Eating a balanced diet is crucial for many reasons, but when we aren’t getting what we need from our diet, we tend to turn to supplements. Supplements are a great solution for rounding out your dietary needs but taking your vitamins too late in the day can actually interfere with your sleep, begging the question, “what vitamins keep you awake?”
Whether or not a vitamin keeps you awake depends entirely on how it is metabolized in and interacts with your body. Many B-complex vitamins interfere with sleep because they directly or indirectly help your body turn food into energy or help distribute that energy to the cells.
In this article, we’ll talk about how vitamins can keep you awake, which vitamins are more likely to disrupt your sleep, and what foods you can incorporate into your diet to get more of each specific vitamin on this list. Keep reading to find out what vitamins keep you awake!
Consuming a diet rich in B vitamins is the best way to stay healthy and be productive. Unfortunately, life can easily become too busy to focus on eating appropriately, leading to daytime drowsiness, sluggishness, and a lack of motivation.
It may be time to take a supplement, but will B vitamins keep you awake? The time of day you take your vitamins may determine whether you sleep or toss and turn at night.
Calories are what provide the body with energy, and B vitamins are necessary to convert calories into energy. Some B-vitamins work alone, and others combine to perform particular functions.
B-complex vitamins are water-soluble, meaning the body disposes of the remaining vitamins it does not use. By the end of the day, most of those vitamins are gone, which means you may not have to worry about losing sleep if you take your vitamins early in the day. To prevent interruption in your sleep cycle, avoid taking B vitamins close to bedtime.
Vitamin B Deficiencies
Some people are more prone to Vitamin B deficiencies and should consider supplementing a multivitamin. Pregnant or lactating women need prenatal vitamins, including folic acid and B12.
Individuals over 50 can become deficient due to lower stomach acid production. Gastrointestinal disorders, such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, can lead to slower absorption of nutrients, including vitamins.
Other medical conditions that can compromise Vitamin B absorption are hypothyroidism, cancer, or anorexia. Certain medications can lead to depletion of Vitamin B. Drugs to treat diabetes or ulcers can alter absorption rates.
1. Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is responsible for the development, growth, and functions of the body’s cells. It gives your body the ability to use the energy it receives from nutrients. It also helps your nerves to function normally. It must come from diet, as it is a water-soluble vitamin and the body does not store what it does not use.
So, how does Vitamin B1 keep you alert? Although it leaves your system by the end of the day, the energy your body generates from it may remain active.
Vitamin B1 can be a treatment for certain conditions that cause thiamine levels to drop. Diseases that benefit from B1 include beriberi, neuritis, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), resulting from a thiamine deficiency.
You can get B1 from eating nutritional yeast, hazelnuts, brown rice, legumes, pork, and cereal. Manufacturers add thiamine to foods consisting of white flour and white rice to nutritionally fortify them. Cooking B1-rich food in water is problematic because both the water and heat will dissolve B1, so for dietary sources, nutritional yeast, hazelnuts, and fortified breakfast cereals are likely your best bet.
2. Vitamin B2
A water-soluble vitamin, B2 (riboflavin), collaborates with other B vitamins to turn food into energy. It converts Vitamin B6 and folate into fuel for the body. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from cellular damage that free radicals cause.
Because of its ability to produce energy, consuming B2 too close to bed may make it harder for you to fall asleep. Your body does not make riboflavin, so you must receive it from your diet. Some common foods that contain B2 include:
- Fish, Poultry, and Beef (Including By-Products)
- Asparagus and Other Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
- Dairy Products, Including Yogurt
- Whole Grains
- Organ Meats
- Wheat Germ
The list of B2 sources is lengthy. Riboflavin is light-sensitive, so store away any product in dark areas. Because of its ability to produce energy, it may make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Eating a poor diet can result in low amounts of B2. Those most at risk are the elderly and alcoholics. Symptoms include fatigue, digestion difficulties, stunted growth, swollen purple tongue, sore and swollen throat, and light sensitivity.
Riboflavin is crucial to eye health. It helps prevent the formation of cataracts. You may get fewer headaches after routinely taking riboflavin. Some research showed that Vitamin B2, in collaboration with Vitamin B6 and magnesium, may lower abnormal organic acids in children with autism.
3. Vitamin B3
Niacin, or Vitamin B3, is crucial for all body functions. It may stabilize overall cholesterol by increasing HDL (good lipids) and decreasing LDL (bad lipids) and triglycerides.
It improves brain function, especially after damage from a deficiency, and protects against future decline. Vitamin B3 decreases painful inflammation in your joints. Like B2, niacin can act as an antioxidant.
Niacin releases prostaglandins, which dilate the blood vessels and reduce cardiac stress. As a result, blood pressure decreases. Vitamin B3 shields the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which may help prevent skin cancer.
Vitamin B3 helps prevent the body from attacking its insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, reducing the risk of Type 1 Diabetes. Niacin uses enzymes to get energy from food sources, such as chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, and beans.
4. Vitamin B5
B5 (pantothenic acid) breaks down fats and carbohydrates to create energy. It depends on the assistance of vitamin A and vitamins B3, B6, B9, and B12 to perform its job. It helps the body make red blood cells, protects the gut, and aids in producing stress-relieving cells.
To get an adequate amount of Vitamin B5 in your diet, you should consume food, such as mushrooms, beans, eggs, milk, organ meats, whole grains, chicken, cabbage, and broccoli.
