Woman with a boost of energy from supplements listening to music and dancing outdoors

10 Vitamins & Supplements for Energy

Published: May 2022

The afternoon slump is real—and even though you had a restful night's sleep, crushed an invigorating workout and ate energy boosting foods for breakfast and lunch, you still catch yourself craving an afternoon snooze.

If you're tired of being tired, the answer is not another cup of coffee or an energy drink. To be clear: there's nothing wrong with a quick caffeine fix from a cup of coffee (or two) throughout the day. Caffeine is a stimulant for your nervous system, helping you stay alert and focused for a short period of time. Plus, coffee has heart health benefits.

But man cannot run on caffeine alone. While caffeine may help you stay alert and focused on tasks for the short term, it will not provide your body with the energy it needs to fuel you and keep you moving throughout the day.

For that kind of support (and to jump-start your metabolism), you need to eat a well-balanced diet and make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need to help your body convert the food you eat into energy day after day. First and foremost, the energy your body needs starts on your plate.

However, with today's modern, fast-paced lifestyle, sometimes it's difficult to get a well-balanced meal when you are always on the go. That's where energy-boosting vitamins and minerals can help bridge nutrient gaps for times when you are feeling a sense of energy deficiency.

How do supplements help with energy?

Unlike caffeine or sugar, which may give you a quick boost of vim and vigor that may only last for a few hours, certain vitamins and supplements support your energy production. Here's what they can do:

  • Provide essential nutrition for cellular energy production:

    Every millisecond of every single day, the cells in your body are doing countless processes to break down foodstuff like glucose, fats, and amino acids to essential substances that can be either used or stored for energy production. B-complex vitamins are a family of vitamins that are essential for the cells to produce energy. Additionally, nutrients including CoQ10, L-carnitine and lipoic acid support the function of mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of the cell.
  • Nourish the thyroid gland:

    Your thyroid health directly relates to your energy levels. Specific nutrients that are necessary for the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones include the essential minerals iodine and selenium as well as tyrosine, an amino acid.
  • Encourage a balanced response to stress:

    Stress can put the adrenals into "overdrive" mode. Although throwing down all you've got can be exhilarating at times, it also can leave you feeling depleted and eventually, burned out. Certain botanicals are known as "adaptogens" because they help the body adapt and support a balanced response to stress.

What are the best supplements for energy?

There are many different nutrients that support energy production at the cellular level, support a healthy thyroid, and help you stay energized in the face of everyday stress—and each works in somewhat different ways.

So which should you choose? Here are our top picks for healthy, lasting energy:

1. CoQ10 for cellular energy

CoQ10 is the go-to supplement for athletes looking to improve energy levels and fight exercise-related fatigue. However, if you're no Venus or Serena Williams, incorporating this nutrient into your wellness routine can still support your daily energy levels throughout the day, whether on or off the court.

If you've never heard of CoQ10 before, it's time to meet your body's essential compound for energy production. Found at high levels in the cell's membranes and essential for mitochondria function, CoQ10 helps support energy production for your organs and tissues, including the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and muscles. The majority of CoQ10 is produced in your body; however, small amounts of this nutrient come from the foods you eat like animal protein (trout and chicken thighs are good sources), pistachios, extra-virgin olive oil, soybeans, avocado, cauliflower and broccoli. Many of these foods can be found in a Mediterranean-based diet, however, if you are experiencing general fatigue or grabbing another cup of Joe, a CoQ10 supplement might be worth considering to help support your daily energy production.

It is important to note that CoQ10 is fat-soluble, and is absorbed better when taken with food, so take this energy boosting nutrient with your morning meal.

Not all CoQ10 is the same

As you research CoQ10 supplements, you'll usually see two forms - ubiquinol and ubiquinone. They sound the same, but in one comparison study, ubiquinol CoQ10 had nearly eight times the absorption compared to ubiquinone. And when a nutrient is absorbed better, odds are you'll get more of its benefits.

2. NAD+ to fight fatigue

NAD+, short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (that's a mouthful!), is a key coenzyme found in every cell of the body. NAD+ is critical for the body's production of ATP, the compound your body uses to create cellular energy. However, as you age, your levels of NAD+ start to decline which leaves you with less energy and more fatigue.

Incorporating NAD+ into your wellness routine not only helps fight fatigue at the cellular level by helping inhibit the age-related decline of NAD+ your body produces, but also promotes longevity and supports youthful cognitive function.

3. B vitamins for energy production

General fatigue can impact every part of your daily life. From working at a desk to working out at a gym, healthy energy production is important. So, if you're looking for vitamins for increased energy throughout the day (and a little less stress), you'll become a believer in the vitamin B family.

But with eight different B vitamins, which type helps support energy production? (Hint: the answer is all of them!)

