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Energy Supplements

There are many factors that can affect energy level throughout the day. Nutrient deficiencies, insufficient carbohydrate fuel, stress, depression, fatigue and lack of restorative sleep can all affect liveliness and lust for life. Before slugging down those cups of coffee, read on to find out the many ways there are to improve alertness and vitality.

Energy-Boosting Supplements: Exercise Performance

Thermogenic stimulants:

Thermogenic stimulants are dietary supplements that work to increase metabolism, causing the body to burn more calories while boosting energy.

Synephrine (or Citrus aurantium, bitter orange): Physiological effect is similar to the banned supplement ephedra. Synephrine increases metabolic rate and caloric expenditure, thereby increasing energy. It is important to note that unlike ephedra, synephrine has no effect on heart rate or blood pressure and will not cause “jitteriness”.

• Products to try:

Caffeine, guarana, kola nut, green tea extract: Caffeine is the most popular stimulant, often used in weight loss supplements as well as energy boosting supplements. Caffeine moderately elevates metabolic rate, encouraging thermogenesis. It is very effective as an energy booster prior to exercise, enabling you to work out harder for longer periods of time. Caffeine can be listed under the following ingredient names: guaranine, guarana, green tea extract, kola nut, or yerba mate.

• Products to try: BodyStrong Caffeine, NOW Foods Green Tea

Carbohydrates:

The main sources of fuel for the body are carbohydrates, one of the three macronutrients. Carbohydrates take two forms: simple sugars such as fruit juice provide quick energy; complex carbohydrates such as those found oatmeal provide sustained, lasting energy. Optimal exercise performance and endurance requires enough fuel for energy.

Bars, shakes, MRPs: Many energy bars, protein shakes and meal replacements provide carbohydrates and protein for quick or lasting energy. Products with simple carbohydrates and minimal protein are best for providing quick energy for short bursts of intense activity. Products with simple and complex carbohydrates and 15+ grams of protein per serving will provide more prolonged energy for endurance activities.

• Products to try: BALANCE BAR Original, LABRADA Lean Body Bar Gold, POWERBAR High Performance Bar, CHEF JAY'S Tri-O-Plex Bar

Energy gels: These gels are packed with simple sugars and sometimes contain caffeine. Usually available in small, single serving packages, energy gels provide quick fuel for endurance athletes. Energy gels should be used if exercise is intense and lasts more than 1 hour, or moderate and lasting 2 or more hours.

• Products to try: GU Energy Gel, CARB BOOM Energy Gel

Sports drinks: These drinks restore fluids and electrolytes, and provide simple sugars for quick energy. Sports drinks should be used if exercise is intense and lasts more than 1 hour, or moderate and lasting 2 or more hours.

• Products to try: PACIFIC HEALTH Accelerade, FRS Ready-To-Drink

Energy-Boosting Supplements: Stress, Depression, Fatigue and Anxiety

Stress, depression, fatigue and anxiety can sap feelings of inner well-being and vitality. The supplements below help the body overcome these energy-sapping conditions. In cases of severe or chronic symptoms of depression or similar conditions, consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

St. John’s wort:

An herbal antidepressant derived from the Hypericum perforatum plant, St. John’s wort helps boost levels of the mood-regulating neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

• Products to try: BODY FIRST St. John's Wort, NATURE'S WAY St. John's Wort

SAMe:

(pronounced “sammy”): S-adenosylmethionine is a naturally occurring compound found in all living cells. SAM-e is involved in the synthesis of mood-regulating neurotransmitters and may help lift depression. For optimal absorption, take SAMe with a B-vitamin complex.

• Products to try: NATROL SAM-e (200mg), NOW SAMe (400mg), SOURCE NATURALS SAM-e (400mg)

5-HTP:

5-Hydroxytryptophan is an important precursor in the manufacture of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is a key brain chemical that plays an important role in the regulation of appetite, sleep, mood, pain sensation, and other bodily functions.

