These days, most of us have a lot going on in our lives. Most people work full time, often while raising a family, going to school, or juggling other responsibilities. In fact, many people actually work multiple jobs! All this hard work is difficult to maintain, particularly if you feel like you don’t have as much energy as you used to.
Energy, clearly, is a vital part of our lives. Without proper energy levels, we lack the fuel needed to handle our responsibilities and be successful. We need adequate nutrition, hydration and good health in order to maintain good energy levels. And especially in our busy modern lives, sometimes we need a helpful push in the right direction.
There are many things that people do just about every day to boost their energy levels. Coffee is obviously the most popular stimulant out there, and it’s a vital part of most people’s mornings (and afternoons!) While there’s nothing wrong with drinking coffee, it’s an expensive habit – especially if you’re a fan of fancy Starbucks drinks! Luckily, there are now alternatives to that pricey cup of Joe, including some good supplements for energy.
What Are Supplements That Help Energy?
There’s a whole class of supplements designed to help you increase your energy levels naturally. Many effective supplements for boosting energy provide a temporary boost, while there is another class of top supplements for helping maintain energy naturally.
There are a variety of good energy boost supplements, which we’ll discuss in detail in the guide below. Some, like caffeine, are household names. Others, like cordyceps and synephrine are less known. Each supplement uses a slightly different approach to help your energy levels.
How Can Supplements Help With Energy?
There are a variety of good supplements for increasing energy, and each functions in a slightly different way. We’ll go over the details of each individual product in the guide below.
Essentially, this class of effective energy boost supplements helps to temporarily boost energy levels, while also assisting your body’s natural ability to produce energy and regulate energy levels. As mentioned, each works in a different way. Stimulants provide an immediate burst of energy, while the other classes, including vitamins, minerals, and herbals, mostly aim to aid your body’s ability to create energy naturally.
Why Should You Take Supplements for Energy?
There are a variety of reasons that someone may want to consider taking a strong supplement for energy. Perhaps you’re aging, and find you don’t have as much energy as you did when you were younger. Perhaps you’re starting a new job (or a second job), and need a helpful boost. Below, find some of the main reasons why someone may consider a good supplement for boosting energy.
- Energy levels naturally decline with age – as we get older, our natural energy levels decline. This is unfortunate, and difficult to avoid. This effect can be reduced by getting enough sleep, exercising, etc. Maintaining proper nutrient intake is also very important in old age.
- Energy drives success – whether it’s in school, at the workplace, or at home, energy is key to finding success in life. Without it, you simply don’t accomplish enough to get ahead in life. If you ever wonder how some people seem to achieve so much, it’s probably because they have the drive, focus, and energy to push out that extra mile, that extra task, to reach their goals quicker.
- Productivity can reduce stress – energy is tied to productivity, and for many, being productive may help reduce their stress level.
- Accomplishment can improve happiness – accomplishing difficult tasks, getting ahead, and finding success in life can all have profound positive effects on your mental happiness and wellbeing. And, as you likely know, reaching your goals requires a lot of focus and energy.
- Energy-sapping nutritional deficiencies are common – there are certain vitamins and minerals that are very important for the body’s natural regulation of energy levels. When we become deficient in these nutrients, our energy levels often slump. Iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B12 are all examples of this type of nutrient, and deficiencies in these are more common than you may think. Iron deficiency affects around 10% of the population (with women more commonly deficient), while up to 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Vitamin B12 deficiency is less common, but can have effects on energy levels.
10 Supplements That Have Energy Benefits
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is, simply put, the most popular stimulant on the planet. Here in the USA, 54% of Americans use caffeine every day! Usually, this habit takes the form of a morning cup of coffee, but really, there are lots of ways to consume caffeine. The popular buzz-inducing stimulant is added to soft drinks, and is also available in tablet form. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll be focusing on the tablet/pill caffeine products, as they are the most convenient and affordable.
How Caffeine May Help With Energy
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can help directly provide energy. Caffeine essentially has two primary effects. The first is its ability to block adenosine, which keeps you from feeling tired. But the more noticeable effect is the immediate energy boost.
