11 Vitamins and Supplements That Boost Energy
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.
Ashwagandha is one of the most important medicinal herbs in Indian Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems (1Trusted Source).
Ashwagandha is thought to increase energy by enhancing your body’s resilience to physical and mental stress (2Trusted Source).
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 (3Trusted Source).
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 (5Trusted Source).
What’s more, research suggests that ashwagandha supplements are safe and have a low risk of side effects
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.
Another review concluded that rhodiola carries a low risk for side effects and may be helpful for alleviating 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 (11).
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.
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 (14Trusted Source).
Fish, meat and nuts contain CoQ10, but not in large enough amounts to significantly increase levels in your body (15Trusted Source).
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 (12Trusted Source).
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 ubiquitous, is more efficient at improving the levels of CoQ10 in older men.
4. 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 (22Trusted Source).
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 (23).
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.
As a result, some people’s energy levels may receive a boost with B12 supplements.
- Older adults: Approximately 10–30% of adults over the age of 50 have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from food. This is because they produce less stomach acid and proteins, which are required for proper absorption
- Vegans: Vegetarians and vegans are at risk of B12 deficiency since animal foods are the only natural food source of this vitamin
- Those with GI disorders: Conditions that affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as celiac disease and Crohn disease, may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb B12
However, there is no evidence that suggests supplementing with B12 — or any of the B vitamins, for that matter — can boost energy in people who have adequate levels (23).
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 (27Trusted Source).
- Iron-poor diet: The richest sources of iron in the diet include meat and seafood. For this reason, iron requirements for vegans are 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat.
- Blood loss: More than half of your body iron is in your blood. Therefore, blood loss through heavy periods or internal bleeding can dramatically deplete levels.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women require twice as much iron to support normal fetal growth. Unfortunately, about half of all pregnant women develop iron deficiency anemia.
In these cases, an iron supplement may be needed to correct a deficiency and avoid complications associated with iron deficiency anemia, including fatigue.
However, because there are health risks from excessive iron intake, consult with your doctor to see if iron supplements are right for you
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 adenine 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:
- Short sprints like the 100-meter sprint or intermittent sprints in sports like football or soccer
- Short, powerful bursts of activity like the shot put or jumping (36).
- Activities that require large amounts of force, like weightlifting (37).
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 (38).
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 (39Trusted Source).
These gains in muscle strength and size are largely attributed to the participants’ ability to train harder for longer due to increased energy supply.
The name “citrulline” comes from Citrullus vulgaris, the Latin word for watermelon, from which it was first isolated (40).
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 (45, 46Trusted Source).
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 (47Trusted Source).
In another study, taking citrulline supplements allowed people to exercise 12% longer and 7% harder, compared to a placebo (48Trusted Source).
The safety of citronella is also well established, even in large doses (49Trusted Source).
8. Beetroot Powder
Beetroot powder is made from the beetroot vegetable and contains a high amount of nitrate (50Trusted Source).
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 in regards to 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 (54Trusted Source).
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 (59Trusted Source).
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 (60Trusted Source).
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 (67Trusted Source).
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 (68Trusted Source).
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 (69Trusted Source).
In many studies, tyro-sine 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 tyro sine is only beneficial for people who have low stores of neurotransmitters due to stressful or cognitively demanding situations (70Trusted Source).
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 (74Trusted Source).
However, many people limit or completely avoid caffeine because it can lead to irritability, nervousness, restlessness and a crash after its initial energy boost (75Trusted Source).
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-heathenish has been shown to improve memory and reaction time plus decrease tiredness and mental fatigue
Collectively, these results suggest that adding L-heathenish can help you get the same energy-boosting benefits from caffeine without the unwanted side effects (81Trusted Source).
While L-heathenish 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