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Energy-boosting supplements

11 vitamins and supplements that boost energy

Life can take a toll on your energy levels. Fortunately, these 11 vitamins and supplements can boost your energy levels when you need it most.

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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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Last updated on August 23, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on May 16, 2022.

Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are the best ways to maintain your natural energy levels.

But these things are not always possible, especially when balancing the demands of life.

Fortunately, there are many supplements you can turn to for an energy boost.

Here are 11 natural vitamins and supplements that may boost your energy.

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is one of the most important medicinal herbs in Indian Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems.

Ashwagandha is thought to increase energy by enhancing your body’s resilience to physical and mental stress.

In one study, people given ashwagandha showed significant improvements in several measures of stress and anxiety, compared to those given a placebo. They also had 28% lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that increases in response to stress.

Strengthening these findings was a review of five studies examining the effects of ashwagandha on anxiety and stress.

All of the studies showed that those who took ashwagandha extract scored better on tests measuring stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

In addition to improving mental fatigue and stress, research also suggests ashwagandha can alleviate fatigue associated with exercise.

A study of elite cyclists found that those who took ashwagandha were able to cycle 7% longer than those given a placebo.

What’s more, research suggests that ashwagandha supplements are safe and have a low risk of side effects.

Summary: Ashwagandha is thought to reduce mental and physical fatigue, thereby increasing energy levels.

2. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that grows in certain cold, mountainous regions. It’s widely used as an adaptogen, a natural substance that enhances your body’s ability to cope with stress.

In one study, researchers combined and analyzed the results of 11 studies that examined the effects of Rhodiola on physical and mental fatigue in more than 500 people.

Of the 11 studies, 8 found evidence that Rhodiola can enhance physical performance and ease mental fatigue. There were also no major safety risks associated with Rhodiola supplements.

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Another review concluded that Rhodiola carries a low risk for side effects and may help alleviate physical and mental fatigue.

Rhodiola has been suggested to help with depression as well, which is commonly linked to fatigue.

A 12-week study compared the antidepressant effect of Rhodiola to the commonly prescribed antidepressant sertraline, or Zoloft.

Rhodiola was found to reduce symptoms of depression, but not as effectively as sertraline.

However, the Rhodiola produced fewer side effects and was better tolerated than sertraline.

Summary: Rhodiola is thought to increase your body’s capacity to adapt to stress by easing physical and mental fatigue. It may also help alleviate fatigue in people with depression.

3. Vitamin B12

Along with the other B vitamins, vitamin B12 helps transform the food you eat into energy that your cells can use.

It also keeps your body’s nerves and blood cells healthy and helps prevent a type of anemia that can make you weak and tired.

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a variety of animal proteins, such as meat, fish, and dairy products. Many foods are also fortified with B12, allowing most Americans to meet their vitamin B12 needs by consuming a balanced diet containing foods rich in B12.

Nevertheless, some populations may be at risk of a B12 deficiency, which occurs when your body does not get enough or is unable to absorb the amount you need.

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As a result, some people’s energy levels may receive a boost with B12 supplements.

People who may be at risk of deficiency include:

However, no evidence suggests supplementing with B12 — or any of the B vitamins, for that matter — can boost energy in people who have adequate levels.

Summary: Vitamin B12 plays an important role in energy production. Aging, eliminating animal products from your diet, and diseases affecting the GI tract can all contribute to low levels of B12 and result in fatigue and weakness.

4. Iron

The body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs to the organs and tissues throughout your body.

Without adequate levels of iron, your red blood cells cannot effectively carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

This results in iron deficiency anemia, which may leave you feeling fatigued and weak.

Causes of iron deficiency anemia include:

In these cases, an iron supplement may be needed to correct a deficiency and avoid complications associated with iron deficiency anemia, including fatigue.

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However, because there are health risks from excessive iron intake, consult with your doctor to see if iron supplements are right for you.

