12 Best Vitamins & Supplements for Energy, Says Registered Dietitian

Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, M.S., RDN

August 10, 2023

It’s 3pm and that mid-day slump hits…hard. This sudden drop in energy levels, mental focus, and overall productivity can have you feeling all sorts of things: lethargic, irritable, unmotivated, and downright foggy. You may even experience physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, or a sense of "heaviness" in the body.

All of this obviously affects your quality of life. So as a registered dietitian, one of the first recommendations I have for those experiencing afternoon fatigue (along with getting adequate nutrients in the diet, coupled with adequate sleep), is an array of vitamins and supplements. This blog post dives into the 12 best ones. Don’t worry, you don’t need all 12…just the one or two that make the most sense for you and your body.

Caffeine is the most popular and widely used stimulant for energy. A staggering 93% of Americans report consuming it—with 75% of them having it at least once a day. The other 25% consume caffeine three or more times a day (1).

The results they’re after? Increased alertness, reduced fatigue, and improved cognition.

But despite caffeine’s growing popularity, it can come with some downsides…

  • Over-consumption may lead to sleep disturbances, jitteriness, and an increased heart rate. It can also lead to dependence—both physically and psychologically.  If intake is abruptly ceased, withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and even muscle aches.
  • Caffeine can interact with certain medications like blood thinners, antidepressants, and certain types of antibiotics known as quinolones. It's not recommended for individuals with specific health conditions like strokes, heart conditions, or seizures.
  • Extreme levels of caffeine intake can lead to more serious conditions such as gastrointestinal issues, increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, and in rare cases, an overdose. Caffeine overdose may result in confusion, hallucinations, and seizures and necessitates immediate medical attention. Chronic high consumption of caffeine may contribute to long-term health concerns, including osteoporosis.
  • A common yet often overlooked downside of caffeine intake is the inevitable "caffeine crash." This refers to the sudden drop in energy levels that typically occurs a few hours after the consumption of caffeine.
  • While caffeine can initially boost alertness and energy, these effects are usually temporary. As the caffeine starts to wear off, individuals often experience fatigue, drowsiness, and reduced concentration, leading to a decline in performance and productivity. 

The severity of a caffeine crash can vary depending on various factors, such as the amount of caffeine consumed, individual caffeine tolerance, and overall health status. Therefore, while caffeine might seem like an attractive solution for immediate energy, its temporary nature and potential post-consumption slump must be taken into consideration.

12 Best Vitamins & Supplements for Energy Support

As far as vitamins and supplements go, there are 12 worth considering for energy. Of course, it’s always recommended to ensure any supplement you take is appropriate for your own needs by confirming it with your healthcare provider. 

1. B Complex (Especially Vitamin B12)

If you’re looking for the best vitamins for energy, B vitamins are often considered the go-to option. These vitamins—particularly B12 and B6—play a crucial role in energy production, helping convert dietary energy into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the form of energy that powers your body. 

B vitamins can also assist in forming red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, further contributing to energy levels. Some studies suggest that individuals with adequate B vitamins tend to have better energy levels, while deficiencies can lead to fatigue and low energy. 

Vitamin B12 deserves special notice, as it has a particularly important role in energy support. 

Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells and DNA, and it helps to keep your nerves healthy. A deficiency in B12 can lead to anemia, a condition that makes you feel tired and weak (2). 

With its role in energy production, adequate B12 levels are necessary to prevent fatigue. It's naturally found in animal products like meat and dairy, and fortified in some plant-based foods. 

However, some people may struggle to absorb it effectively, especially as they age or due to certain medical conditions, making supplementation a valuable option if you struggle to keep your blood levels up through food alone.

2. Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10, CoQ10 for short, is a naturally occurring substance that’s present in every cell of the body. It plays a vital role in the production of ATP, the primary energy source for cells (3). 

It’s particularly concentrated in organs with high energy requirements (think: the heart, liver, and kidneys). As we age, the body produces less CoQ10, which may result in decreased energy levels. Supplementing with CoQ10 is believed to boost energy, enhance stamina, and may help to reduce symptoms related to various illnesses.

3. Iron

Iron is a mineral that's vital for energy. Its main role is to help transport oxygen throughout the body. And if there isn’t enough oxygen being delivered to certain organs, you’ll begin to feel tired. Iron deficiency, which can result in conditions such as anemia, often leads to fatigue, weakness, and overall low energy levels (4). 

Pre-menopausal females are more at-risk for developing iron deficiency, especially if you are vegan, vegetarian, or highly athletic. If you’re following a diet that’s low in beef, seafood, and other animal-based iron sources, a supplement may be appropriate. 

