Article at a Glance
- There are many supplements you can turn to for a natural energy boost, whether you need some extra pep during exercise or a quick pick-me-up during the afternoon lull.
- Adaptogens are natural botanical supplements that increase energy while protecting the body against the effects of stress.
- You can refine and personalize your supplement protocol by choosing targeted products that boost energy naturally and conveniently.
Energy-boosting supplements, powders, drinks, and “shots” are highly marketed in our modern world. No surprise, since our days are packed with both work and leisure activities that can interfere with adequate rest, yet we still have to get it all done. Consequently, the challenge becomes how to get more energy without taking a toll on your body and causing overstressed adrenal glands or mental burnout.
Vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and nutrient supplements can take you far past the fundamentals of exercise and a clean diet to help you feel more energetic than ever.
Vitamins and Minerals That Pack an Energizing Punch
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps counteract fatigue symptoms [R]. Most Americans don’t get enough of it, mainly due to lifestyle and environmental factors that reduce exposure to sunlight, as sunlight on the skin is required for the body to produce vitamin D [R]. Even if you do your best to get in a morning walk or go outside for lunch or a break, your vitamin D levels can still be too low.
If sunshine is consistently lacking in your city, a vitamin D lamp can be helpful. Supplementation with vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) can help too.
How much? The US Institute of Medicine suggests that a daily intake of 600–800 IU, or 10–20 micrograms, is adequate for 97.5% of the population, although daily intake may need to be higher for individuals who get no sun exposure [R][R].
What form? Take D3 with its synergistic partner, vitamin K, to maximize the benefits of vitamin D while also minimizing the already very low potential for toxicity [R][R].
When? Take it in the morning
Magnesium is known as the “master mineral,” as it participates in over 300 essential enzymatic processes, including those involved in the production of energy on a cellular level [R].
Almost all Americans are in need of more magnesium. The majority of people don’t meet the recommended dietary allowance thanks to mineral-depleted soil and modern farming practices that make it challenging to get sufficient magnesium from the diet alone [R][R][R].
How much? The goal is to get to 200-800 milligrams per day. Start low and build up to as far as your GI system will tolerate, as magnesium can lead to loose stools.
What form? There are numerous forms of magnesium. Many of them are calming, but magnesium malate has been known to have energy-boosting effects [R].
When? Take it at bedtime
Vitamin B12 is essential for cellular energy production [R]. It also plays a critical role in converting food into energy [R]. Adequate levels of B12 are particularly important for women of childbearing age, aging adults, and vegetarians or vegans who may not get sufficient vitamin B12 through their animal-free diet [R].
How much? The recommended daily intake for most people is 2.4 micrograms per day [R]. However, the optimal dose of vitamin B12 can vary based on gender, age, and specific conditions.
What form? Methylcobalamin is known to have superior bioavailability. However, genetics can play a role, as people with certain genetic variants may need to try other naturally occurring forms of B12 to find the form that is best for them [R]. Your functional medicine provider can help you determine the best form for your genetic type.
When? Since vitamin B12 is best absorbed on an empty stomach, take it mid-morning or mid-afternoon [R].
Other Supplements That Can Up Your Energy Quotient
Rhodiola is a plant that has been popular in the traditional medicinal systems of Europe and Asia for centuries. It’s known to stimulate the nervous system, enhance work performance, and quash fatigue [R].
It is one of the top herbal adaptogens and it functions in that capacity to reduce stress responses. It is regarded as one of the best herbs for blood oxygenation, making it useful for endurance [R].
How much? Start with 100 milligrams per day and build up to 400 milligrams per day [R]
What form? Rhodiola rosea extract that contains 2-3% rosavin and 0.8-1% salidroside [R]
When? Take it early in the day to avoid any sleep disturbances
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring, fat-soluble coenzyme. Although all cells contain CoQ10, the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and heart have the highest concentrations [R]. Cells use CoQ10 for protection from oxidative damage and to produce energy [R][R].
When levels of CoQ10 decline, the body’s cells are unable to produce sufficient energy, which may contribute to fatigue [R][R]. Food sources, including meat, fish, and nuts contain CoQ10, but not in sufficient amounts to increase levels in the body [R]. CoQ10 supplements can help reduce fatigue, particularly in people who have declining or low levels.
How much? 30-100 milligrams per day or as high as 1,200-3,000 milligrams per day for CoQ10 deficiency [R]
What form? Ubiquinone, ubiquinol
When? Since it’s fat soluble, it should be taken with a meal containing fats.
Creatine is an amino acid that can be found in foods such as meats, eggs, and fish. Creatine is known to increase muscular strength, power, and endurance, and it has a brain-enhancing (nootropic) effect as well [R][R].
Creatine supplementation has regularly been shown to increase strength and physical performance and promote greater training adaptations. It can significantly improve cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance performance when used in conjunction with high-intensity interval training [R]. Not all individuals respond the same to creatine supplementation, but in general it promotes a faster regeneration of ATP (the cells’ energy source) between high-intensity intervals [R].
How much? 5 grams per day [R]
What form? Creatine monohydrate [R]
When? Take it shortly before or after working out on days that you exercise [R]. On rest days, keep your creatine levels elevated by taking it with meals [R].
L-theanine is an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea [R]. When combined in supplement form with a natural caffeine source, it can produce an energy boost without the jittery effects often found in highly caffeinated beverages and sugary energy drinks [R]. A ratio of 1:2 (caffeine:L-theanine) is sufficient to produce these effects [R].
How much? Dosage recommendations vary, however, 25-100 milligram doses can raise blood concentrations of the amino acid, and daily supplementation of higher amounts may produce dose-dependent benefits [R].
What form? L-theanine
When? As needed, or as a supplement to a low-protein meal
Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is an herbal remedy commonly used in Ayurveda, the traditional southeast Asian medical system [R]. It has demonstrated the ability to increase stamina and prevent adrenal gland changes and cortisol release from stress during endurance trials [R].
Additionally, research suggests that ashwagandha can alleviate exercise-induced fatigue. The study found that elite cyclists who took ashwagandha had significant improvements in cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular endurance [R].
Targeted Supplements to Keep You Prime
When choosing botanical supplements, be sure to look for high-quality supplements that are third-party verified [R]. And while general recommendations are helpful, it’s best to specifically tailor your supplement protocol to meet your personal goals. Ideally, you would benefit most from supplements based on your own genetic results and blood biomarkers. To learn more about testing and personalizing your nutrition and supplements to your individual genetics, check out our directory of providers.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. Information is provided for educational purposes. You should consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website.