Energy supplement, herb and vitamins, diet and food - Natural ways to enhance energy without caffeine, medications or drugs
July 27 2014 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.
 

Lack of energy is a common complaint by patients who visit a doctor's office. First I discuss common reasons why people feel tired and then I offer some suggestions regarding natural methods, supplements and pills that could be of benefit.

 

Causes and common reasons
Lack of energy may be due to these conditions or causes:

 

Not enough good, restful, deep sleep is often a major culprit. Insomnia is one of the most common reasons why people do not feel their best. Deep sleep can make an enormous influence on how you feel the next day. Getting the right amount is critical to staying energized the next day. It needs to be good sleep, however, not a long night of tossing and turning. Otherwise, watch your immune system and sex drive take a dip. Avoid napping during the day if it makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep at night. Hormone balance, body temperature, digestion, immune function and other important restorative processes all require good sleeping patterns.
 

Depression, emotional disturbances, relationship problems, winter depression or SAD, stress and anxiety are all major factors. Avoid or reduce your time with people who bring you down and are complainers and those who have a negative outlook on life. Reduce your stress through meditation, deep breathing techniques, relaxation audio tapes and prayer. Do you have a task thatís weighing heavily on your mind? Just do it, and get it off your back. Find something that you look forward to.

Lack of exercise, sitting too long in front of the computer or being inactive for long periods of time.
Take a daily walk of at least a half hour. Do yoga, it is one of the best forms of movement to enhance energy levels. Take time to stretch your muscles, tendons and ligaments, it will improve your overall mobility. Find or play a sport that you enjoy. Find music that energizes you and makes you want to move or dance. Go outside and take advantage of nice, sunny day or even a walk in the rain. Spend less time surfing the Internet and go out with friends, take a hike, walk through different neighborhoods, and just do something.

Poor
diet with lack of adequate protein or due to a fad diet that leads to vitamin or nutrient deficiencies. Some people may become deficient in vitamins, minerals, certain fatty acids, amino acids, etc due to an unusual or restrictive diet. Anemia can be due to iron deficiency or vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency. Eating too much sugar or high fructose corn syrup has harmful effects. Eat a good breakfast with a proper balance of protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. Avoid a breakfast that is mostly sugar, white bread, and simple carbohydrates or fructose.

 

Too much coffee, tea or caffeinated beverages. Drink more water instead and make sure you get at least 4 glasses of water a day, more if you live in a hot and dry climate. Avoid coffee or tea after lunch unless decaffeinated. Even then limit your intake.

Too much smoking.
Too much alcohol or overuse of street drugs.
Certain allergies can make you feel tired.

Diabetes or persistent high blood sugar.

Drug side effects. Many medications can cause tiredness. If you think back to the time when your fatigue started, was it a few days or weeks after you started a new medication? Some common ones include beta blockers, statin drugs used for cholesterol, anti-anxiety agents, anti-histamines, etc.
Thyroid disorders such as low thyroid (hypothyroid).

Hepatitis or other liver disorders.

Cancer or a subsequence of chemotherapy treatment.

Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and others.

Occult infections, that is infections in the body that have not been discovered.

Adrenal insufficiency.


Chronic fatigue syndrome - Some patients present with persistent and disabling tiredness for many months or years but show no abnormalities on physical examination or basic laboratory tests. In these cases the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome should be considered. C
FS is characterized by debilitating fatigue with associated muscle aches, tender lymph nodes, joint pain, chills, feverish feelings, and postexertional malaise. Diagnosis of CFS is primarily by exclusion with no definitive laboratory test or physical findings. Medical research continues to examine the many possible causative agents for CFS (infectious, immunologic, neurologic, and psychiatric), but the answer remains elusive. Similarities with fibromyalgia exist and concomitant illnesses include irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and headaches. Therefore, treatment of CFS may be variable and should be tailored to each patient.


Sometimes taking too many dietary supplements can cause fatigue. If you are taking a handful or more of pills a day review them to see if some of them or the combination could cause problems or perhaps are making it more difficult for you to sleep at night. You may wish to take a break for a week or two and see if your symptoms improve.