Since your body doesn’t get rid of iron like it naturally does water-soluble vitamins, it’s incredibly important to consult with your doctor before you start an iron supplement regimen.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium is a significant nutrient to combat fatigue. Playing a key role in over 300 different cellular functions, it's essential for converting food into energy, creating new proteins, and helping create and repair DNA (5). A deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle weakness, fatigue, and feelings of lethargy. 

Over 50% of Americans fail to get enough magnesium from their diet, making a supplement a practical choice for those looking to boost their energy levels (6). Be it from food or supplementation, maintaining adequate magnesium levels is vital for your energy levels and overall health. 

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5. Beetroot Powder

Beetroot powder may offer a sustainable form of energy naturally. This superfood helps improve the body's utilization of oxygen, thanks to the nitrate content in beetroot powder (which can help dilate blood vessels, allowing more oxygen to flow).

6. Green Tea Extract

Green Tea Extract is a supplement that may support energy levels, thanks to the high concentration of catechins, a type of antioxidant. These antioxidants combat oxidative stress, promoting overall cellular health and enhancing metabolic function. In addition, the presence of an amino acid called L-theanine may help improve brain function and mood, thereby enhancing mental energy (6).

7. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it can help the body adapt to stress both physically and mentally. 

This compound may stimulate the synthesis of ATP, which is the main energy source for most cellular reactions and processes. By increasing ATP production, ashwagandha helps to energize the body at a cellular level, leading to increased physical endurance and strength (7). 

Second, it impacts serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. These neurotransmitters play a key role in maintaining mood and energy levels. By balancing these neurotransmitters, ashwagandha can support mental energy, helping to improve focus, alertness, and cognitive function. 

8. Creatine

Creatine, a substance naturally produced by our bodies and found in muscle cells, plays a pivotal role in supporting energy levels. It primarily aids in the formation of ATP. When you engage in high-intensity exercise or activity, the demand for ATP rises significantly. 

Creatine supplementation boosts the body's ability to produce ATP, thus leading to increased energy during strenuous activities (8). Moreover, creatine also aids in cell hydration and promotes muscle growth, providing further support for physical energy and stamina.

9. Ergothioneine

Ergothioneine, a naturally occurring amino acid, has been linked with several health benefits, one of which includes supporting energy production. Found primarily in certain mushrooms (like shiitake), ergothioneine acts as a potent antioxidant. 

It helps combat oxidative stress in the body, a process that could lead to fatigue and reduced energy levels (9). By counteracting this, ergothioneine can help maintain the proper functioning of cells and support the efficient use of energy.

10. Turmeric

Turmeric, a popular spice with a long history of use in traditional medicine, possesses several health benefits that could indirectly support energy levels. 

The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, it could help improve the efficiency of cellular processes responsible for energy production. It's also been suggested that curcumin may enhance brain function and mood, which could indirectly boost your sense of energy and vitality.

Including a turmeric supplement in your lifestyle may give you the boost that your body needs naturally. 

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11. Melatonin

I know what you are thinking, and yes, melatonin is typically used to help support sleep. But if you have a tough time getting those necessary zzz’s at night, you are sure to feel tired the next day. 

Leaning on products that contain melatonin may help you get that important restful sleep so you can up your chances of feeling energized the next day.

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12. Vitamin D

Vitamin D, often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin", has a critical role in energy production, making it one of the best vitamins for tiredness and lack of energy (10). 

It aids in the absorption of minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for various bodily functions, including energy metabolism. In addition to getting 30 minutes of sunshine each day, supplements and food sources—including fatty fish and fortified dairy products—are effective sources.

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Other Lifestyle Habits to Consider

While these supplements may offer much needed relief from fatigue, their effectiveness will increase tremendously if you include the following steps in your life:

  • Prioritize balanced, nutritious meals.
  • Include regular movement throughout your day. 
  • Stay hydrated (aim to drink half your body weight in ounces per day).
  • Practice stress-management techniques like breathwork and journaling.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends!).
  • Avoid screens—especially your phones and laptop—one hour before bedtime. (If you can’t make that work, aim for at least for 30 minutes before bedtime.))
  • Limit or avoid alcohol. (If you do have a drink, drink it at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. This allows your body to metabolize and process it before you go to bed.)
Lauren Manaker
Article by

Lauren Manaker

Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian (RDN), certified lactation educator (CLE), author, and speaker with over 20 years of experience. She earned her BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Florida (go Gators!) and an MS in Clinical Nutrition from Rush University in Chicago.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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