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Nutrition

10 Supplements To Help Fight Tiredness and Fatigue

Experiencing chronic tiredness or fatigue can impact your daily life and the quality of your workouts, leading you to look into supplements for tiredness. When it comes to supplements, there are a lot on the market than can help provide an extra boost of energy for our bodies to function better. Some supplements for tiredness are quick acting and others have a long-term impact. Read on to decide which fatigue-fighting supplements might be right for you.

In this article, you’ll find:

caffeine coffee

What causes tiredness and fatigue?

Do you feel run down and exhausted all the time? There are many reasons why you might not have enough energy for your workouts, or even just to get through the day. Are you eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, sleeping well, or drinking enough water?

You might even be overtraining and overworking your body without ample recovery time. Some days it’s hard to find the perfect balance of food, exercise and sleep when we have so many other demands to meet.

The supplements for tiredness discussed below range from basic B vitamins that you can get from your diet, to ancient herbs and common minerals. Some of these supplements might be part of a daily multivitamin or pre-workout blend, and others you might take on their own. Regardless, if you’re suffering from occasional or even chronic tiredness and fatigue, these supplements might be just want you need to start feeling your best.

10 supplements and vitamins for tiredness and fatigue

1. B12

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, plays a crucial role in cellular function and energy metabolism. You have to get it from your diet (or by supplement), because your body can’t manufacture it on its own.1

B12 usually comes from animal foods in our diet (meat, poultry, etc.) and is often low in vegetarians, vegans, the elderly, and anyone with malabsorption problems. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a condition called megaloblastic anaemia, making you feel tired and weak.2

Evidence shows a significant increase in energy when those who are B12 deficient increase their B12 levels through supplementation.2

2. Iron

Another type of anaemia that can leave you feeling tired and weak is iron-deficiency anaemia. It’s one of the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.3 This occurs when low levels of iron in your blood prevent your cells and tissues from getting enough oxygen, leading to chronic fatigue and tiredness.3

Iron is found in many animal foods such as red meat, but also in spinach, legumes, and some seeds. Iron supplements can cause some side effects, so it is best to have your levels checked and speak with your doctor about a course of treatment if you suspect you are iron-deficient.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is another common vitamin that comes in many foods we consume (like citrus fruits) but some of us don’t get enough on a regular basis. It’s common knowledge that vitamin C can help boost the immune system and shorten the duration and severity of the common cold, making us feel better and more energetic faster.4

Along these same lines, vitamin C may help boost our immune system and prevent the fatigue associated with common illnesses.4 Vitamin C is also crucial in helping our body absorb the iron from foods to help prevent iron-deficiency anaemia.

If someone is deficient in vitamin C, both their iron absorption (which is crucial for energy) and their health can suffer. Additional studies are finding a relationship between vitamin C and reducing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which can increase performance and energy levels after a tough workout.5

 citrus vitamin c

4. Folic Acid

Low levels of folic acid can also lead to megaloblastic anaemia (like low levels of B12). This B vitamin is also known as vitamin B9, and plays a key role in cell division, making it especially important for women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.6

 

Just like B12, you must get B9 from your diet. Folic acid is found in leafy greens, whole grains, and citrus fruits, but these foods alone are sometimes not enough to meet your daily needs. Long term deficiency can lead to confusion as well as physical fatigue, since folate plays a role in cellular energy production, so if you can’t get enough from your diet, then a supplement may be a good option.6

5. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral (like sodium or calcium) that plays a role in a lot of cellular level functions, especially the work of our nerves and muscles.7 Magnesium is essential in helping to free the energy from the food we eat, optimizing the digestion and absorption of our food.

Magnesiumalso plays a role in oxygen uptake by our muscles, which becomes crucial during exercise, especially aerobic activity.7 For this reason, low levels of this mineral have shown a decrease in performance and energy during workouts. However, fatigue from insufficient magnesium was shown to improve with supplementation, leading to greater strength and performance.8

6. Caffeine

Caffeine may be the first compound you think of when you need an energy boost. It’s found in so many common beverages – coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and energy supplements. It’s the most consumed stimulant in the world.9 Research shows that up to 400mg of caffeine per day shows no negative effects in healthy adults.10

Caffeine improves energy, focus, and concentration, making it a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements. Remember, caffeine is a fast-acting, temporary energy booster. You can also feel withdrawal symptoms if you miss coffee in the morning once your body is accustomed to a daily dose.

Another concern with caffeine is the extra sugar and calories that often come with it in energy drinks and sugary coffee beverages. Check the other ingredients in your caffeine sources to make sure they won’t drag you down with extra sugar.

matcha tea

7. Ginseng

Ginseng is well known as a nootropic supplement with brain-boosting properties. It has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years for many reasons, but most often for a mental energy boost.

In addition to a mental energy boost, ginseng can be a natural treatment for anxiety and depression.11 People who suffer from depression can struggle with feeling very lethargic and unable to complete tasks or even get out of bed. For those struggling with symptoms of depression as well as being in need of an extra boost of mental energy,  can be instrumental in fighting fatigue.

Newer research is showing potential ways that ginseng might actually protect the brain and help with prevention of neurodegeneration.11 In short, ginseng could be the mental boost you need to feel energized and ready to conquer the day.

