The foods you eat contain different combinations of carbohydrates, fats and protein, which are composed of complex molecules capable of providing your body with energy. But first, certain essential nutrients, such as B-vitamins, are required to metabolize the complex molecules into smaller units that your cells can readily convert into energy to power your body. B-complex is a term referring to the water-soluble B-vitamin group, most of which are essential for cellular metabolism.
Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is needed to metabolize complex sugars, like those found in carbohydrates and amino acids, which are derived from protein. The catabolism of complex sugars yields molecules of glucose, the primary source of energy for your body, as noted in “Human Biochemistry and Disease.”
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, maintains an important role in energy metabolism, especially for the break-down of fatty material, or ketones, carbohydrates and proteins. The cells in your body need the larger molecules within foods to be broken down into usable units of energy such as glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. These smaller molecules are then transported to your cell’s mitochondria where the energy conversion takes place.
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a precursor for a variety of enzymes that contribute to many metabolic reactions in your cells. Niacin is essential in both DNA repair and the production of steroidal hormones that takes place in the adrenal glands, according to “The Vitamins.” Without healthy DNA, which is the “blue-print” for all your cells, energy production is severely compromised.
Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is needed to manufacture coenzyme-A, which is essential for energy metabolism and for the biosynthesis of many needed substances such as cholesterol and acetylcholine. Cholesterol, for example, is needed in virtually all cell walls. Vitamin B5 is also utilized in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Pyridoxine, also known as vitamin B6, is required for amino acid metabolism and to derive glucose from glycogen, which is normally stored in your liver and muscles. Due to vitamin B6 being able to derive glucose from glycogen, a process called glucogenesis, and glucose from amino acids, a process called gluconeogenesis, it is considered a primary energy-producing vitamin, as noted by the Office of Dietary Supplements. In addition, a co-enzyme form of vitamin B6 contributes to the function of numerous enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions in your body necessary for energy production.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is necessary for cellular growth, the synthesis of fatty acids and the metabolism of amino acids. Similar to vitamin B6, biotin is needed for the process of gluconeogenesis, deriving energy from amino acids.
Cobalamin, also known as vitamin B-12, is required to manufacture DNA and to help maintain the central nervous system and red blood cells. Vitamin B-12 is also involved in the cellular metabolism in every cell in your body, specifically in the production of energy from fats and protein, as cited by the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Because of its widespread and crucial roles in metabolism, vitamin B-12 is also considered a primary energy-producing vitamin.
- "Human Biochemistry and Disease"; Gerald Litwack; 2008
- "The Vitamins, Third Edition"; Gerald F. Combs; 2007
- Office of Dietary Suppplements, National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B6 Fact Sheet
- Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Vitamin B12
- Buena Vista Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.