Whether you’re running around after your kids, pursuing your career goals, spending time with friends and family or training for your next half marathon, it takes a lot of energy to get through the day.
More times than not we're looking for a quick pick-me-up. Our lives are increasingly busy as the boundaries have become blurred between work and home life. It seems like we’re always connected, always moving and always producing. All of that hard work can take its toll on your energy levels, but many people feel like there’s no way to slow down because it feels like the entire world is resting on your shoulders.
What if it were possible to supercharge your personal power pack and find more energy to get through the day so that you aren’t just surviving, you’re actually thriving?
Energy supplements promise to do just that - supercharge your life - but there are many different types of energy supplements, some of which are more beneficial in the short term and some of which will provide long lasting energy.
What are energy supplements?
Energy supplements come in many different forms. Some people are most familiar with energy drinks and energy-boosting multivitamins that tout caffeine and B12 supplements. These promise to provide a quick burst of energy to power you through the day physically while sharpening mental performance. While these products do technically provide feelings of energy, usually through vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), the side effect is temporary and quickly dissipates. A true energy dietary supplement is a vitamin or mineral that is designed to help improve your energy levels over time by increasing levels of certain nutrients in your body that contribute to your energy production. Each energy supplement works in a slightly different way to improve your energy levels. Some help to improve concentration and reduce mental fatigue, while others may improve your body’s ability and efficiency with regards to completing the cellular processes that you need to stay alive and obtain proper health care. One of the most effective energy supplements is coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10.
What do energy supplements help with?
Each energy supplement works differently on various aspects of the body and brain. The dietary supplement CoQ10 works to improve energy levels by ensuring that the body’s cells have enough energy to carry out the process of cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is a process that occurs in the mitochondria, or powerhouses of the cell. The mitochondria are responsible for converting the food we eat and the air we breathe into a substance called ATP, which provides fuel and energy for the cells. The cells must create a huge amount of ATP in order to have the energy to perform daily functions; it’s estimated that one cell requires about ten million ATP molecules per second to carry out its tasks. That’s a lot of energy! Unfortunately, sometimes our bodies begin to experience reduced cellular energy as a result of one of the by-products of the cellular respiration process, which can lead to low energy levels overall.
Why does cellular energy decrease over time?
During the process of cellular respiration, the mitochondria produce ATP for energy, but they also produce free radicals as a by-product. If left unbalanced these free radicals can cause damage to our bodies. Under normal circumstances, the body has enough antioxidants, including CoQ10, to neutralize the free radicals and prevent them from causing damage. While we are young, our body produces CoQ10 and free radicals in equal amounts.
However, as we age, the amount of CoQ10 produced by our bodies can decline. This allows the levels of free radicals to increase which can potentially damage the cell membranes, proteins and DNA. The cells begin to spend energy trying to repair the damage caused by free radicals. Over time, this can lead to reduced cellular energy, diminished cellular repair and a condition that is called “oxidative stress” in older adults with decreased CoQ10 levels.
How can CoQ10 supplements help increase energy levels?
If oxidative stress and reduced cellular energy are the results of CoQ10 deficiency in the body, it stands to reason that resolving this deficiency with CoQ10 supplementation can improve energy levels. By bringing the body's innate CoQ10 levels back to normal, they can proceed to do their normal jobs in supporting ATP distribution and improving antioxidant function.
However, not all CoQ10 supplements are created equal. For decades, scientists recognized the need for increased levels of CoQ10 in the body but were not able to formulate the supplement in such a way that the CoQ10 could actually penetrate the mitochondrial membrane due to the large size of the molecule. Scientists at the University of Otago, New Zealand made a breakthrough in the 1990s when they created MitoQ.
MitoQ is the first CoQ10 supplement that can effectively target and recharge the mitochondrial batteries. The scientists discovered that if you shorten the CoQ10 molecule, that made it small enough to enter the mitochondrial membrane. They also added a positive charge, which made the negatively charged mitochondria instantly attracted to it. This combination means that MitoQ is hundreds of times more effective at reaching the mitochondria than other CoQ10 supplements.
Taking MitoQ can help improve cellular energy levels back to where they should be, as well as supporting the regular maintenance of those natural energy levels over time, helping to prevent a CoQ10 (and energy) decline as we age. Taking a high quality supplement like MitoQ is an important part of your daily routine, but there are also other lifestyle changes that you can make in order to help improve your energy levels and find the energy you need to get through your busy days.
What else can I do to increase my energy levels?
The best things you can do to increase your energy levels are sometimes the hardest things to do when life feels busy and overwhelming. If you’re run down and exhausted, getting through the day feels like enough of a challenge without trying to make sure you’re living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, but that’s exactly what you need to do in order to keep your energy levels up.
Eat a balanced diet
Do you know that big crash that occurs in the afternoon after you’ve eaten lunch or the big dip in energy levels that occurs shortly after a sweet treat?
Consuming processed food, junk food, or unbalanced meals can cause major spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels, which leaves you feeling exhausted and depleted. Eating a balanced diet full of whole foods, like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources can help balance your blood sugar levels and avoid lack of energy due to spikes and crashes. If we think of food as fuel, it makes sense that putting the highest quality fuel in your body’s tank would help you run at an optimum energy level. By the same token, putting in poor quality fuel like junk and processed food will leave your body’s engine sputtering and regularly running out of gas. Fuel up with the good stuff!
Get enough sleep
We get it - you’re busy, exhausted, and falling into bed for six hours a night is the best you can do, right? If you run yourself ragged getting little sleep during the week with the hope of making up for it on the weekends, you’re going to be disappointed.
A study by Harvard Medical School found that sleeping an extra ten hours on the weekend to compensate for sleeping just six hours per night over a period of two weeks still produced a reaction time and ability to focus that was worse than if you hadn’t slept at all for one night. There’s simply no way to catch up on lost sleep, and your energy levels will reflect all the Zs you’re not getting. Do your best to practice good sleep hygiene and make sleep a priority, even if it means you don’t get to watch that episode of your favorite show. Your energy levels will thank you!
If you don’t currently have an exercise routine and you’re feeling run down and exhausted, it might seem like there’s no way that you can possibly muster up the energy to work out. We’ve all been there. The reality is that while it might seem counterintuitive, exercise actually improves your energy levels instead of depleting them further, especially when performed regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle.
According to a 2008 study done by the University of Georgia, people who are inactive and complain of fatigue can increase their energy levels by up to 20 percent and decrease fatigue by up to 65 percent just by performing low-intensity exercise on a regular basis. If your goal is to boost energy levels and overall well-being, the best way to exercise is at a low to moderate intensity, such as walking at a brisk pace, rather than going for a long run or taking an intense workout class. Keeping your heart rate in the low to moderate range will keep your body from becoming depleted and will energize you instead. The possible weight loss you might get from regular exercise isn't a bad thing, either!