Almost half of working adults in America are sleep deprived. Many of us experience daily fatigue for one reason or another.
But don’t fret! Natural energy boosters are out there, and they’re more affordable than ever.
Some of the best ways to naturally bump energy levels are restful sleep, healthy diet, and exercise.
However, dietary supplements and vitamins for energy can be a helpful tool if sleep, diet, and exercise don’t work or don’t fit into your daily life. Vitamins for energy are easy to find, and they come from natural sources.
If you’re wondering, “What vitamins should I take for energy?” you’ve come to the right place.
These natural energy supplements may come in a bottle, but they’re typically a lot safer for you than something your doctor could prescribe. Plus, you’ll find that most of the energy supplements we talk about are not only good for increasing energy levels but can also improve your brain function.
The best supplements and vitamins for energy can be divided into two basic categories:
- Natural energy supplements: compounds that your body can use to produce energy. These include vitamins and nutrients that encourage proper mitochondrial function, fight oxidative stress, get rid of brain fog, and support your body’s metabolic function.
- Stimulants: what people normally associate with “energy boosters” or vitamins for energy. While they also have a solid place in your search for energy supplements, stimulants are more likely to cause symptoms like the jitters or insomnia.
How Do Vitamins For Energy Affect The Body?
One of the major benefits of taking vitamins for energy is the improved function of your mitochondria, the “powerhouse of the cell”. The mitochondria then act as a metabolism booster.
Mitochondria are the parts of your cells that generate energy. They turn sugar, fat, or protein into energy for your body.
Your mitochondria might not be working as hard as they can. Age, genetic disease, and toxins can debilitate your mitochondria.
When mitochondria, amino acids, coenzymes, and cells all work together in harmony, the benefits to your health are far-reaching.
It’s not just your DNA — increased energy production improves metabolic function and helps protect your body against many diseases.
Metabolic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are much less likely when your metabolic function is efficient and strong.
Better Memory and Clearer Thinking
Supplements and vitamins for energy support better memory and improve brain function, making it easier to focus during the day.
Many adults experience daily fatigue. You may be awake and physically able to make it through the day, but your brain simply refuses to keep up.
Natural energy supplements can improve your:
- Short-term memory
- Long-term memory
Sometimes, the cognitive benefits of vitamins for energy and focus will be more pronounced in people with mental deficiencies. People at risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may gain the most from using natural energy supplements.
Adaptogens are known for their ability to increase energy and reduce stress. But they aren’t the only natural energy boosters that lower your stress levels.
Reducing your brain fog does wonders for your stress and fatigue levels, making this another important benefit of using vitamins for energy.
Better Exercise and Athletic Performance
Many supplements and vitamins for energy improve your exercise and athletic performance.
One of the main reasons people look for natural energy boosters is to increase their workout capacity.
Several supplements, such as caffeine, have been studied extensively. Caffeine not only increases energy — it increases exercise’s effect on upper body strength and muscle power.
11 Best Vitamins and Supplements for Energy
What vitamins are good for energy? What natural supplements can fight fatigue?
1. Vitamin B12
You’ll rarely find a list of vitamins for energy without reading about vitamin B12. It is the answer to the question, “What vitamin helps with fatigue?” This B vitamin is found predominantly in animal foods like red meat, eggs, fish, and milk products.
Without enough vitamin B12, you’ll probably feel sluggish. Other possible side effects of vitamin B12 deficiency include potential issues with pregnancy, heart disease, brain function, and the health of your eyes and bones.
Those most at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Older adults
- Vegetarians and vegans
- People with gastrointestinal problems like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, which negatively impacts the absorption of minerals
Descendants of European or African countries, as well as Mexico, Central America, South America, or India are also more at risk.
Not only can you take B12 vitamins for energy, but there is also evidence that it supports proper mental function and brain health as you age.
