Chances are, you are pretty tired of feeling exhausted. You find yourself reaching for anything that will give you a quick (if temporary) boost of energy, but caffeine is becoming less and less effective while the days remain just as demanding.
The world is not going to wait around for you to regain your energy, as much as that would be helpful. Thankfully, you have more options than you think.
This article will explore six natural ingredients that can be used to support energy levels. It will also help you to decide which supplement is best for you, so you can get back to conquering the day.
Six forms of natural energy support
CoQ10 is a naturally-occurring antioxidant produced in the mitochondria. It aids in cellular energy production as well as in targeting potentially damaging molecules called free radicals. Because CoQ10 is present in most of the body’s cells - especially those in the heart, liver, pancreas, and kidneys - it plays a major role in overall energy and cell function.
Your CoQ10 levels inevitably start to decline as you age. When this happens, the imbalance between the antioxidants in your body (like CoQ10), and the free radicals, leads to reduced cellular energy. This is because the antioxidants have to spend more time keeping the free radicals in check. Consequently, you might start to experience more frequent fatigue.
CoQ10 can be found in food sources such as organ meat (e.g. liver), oily fish, and whole grains. However, you normally cannot get as much as you need from food sources alone.
This is where CoQ10 supplements come in. Because of the mitochondria’s tough double membrane, many CoQ10 supplements have issues with proper absorption. Look for an enhanced version of CoQ10, like MitoQ, to ensure you get the most out of your supplement.
In addition to aiding energy levels, CoQ10 can potentially have many other benefits, such as supporting cardiovascular function, maintaining the immune system, and providing whole-body health benefits.
B vitamin complex
Vitamin B, especially vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, are heavily involved in energy production. Specifically, these vitamins are essential to red blood cell production. Since red blood cells have the vital task of carrying oxygen throughout the body, a deficiency in vitamin B can lead to fatigue (and sometimes a form of anemia).
Vitamin B is primarily found in meat, fish, and dairy products - so vegetarians and vegans (in addition to elderly people) are especially prone to vitamin B deficiencies.
While a vitamin B supplement is essential when experiencing a deficiency, it is not necessarily beneficial if you are not.
Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin, plays an important role in your body’s bone, muscle, and immune function. It is also linked to energy and emotional wellbeing.
Vitamin D deficiencies are extremely common, affecting around 50% of the global population. Symptoms can include fatigue, and increased stress/tension. Higher rates of vitamin D deficiencies occur in older people, obese people, people with darker skin, and people with less sun exposure.
Vitamin D does not naturally appear in many foods; however, many supplements are available. It can also be absorbed through sun exposure.
Similar to vitamin B, the mineral iron is essential to red blood cell function (namely, oxygen circulation). When your body is experiencing a deficiency, it can lead to fatigue. An iron deficiency can also cause a form of anemia, of which a common symptom is lethargy.
Iron is present in many different foods. It is highly concentrated in lean animal sources like chicken. Plant-based foods like leafy greens, lentils, and beans all contain less iron than animal-based foods but will still provide significant nutrients. For better absorption, pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C, which can be found in citrus fruits.
You are at a higher risk of an iron deficiency if you are menstruating, pregnant, breastfeeding, or donate blood regularly. This study posits that an iron supplement is effective in combating unexplained fatigue during menstruation.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it is a plant-derived substance aimed at alleviating the body’s stress. There is a proven correlation between lower stress levels and greater energy levels in the body, which is why ashwagandha can be effective in supporting healthy energy levels.
Ashwagandha targets the stress hormone cortisol, reducing its levels within the body and, therefore, creating the general perception of lessened stress. This study shows that ashwagandha can be successful in reducing stress, as compared to a placebo group.
According to some research, ashwagandha may improve endurance as well.
Creatine is an amino acid that is stored in the body’s muscles and is used for energy. It is found mainly in red meat and seafood.
Many people use creatine in their pre-workout, as it has numerous benefits for high-intensity physical activity. These include better recovery times, reduced potential for injuries, and a reduced risk of dehydration during workouts.
Creatine is, generally, safe to use. However, while creatine can be helpful for people who do high-intensity workouts, it does not necessarily have the same benefits for people who do less intense physical activity.
What is the best supplement for you?
There is no one supplement that is guaranteed to solve issues of fatigue for everyone that takes it. We are all different, and so each of our bodies have different needs.
Supplements that contain vitamins B and D, and the mineral iron, will likely only be useful if you are experiencing an insufficiency or deficiency. Your doctor can run blood tests to determine if this is so. If your numbers are at a sufficient level, a supplement of any of these nutrients offers little benefit. Taking too much of one of them can create adverse effects of their own.
As mentioned above, creatine is most effective for people who need energy support during a high-intensity workout, not for people who need energy support during their everyday life. Ashwagandha specifically addresses fatigue that is caused by stress, not fatigue in general.
CoQ10 plays a vital role in cellular energy production throughout the body, so having a sufficient amount of it in your body is similarly crucial. At the same time, it is an inevitability that the levels of CoQ10 in your body will decrease naturally with age. So, while it is true that everyone has different needs, everyone across the board will experience this decline at some point. However, MitoQ can support healthy cell function as you age.
Many CoQ10 supplements struggle to be absorbed by the tough double membrane of the mitochondria, but the groundbreaking science of MitoQ eliminates that problem. MitoQ created an enhanced version of CoQ10, which is smaller and positively-charged (and therefore highly attracted to the negatively-charged mitochondrial membrane). Because of this, it can be absorbed into the mitochondria up to 1,000 times better than normal CoQ10, and at a much lower dose.
Once inside the mitochondria, MitoQ can help to balance free radicals and prevent them from damaging the cells, allowing for sustained energy output. Because almost every cell (of which there are 37 trillion!) in the human body needs the mitochondria at their best in order to function properly, an increase in CoQ10 can support healthy energy production throughout the body, and better overall health. Find out which MitoQ supplement is best for you here.
Whichever natural energy supplement you decide to take, it is important to remember the following: while all of these supplements are generally safe, it is best to check with your doctor before taking anything new - especially if you are taking other medications that could potentially interact with each other. For example, you should avoid taking the adaptogen ashwagandha if you are taking medication for hyperthyroidism, as it can further increase your thyroid hormone levels.
How else can you support your energy?
Any energy supplement will work best when accompanied by a healthy lifestyle. Follow these tips to sustainably support your energy levels:
- Exercise Regularly: Try to do some form of physical activity for at least thirty minutes, 3-5 times a week. Regular exercise can help to relieve stress, improve sleep, and heighten energy levels - especially when performed at a low-to-medium intensity.
- Eat a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet: Many of the natural energy supplements listed above can be found in a variety of healthy foods. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, and whole grains contain the most nutrients and will contribute to better energy levels. Proper hydration will also help to improve energy.
- Sleep More: The average adult should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Additionally, here are some bad health habits you should look to avoid:
- Eating foods high in sugar, salt, or fat
- Drinking too much caffeine, especially in the afternoon or evening
- Eating or drinking anything beyond moderation
- Sedentary behavior
- Unmanaged stress
Though it can be very difficult to make drastic changes to your lifestyle, eliminating bad habits and prioritizing healthy behavior will benefit your overall health immensely.