Patient’s often come in to the office and ask, “How can I feel more energetic? I’m tired all the time and feel like I have no energy. Are there vitamins to help boost my energy?” Typically we rule out major medical issues and do basic testing, to determine that everything appears “normal.” So now what?
It turns out that there are a number of factors to consider in order to feel more energetic. Barring any other major symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, fatigue in its own right can be a normal response. It can be a signal from your body that you are either doing too much or sleeping too little. Patients often say “I’m getting 6 or 7 hours of sleep at night, so sleep is not the issue.” Think again. Some of us actually need more than that amount of sleep to fully function. Women in particular can need up to 9 hours to feel their best (and to help lose weight!). And get this… there is the concept of a sleep debt. This means you actually need to sleep more to make up for the lost sleep you’ve had over the years. We figure that between residency and having kids we might need to sleep the rest of our lives to catch up!
But seriously, make sleep a priority. Trouble sleeping? Click here for some suggestions.
Beyond sleep itself we think about other issues which may be contributing to fatigue. Hydration is a factor that can not be over emphasized. And don’t point to your water bottle and say, “I drink TONS of water” to tell us how well you hydrate. Last time we checked sweat is not just made up of water. It tastes salty and contains…you guessed it…Salt! So, while we are not endorsing a high junk food diet, we are suggesting you get vital electrolytes including sodium, and not just plain water, to address your hydration needs. The body in fact requires these electrolytes to hold onto the water you drink (remember that thing called osmosis back in science class—— yes, it actually is important). Without adequate fluids and electrolytes we are far more likely to be fatigued, sluggish and feel like we need more energy.
Now, what you’ve all been waiting for… You knew it was coming, we are vitamin experts after all. “What vitamins can I take to have more energy?” you ask. Well it turns out that several vitamin deficiencies can lead one to feel like they need more energy. The first and perhaps, most widely discussed, is iron. Iron is what allows our red blood cells to carry oxygen. Kind of important. Many of us have lower total body iron stores and do not even know it. Many women (and men) eat less red meat than we once did and have lost a key source of dietary iron. In fact, even though other foods contain iron it is not as readily absorbed in our GI tracts as it is from meat. Women in particular tend to be anemic from years of have had periods, pregnancies and nursing babies. These deficiencies can last into much later in life. Therefore repeating iron can be essential to starting to feel more energetic. Finding an iron that you can take without side effects (it can cause an upset stomach or constipation) is essential. In addition iron should always be taken with vitamin C which facilitates its absorption.
In addition to iron another key nutrient that helps increase energy is vitamin B12. This essential vitamin is found in meat and some dairy products. As we get older many of us do not absorb it as readily from food. Additionally some over the counter and prescription drugs can block its absorption. Those who lack enough B12 tend to feel, tired, run down and lack energy. B12 deficiency can also cause nerve related symptoms such as numbness and tingling, nerve pain and weakness. Replacing B12 can be quite helpful in increasing energy.
An often over looked vitamin that can play a role in energy is magnesium. Magnesium is one of those important electrolytes that, in addition to helping with hydration, also helps nerves fire properly and muscles pump more effectively. Many of us are low in magnesium and do not even realize it. Blood testing is not always reflective of this. Taking a magnesium supplement on its own or as part of a personalized multivitamin can be quite helpful to make you feel more energetic. It is also reported to help enhance sleep quality, which also ultimately helps with energy.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin which we talk about in relation to many common health concerns. Not surprisingly vitamin D deficiency can cause one to feel low on energy, sluggish and fatigued. Correcting this incredibly common vitamin deficiency with proper doses of vitamin D3 is essential to improving your energy.
Last, but most certainly not least, we must not forget the role of your thyroid in your metabolism and energy. The thyroid is a gland which regulates metabolism. When the thyroid does not function properly your metabolism gets low and your feel tired, sluggish and low on energy. One way to help support your thyroid is to make sure you are getting proper amounts of iodine. While some table salt and other processed foods contain iodine, many Americans eat less of these foods and are not guaranteed sources of iodine. It can be helpful to take a supplement that contains safe and proper amounts of iodine (too much is not a good idea) to help regulate your thyroid, keep your metabolism running smoothly, and boost your energy.
There are many ways to live a healthier lifestyle that will ultimately impact your ability to have more energy. Proper sleep, hydration, exercise and the right vitamins can all play a role. When looking for what vitamins to take for energy it is very important to take quality products, in proper doses (since taking too much can be harmful). Many of the products on the market that claim to “boost energy” contain potentially harmful ingredients such as stimulants or high doses of caffeine. These should be avoided.
Your best bet is a solid personalized multivitamin (take our personalized vitamin quiz ) that is tailored to your individual needs. We founded Vous Vitamin® to help people get the vitamins that they needed based on their own diet, lifestyle and health concerns. Take our survey here to find out what may help you find your best health. In addition, we recognize that every day is different and there may be days which require an extra boost. A crazy schedule or an intense work out may find you looking to get more energy. Our Power Up Situational Supplement® was created for just that day and can easily be taken on the go.
Feeling more energy does not happen overnight. However, making small steps toward improving your health routine can go a long way. Think about ways to improve your sleep, exercise routine and what vitamins to take for energy. Small changes can ultimately go a long way in increasing your energy and how you feel everyday.
Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three teen agers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.