• Products to try: BODYSTRONG 5-HTP, NATROL 5-HTP (50mg), SOURCE NATURALS 5-HTP (50mg)

Rhodiola rosea:

Acts as an adaptogen, meaning that the herb helps increase energy and endurance in times of exhaustion or stress. Rhodiola rosea works to promote optimal levels of neurotransmitters, and may positively influence ATP production.

• Products to try: NATURE'S WAY Rhodiola Rosea, JARROW Rhodiola Rosea

Energy-Boosting Supplements: Herbal and Other Formulas

These formulas do not strictly fit into a specific category, but are professed to have energy-enhancing properties.

Ginkgo biloba:

An herb derived from the leaves of a Chinese tree, ginkgo is thought to improve blood circulation, improve mental alertness and boost energy.

• Products to try: NATURE'S WAY Ginkgo - Standardized Extract, NOW Ginkgo Biloba (120mg)

Eleuthero (a.k.a. Siberian Ginseng):

Like Rhodiola rosea, eleuthero is an adaptogen, helping the body fight stress and fatigue. Eleuthero is said to restore vitality and energy.

• Products to try: NATURE'S WAY Siberian Eleuthero - Standardized Extract, SUN CHLORELLA Sun Eleuthero, SUN CHLORELLA Sun Eleuthero Extract

Alpha lipoic acid:

Also a potent antioxidant, ALA assists the B-vitamins in turning food into energy, and is said to help combat fatigue.

• Products to try: NATROL Alpha Lipoic Acid (300mg), BODYSTRONG Alpha Lipoic Acid

Coenzyme Q10

Best known for its powerful antioxidant properties, coenzyme Q10 also supports robust energy levels by facilitating the use of fat for fuel. CoQ 10 also supports cardiovascular health. It has also been shown to possibly improve muscle function and stamina by increasing energy at the cellular level.

• Products to try: BODY FIRST CoQ10 (100mg), NATURE'S WAY Coenzyme Q-10, ENZYMATIC THERAPY Smart Q10(100mg)

Spirulina:

The term spirulina collectively refers to several species of blue-green algae, popular as a health supplement in the U.S. and Japan . While no studies have proven it to boost energy, many people swear by spirulina for just this purpose.

• Products to try: BODY FIRST Spirulina, EARTHRISE Spirulina Natural Powder, NUTREX HAWAII Spirulina Pacifica

Wheat grass/Barley grass:

Often referred to as “green foods,” these cereal grasses are said to promote immunity and increased energy. There is no scientific evidence backing these claims, but again, many people are fans of these grasses.

• Products to try: NOW Green PhytoFoods, PINES Mighty Greens Superfood Blend, PINES Wheat Grass Powder

Common Energy-Sapping Nutrient Deficiencies

Sometimes a feeling of exhaustion or sluggishness may be due to a nutrient deficiency. Taking the proper supplements to treat deficiencies usually restore energy levels.

B-vitamins:

A B-vitamin deficiency can lead to a host of unpleasant physical and neurological symptoms, as well as lack of energy. Those most susceptible to a B-vitamin deficiency are individuals consuming a poor diet, using birth control pills, the elderly, and those who cannot absorb food properly. See your physician for a diagnosis and supplement recommendations.

• Products to try: BODY FIRST B Complex, NATURE'S WAY B-100 Complex, RAINBOW LIGHT Complete B-Complex

Iron:

Iron deficiency, known as anemia, is very common. Symptoms of anemia include weakness and fatigue. Those most at risk for developing anemia are children, menstruating young women, and pregnant women. Common causes of anemia are excessive blood loss, poor iron content in diet, poor iron absorption, pregnancy and growth spurts. Iron deficiency must be diagnosed and treated by a health care professional, as it is very easy and dangerous to consume too much iron.

• Products to try: ENZYMATIC THERAPY Energizing Iron, NOW Iron Complex, TWINLAB Iron (18mg)