Nutrition

Always Tired? Best 5 Supplements To Beat Extreme Fatigue

Lots of us have the greatest of intentions, but let’s face it, keeping up with a regular exercise plan is hard. So, how do you keep your eyes open as fatigue sets in and you’re a cosy chair away from an early night’s kip at 8pm?

Beat extreme tiredness and get a much needed energy-boost with these highly beneficial supplements…


1. Vitamin B12

If you search for “how to prevent fatigue” in a textbook or on the internet, vitamin B12 will generally be the number one result. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which has an effect predominantly on the actions and functions of the brain and nervous system.


vitamins minerals fish oils - the best time to take them


One study examined the benefit of vitamin B12 injections over 2,000 people. They didn’t find a positive effect until they increased the dosage to 2500-5000mg every 2-3 days. However, once they increased the dosage, they found that between 50-80% of people found an increase in energy and stamina with 2-3 weeks (2-3). The use of this vitamin to reduce pain has also been examined in people with back pain (4), nerve pain (5) and even cancer (6).

Supplement choice: Myprotein Vitamin B12, Vitamin B Super Complex, Thermopure


2. Vitamin C

This is another vitamin supplement that’s commonly taken by a large number of individuals. It has lost its proper chemical name, which is L-ascorbic acid (or ascorbate). Vitamin C is involved with a large number of reactions, particularly with wound healing and as an antioxidant.

Vitamin C has also been somewhat effective in reducing the duration of symptoms when you get a common cold (7-8).


Vitamin C


It has also been found that vitamin C supplementation of 1-3g daily improves the efficiency of the immune system to counteract bacteria and viruses that we come into contact with (9).

Other benefits from consuming more vitamin C have been found to be reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness following strenuous exercise (10), and a reduction in pain comparable to that seen previously with vitamin B12 (11).

Supplement choice: Myprotein Vitamin C Powder, Acai Berry & Vitamin C Capsules, & Chewable Vitamin C Tablets


TOP TIP

If you feel your fatigue is a cold brewing or if you’ve been exposed to an environment with lots of germs (a long-haul flight, for example), then a boost of high dose vitamin C may be just the thing to re-gain your energy.


3. Magnesium

Let’s focus on a specific mineral which may assist our fight against fatigue. Magnesium is a mineral which assists with crucial functions of blood pressure and the cardiovascular system.

The release of stress hormones as a result of a hectic and demanding life can promote a state of magnesium deficiency in our body’s tissues (12). It has been found that up to 15% of western populations have do not get enough magnesium in their diet (13).


female sprinting


In a study examining the benefits of magnesium supplementation in those diagnosed with chronic fatigue, it was shown that 50% of the patient group were magnesium deficient (14). Intramuscular magnesium injections of 100mg weekly for 6 weeks showed an improvement in symptoms in 80% of individuals. Only 17% of a parallel group improved with a placebo injection (15).

Supplement choice: Myprotein ZMA, Magnesium Citrate, Calcium & Magnesium Tablets


TOP TIP

If your daily schedule finds you stressed and anxious and this coincides with bouts of extreme tiredness, you may want to consider a magnesium supplement. Keep the dose per day approximately 200-600g. If you do not benefit over the course of 1 month, then you may not be magnesium deficient.


4. Folic Acid

Also known as vitamin B9 or folate, this substance is a synthetically produced compound which can be taken in tablet form. The human body needs folate in order to allow specific biological reactions to sustain an effectively working brain.



Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to symptoms of:

  • Confusion;
  • Depression;
  • Immune system insufficiency;
  • Other signs of reduced brain function (1).

The warning signs can be general mental fatigue with loss of memory, confusion and poor reaction speed.

Tired all the time? In a study of individuals demonstrating signs of fatigue, it was found that a high dose of 10000mg of folate daily causes a reduction in symptoms.

Supplement choice: Myprotein Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin B Super Complex


TOP TIP

If you have a fuzzy head when you’re suffering from extreme fatigue and this has been a long term issue, think about a high dose of daily folic acid to clear your mind.


5. Caffeine

Caffeine is a powerful stimulant of the nervous system which is readily absorbed by the body, and easily crosses the brain barrier to act on various parts of the brain (17). It also alters heart rate, respiratory rate and metabolic rate (16).

The caffeine compound is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, carbonated drinks and confectionary, in addition to being the most prominent energy-boosting ingredient in most pre-workout supplements.


coffee


Caffeine seems to improve a number of physical and mental functions by giving a temporary boost in energy. The improvements noted from consumption of a caffeine supplement include:

  • Working as an endurance aid (18);
  • Greater speed of reaction time (19);
  • Increased mental alertness to reduce fatigue (20).

Supplement choice: Myprotein Caffeine powder, Caffeine Pro, Mega Green Tea Extract, Guarana Extract


TOP TIP

If you need a quick fix in fighting fatigue, use of caffeine 60 minutes prior to exercise can be helpful (21).  If your fatigue is more deeply rooted than simply not having enough energy to get to the gym, caffeine will only act as a temporary fix.