Vitamin B12 doses vary by age. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these are the age-appropriate daily dosages of vitamin B12:
- 0-6 months: 0.4 mcg (micrograms)
- 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
- 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
- 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
- 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
- 14+ years: 2.4 mcg
- During pregnancy: 2.6 mcg
- During lactation: 2.8 mcg
Beetroot is a food that’s also closely related to the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide foods increase your blood flow by relaxing your blood vessels — meaning your red blood cells can transport energy to cells more efficiently.
This valuable food contains dietary nitrates (NO3), which the body turns into nitric oxide.
Dietary nitrates like beetroot support your cardiovascular system, therefore improving your:
- Energy levels
- Exercise performance
- Blood pressure
Proper dosage ranges from 300 to 600 milligrams, daily, depending on your weight.
For instance, a 150-pound adult would need around 430 milligrams, daily.
3. Coenzyme Q10
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) is an antioxidant that gets a lot of press for its ability to help you age well. However, CoQ10 also increases energy levels and protects your body from a lot of diseases.
As an antioxidant, this nutrient fights oxidative stress — stopping the damage caused by free radicals.
CoQ10 also helps you fight infection by improving immune system responses.
According to extensive research, CoQ10 may be able to prevent or treat quite a few medical conditions:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Injury from radiation exposure
- Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
- Gastric ulcer
- Mitochondrial diseases
- Parkinson’s disease
- Kidney failure
- Muscular dystrophy
Every single cell in your body uses CoQ10 for energy metabolism. However, you make less and less of it as you age.
When it comes to knocking down fatigue, CoQ10 has been tested in multiple human studies. Adding this supplement into your routine may help you recover faster, maintain alertness, and improve exercise output.
The optimum dose is between 30 and 90 milligrams daily, but as high as 200 milligrams is considered safe.
Since it’s a fat-soluble nutrient, try taking CoQ10 along with a meal including healthy fats like avocado or grass-fed butter.
This plant operates a lot like an adaptogen, reducing both short-term and chronic stress.
It also gets rid of fatigue by fighting inflammation-inducing oxidative stress. This can naturally boost energy levels.
Panax ginseng’s ability to reduce stress and tiredness makes it a worthwhile energy boost supplement.
You should take between 1,000 and 3,000 milligrams of Panax ginseng daily.
5. Ginkgo Biloba
Often thought of as a supplement to improve mental clarity, ginkgo biloba is also a natural energy booster that works against oxidative stress and inflammation. Both of these are important to keep the mind focused and fatigue far away.
Ginkgo biloba isn’t a natural stimulant that will make you antsy, but it can definitely keep your mind sharp.
40 to 120 milligrams of ginkgo biloba, three times a day, should sharpen your mind and fight off fatigue.
Ginkgo biloba has been combined with ginseng to produce results that are greater than the sum of their parts. Consider an herbal blend containing both ginkgo biloba and Panax ginseng.
6. Chia Seed Extract
Unprocessed, whole-grain chia seeds can be made into extract form and sold as vitamins to boost energy.
Chia seed extract is incredibly rich with antioxidants that can support your body’s disease-fighting process. Remember, antioxidants counteract oxidative stress in the body that can lead to fatigue and inflammation.
Plus, chia seeds are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are chock full of health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids can:
- Reduce symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, which is typically marked by poor metabolism and a lack of energy
- Decrease chronic inflammation throughout the body
- Improve the quality of sleep, so you can be more alert during the day
Between 15 and 50 grams of milled chia seed, daily, seems to be a good range.
There is no standard dose size for chia seed extract. The research hasn’t gotten that far.
Chia seeds are a great addition to your diet, even if you don’t take them in supplement form.
Creatine is one of the best supplements for energy because it provides you energy at the cellular level.
Your body needs adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in order to produce and use energy. After a cell has used an ATP molecule, that molecule is short one phosphate group. At this point, it exists in your cells as adenosine diphosphate (ADP).