Energy vitamin and supplement - are there herbs or natural products that boost vitality?
If a full medical evaluation is completed and no major psychiatric or physical causes are found, certain energy enhancing supplements may be tried in consultation with your health care provider. Learn how each one works for you by itself before combining with another supplement. Click on each link for more information.

MultiVit Rx - We have excellent feedback from users of this comprehensive and balanced multivitamin. Users report better energy, vision, and mood. You have the option to take one to four capsules a day depending on your needs.
Usually one capsule a day is sufficient for most people.
B vitamin and coenzyme complex - B vitamins are excellent since they are involved in hundreds of metabolic pathways in cells. These vitamins are particularly important in those whose diet tends to be on the unhealthy side which could lead to shortages of these B vitamins in the body.
CoQ10 at
30mg, 50 mg or 60mg, taken in the morning provides healthy energy support. Taking too high a dosage of this supplement, such as more than 100 mg, may be counterproductive in the long run.
Carnitine can be taken at a dose of 250 to 500 mg. Most people notice a benefit within a day or two.
Creatine is particularly useful for muscle strength building. It helps increase muscle mass and strength.
Trimethylglycine is also known as TMG - it helps with mood enhancement, too.
Astaxanthin high doses, greater than 10 mg, lead to increased endurance.
Ginseng is often taken at 100 mg of an extract. Ginseng is considered to be an adaptogen. It is best to use it only a few days a week rather than daily.
Maca is an energy herb from South America, specifically from the Andean mountains. It also helps people improve their sexual interest.
Rhodiola is known to provide more energy and vitality. You can find much more rhodiola information on this site devoted to this herb exclusively.
Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise capacity.

Royal jelly can improve energy in many people, so can bee pollen supplements. If you buy both a royal jelly supplement and a bee pollen supplement, take them alone for a few days before combining so you know how each one works by itself.
Spirulina may lead to a mild energy enhancement.
Tongkat ali increases energy and sexual stamina, but it also increases body temperature which is not a good idea in the summer heat. If you buy a
tongkat ali supplement to increase energy, use a low dosage and take it only every other day.

 

Food
Are there any you would consider energy foods ?
   Almost every food is an energy food since it supplies calories, except for extremely low calorie vegetables such as lettuce and green leaves. Those that have a high sugar concentration may initially increase energy, but then give a let down when too much insulin is released and blood sugar levels drop. It's very important to eat a variety of foods since each has its own benefits. I don't think power bars, granola bars and protein bars are healthy choices since they often contain a lot of sugar.

 

Energy drinks and caffeine, danger
A comparison of popular energy drinks found that the caffeine in 8 ounces of various brands ranged from 50-145 milligrams (mg), though most were in the 75- to 80-mg range. By comparison, the caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of brewed coffee can range from 65-120 mg, with an average of 85 mg, according to the National Coffee Association. These drinks can cause insomnia. Popular energy drinks such as Red Bull and Rockstar pose potential hazards to teens, especially when mixed with alcohol. These caffeine-laden beverages can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, obesity and other medical problems in teens. Combined with alcohol, the potential harms can be severe
   Dr. Sahelian comments: Caffeine is one of my least favorite energy drugs. It may give a short burst, but over the long run it actually drains overall energy as opposed to enhancing it.

 

Mixing alcohol and energy drinks increases the urge to drink more than drinking alcohol alone.

 

What do you think of energy drinks or bars as a way to boost stamina?
   There are some energy drinks or bars that I am sure are helpful, but others may have too much sugar or too many stimulants such as guarana, caffeine, ginseng, etc. that may initially give a burst in the short run but could have a draining effect later.

 

So, what's up with all these energy drinks? If a person drinks one big can a day, is that bad?
   There are hundreds of different energy drinks on the market, each with its own different formula. I can't make blanket statements regarding all of them. As a rule, though, I don't think they are necessary since many of them contain lots of sugar and stimulants such as caffeine which are not the best way to sustain all day energy. A healthy diet with plenty of physical activity and deep sleep at night should take care of most cases of tiredness. Some of the energy drinks may give you a short boost of a good feeling followed by a drop hours later.