Summary: Red blood cells require iron to transport oxygen to your body’s tissues. Without iron, oxygen delivery to the entire body is limited, which may result in extreme fatigue. A diet low in iron, excessive blood loss, and pregnancy can increase iron needs.

5. Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that plays a role in sleep. It’s produced and released depending on the time of day — rising in the evening and falling in the morning.

Supplementing with melatonin may be an effective way to alleviate insomnia, a sleep disorder that affects approximately 30% of adults around the world.

Chronic insomnia can make you constantly tired and low on energy. Symptoms include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up too early, and poor sleep quality.

For people with chronic fatigue syndrome, melatonin supplements have been shown to improve concentration and energy while reducing fatigue.

Interestingly, reduced melatonin secretions have been associated with aging, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.

However, it is currently unclear whether taking melatonin supplements can help reduce fatigue for people with these conditions.

Melatonin supplements appear to be safe. What’s more, they do not cause your body to produce less melatonin and are not associated with withdrawal or dependence.

Summary: Melatonin is an important hormone that plays a role in sleep. Supplementing with melatonin may be an effective way to alleviate insomnia, resulting in improved alertness and decreased fatigue.

6. CoQ10

CoQ10, which stands for coenzyme Q10, is made naturally in the body. CoQ10 comes in a few forms, including ubiquinone and ubiquinol. They are ubiquitous in the body, meaning they’re found in all cells.

All cells contain CoQ10, although the heart, kidneys, and liver have the highest levels. Cells use CoQ10 to make energy and protect themselves from oxidative damage.

When levels of CoQ10 decline, your body’s cells cannot produce the energy they need to grow and stay healthy, which may contribute to fatigue.

Fish, meat, and nuts contain CoQ10, but not in large enough amounts to significantly increase levels in your body.

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Therefore, CoQ10 supplements may be a better solution for reducing fatigue in people who have declining or low levels.

CoQ10 levels decrease with age and may be low in people with heart failure, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, or in people who take statins, a class of medications used to lower blood cholesterol levels.

However, CoQ10 supplements are unlikely to increase energy in people with adequate levels of the enzyme.

Additionally, studies in both humans and animals suggest that CoQ10 supplements are safe in appropriate doses.

Studies show that one of several forms of CoQ10, known as ubiquinol, is more efficient at improving the levels of CoQ10 in older men.

Summary: CoQ10 is a nutrient that your body’s cells require to produce energy. Aging, certain diseases, and statin treatment are associated with low levels of CoQ10, which may increase feelings of fatigue. CoQ10 supplements may help correct this.

7. Creatine

Creatine is a compound that is naturally found in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish. It acts as a source of quick energy in your body.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the energy currency of life. When your body uses ATP for energy, it loses a phosphate group and becomes adenosine diphosphate.

Therefore, when your body needs a quick source of energy, creatine lends its phosphate to ADP and becomes ATP.

This gives you the energy needed for high-intensity, short-duration exercises, such as:

A review of 53 studies found that creatine supplements improved bench press strength by 5%. This translates to a 10-pound increase in weight for someone who can bench 200 pounds (91 kg) just from taking creatine.

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In another review, older adults who took creatine gained 3.1 pounds (1.4 kg) of lean muscle mass compared to those who did not.

These gains in muscle strength and size are largely attributed to the participants’ ability to train harder for longer due to increased energy supply.

Summary: Supplementing with creatine increases your body’s energy stores. This increased energy allows you to train harder and longer.

8. Citrulline

The name “citrulline” comes from Citrullus vulgaris, the Latin word for watermelon, from which it was first isolated.

Citrulline works to increase nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, causing the inner muscles of blood vessels to widen and thus increasing circulation.

This allows blood, oxygen, and nutrients to travel to all areas of the body. But when the ability to produce nitric oxide is limited, physical weakness and lack of energy may occur.

As a precursor for nitric oxide, citrulline supplements may, therefore, aid energy levels by increasing the availability of oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells.

Citrulline also plays a role in the urea cycle, helping to eliminate ammonia from the body. Ammonia production is a major contributor to fatigue that is triggered by intense exercise.