Vitamin B5 Deficiencies
Pantothenic acid deficiencies are rare and usually occur with other vitamin deficits. Signs to watch for are gastrointestinal problems, headaches, irritability, fatigue, or muscle weakness.
5. Vitamin B6
Does vitamin B6 keep you awake? Yes, it does. As a member of the B-complex team, B6 (pyridoxine) contributes to alertness by aiding in the production of red blood cells (RBCs). When red cells circulate through the body, they oxygenate vital tissues, increasing your ability to stay alert.
Consuming too much Vitamin B6 can lead to insomnia. B6 is responsible for converting tryptophan into serotonin, which interferes with sleep. Always speak with your physician before taking it.
Studies reveal that Vitamin B6 may also help slow the process of cognitive decline as you age. The maintenance of a healthy nervous system and immunity may contribute to that. You can find Vitamin B6 in tuna, salmon, poultry, chickpeas, and dark leafy greens.
Vitamin B6 Deficiencies
Similar to B5, Vitamin B6 deficits are rare. Deficiencies in Vitamins B12 and folate increase your risk of losing too much pyridoxine. One condition resulting from low B6 levels is seborrheic dermatitis, an autoimmune disease characterized by itchy rashes.
Symptoms you may experience with a B6 deficit could be a lack of energy, numbness and tingling in the extremities, mood swings, and a higher risk of seizures.
6. Vitamin B7
B7, or biotin, metabolizes fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids and helps your body turn food into energy. Your body uses biotin to distribute nutrients to all the tissues. There are other functions of Vitamin B7 that contribute to overall health as well.
B7 helps balance blood sugar levels and aids in minimizing the symptoms of neuropathy in those with diabetes. Biotin also rehydrates and restores a healthy glow to the skin and hair while also making nails stronger.
Foods rich in biotin include fruits, veggies, low-fat and skim milk, whole grains, lean meats such as chicken and pork, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, and soy products, to name a few.
7. Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9, or folate, is a natural vitamin in many foods. It helps metabolize protein and eliminates an amino acid known as homocysteine, which can become toxic to the body if it is present in excessive amounts. Folate also contributes to red blood cell production, leading to adequate oxygen levels and increased energy.
Folate (folic acid) is crucial for preventing neural tube defects in children, meaning prenatal vitamins include it. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires manufacturers to add folate (folic acid) to certain foods to ensure pregnant women get the amount they need.
Foods that naturally contain folic acid are dark leafy green vegetables, seafood, eggs, fresh fruit, beans, whole grains, and sunflower seeds.
8. Vitamin B12
Does B12 keep you awake? It can. Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12) helps build up red blood cells, carrying oxygen throughout the body. It also converts your food into energy.
There is not much research on how Vitamin B12 affects sleep patterns, but the energy that it provides can boost your sleep-wake cycle, which will cause you to stay alert.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is a common problem among vegans, adults over 50, and individuals dealing with gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s or celiac diseases.
It is easy to become deficient in B12 because of the limit of availability in food, so taking a supplement can replace what’s missing. Cyanocobalamin is in many foods, mainly animal sources, such as chicken, beef, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Nutritional yeast is a great plant-based source of B12, and many breakfast cereals are fortified with it as well.
9. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that your skin produces from sunlight. It is one vitamin that is commonly deficient and harder to get. Only a few foods contain Vitamin D, which means you may have to take a supplement to get the amount you need.
As a fat-soluble vitamin, D absorbs better in high-fat foods, such as fatty fish, dairy products including cheese and soy milk, liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
Though a 2017 study speculated that Vitamin D is one of the vitamins to keep you awake at night, not everyone experienced the same results. Vitamin D can interfere with melatonin, a hormone that tells your body it is time to sleep.
Too much or too little Vitamin D can lead to insomnia. If you choose to take a supplement, experts recommend taking it early in the day.
Although not a vitamin, iron plays a significant role in your health. Without iron, your body will not function at its highest potential. Iron helps make hemoglobin, allowing red blood cells to transport oxygen to all the tissues and organs. You may become energetic if your body absorbs enough iron, interfering with sleep.
When your iron level drops too low, fatigue can set in due to a lack of oxygen. You should get most of your iron from your diet. Vegans are commonly deficient and may require a supplement. Here are some dietary sources of iron to consider adding to your diet if you have or believe you may have an iron deficiency:
- Organ Meats, Lean Meats, Red Meat, and Turkey
- Fish, Including Shellfish
- Dark chocolate
Iron deficiency is common and can also cause sleep disturbances. Some people need more iron than others, but everyone uses it. If you experience fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, or a lack of energy, there is a chance you could be anemic.
There are many vitamins that provide your body with energy and disrupt your sleep cycle. Some of the most common culprits are B-complex vitamins because they help the body turn food into energy, create red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the body, and create riboflavin to help cells grow and develop.
While many B-complex vitamins can interfere with sleep, taking them in the morning will ensure that most of the vitamins are out of your system by the evening, as B vitamins are water-soluble. Eating a varied diet of whole foods is a good way to get the vitamins you need, but supplementing is also a popular and effective solution.
There are many other vitamins that can interfere with sleep, so if you’re experiencing chronic fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, or fragmented sleep, consult with your healthcare provider about adding supplements to your diet.