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Published on July 1, 2021

Do Vitamins and Supplements Help With Energy?

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Do Vitamins and Supplements Help With Energy?

If you are looking to improve your energy, there are a myriad of ways to do so. However, if you are looking for a more natural and healthful way to improve your energy, you may be curious whether there are any supplements you can take to help and whether these supplements even work.

So, do supplements work?

In this article, I will look into whether or not any supplements exist to help you boost your energy levels. I will also break down a few vitamins that you can take to help boost your energy naturally.

Can Supplements Help Improve Your Energy Levels?

Vitamins and minerals are essential for our bodies to function. Vitamins help with cellular energy production, DNA synthesis, and neurologic function, which can lead to a reduction in both mental and physical fatigue.[1]

Preventing deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals will help to promote adequate energy levels. But which vitamins and minerals are the most crucial? Let’s take a look at the top vitamins and minerals to improve energy levels.

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Vitamins and Supplements That May Boost Energy Levels

Here are some of the most important vitamins and supplements that may help boost your energy levels.

Vitamins

1. Vitamin D

According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, a common symptom of Vitamin D deficiency is muscle fatigue.[2]

Vitamin D is not found in many foods, so taking an oral supplement may be the best solution if you have a deficiency you want to correct. It is recommended that adults up to 70 years of age take 600 IU per day of Vitamin D, and those over 70 take 800 IU/day. Recommendations may vary for women who are pregnant or lactating, so it is recommended that you speak with your doctor before starting supplementation.[3]

2. Vitamin B12

There are eight B vitamins in total that are all essential for the body. B vitamins are especially important for brain function, including energy production. Having a deficiency of various B vitamins can therefore lead to fatigue.[4]

One of the most crucial B vitamins for energy is Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin. Older adults and those who have undergone weight loss surgery are particularly at risk for Vitamin B12. If this applies to you, it may be helpful to start taking a Vitamin B supplement to promote adequate energy levels.

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Because Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, it is generally considered safe to take a larger amount. If you consume more Vitamin B12 than your body needs, you will simply excrete it in your urine. However, if your body is short on Vitamin B12, it will store what it needs, which may help to improve your energy levels.

3. Iron

Individuals who have iron deficiencies have a condition known as anemia. One of the major side effects of anemia is fatigue. According to Mayo Clinic, some groups of people may be more predisposed to having an iron deficiency. Those include women who are menstruating, vegetarians, those with a disorder causing an inability to absorb iron (such as celiac disease), or women who are pregnant are more likely to have anemia.[5]

If you are looking to increase your iron levels to improve your energy levels, you may wish to include more iron-rich foods in your diet. These foods include meat, eggs, and leafy green vegetables. It is also important to eat enough foods with Vitamin C as these can help your body to better absorb iron. Foods rich in Vitamin C include broccoli, citrus fruits, and leafy greens.

If adding these foods into your diet does not seem realistic for you, an iron supplement may be the best solution for improving your energy levels. Make sure to speak with your doctor before starting an iron supplement to determine whether it is appropriate and what the adequate dosage is.

Supplements

1. Ashwagandha Root

While less researched, a study from 2012 in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine looked at whether Ashwagandha root supplementation could improve energy levels. They found that supplementation with this herb reduced stress levels, which may lead to overall improvements in energy.[6]

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Ashwagandha root is becoming more common, and it is easier than ever to find it on the shelves at your grocery or health food store. However, it is very important that you speak with your primary care physician before starting with this supplement to ensure that it is appropriate for you.

2. Creatine

Creatine is becoming more and more popular, especially among gym-goers. Creatine is an amino acid, which is one of the building blocks of protein. More and more weightlifters have been using creatine supplements to improve gym performance and help build muscle.

If you are an athlete and have low energy levels, creatine supplementation may be for you. A study conducted in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that creatine supplementation was helpful in improving recovery, reducing the risk of dehydration, and preventing sports-related injuries.[7] Given the improvement seen in athletic performance with creatine supplementation, it stands to reason that, for athletes with low energy levels, creatine supplementation may be indicated.

