Supplements & Tips for Healthy Energy Levels
By Dr. John Walker, MD, CPE
DrVita Chief Medical Officer
The great comedian and philanthropist Bob Hope once said, “You never get tired unless you stop and take time for it.” While we often push ourselves through feelings of fatigue, at times it can become overwhelming, and affect job performance, personal interactions, and really all aspects of our lives. Living a life filled with optimal levels of energy can make even the most mundane tasks seem easy, and there are some simple things we can do to energize naturally.*
The foundation of a life lived with abundant energy is developing a core set of habits that support health in general: energy level, immune system support, sleep quality, and other important aspects of life.* These core habits include:
- Getting adequate rest- most sources say 7-8 hours a night is optimal*
- Staying well hydrated- sipping water throughout the day, and drinking it before and during meals can be most effective.*
- Drinking large volumes in between meals is least effective. Ranges are from 80-120 ounces per day.*
- Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid smoking—completely!
- Consume alcohol in moderation.
- Limit sugar consumption- it gives you a false sense of energy.*
- Move more- getting up on a regular basis and moving about combats somnolence.*
Another important part of energy is ensuring that your body has the right components for your metabolic machinery to crank out the energy particles.* ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the major source of energy for your metabolism, and in order to generate this molecule, the body needs the right nutrients.* While these nutrients can be obtained primarily from a healthy diet, there are some nutrients that are required that can also be obtained through supplements.* Additionally, there are some other natural substances to help support healthy energy levels.* I’ll discuss both of these below.
Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10)
All cells in the body contain CoQ10, and it is a critical cofactor in energy production.* CoQ10 levels decrease with age and may be low in people with certain conditions, such as heart failure and diabetes.* Additionally, it can be depleted by statin medications, a commonly prescribed drug for lowering cholesterol.* Fish, meat, and nuts contain CoQ10, but generally not in amounts adequate enough to raise levels of CoQ10. While it is unlikely that supplementing with CoQ10 will improve energy if your levels are adequate, it’s also quite possible that you may have lower levels, and you might be unaware of this, as it’s not easily measured. CoQ10 supplements are quite safe in appropriate dosage (up to 200 mg/day) and may help support energy production. Try Nature's Lab CoQ10 100 mg or CoQ10 200 mg, or CoQ10 + Alpha Lipoic Acid + Acetyl L-Carnitine HCl (shop all products containing CoQ10).
Along with other B vitamins, Vitamin B12 helps transform the food you eat into energy that is used by your cells. It is also a critical vitamin for the production of red blood cells, and deficiency can lead to anemia, where you have a “low blood count” and can feel weak and tired.* It is also a very important vitamin for the nervous system, and deficiency can lead to significant problems.* The absorption of Vitamin B12 is very complex, and there are many conditions that can affect the absorption, including some commonly taken medications called proton pump inhibitors.* Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal proteins and dairy products, and some foods are fortified with this vitamin. Older adults and vegetarians are at greatest risk for deficiency.* Since the absorption is so complex, high doses are utilized to ensure maximal benefit.* If you consume a vegetarian diet, eat poorly, or take a proton pump inhibitor medication, you may benefit from supplementation.* Nature's Lab Six Daily and One Daily Multivitamin contain 1,000 mcg and 500 mcg respectively of B12 as methylcobalamin, a naturally-occurring form of B12 utilized for higher bioavailability.*
Melatonin is the sleep hormone, and is produced in a cyclic pattern, typically in the evening, and it may be effective in supporting healthy sleep habits.* As we mentioned above, getting adequate sleep is important for maintaining good energy levels, and it may reduce fatigue in people with chronic fatigue.* Melatonin may also promote antioxidant health.* Typical doses are 1-5 mg each night. Shop the Nature's Lab line of sleep-supporting products, and sign up for the newsletter to be alerted of new sleep support products coming soon.
Rhodiola is an herb that grows in cold, mountainous regions. It is commonly used as an “adaptogen”, a natural substance that supports your body’s ability to deal with stress.* Several studies have shown that Rhodiola may have a beneficial effect on physical and mental performance, as well as physical and mental fatigue.* Additionally, it has been shown to have benefit in mood support.* Shop Nature's Lab Rhodiola Rosea 700 mg.
Ashwaganda is one of the key medicinal herbs in Ayurveda, a medical tradition from India that is considered one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems. There are several studies on Ashwagandha, and it has been shown to improve measures of stress, anxiety, and fatigue in randomized, controlled trials.* Ashwagandha may also work by reducing the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.* Sign up for the newsletter to be alerted when Nature's Lab Ashwagandha is back in stock.
Citrulline is a natural substance that was first isolated from the watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris), and it works to support nitric oxide (NO) production in the body.* NO increases circulation by relaxing the muscles of blood vessel, promoting increased flow.* When NO production is limited, energy utilization may be limited, which can lead to fatigue.* Since citrulline promotes NO production, it may combat fatigue.* In people who are exercising vigorously, supplemental citrulline may improve performance and decrease muscle soreness.*
Caffeine consumption can be a double-edged sword: while it can give you a quick energy boost and promote alertness, a bit too much can leave you jittery.* However, adding L-Theanine to caffeine can give you the same level of mental alertness and retain its fatigue-fighting effect while minimizing some of the unwanted side effects.* L-Theanine, an amino acid, was discovered in tea leaves in 1949 by Japanese scientists. Supplementation allows for higher dosage and therefore a more noticeable effect than that from direct tea intake where it is combined with caffeine.* Try Nature's Lab L-Theanine for 200 mg of supplemental L-Theanine without the side-effects of caffeine.*
To summarize, I'd suggest doing your best to build the core habits that lead to sustainable energy levels throughout the day.* If you struggle with fatigue, address this with your physician to ensure that you are not missing a serious health condition. If your evaluation checks out and you need a boost, consider the supplements and tips discussed above.* I would suggest that you start with a good multivitamin containing the right amount of B vitamins and CoQ10, and consider adding some of the other natural supplements listed above.*
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About the Author
Dr. John Walker is a gastroenterologist with nearly 30 years of experience in the medical field, including almost 20 years of experience in practice. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University, where he graduated with honors. He currently shares his knowledge and expertise with DrVita as our Chief Medical Officer, where he conducts research, compiles articles, and delivers health and wellness recommendations to DrVita customers.