Therefore, citrulline can decrease fatigue associated with intense exercise, allowing you to exercise longer.

In one study, people who took citrulline finished a cycling test 1.5% quicker than those taking a placebo. The citrulline group also reported less fatigue and quicker recovery.

In another study, taking citrulline supplements allowed people to exercise 12% longer and 7% harder, compared to a placebo.

The safety of citrulline is also well established, even in large doses.

Summary: L-citrulline produces nitric oxide in your body, which dilates blood vessels, allowing increased nutrient and oxygen delivery to your body’s cells. This can help decrease fatigue and plays a role in energy production.

9. Beetroot powder

Beetroot powder is made from the beetroot vegetable and contains a high amount of nitrate.

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Similar to L-citrulline, nitrate produces nitric oxide in the body, which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow and oxygen delivery.

This allows your body to produce energy more efficiently, particularly regarding exercise.

Several study analyses suggest that supplementing with beetroot increases the amount of time it takes for athletes to get tired during exercise.

In some cases, taking beetroot supplements allowed people to exercise 25% longer compared to taking a placebo.

This is because the nitrate found in beetroot decreases the amount of oxygen required to exercise at various intensities.

The less oxygen you need to exercise, the less tired you will feel and the longer you will be able to exercise.

Additionally, because nitrate increases nitric oxide production in your body, supplementing with beetroot may also decrease high blood pressure.

However, while harmless, the color pigments in beetroot may stain your urine or stool red.

Summary: Beetroot contains a compound called nitrate, which relaxes your blood vessels. When used as a supplement, beetroot can increase oxygen delivery throughout your body, allowing you to exercise longer.

10. Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an amino acid that is naturally produced by your body. It is found in most high-protein foods, including chicken, eggs, and dairy products.

Tyrosine is important for producing neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit messages in your brain.

These neurotransmitters are thought to decline with mentally and physically demanding activities, which can negatively affect concentration and energy levels.

In many studies, tyrosine supplements have been found to help increase alertness and energy levels. They may also help restore memory and clarity in sleep-deprived people.

Currently, research suggests tyrosine is only beneficial for people who have low stores of neurotransmitters due to stressful or cognitively demanding situations.

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Additionally, supplementing with tyrosine has been proven to be safe.

Summary: Supplementing with tyrosine may help restore levels of neurotransmitters in your body, thereby helping improve mental cognition and energy levels.

11. Caffeine with L-theanine

Caffeine is commonly consumed for its energy-boosting properties in the form of coffee, tea, cocoa beverages, energy drinks, and sodas.

However, many people limit or completely avoid caffeine because it can lead to irritability, nervousness, restlessness, and a crash after its initial energy boost.

But combining L-theanine with caffeine as a supplement may be an easy way to prevent these side effects.

L-theanine is an amino acid found naturally in tea and some mushrooms. It is thought to promote relaxation without increasing drowsiness.

In several studies, the combination of caffeine and L-theanine has been shown to improve memory and reaction time plus decrease tiredness and mental fatigue.

Collectively, these results suggest that adding L-theanine can help you get the same energy-boosting benefits from caffeine without the unwanted side effects.

While L-theanine is tolerated well, it’s recommended to limit your caffeine intake to less than 400 mg per day. This is equivalent to 3–5 cups of coffee.

Summary: Combining caffeine with L-theanine is an effective way to improve your energy levels while reducing the negative side effects and jitters.

Summary

Life can take a toll on your energy levels.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to maintain your energy, including consuming a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.

However, for many people, these things are not possible all of the time.

When this is the case, many supplements and vitamins may help boost your energy when you need it most. Some work better for increasing energy during exercise, while others may be best when you need a quick pick-me-up.

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Furthermore, all the supplements on this list have a well-established safety profile when used appropriately.

Nevertheless, remember that it’s still best practice to check with your doctor or registered dietitian to determine if these supplements are safe for you to use.

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