Will B vitamins give you an energy boost?

Yes, say naturopaths, supplements pushers and people operating under the placebo effect, but the evidence is just not there.

B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12) play a role in metabolism, specifically, they are cofactors that help convert calories into ATP (adenoosine triphosphate). The words “calorie” and “energy” are used interchangeably, creating confusion among consumers who interpret the word “energy” to mean “energy levels” or ” “liveliness”. In this instance, however, “energy” simply means “fuel”.

Western dietary habits, for all their downsides, do, generally, provide enough B vitamins on a daily basis to sustain normal metabolic processes. This means that, unless there is a B vitamin deficiency present, supplementing will not have any effect. The extra vitamins will be excreted in urine.

If a deficiency is present, supplementation will address it, but will not provide an energy boost. Real deficiencies will result in decreased performance, particularly in athletes. Supplementing to correct deficiency status will bring performance back to normal levels, but will not enhance it, or boost it.

Any perceived added liveliness in the wake of taking B vitamin supplements is a placebo effect, likely derived from following the advice of a health provider who appears to be knowledgeable and an authority on the subject, but is, in fact, nothing of the kind (read: a naturopath / chiropractor / insert any other self appointed “specialist” here).

So, save your money and get active. The more you move, the more vibrant you will feel, and you won’t have to spend a dime.


Huskisson E., Maggini S, Ruf M. Vitamins and Minerals in Fatigue, The Journal of International Medical Research, 2007; 35: 277-289.

Krause’s Food – the Nutrition Care Process (Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy), 2016.