How to Take Caffeine
Obviously, you can simply drink a cup of coffee – but you’re probably already doing that! However, the cheapest, easiest, and most convenient way is to use caffeine pills. Basically, these tiny tablets give you a dose of straight caffeine, which you can pop at any time in a matter of seconds. Generally, caffeine tablets contain around 200mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to about 16 oz of black coffee. You can also take a half-dose, if this amount is too much for you.
Caffeine should not be taken in the evening or late afternoon, as it can cause trouble sleeping. You should also drink plenty of water when you use caffeine. It’s best to take not on an empty stomach, but you don’t necessarily need to take it right at meal time.
Caffeine Side Effects
Caffeine does have some side effects, the most noticeable of which is difficulty sleeping. This mostly applies to those who use caffeine in the afternoon/evening, as it can take quite a while for the effect to wear off. It’s best to avoid taking any sort of caffeine after 2pm or so.
Other side effects include jitters/anxiety, dehydration, and stomach discomfort. Be sure to drink plenty of water while using caffeine!
What are Cordyceps?
Cordyceps are a type of fungus, and actually exist in nature as a parasite. They are native to certain mountainous regions, and typically grow on the backs of caterpillars. While a parasitic fungus doesn’t sound like something you’d want to consume, in reality cordyceps can have some profound benefits. Cordyceps have been used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine for generations, and they are now beginning to hit the mainstream as more and more people discover the impressive benefits of cordyceps.
How Cordyceps Help Increase Energy
Today, they are often used by runners and other endurance athletes as a way to boost endurance and physical performance. It’s not a stimulant, so don’t expect the more focused buzz that something like caffeine might give you.
How to Take Cordyceps
Cordyceps come in powdered form, packaged into capsules. They are quite easy to take, and should generally be taken with food. You’ll want to take a close look at the instructions found on the product you’re using, as dosage recommendations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Cordyceps Side Effects
As long as proper dosage recommendations are followed, cordyceps do not generally cause noticeable side effects. Unwanted effects are always possible, however, and those who have reported issues with this supplement tend to report feelings of nausea, diarrhea, and/or dry mouth. Additionally, there have not been any long-term clinical trials, so it’s impossible to determine any potential long-term side effects of this supplement.
What is Synephrine?
Synephrine is a compound found naturally in the bitter orange plant. Native to Asia and parts of Northern Africa, the bitter orange plant contains two important compounds; synephrine and ephedrine. The plant has been used for generations in various traditional medicines, often for stomach issues. Today, the plant itself is mostly processed to extract the synephrine, which is commonly used in weight loss supplements and by athletes.
How Synephrine May Help With Energy
Synephrine is a stimulant, so it has an immediate energizing effect on the body. It’s often added to pre-workout supplements due to its energy-boosting effects. More research is needed on this particular supplement before we can reach a definite conclusion on the efficacy of synephrine.
How to Take Synephrine
It’s possible to find pure synephrine supplements, but generally the ingredient is blended with other ingredients to create weight loss/energy boosting blends. It’s also possible to get just pure bitter orange extract, which is a more natural way to obtain synephrine.
Synephrine Side Effects
Synephrine can cause stomach upset in some people. Additionally, it can potentially raise blood pressure levels, particularly when it’s used in combination with other stimulants. High blood pressure can lead to serious health concerns, so speak with your doctor before beginning a supplement containing synephrine.
What are Pre-Workout Supplements?
As the name suggests, pre-workout supplements are products designed to be taken immediately before your exercise session. These popular products generally contain a blend of ingredients, which are formulated by experts to deliver the best possible boost to your workout performance.
How Pre-Workout Supplements Help Increase Energy
Pre-workout supplements are designed to help you have the best workout possible. And, clearly, one of the most important aspects of workout performance is your energy level. Pre-workouts generally contain a blend of ingredients (often including caffeine and other stimulants) which can help boost your energy immediately, as well as help to extend your endurance.
Typically, pre-workout supplements are designed for strength trainers and athletes. They will generally contain ingredients like caffeine, which boosts energy, and creatine, which improves muscle contractions and may boost strength temporarily.
How to Take Pre-Workout Supplements
Obviously, you’ll want to take pre-workouts before your workout. Ideally, you’ll want to take a dose around 10-20 minutes before you begin working out – which likely means you’ll want to have a shake as you head out the door to the gym. For longer workouts, you can also sip on a shake during your exercise session.
