount is 75 milligrams a day for women and 90 milligrams a day for men, but more is better in this case. One red bell pepper has about twice that amount; a cup (250 mL) of broccoli also provides more than the quota.
Helpful hint: Cooking reduces vitamin C by about 25 percent, so eat some fruits and veggies raw.
5. Magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, spinach
Adopt Popeye’s spinach habit. One of its nutrients, magnesium, is essential for the production of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate, the end product of food’s conversion to energy. Magnesium also relaxes muscles and aids sleep. If we don’t have enough, we feel tired and weak.
Aim for: 400 to 420 milligrams of magnesium daily for men; 310 to 320 milligrams for women. A quarter cup (50 mL) of pumpkin seeds has 185 milligrams; a cup (250 mL) of cooked spinach has 157.
6. Beta-carotene: Sweet potatoes, carrots
Add colour to your plate, and you’ll add energy to your step. Beta-carotene, the vitamin A precursor that puts the colour in carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach, helps boost a depressed immune system, often at the root of chronic fatigue. By promoting healthy cell membranes, beta-carotene boosts protection from viruses, bacteria, fungi, and allergies. It also ups the activity of T cells, which fight infections, and it’s necessary for healthy red blood cells.
Aim for: Make five of your daily produce servings leafy dark green vegetables and yellow or orange fruits and vegetables.
Helpful hint: Lightly steaming (not overcooking) foods like carrots and spinach can help your body absorb their beta-carotene.