8. Creatine

Creatine is a common ingredient in workout supplements due to its ability to help increase your energy for improvements in endurance and strength.12 It’s effective for a wide range of energy needs – high intensity interval training, weight lifting, and even endurance sports like running or swimming.12

Creatine has been well researched and proven effective in boosting energy levels with sufficient muscle stores – making daily supplementation common.12 Since many of the dietary sources of creatine are animal based, vegetarians and vegans in particular can find help decreasing fatigue with a creatine supplement.12

9. Green Tea

Green tea is another common supplement for fighting fatigue. It has been used daily for years in many cultures around the world and, like caffeine, acts as a quick stimulant. Although green tea leaves have several components, most research is related to its effects coming from the amino acid l-theanine.

L-theanine has shown improvements in brain function, overall metabolism, and high anti-oxidant effects.13 While L-theanine is shown to play a major role in the energy boost from green tea, using green tea leaves or matcha powder (a concentrated powdered form) in beverages or other foods may have even more benefits from the combination of all of the bioactive components.

10. CoQ10

CoQ10, short for coenzyme Q10, is a crucial factor in cellular energy production and a powerful antioxidant.14 It’s found in all of our cells, but in higher concentrations in our brains, heart, and kidneys. CoQ10 is made by our bodies but decreases as we age which may lead to a need for supplementation.

Inadequate amounts of CoQ10 limits the cells’ ability to divide and perform their functions, which can lead to fatigue in the long term. A deficiency has been shown to be linked to some chronic diseases, but there are no safety concerns with daily supplementation.14 Generally, CoQ10 is one supplement that’s more useful as you age to help us feeling great and performing at our best.

 

Take home message

These 10 supplements for tiredness can help boost your daily energy levels and fight fatigue in different ways. Based on your age, diet, and exercise habits some may be more effective for you than others.

Caffeine and green tea are easy to find in any coffee shop, while iron, vitamin B12 and folate come in many food sources and most multivitamins. Creatine is common in pre-workout supplements or on its own.

Consider all of the potential ways these powerful supplements can help you meet your goals of greater energy and less fatigue.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


1. Romain, M., Sviri, S., Linton, D. M., Stav, I., & Van Heerden, P. V. (2016). The role of Vitamin B12 in the critically ill—a review. Anaesthesia and intensive care44(4), 447-452.

2. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2011, June 24). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12.

3. World Health Organization. (2008). Worldwide prevalence of anaemia 1993-2005: WHO global database on anaemia.

4. Johnson-Wimbley, T. D., & Graham, D. Y. (2011). Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anemia in the 21st century. Therapeutic advances in Gastroenterology4(3), 177-184.

5. Rondanelli, M., Miccono, A., Lamburghini, S., Avanzato, I., Riva, A., Allegrini, P., … & Perna, S. (2018). Self-care for common colds: the pivotal role of vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and Echinacea in three main immune interactive clusters (physical barriers, innate and adaptive immunity) involved during an episode of common colds—Practical advice on dosages and on the time to take these nutrients/botanicals in order to prevent or treat common colds. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2018.

6. Kaminski, M., & Boal, R. (1992). An effect of ascorbic acid on delayed-onset muscle soreness. Pain50(3), 317-321.

7. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2018, December 7). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-Consumer/

8. Nielsen, F. H., & Lukaski, H. C. (2006). Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. Magnesium research, 19(3), 180-189.

9. Huskisson, E., Maggini, S., & Ruf, M. (2007). The role of vitamins and minerals in energy metabolism and well-being. Journal of international medical research35(3), 277-289.

10. Fredholm, B. B., Bättig, K., Holmén, J., Nehlig, A., & Zvartau, E. E. (1999). Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacological reviews51(1), 83-133.

11. Reyes, C., & Cornelis, M. (2018). Caffeine in the diet: Country-level consumption and guidelines. Nutrients10(11), 1772.

12. Ong, W. Y., Farooqui, T., Koh, H. L., Farooqui, A. A., & Ling, E. A. (2015). Protective effects of ginseng on neurological disorders. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 7, 129.

13. Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., … & Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition14(1), 18

14. Williams, J., Sergi, D., McKune, A. J., Georgousopoulou, E. N., Mellor, D. D., & Naumovski, N. (2019). The beneficial health effects of green tea amino acid l‐theanine in animal models: Promises and prospects for human trials. Phytotherapy Research33(3), 571-583.

15. Lee, S. Q. E., Tan, T. S., Kawamukai, M., & Chen, E. S. (2017). Cellular factories for coenzyme Q 10 production. Microbial cell factories, 16(1), 39.

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Claire Muszalski

Claire Muszalski

Registered Dietitian

Claire is a Registered Dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach through the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.

Talking and writing about food and fitness is at the heart of Claire’s ethos as she loves to use her experience to help others meet their health and wellness goals.

Claire is also a certified indoor cycling instructor and loves the mental and physical boost she gets from regular runs and yoga classes. When she’s not keeping fit herself, she’s cheering on her hometown’s sports teams in Pittsburgh, or cooking for her family in the kitchen.

Find out more about Claire’s experience here.


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