3. Melatonin

If your low energy levels are caused by sleep deprivation, melatonin may be the right supplement for you. While melatonin does not directly boost energy levels, you may still see an improvement from taking it. This natural hormone helps to play a role in sleep. If you have insomnia or just difficulty falling asleep, it may help to take a melatonin supplement at night before bed to help regulate your sleep schedule and improve your energy levels during the day.

Certain populations have been found to have lower levels of melatonin secretion, which may lead to difficulty sleeping and subsequent poor energy levels during the day. Individuals who are elderly or have type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, or Alzheimer’s disease may be affected.[8]

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Melatonin supplements are available in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Melatonin also comes in gummy form, which makes taking it easy and delicious.

In Conclusion

There are a host of supplements on the market that claim to work and help boost your energy levels. However, it can be tough to tell which supplements are actually going to do what they claim to. Given the research, it is clear that some supplements may help boost energy levels for those who are deficient in them.

When you are looking to start a supplement for improvement in energy levels, as discussed, it is extremely important to contact your doctor to get their opinion. Not only will they be able to help you decide on the right dosage of these supplements for your body, but they will also be able to advise you on which supplement would be most appropriate given your lifestyle and lab values.

Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue, and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence
[2] The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Improving the Vitamin D Status of Vitamin D Deficient Adults Is Associated With Improved Mitochondrial Oxidative Function in Skeletal Muscle)) According to Cleveland Clinic, certain medical conditions predispose individuals to Vitamin D deficiency. Those with cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, obesity, and kidney and liver diseases may be more at risk. Additionally, older adults, those who have undergone weight loss surgery, and those who are homebound or have darker skin tones may be more likely to have a deficiency in Vitamin D.((Cleveland Clinic: Vitamin D Deficiency
[3] Cleveland Clinic: Vitamin D Deficiency
[4] NCBI: B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review
[5] Mayo Clinic: Iron deficiency anemia
[6] Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine: A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults
[7] Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine
[8] Healthline: 11 Vitamins and Supplements That Boost Energy

More by this author

Samantha Klig, RD

Registered Dietitian

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1 The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep) 2 7 Common Signs of Work Burnout And How To Deal With Them 3 7 Signs You’re Burnt out (And How to Bounce Back) 4 How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy 5 4 Things to Do When You Feel Burned Out And Tired of Life

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

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The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

I love my sleep. I always make sure to get at least eight hours each night. I’ll even leave parties early so I can get to bed at my usual time Yet, there are still mornings when I wake up feeling exhausted, even after a great night’s sleep. Whenever that happens, I run through a mental checklist, grasping at straws to explain to myself why I feel so groggy: why do I feel exhausted? Did I drink too much last night? Did I stay up past my usual bedtime? Did I hit snooze on my alarm twelve times? Eight hours of sleep a night shouldn’t result in chronic exhaustion, right?

Regardless of how much quality sleep you’re getting, you can still feel mentally exhausted, burnt out, run-down, worn through—whatever you want to call it. Most of the time, you’re so exhausted you don’t even have the time or the sense to see it clearly.

The answer is right in front of your face, but you haven’t had a chance to step back and analyze your situation. Maybe you hate your job, or you’re worried about paying rent, but you’re not actively thinking about it. How could you with all that’s going on? It’s planted in your subconscious, lurking there and eating away at your morale.

That worn-down feeling is a cumulative combination of unconsidered stressful circumstances—an amalgamation of past worries and future anxieties. We aren’t talking about your regular physical exhaustion from a long day’s work standing on your feet. This is purely in between your ears. You’re overstimulated, and it’s dragging you down. But what’s the real reason behind this brain fog? Why do you feel exhausted?

The first place to look at is stress,[1] which is the body’s natural response to a new challenge or demand. Where are you currently experiencing stress in your life?

