Whether you’re gearing up to seize the day, power through an afternoon slump, or hit the gym, caffeine is a time-tested source of energy. According to a 2012 report from the FDA, caffeine is the most common psychoactive substance in the world. (Worried what a psychoactive substance is? It’s the scientific term for any substance that affects the mind--even if only slightly.)
Don’t get us wrong: sometimes coffee is the answer, and we can’t deny its health benefits when used in moderation. Unfortunately, when used excessively, caffeine is associated with unpleasant side effects, including heart palpitations, insomnia, and indigestion. While there is no shortage of caffeinated drinks promising to ramp up your energy and increase your focus, you should know that there are alternatives available.
Understanding the drawbacks of caffeine
Although caffeine might offer a short-term solution for a lack of energy, it can actually make you feel more exhausted in the long-run. Reach for caffeine too often, and you might develop a dependence, needing increasing amounts to achieve the same effect. Additionally, while you may be treating the symptoms of fatigue, the underlying cause persists.
Fatigue is comprised of a complicated and diverse set of symptoms with many possible causes, including poor sleep or nutrient deficiencies. Identifying the reason you feel sluggish is the key to choosing what vitamins and supplements will help you feel more energized and motivated to achieve your health goals.
Even if your coffee habit is under control, it is helpful to know that there are also vitamins and supplements that can help you feel more energized. Clinical research has shown that vitamins, minerals, and botanical supplements can offer an energy boost without the risk of dependence or side effects associated with caffeine. Here are the 6 best supplements to fight fatigue and increase energy.
Support energy production at the cellular level
1. Vitamin B12 is necessary for cells to produce energy
Vitamin B12 is responsible for forming red blood cells, which transport oxygen in the blood throughout the body. Once the oxygen arrives to your body’s cells, it is utilized for energy production. Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in neurological function. According to guidance published by the National Institute of Health in 2016, if you don’t consume enough vitamin B12 in your diet, you will be at a greater risk of fatigue, weakness, or weight loss.
Vegetarians and vegans are likely to be low on vitamin B12, since it is most commonly found in fish, meat, eggs, dairy, and many fortified foods. Older adults, or people with digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, are also at risk for a deficiency because they are less capable of absorbing the B12 they consume.
If you are feeling fatigued, eating foods rich in vitamin B12 or taking a supplement might just improve your energy levels.
2. Coenzyme Q10 is crucial for energy production
Coenzyme Q10 (aka CoQ10) is an antioxidant necessary for proper cell function, found in every cell of the body. Your cells need CoQ10 to produce energy, and research shows that it benefits patients with cardiovascular disease.
CoQ10 is found in meat, particularly organ meats, as well fish and peanuts. While our bodies are capable of producing CoQ10, the ability to do so naturally diminishes with age, so it is worth considering taking a CoQ10 supplement, especially later in life.
Adequate intake of these 2 minerals will support energy levels
3. Magnesium promotes better sleep
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, required for more than 300 different biochemical reactions, including muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and energy production. It is commonly found in foods like fish, almonds, and whole grains, and is an excellent source of energy.
According to a 2012 study published by the National Institute of Health, magnesium has been shown to improve symptoms of insomnia. If difficulty falling asleep is contributing to your fatigue, a magnesium supplement may improve your sleep quality, and help you feel more rested.
4. Optimize cell function with iron
Iron is an essential mineral that helps oxygen circulate throughout the body. It is also necessary for the body’s cell to function and develop properly. Iron deficiency is the primary cause of anemia, which can impair cognitive abilities, decrease immunity, and negatively impact work performance.
Meat and seafood are excellent sources of dietary iron. If you are vegetarian, then nuts, beans, lentils, spinach, and fortified grain products will be some of your go-to foods for iron. If necessary, iron supplements will help maintain proper levels of iron, but be mindful that iron supplements can cause severe side effects when taken in excess. Make sure to consult with your doctor before supplementing with iron.
Iron is especially important for women who experience heavy menstrual cycles, or for pregnant women because of iron’s importance for fetal development.
Supplements can help you stay alert and energized throughout the day, but they’re no substitute for your body’s basic needs: getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly.
If you generally maintain a healthy lifestyle but still feel run down, one of these six vitamins and supplements may address the root cause your fatigue. Unlike some solutions that provide a temporary burst of energy, these supplements can set you up for long-term wellness. Additionally, they each provide offer unique benefits beyond increasing your energy.
Before beginning to take supplements, consult with a physician or take an online lifestyle assessment at www.nutricare.life that can provide personalized recommendations.