Take home message

The key thing to consider when attempting to use supplements to manage fatigue is to identify why you are likely to have these symptoms. What is making you so tired?


The products in this article should not be used as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet. Remember to talk to your doctor to determine if a vitamin/mineral supplement is right for you.


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. Weinstein SJ, Hartman TJ, Stolzenberg-Solomon R et al. (2003). Null association between prostate cancer and serum folate, vitamin B(6), vitamin B(12), and homocysteine. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 12, 11, 1271–2.

2. Lapp CW, Cheney PR. (1993). The rationale for using high-dose cobalamin (Vitamin B12). The CFIDS Chronicle Physicians’ Forum, 19-20.

3. Lapp CW. (1991). Q: Given the complexities and diversity of symptoms of CFIDS, how do you approach the treatment of CFIDS patients? The CFIDS Chronicle Physicians’ Forum, 1, 1.

4. Hieber H. (1974). Treatment of vertebragenous pain and sensitivity disorders using high doses of hydroxocobalamin. Med Monatsschr, 28, 545-548.

5. Dettori AG, Ponari O. (1973). Antalgic effect of cobamamide in the course of peripheral neuropathies of different etiopathogenesis. Minerva Med, 64, 1077-1082.

6. Hanck A, Weiser H. (1985). Analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamins. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl, 27, 189-206.

7. Douglas RM, Hemilä H, Chalker E, Treacy B (2007). Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 3.

8. Hemilä H, Chalker E (2013). Update: Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1.

9. Kaminski M, Boal R. (1992). An effect of ascorbic acid on delayed-onset muscle soreness. Pain, 50, 317-321

10. Creagan ET, Moertel CG, O’Fallon JR, et al. (1979). Failure of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy to benefit patients with advanced cancer. N Engl J Med, 301, 687-690.

11. Takase B, Akima T, Uehata A, Ohsuzu F, Kurita A. (2004). Effect of chronic stress and sleep deprivation on both flow-mediated dilation in the brachial artery and the intracellular magnesium level in humans. Clin Cardiol, 27, 4, 223-7.

12. Ayuk J., Gittoes N.J. (2014). Contemporary view of the clinical relevance of magnesium homeostasis” Ann. Clin. Biochem, 51, 2, 179–88.

13. Howard JM, Davies S, Hunnisett A. (1992). Magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Letter. Lancet, 340, 426.

14. Cox IM, Campbell MJ, Dowson D. (1991). Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet, 337, 757-760.

15. Clague JE, Edwards RH, Jackson MJ. (1992). Intravenous magnesium loading in chronic fatigue syndrome. Letter. Lancet, 340, 124-125.

16. Robertson, D., Wade, D., Workman, R., Woosley, R.L., and Oats, J.A. (1981). Tolerance to the humoral and hemodynamic effects of caffeine in man. J Clinic Invest, 67, 1111-1117.

17. Spriet, LL. (2002). Caffeine. In: Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sport and Exercise. M. S. Bahrke and C. E. Yesalis, eds. New York: Human Kinetics. pp. 267–278.

18. Smith A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behaviour. Food Chem Toxicol. 40, 1243–1255.

19. Kennedy MD, Galloway AV, Dickau LJ, Hudson MK. (2008). The cumulative effect of coffee and a mental stress task on heart rate, blood pressure, and mental alertness is similar in caffeine-naïve and caffeine-habituated females. Nutr Res, 28. 9. 609-14.

20. Ganio MS, Klau JF, Casa DJ, Armstrong LE, Maresh CM. (2009). Effect of caffeine on sport-specific endurance performance: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res, 23, 1, 315-24.

21. Krotkiewski M, Gudmundsson M, Backstrom P, Mandroukas K. (1982). Zinc and muscle strength and endurance. Acta Physiol Scand, 116, 309-311.

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.

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Jennifer Blow

Jennifer Blow

Editor & Qualified Nutritionist

Jennifer Blow is our editor and UKVRN Registered Associate Nutritionist – the UK’s register of competent and qualified nutrition professionals. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutritional Science and a Master’s of Science by Research in Nutrition, and now specialises in the use of sports supplements for health and fitness, underpinned by evidence-based research. Jennifer has been quoted or mentioned as a nutritionist in major online publications including Vogue, Elle, and Grazia, for her expertise in nutritional science for exercise and healthy living. Her experience spans from working with the NHS on dietary intervention trials, to specific scientific research into omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and also the effect of fast foods on health, which she has presented at the annual Nutrition Society Conference. Jennifer is involved in many continuing professional development events to ensure her practise remains at the highest level. Find out more about Jennifer’s experience here: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-blow. In her spare time, Jennifer loves hill walking and cycling, and in her posts you’ll see that she loves proving healthy eating doesn’t mean a lifetime of hunger.


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