Most pain, exhaustion, or emotional fatigue is the direct result of stress. Daily life is filled with tiny stressors—running to catch the morning bus, praying you’ll find a parking spot, or worrying about the leak in your ceiling at home. As these small stressors pile on uncontrollably, you realize you’re white-knuckling through the day.

Mental exhaustion,[2] simply put, is long-term stress. It’s having a day like the above over and over again for months on end until it weighs so much it finally drags you to the ground. You can’t keep living like this.

You may have experienced this in the form of a “mid-life crisis,” or even a quarter-life crisis where you stop and realize you never pursued the things you once hoped and dreamed of. Life passed you by in the blink of an eye. What happened to the “purpose” you once wanted to get out of life? Maybe you wanted to be an artist and all of a sudden, you look down and you’re forty-three years old sitting in a conference room surrounded by suits and boring charts.

You’re faking your way through life and you’re tired of putting on an act.

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Why Do You Feel Exhausted?

“Depression, anxiety, phobias… so many things can be disguised in a way that gives a facade of normalcy over a person’s internal struggles.” —Morgan Housel

There are many reasons why you may be feeling exhausted. There may be times when you had complete hours of sleep yet ask yourself after waking up: why do I still feel exhausted?

Why? It’s because there are other possible reasons for this exhaustion other than improper or lack of sleep. Here are some reasons why you feel exhausted.

1. High-Pressure Occupation (emergency responders and teachers)

Working in a highly stressful scene like an ER or police department is an obvious input for stress. Long hours on the job and making high-level decisions in crisis mode need to be followed by a period of rest, relaxation, and debriefing.

2. Working Long Hours

Consistently clocking in 12-14 hour days for weeks on end can drag you down. Many occupations require this type of work seasonally, like accountants during tax season. But when you’re spending that much time at week year-round and there is no end in sight, mental exhaustion can become chronic.

3. Financial Stress

For obvious reasons, being in troubled circumstances with your finances can cause long-term stress and constant worries, which lead to feeling exhausted. How can you enjoy life if you can’t afford to do the things you enjoy? No matter how much you sleep, you will still feel exhausted if something is troubling you at the back of your mind like financial problems.

4. Dissatisfied With Your Job

When you ask yourself, “why do I feel exhausted?” Try also asking, “Am I satisfied with my job?”

Many people slog through life in a job they hate. Whether it’s your unruly boss, the team that you work with, or the customers who you’re sick of hearing complaining, being stuck in a dissatisfying job can cause feelings of resentment in work and your personal life.

5. Clutter

Whether you’re naturally a messy person or life has become so frantic that you haven’t even had a chance to clean or organize, clutter plays a massive part in mental exhaustion. Having a clear workspace and a calm environment to walk into makes a difference in mental clarity. This can also affect your productivity and your attitude towards your job.

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6. Avoidance and Procrastination

When you feel exhausted, it may be because something at the back of your head is troubling you. You may have some responsibilities that you should be doing or have done but still have not. Putting things off too long will cause hidden stress to climb on top of you like a monkey on your back. Avoiding your responsibilities and procrastinating are some of the possible causes as to why you feel exhausted.

7. Living With Chronic Pain or an Illness

Going through life with stress is hard enough. Add on top of that something like chronic back pain or a congenital condition and it’s like taking care of two separate people for yourself. This can also cause feelings of resentment, bitterness, and irritation around people you love, even those who support and take care of you.

8. Death of a Loved One

Losing a close friend or family member is something everyone has experienced, and it never gets easier. Many people try to play tough and portray to their loved ones that they are okay and dealing with it just fine. But the reality is that it’s weighing them down.

Be honest with yourself about it, and have someone you can talk to. Experiencing your grief alone and not sharing it with anyone may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

9. Lack of Purpose

Life needs to have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose that is entirely unique to their circumstance. It can be guided by religion, occupation, or an ultimate life goal to strive towards, such as writing a book or owning a business. Without an ultimate purpose, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a depression that leads to mental exhaustion.