Creatine offers one of its own phosphate groups to an ADP molecule, making that compound ATP again.
This provides your body with short-term, high-intensity energy — with much rarer side effects than caffeine and the like.
Creatine increases your endurance, especially if you’re an athlete or you do intensive workouts. In fact, the International Society of Sports Nutrition considers creatine not only safe but one of the best sports supplements out there.
Creatine is one of many animal products. If you’re vegan, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
3 grams of creatine, daily, should activate creatine’s potent benefits. It may take some time, but creatine is worth it in the end.
Some hardcore athletes take up to 30 grams each day, divided into 4-5 doses throughout the day.
Citrulline, or L-citrulline, is a non-essential amino acid that promotes not only heart health but metabolic health as well. A healthy metabolism means energy is produced and dispersed more efficiently.
Citrulline is a precursor to nitric oxide. As we talked about earlier, nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and allows your red blood cells to better transport energy.
What are the benefits of nitric oxide? High levels of nitric oxide (enhanced by consuming a citrulline supplement) are associated with:
- Better sleep
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased blood flow
- Reduction of anxiety and depression
- Better concentration and memory
Help encourage nitric oxide production via nitric oxide precursors, like citrulline.
Citrulline seems to work better than L-arginine, which is one of the most popular nitric oxide precursor supplements.
This supplement can improve athletic performance, especially when taken by less experienced athletes. The improved nitric oxide it provides drastically reduces muscle soreness after workouts.
Start with a dose of about 1,000 milligrams daily. Then work your way up to between 6,000 and 8,000 milligrams, taken within a couple hours leading up exercise.
Huperzine-A is a nootropic supplement that claims to enhance your cognition, improve your memory, and keep your energy levels high.
Nootropics help to improve mental performance, increasing your mental clarity and performance while reducing fatigue and keeping you more alert — all signs of increased energy.
This particular nootropic, huperzine-A, has been under careful watch because of the impact it might have on Alzheimer’s and age-related cognitive decline.
Huperzine-A can improve memory, cognition, and even behavioral issues in people struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s not just Alzheimer’s patients, though. At least one human trial has found a significant improvement in memory.
For otherwise healthy people, huperzine-A can scare off the symptoms of tiredness.
Here’s how huperzine-A works. Huperzine-A is an acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor. That word may be long, but it just means that huperzine-A stops the breakdown of acetylcholine in your brain.
Ideal dosage is between 50 and 250 mcg (micrograms) of huperzine-A, daily, for up to four weeks at a time.
10. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Another natural nootropic used for thousands of years, lion’s mane mushroom (also called yamabushitake) is a powerful brain stimulant.
Lion’s mane encourages “neurite outgrowth” in the brain. Simply put, the longer growth of dendrites and axons from your neurons. This matters because your axons and dendrites degenerate as you get older or suffer from nerve damage. (That is why it’s a possible Alzheimer’s treatment, like huperzine-A.)
Another way lion’s mane mushroom can improve the brain’s energy production has to do with a little protein known as neurotrophic growth factor (NGF). Neurons have to communicate with NGF in order to function the right way, and lion’s mane activates this expression.
Between 300 and 1,000 milligrams of lion’s mane mushroom, three times a day (for a total of 3,000 milligrams), should give you the desired results.
There are no standardized doses of lion’s mane mushroom yet. Research on exact doses is still preliminary.
11. Adaptogenic Herbs
Adaptogenic herbs, also called adaptogens, are a class of herbal plants that fight exhaustion and stress.
These aren’t supplements or vitamins for energy in the classic sense. Adaptogens don’t fill you with energy right away. Nor do they come with any caffeine-related side effects, like insomnia.
What adaptogens do, though, is combat stress at a cellular level.
Adaptogens are a group of herbal preparations that can:
- Decrease mental exhaustion
- Increase alertness
- Enhance mental and physical endurance
A reason adaptogens may be so useful in improving energy levels is the way they treat adrenal fatigue, or a general over-taxing of the adrenal glands.