 

After drinking Rockstar Energy Drink, my urine drug screen showed a barbiturate present. Can you tell me if one of the ingredients in Rockstar would cause this (barbiturate in urine)? My pharmacist thought perhaps it might be the guarana seed extract. Other ingredients are (other than Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6, B12) are Taurine, Ginkgo Biloba, Insoitol, L-Carnitine, Gingseng Extract, Milk Thistle Extract, niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, and cyanocobalamin.
   I seriously doubt any of the ingredients listed above in Rockstar Energy Drink, including guarana, would have barbiturates in them.

 

Red Bull and alcohol intake
People who combine energy drinks with alcohol may feel more sober than they truly are. In experiments with young male volunteers, researchers found that the men were no less impaired when they drank a mix of alcohol and the energy drink Red Bull than when they drank a standard mixed drink. Drinkers did, however, seem to think they were less drunk -- reporting less fatigue, fewer headache symptoms and better coordination. Energy drinks like Red Bull typically consist of carbohydrates, B vitamins, and caffeine. There's a popular, though unproven, belief that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can counter some of the effects of drinking. The danger lies in these drinkers thinking that they can function well and drive but then realize too late they are impaired, after a car crash or other serious incident.

 

Eur J Nutr. 2014 Jan 29. Cardio- and cerebrovascular responses to the energy drink Red Bull in young adults: a randomized cross-over study. There are concerns about the safety of energy drinks with some countries banning their sales. We determined the acute effects of a popular energy drink, Red Bull, on cardiovascular and hemodynamic variables, cerebrovascular parameters and microvascular endothelial function. Twenty-five young non-obese and healthy subjects attended two experimental sessions on separate days according to a randomized crossover study design. During each session, primary measurements included beat-to-beat blood pressure measurements, impedance cardiography and transcranial Doppler measurements for at least 20 min baseline and for 2 h following the ingestion of either 355 mL of the energy drink or 355 mL of tap water; the endothelial function test was performed before and two hours after either drink. Unlike the water control load, Red Bull consumption led to increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, associated with increased heart rate and cardiac output, with no significant changes in total peripheral resistance and without diminished endothelial response to acetylcholine; consequently, double product (reflecting myocardial load) was increased. Red Bull consumption also led to increases in cerebrovascular resistance and breathing frequency (p < 0.005), as well as to decreases in cerebral blood flow velocity and end-tidal carbon dioxide. Our results show an overall negative hemodynamic profile in response to ingestion of the energy drink Red Bull, in particular an elevated blood pressure and double product and a lower cerebral blood flow velocity.

 

Emails
I'm currently deployed in Iraq and was browsing on your website during some down time. I'm interested in one or two natural energy / fatigue products that could really be of use to me over here.
   There are several good choices:  

MultiVit Rx is an excellent formula with several dozen nutrients that works effectively in increasing energy levels.
Acetyl-carnitine has energy and mental alertness boosting potential while carnitine has mostly physical energy boosting properties, and less mental
SAM-e has energy and mood elevation benefits
B-Complex and pantothenic acid are good vitamin options for energy enhancement.
Rhodiola and maca are good herbs for increasing energy.
 

Does an ATP adenosine triphophate supplement increase energy levels?
   I have not taken an ATP supplement and have not seen any human studies with ATP supplements to know whether they are effective.

 

I am a 62 year old male general good health, except for the fact I have absolutely no energy, or desire to do anything. This has been going on now for several years. I am currently seeing a doctor at the VA hospital ,but they just seem to drag their feet. Have had countless blood tests, and the only thing that has come back is my hormone level is very low. but they wont give me any testosterone supplements. So I am trying to find a supplement to increase my energy, and better my mood. I do feel depressed. This goes on every day, waking up feeling like crap, all day long. There has to be something out there to make me feel better.
   Perhaps some of the supplements suggested on this page could help you and you can discuss them with your doctor.