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Dr Anjali Mukerjee, Hindustan Times
August 20, 2013
You can have low energy levels if you are not eating a balanced diet, and if it is deficient in some nutrients. With low energy levels, you feel sluggish and drained out. By eating a healthy diet at proper intervals, you can maintain your energy levels.

What causes it?
Deficiency of magnesium, vitamin B12 and low levels of Coenzyme Q10 are the main reasons. Magnesium is required for numerous biochemical reactions and one of them includes production of energy from glucose. Also, vitamin B12 is required for blood cell formation. Red blood cells transport nutrients and oxygen in the body and if B12 levels are low, then it can lead to tiredness. Illnesses such as thyroid dysfunction, diabetes and liver conditions can all contribute to low energy levels. Stress also makes you both physically and mentally exhausted.

The three macro-nutrients, namely carbohydrates, proteins and fats, provide your body with the energy it needs. Vitamins and minerals help with processes that convert food into energy.

Foods for energy
Mixed nuts: They are a healthier option for those who need an energy boost. Nuts are energy dense and a handful of them make for a great snack. By including a variety of nuts you get important vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and vitamin E. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, dates, raisins are good sources as well.
Fortified breakfast cereals: Start your day with energy-dense breakfast cereals. You can include whole wheat bread and high fibre cereals such as oats, wheat flakes and muesli. Complex carbs help in the slow release of glucose into the bloodstream. While simple carbs lead to quick rise in blood sugars.
Eggs: Eggs, especially the yolk, contain many nutrients. They contain B complex
vitamins, which are required for reactions that convert food into energy.
Proteins: Incorporate sources of proteins such as lean chicken, fish, beans and soy foods as they keep you filled up for a longer time. Include salmon as it contains omega-3 fatty acids and B complex vitamins, both of which help to convert food into energy.
Water: Drink at least 2-3 litres of water daily. If you are dehydrated, you will feel tired and have low energy levels. It would be best if you have a glass of coconut water or lime water daily. Coconut water contains minerals and trace elements required for
enzymatic reactions in our body It also contains electrolytes which prevent dehydration.
Iron: It helps in the delivery of oxygen to cells, so if a person is iron deficient then he/she feels fatigued, pale and their physical endurance is impaired. Sources of iron include leafy vegetables like fenugreek, spinach, mint, coriander, curry leaves, bajra, nachni, and most meats.
Fruits: Include fruits like watermelon, orange, apple, banana and pear as they are easily available. Whenever you are out or have long gaps between your meals, try to snack on a fruit so that you get natural sugars which will boost your energy levels.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition  counselling centre.