Sometimes called hypoadrenia, adrenal fatigue is not a diagnosable condition in the west. However, it shares many features with what traditional Chinese medicine calls “suboptimal health status”.
There are several adaptogens that function well as natural energy boosters, such as ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, and holy basil.
Perhaps one of the most versatile and health-promoting herbs on the planet, ashwagandha is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation and boosts your energy levels.
Scientific reviews discuss the many benefits of ashwagandha, like its ability to fight tumors, reduce and reverse oxidative stress, improve immune system responses, and even improve heart health.
Ashwagandha can also improve your overall quality of life because of how effectively it alleviates stress, which allows you to go to sleep faster and focus better.
One study of ashwagandha in athletes discovered that, when given ashwagandha, elite cyclists had better athletic endurance.
You should start between 300 and 750 milligrams of ashwagandha on the daily, then work your way up to between 1,000 and 1,500 milligrams daily.
Sometimes shortened to rhodiola, rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb and one of the best natural energy supplements.
In fact, rhodiola can lower your cortisol levels pretty quickly. It may even improve mood, which, in conjunction with its other benefits, makes it a great natural energy booster for anyone dealing with feelings of sadness.
Take between 10 and 700 milligrams of rhodiola, daily.
Yes, that’s a big range. But 10 milligrams has increased energy levels in subjects, whereas 700 milligrams has brought about no side effects.
Also referred to as “tulsi”, holy basil is another ancient remedy from Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It improves your metabolic function, increases energy, and reduces stress.
While it has been studied less than rhodiola or ashwagandha, holy basil does seem to help fight bacterial infections, support the heart, and immunity.
Some naturopaths and functional medicine practitioners suggest using holy basil to help treat metabolic syndrome and prevent heart disease and diabetes.
Take between 300 and 3,000 milligrams of holy basil, daily, for an energy boost.
One study found that 300 milligrams of tulsi had the same ability as higher doses to reduce stress and anxiety.
BONUS: Don’t Forget Your Daily Multivitamin
You can get much of the nutrition you need from everyday food sources. But why not cover your bases with a well-rounded multivitamin? It’ll save you the stress of checking every nutrition label for the right amount of vitamin B, and combines all the essential vitamins into one convenient package.
If you’re at risk for nutritional deficiencies or follow a diet that restricts food groups, ask your doctor about a multivitamin.
A multivitamin is also more cost-effective than buying individual essential vitamins for energy or general health purposes
When it comes to energy levels, multivitamins are great for promoting your overall well-being. Look for these key ingredients in a well-rounded multivitamin:
- Vitamin B complex, which can include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A (beta carotene)
- Folic acid
- Vitamin C
4 Natural Stimulants for Energy Production
“How can I increase my energy?” Now we’ll talk about natural stimulants, the most common energy boosters.
These stimulants typically provide a stronger, quicker uptick in your energy levels. However, this comes with some side effects.
Nevertheless, these four natural stimulants will be sure to increase your energy, and fast.
Most of us associate coffee with caffeine, the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. However, caffeine is found in other foods, like teas and herbs.
At least 80 percent of the adult population consumes caffeine in amounts large enough to have an effect on the brain — mainly via coffee, tea, and chocolate.
Consuming caffeine can enhance:
- Athletic performance
- Muscle power
- Adrenaline response
- Exercise endurance
- Objective and perceived cognitive performance
- Reaction time
Consuming caffeine for stimulation and alertness can be good for you. But there’s a drawback.
You can develop a tolerance to caffeine. Once you have a tolerance, you need a lot more caffeine to “feel it,” and you probably aren’t getting the full effect.
If you cold turkey caffeine, you can get caffeine headaches. In some cases, caffeine withdrawal can have you on edge for a week.
Too much caffeine isn’t wise. But there might be something you can add to your coffee or tea to offset those problematic side effects.