What Should You Do When You Feel Exhausted?

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” —Nicholas Sparks

1. Talk About It

It may sound obvious, but talking through these struggles with someone is a form of therapy in itself. Chances are, someone has been through the same type of thing that you’re going through right now. Don’t hide it. Open up and learn how others dealt with it. It’s more common than you think.

2. Find an Outlet or a Hobby

One way to help find joy out of a life of exhaustion is to come home to a hobby. Unwind from the workday by doing something you love that’s also a bit challenging. Learn how to play guitar, play video games with your kids, read a book, or learn new recipes to cook for your family. Take your mind away from whatever it is you’re worried about. Focus entirely on the process and get out of your anxiety.

3. Be Realistic

You can’t do everything. Look at your schedule, and be honest with yourself and the people around you about what’s possible for one person to do in a day. You can’t change the world alone. Enlist the help of others and don’t be too proud to ask. Putting the weight of the world on your shoulders may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

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4. Arrive Early

It took me years in life to realize how much being early can relieve stress. Waking up five minutes earlier gives me five minutes to relax and think if I’m forgetting anything before I head out the door. Leaving five minutes before I normally would for an event gives me five minutes to arrive and get a good seat, scope out the scene, or talk to someone and learn something about the place.

Being early allows you to be relaxed and completely comfortable as opposed to running through life in a hurry. Settle in before anyone else and have the mental edge that you’re prepared for anything.

5. Exercise More, Try Healthier Habits

Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But have you ever regretted a workout? One hundred percent of the time it makes you feel better and gives you the momentum to have a great day.

Try healthier habits. Go for a walk right when you get out of bed. Try a new vegetable once a week. Drink more water. Stand more. Replace dessert with fruit. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, try to go one day a month without coffee. Healthier habits ultimately lead to a happier life in more ways than you think.

6. Journal

Similar to talking about your problems, journaling is an excellent outlet for not only getting the thoughts out of your head but also to clarify your feelings. As you write, you’ll realize you actually didn’t understand what you were thinking. Writing helps that. Do it often.

7. Take Care of Something

Get a pet. If you’re not ready for a dog, then buy a few plants to take care of. This takes the attention off yourself and on to something that relies on you for livelihood. It will help put everything in perspective and relieve stress and exhaustion.

8. Meditate

This is such an overly-used cure-all, but meditation really does help with clarity of thinking and developing a sense of calm in your life. Researchers found that meditation “decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.[3]

It doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs cross, fingers in a circle, and saying “Oooommmmmm.” Meditating can take on whatever form you’re comfortable with. It can be taking a few deep breaths before you step out of your car, or it can be closing your eyes and thinking of your loved ones when you’re having a hard time.

Sometimes before bed, I’ll just close my eyes and envision a future I want for myself. I picture the people I love hugging me and saying “Congratulations.” For what? I don’t know, but I’m putting myself in the mindset to succeed.

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Final Thoughts

Dr. Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit:[4]

“The more you work on systems for reducing stress and excess decision-making, the more mental energy you’ll have.”

This is true in so many areas. Work on habits and routines that will eliminate the number of decisions you make. The more disciplined you are in these areas, the more freedom you will have to do the things you truly want and need. But also, understand how you are getting in your own way.

Author Tim Ferriss likes to ask himself, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” or “What are the stories I tell myself that interfere with self-love?”

Take a look at the actions and routines you structure your life around. Are there small tweaks you can make to get out of your own way? What would this look like if it were easy? Sometimes, asking yourself questions like these can lead to surprisingly simple solutions and answer the question of “why do I feel exhausted?”

As I said, everyone is struggling in their own way. How you manage your stress may differ completely from someone else. By being vulnerable and understanding that you have the ability to overcome this exhaustion, you can begin to find meaning. Exercise consistent positive habits and the momentum will attract more positive momentum. Oh, and get good sleep!

More Tips to Help You When You Feel Exhausted

Featured photo credit: Hernan Sanchez via unsplash.com

Reference

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