Do you feel tired all of the time? Are you getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but still feel like a zombie? Coffee and energy drinks provide a short-term boost, but they’ll also give you unwanted chemicals and sugars. If you’re looking for a more natural way to boost energy, these proven pick-me-ups will work overtime to power you through your day.
1. Vitamin B12
The more active you are, the more B vitamins you need. They’re crucial for breaking down food into fuel, transporting oxygen throughout your body, and increasing production of red blood cells to keep your muscles functioning properly. But B’s irony is, exercising regularly causes you to drain your B vitamins faster than being sedentary will.
Try this: Replenish your levels daily with a B complex that includes B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (Pyridoxine), B12 (Cobalamin), and folic acid. The Mayo Clinic recommends 2.4 mcg per day for adults.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body. Not only does it help regulate calcium, sodium, and potassium, it’s also important for cellular health, and it’s a critical component of more than 300 functions in the body. Magnesium deficiency can cause symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and fatigue, to name just a few.
Try this: Magnesium-rich foods — such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains — are important to include in your diet, but you should supplement with 350 to 400 mg of magnesium daily.
Iron is an essential mineral. It’s the main component of red blood cells, where it binds with hemoglobin and transports oxygen to cells. But as critical as iron is, it’s the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting 25 percent of the population, according to the journal Public Health Nutrition. Additionally, vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk of deficiency because they consume only non-heme iron, which is not absorbed as well as heme iron, which is found only in animal foods like red meat. Deficiencies include symptoms like tiredness, weakness, and a weakened immune system.
Try this: The USDA recommends supplementing with 18 mg day (women) and 8 mg day (men) for nonvegetarians. The recommended daily allowance for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat.
4. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root, is a potent adaptogenic herb that provides an antifatigue effect. Research suggests that it helps the body adapt to stress by decreasing hormonal changes tied to prolonged stress. It also may help you increase stamina and endurance by increasing red blood cell count, delaying fatigue.
Try this: Take about 250 to 700 mg total per day, split into two doses to help fight tiredness.
Ashwagandha is probably the most common and most studied of the adaptogenic herbs. Research has found that it benefits the immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems, and it improves our resistance toward stress, a huge cause of fatigue. (Chronic stress reduces levels of serotonin, which regulates mood, energy and motivation.)
Try this: As with most herbal supplements, make sure it’s standardized for human consumption. In the case of ashwagandha, products should be standardized to a percentage of withanolides, generally a range of 5–10 percent%.
As always, you should discuss new supplements or medications with your doctor before taking them. This is especially true with adaptogenic herbs, as several of them interact with prescription medications and are not recommended for people with certain conditions.