As for dosage, it varies depending on the product you’re using. Each product uses a different blend of ingredients, with different amounts of each active ingredient. So, pay close attention to the instructions on the product you choose. Most pre-workouts come in powder form, and generally contain a scoop to make measuring out a dose easier.
Pre-Workout Supplement Side Effects
Pre-workout supplements can cause some side effects. The most common issues are related to the high caffeine content in many of these products. While caffeine is effective at boosting energy levels, it can also cause anxiety, jitters, etc. in some people. Dehydration is also a common side effect, so be sure to drink plenty of water. It’s also best not to take pre-workouts on an empty stomach, to avoid stomach upset.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is one of the eight b vitamins that all contribute to overall health. B vitamins essentially help the body convert food into glucose, which is used as energy for all of our body’s processes. B12 in particular is important for other aspects of health, including the production of red blood cells and DNA, the health of your nervous system, and more. All of the B vitamins, and B12 in particular, are also very important for our physical energy levels, which is why B12 makes our list of top supplements for boosting energy.
How Vitamin B12 May Help With Energy
B12, and all the B vitamins, help our bodies naturally convert food into glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy. As you can imagine, this means that B12 plays a very important role in regulating our natural energy levels.
Maintaining proper B12 levels in our bodies is very important to our overall health and energy levels. Conversely, people with low B12 levels may experience sluggishness, lack of energy, etc. However, for the most part, B12 is only beneficial in this regard to those who are deficient in B12. In other words, if you already get enough B12 from your diet/supplements already, you may not notice any benefit from adding additional B12 – but if you are deficient, the difference may be noticed.
How to Take Vitamin B12
B12 comes in pill/capsule form. It’s available on its own, or in blends with other B vitamins. You may also find it in small quantities in your daily multivitamin. In supplement form, B12 is best taken with food.
The daily recommended amounts for B12 vary depending on age, but typical healthy adults should aim to get around 2.4mcg per day. Keep in mind that B12 is found naturally in some foods, including shellfish, red meat, and eggs.
Vitamin B12 Side Effects
Some common side effects of B12 supplements include headache, itching, anxiety, and swelling. These effects are fairly rare, and usually only happen when too large of a dose is taken. Follow dosage instructions closely for best results.
What is Iron?
Iron is a common mineral that is found in some foods. It’s an important mineral for overall health, due to its role in oxygen transport and metabolic function. Iron is particularly important for growing bodies, and for those who like to exercise. Unfortunately, iron deficiency is quite common, and can have some serious health effects. People who are deficient in iron tend to feel sluggish and unmotivated, and there are also some more serious long-term concerns with iron deficiency.
How Iron May Help With Energy
Iron plays an important role in many functions within the body. Without proper iron levels, it’s very difficult for the body to maintain proper health, and one of the biggest impacts is on your energy levels. If you’re suffering from an iron deficiency, you may feel sluggish, tired and weak. Conversely, by fixing that iron deficiency you can feel much more energized.
The benefits of iron mostly consist of the benefits of not being iron deficient. In other words, if you already get enough iron in your diet, you likely won’t have an iron deficiency and therefore will not experience much benefit from adding an iron supplement.
How to Take Iron
Iron supplements come in pill/capsule form, and it’s important to follow the dosage instructions on the product you’re using. Taking your dose with food will increase absorption, and is generally recommended. Do not take too much iron, as that can cause side effects.
Iron Side Effects
So long as proper dosage instructions are followed, iron side effects are rare. Some people do notice minor stomach upset, diarrhea, etc, which is why you should probably be taking the supplement with food. If you take too much iron, more serious side effects are possible – so be sure to follow the dosage instructions, and speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
What is Vitamin E?
How Vitamin E May Help With Energy
Vitamin E has been studied mostly in regards to its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants, like vitamin E, help to fight free radicals, which can help prevent damage to cells. This is useful for anti-aging, and for keeping the immune system healthy.
Like some others on this list, the vitamin E benefits are most noticeable when adding a supplement helps with a deficiency. Vitamin E deficiency can cause weakness, impaired reflexes, and more. If you already get enough vitamin E, you may not notice as much of a change, but vitamin E supplementation may still be beneficial.
How to Take Vitamin E
Vitamin E comes in capsule form, usually in softgels containing liquid vitamin E. You’ll want to closely follow the included instructions for best results. A typical dose will contain around 400IU, and can generally be taken twice per day, if needed. It’s best to take vitamin E with a meal.
Vitamin E Side Effects
Some common side effects of vitamin E supplementation include nausea, headache, mild rash and fatigue. More serious side effects are always possible, so speak to your doctor if you have concerns.
What is Potassium?
Potassium is a vitally important mineral that is needed for the function of a lot of organs and cells in the body. It plays a role in nearly every function of the body. Potassium is also an electrolyte, which means it helps to conduct electricity through the body. Potassium is a very important mineral for our health.
How Potassium May Help With Energy
Potassium does not directly increase energy, but it can help provide the necessary components for the body to operate properly. Essentially, potassium helps support the functions of our organs on a cellular level, which keeps everything running smoothly in our bodies. With that said, if your body does not get enough potassium on a daily basis, you may find yourself feeling weak and tired; and a potassium supplement (or dietary change) may help that!
How to Take Potassium
Potassium is available in capsule form, and should be taken daily, preferably with a meal. Dosage varies depending on the form of potassium used, so be sure to follow the instructions on the product you choose. Also, keep in mind that your daily multivitamin may already contain some potassium, and you may get a sufficient amount from your diet alone.
Potassium Side Effects
The most common side effects of potassium are gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach. Take your dose with a meal to help reduce the risk of these effects. More serious side effects are possible at higher dosages, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a number of important roles in the body. It’s vitally important for promoting the immune system, which is why it’s often used as a cold remedy. It also plays a role in regulating testosterone levels, and there is some evidence to suggest that zinc may also be an effective supplement for energy.
How Zinc May Help With Energy
Zinc is an essential mineral, and is very important to many natural processes in the body. It supports the immune system, helps regulate enzymes and hormones, and much more. It’s also a potent antioxidant.
Zinc deficiency is relatively common (especially among athletes, vegetarians and vegans), and can cause serious side effects. If you’re deficient in zinc, you may feel fatigued or weak. Fixing this deficiency can have positive effects on your energy levels, as well as your overall health and wellbeing. Also, some men who are deficient in zinc may experience low testosterone, which can also lead to fatigue and poor physical performance.
How to Take Zinc
Zinc comes in pill/capsule form, and is best taken daily. It’s available on its own, and also in the popular ZMA supplements (zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6). There is also some zinc in multivitamins, but sometimes not enough to meet your daily needs.
To take zinc, follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. It’s best to take with food. Also, if you’re taking an iron supplement as well, don’t take them at the same time as iron can interfere with the absorption of zinc.
Zinc Side Effects
When taken as directed, zinc side effects are rare. The most commonly reported issues are gastrointestinal issues, like nausea, diarrhea, etc. Larger-than-recommended doses of zinc can cause more serious side effects, so always take this supplement as directed.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is another essential nutrient, and one that is unfortunately very commonly lacking from our modern diets. Some estimates state that nearly 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium, although there are certainly varying levels of deficiency. Magnesium is vitally important for many everyday functions in the body; it plays a role in muscle development, sleep, energy, and much more. While you can get some magnesium from foods, it’s sometimes difficult to get enough from your diet alone, which is why magnesium supplements may be beneficial.
How Magnesium May Help With Energy
Magnesium deficiency can cause fatigue as well as trouble sleeping, plus tons of other negative health effects. These effects can cause an overall lack of energy, which can easily spiral into something worse. Again, with minerals like magnesium, you may not notice any benefits from the supplement if you already get enough magnesium naturally.
How to Take Magnesium
Magnesium comes in capsule form, and should be taken daily and with food. There are various forms of magnesium, with each absorbing at different rates and with different efficiencies. Since each form offers varying potency, it’s best to follow the dosage instructions on the product you choose.
Magnesium Side Effects
Side effects from magnesium supplements are rare, so long as dosage recommendations are followed. The most common issue is diarrhea, which can most often be avoided by taking your dose with food, and/or taking smaller doses.