400 milligrams of daily caffeine is considered optimal for healthy adults looking to up their energy levels. (That’s about four cups of coffee.)
200 milligrams is considered safe for pregnant women. However, many expecting mothers will want to steer clear of caffeine altogether because of the effects it can have on their pregnancy.
2. Green Tea Extract
Although the concentration is less than in coffee or black tea, green tea also contains the stimulant caffeine.
When adding in a green tea extract to a workout routine, you may experience an improvement in antioxidant activity and, by extension, muscle soreness, and endurance.
In supplement form, you can take green tea catechins, also called green tea extract.
Unlike other stimulants, green tea catechins actually reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
In terms of improving energy levels and exercise performance, green tea extract can also help to improve cognition and VO2 max (also called oxygen uptake). It also decreases the oxidation that happens while you exercise.
On top of green tea’s ability to act as a natural energy booster, weight loss is another major benefit. Green tea catechins increase adiponectin content, which is associated with lower body fat (leading to weight loss).
Consume between 400 and 600 milligrams of EGCG every day. EGCG is one of the bioactive catechins in green tea. Most green tea supplements are made with EGCG.
You can also brew green tea. To gain the most potent effects, you need to drink three to five cups of unsweetened green tea, daily. But studies have observed few side effects at up to 10 cups a day.
3. Yerba Mate
Another tea filled with antioxidants, yerba mate can be purchased in supplement form (crushed up yerba mate leaf).
A serving of yerba mate has about the same caffeine content as one 8-ounce cup of coffee.
Interestingly, yerba mate acts like green tea in that it is a stimulant to the body and brain but does not increase blood pressure or heart rate.
One benefit of taking yerba mate as a natural energy booster is that it may have an antidepressant effect on the brain. Since symptoms of depression can decrease your energy, this is one way yerba mate improves energy levels.
Athletes taking yerba mate also see an increase in their performance and capacity.
This natural stimulant also keeps your mind sharp. When using yerba mate, you may experience improved cognition, learning, and memory.
Yerba mate works best in doses between 1,000 and 1,500 milligrams, daily.
You can also brew it — three glasses of brewed yerba mate, daily, for up to two months.
There is some preliminary evidence that taurine can improve your capacity for exercise.
Be careful when you see taurine in an energy drink. Always avoid sugary energy drinks with other added ingredients that outweigh the benefits of taurine.
Like creatine, taurine is sourced from animal products. If you are vegan, steer clear of taurine.
Between 500 and 2000 milligrams, daily.
It seems you can safely take up to three grams of taurine every day without adverse events.
Are There Side Effects of Energy Supplements?
Many of the supplements and vitamins for energy on this list are known to be safe, with very few side effects or drug interactions.
Minor side effects of the specific supplements on this list are as follows:
- CoQ10: On occasion, CoQ10 will cause diarrhea or rash. These symptoms are usually minor and don’t last long.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Side effects of ginkgo are reported to include headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, gas, and diarrhea. An allergy to ginkgo will result in a rash. It’s possible it interacts with bleeding disorder medications, so don’t start ginkgo biloba before speaking to your doctor if you take a medication for bleeding problems.
- Citrulline: Citrulline may cause mild, short-term stomach discomfort.
- Lion’s Mane: Generally, lion’s mane is safe and non-toxic, even when taken for a while. However, you may develop dermatitis if you are allergic. One case study recorded a report of respiratory distress from lion’s mane.
- Taurine: One case study recounts the story of a patient who had general itchiness, stomach upset, and dizziness after drinking a taurine beverage.
- Caffeine: Caffeine can cause increased blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, cortisol, insulin resistance, and anxiety.
You should talk to your dietitian or healthcare provider before you start taking new supplements. Some may interact with other medications you take or conditions you live with. Ask your doctor to see if you have an anemia / iron deficiency that can cause you to drag through the day. Iron supplements might be an easy solution.