  • Vitamin B1

    – B1 is a water-soluble vitamin (as are all the B vitamins) and is found in fish, whole grains and nuts which helps provide the energy your body and brain needs to make it through the day.
  • Vitamin B2

    – Riboflavin is an essential B vitamin that also has antioxidant properties. It helps the body convert food (carbohydrates, lipids and proteins) into necessary compounds for cellular energy.
  • Vitamin B3

    – B3 (or niacin) is another B vitamin with antioxidant activity. Remember NAD+? Well, niacin is the precursor B vitamin essential for the production of this key energy-supportive compound. It also is required for metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins (as well as alcohol) and helps support blood flow throughout the body.
  • Vitamin B5

    – B5 works in tandem with other B vitamins to convert the food you eat into energy. It also is essential for the production of an enzyme known as coenzyme A (CoA), which plays a key role in neurotransmitter and hormone production.
  • Vitamin B6

    – Most commonly found in energy drinks or pre-workouts drinks, vitamin B6 helps convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates into glucose, giving your body energy it can use to fuel your day (or workout). The active form of B6, known as pyridoxal-5-phosphate, is essential for production of amino acids, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin, which carries oxygen on red blood cells.
  • Vitamin B7

    – Biotin (also known as vitamin B7) is another important B vitamin that helps your body break down the food you eat into energy. And if you aren't eating enough biotin rich foods like meat, eggs, seeds, nuts and veggies, a biotin supplement can help support healthy levels. Word to the wise: if you regularly use raw egg whites as a workout protein supplement, you could become deficient in this essential nutrient!
  • Vitamin B9

    – This B vitamin, more commonly referred to as folate, is important in red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and methylation, and healthy cellular division.
  • Vitamin B12

    – Need a pick-me-up in a pinch? This leads many people to reach for vitamin B12, a key player in energy and neurotransmitter production. In fact, most mass-marketed "energy shots" that you can find just about anywhere primarily consist of vitamin B12. Why not go for convenience and take a vitamin B12 supplement instead?

4. BCAAs to get into "beast mode"

If you are looking to make significant "gains" in the gym or get an extra jolt of endurance throughout your workout, it's time to try branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are the building blocks for protein synthesis — a key component of muscle tissue that helps your muscles recover after you work up a sweat.

Besides helping support lean muscle mass, BCAAs can help improve your performance throughout your workout. It's important to note, however, this isn't the type of energy you'd expect from an "energy drink" or drink containing caffeine. The benefits of BCAAs occur below the surface as these amino acids help you power through your workout by helping to protect existing muscles, build new muscles and inhibit muscle fatigue.

5. L-theanine...so stress won't get the upper hand

Feeling frazzled? L-theanine might be the nutrient for you. L-theanine is a compound found in green tea, and well known for its ability to relieve subjective stress. However, if you are looking for a little less R&R and a little more energy, kick things up a notch by combining l-theanine with caffeine.

Combining l-theanine and caffeine has not only been shown to have significant impacts on energy levels, but even positive implications on cognitive performance, which can be impacted by stress.

6. Ginseng: Try this ancient Asian herb

You don't have to travel to China to enjoy the energy boosting benefits of the popular herb ginseng. Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that not only helps promote healthy energy production, but also supports your body's ability to manage stress. In fact, a recent study of 21 men and 69 women found that ginseng showed positive results in helping people fight general fatigue. An added bonus? It promoted their levels of glutathione, a key antioxidant for natural detoxification processes.

7. Rhodiola rosea for a rosier outlook

Support your body's physical and mental energy with another adaptogenic herb native to mountainous regions in Europe and Asia, Rhodiola rosea. This powerful herb boasts a boatload of benefits like helping to decrease stress, fight fatigue, maintain brain function and even improve exercise performance.

Human studies suggest rhodiola may positively impact both physical and mental performance. So, if you are looking for a vitamin that can support your mind and body all day long, a rhodiola supplement is for you. It can help when you are lacking on those crucial Zzzzs – so give it a try if your coffee isn't working or if you are looking for a caffeine-free boost!

8. Taurine to power through your workouts

Want to get the energy boosting benefits of popular energy drinks without all the extra additives and chemicals? It's time to give taurine a try. Taurine is the go-to supplement for those looking to break a sweat at the gym and make some significant gains (or shed some pounds) as it helps increase endurance, supports exercise recovery and helps promote strength and power.

9. L-tyrosine to energize your brain

L-tyrosine is a popular vitamin for those looking to enhance cognitive function. While this nutrient can be found in foods like cheese, chicken, turkey, fish and other high-protein foods, higher doses are necessary for those looking to support mental performance. L-tyrosine has even been shown to help facilitate deep thinking! For those experiencing sleep deficiency, supplementing with a single dose of l-tyrosine helped those who lost a night's sleep to perform better on a task requiring brain and motor function and vigilance the next day.

10. Ashwagandha for energy, stress management and more

Ashwagandha has been gaining commercial popularity in recent years – and for good reason! Thanks to its benefits like supporting stress management, increasing energy levels and encouraging cognitive function, this herb just about does it all.

Ready, set, go...go...go!

Still not sure which energy vitamins and supplement are right for you? Take a supplement quiz to help find an energy-supporting nutrient that addresses your individual health and wellness goals.

Of course, it is important to note that vitamins and minerals that support healthy energy levels will only get you so far. You'll also need to pay careful attention to your diet as well as get a restful sleep night after night. Getting regular physical activity also can help you be more alert during the day.

References

By: Andrew Davis, Health & Wellness Writer

Andrew Davis is a graduate of Pace University NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He has more than a decade's worth of experience in content and social media in the health and wellness space. An avid traveler, Andrew also has volunteered as an English teacher and humanitarian in countries throughout Asia.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD