By Gina Roberts-Grey
Got a bad case of the head bobs from tossing and turning all night long? Forget grabbing for a cup of caffeine to stay awake: Research from Newcastle University published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism says a jolt of energy just might be found in a glass of milk.
The key to milk’s power to wake you up is vitamin D, a hormone normally produced in the skin from energy absorbed by sunlight. In addition to milk, vitamin D is found naturally in fish, cheese, butter and egg yolks, according to the National Institutes of Health.
In the Newcastle study, researchers found that people who felt sluggish could “power up” using vitamin D to enhance the activity in their mitochondria, also known as the batteries of cells in a person’s body.
Mitochondria use glucose and oxygen to create a form of energy used by cells. Muscles need a large amount of this energy to power you through your day and to replenish energy after any form of exercise, even walking up the stairs.
And according to the research, vitamin D deficiencies are common.
“Of the patients I see, around 60 percent are vitamin D-deficient,“ said lead researcher, Akash Sinha, in a statement. "So a simple vitamin D tablet could help boost your energy levels – from within the cells.”
Vitamin D deficiency also is being linked to sleep disorders. Researchers at East Texas Medical Center postulated that widespread vitamin D deficiencies are at least partially to blame for the increase in sleep disorders worldwide. In looking at sleep apnea patients, researchers noted, “When the severity of [sleep apnea] increases…vitamin D deficiency becomes more pronounced.”
Food is considered the best source of vitamins and minerals. But if you’re not crazy about milk and other vitamin D-rich foods, talk to your doctor about supplements to feel refreshed. Your doctor may advise taking them first thing in the morning with breakfast, as certain medicines can reduce the absorption of vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins, according to the NIH.