Health

Always Tired? These 9 Vitamins Will Give You All-Day Energy

Short circuit fatigue with these critical nutrients.

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You’ve got a packed social and family schedule, a demanding job, and endless responsibilities. So yeah, you’re busy. But that might not be the reason you’re constantly tired and have no energy.

“Fatigue manifests for many reasons,” says Brittany Michels, MS, RDN, LDN, CPT, registered dietitian with The Vitamin Shoppe. One of the biggest: nutritional deficiencies.

“Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits, veggies, and whole grains each day,” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist in Miami, Florida. 

If you’re among them, you could easily fall short on key nutrients important for energy metabolism.

Improving your diet and/or taking the right vitamins can resolve shortcomings and lift your energy, says Michels.

Here are 9 of the best vitamins for tiredness and fatigue—and how to make sure you’re getting enough of each.

The Best Vitamins for Energy and Fatigue

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D has earned its supernutrient moniker for a reason: the nutrient can do everything from charge your immune system to strengthen your skeleton and may play a role in boosting testosterone levels.

On the flip side, not getting enough may leave you fatigued. And there’s a good chance you’re falling short, considering about 35% of adults are vitamin D deficient (1).

“Insufficient vitamin D may lead to fatigue.” says Michels. Here’s why: “Vitamin D acts like a hormone, impacting the endocrine glands, influencing hormonal balance and supporting neurotransmitter production,” says Michels. If these systems are functioning properly, your energy levels can plummet.

One study with subjects deficient in vitamin D found that supplementing with vitamin D, significantly decreased fatigue compared to the placebo group (2).

Your goal: 600 IU (15 mcg) daily.

Best food sources: Seafood including salmon, halibut, rockfish, and sole. Egg yolks, cheese, and products fortified with vitamin D like some cereals, orange juice, and dairy are also good sources.

Vegetarians can get vitamin D from mushrooms if they have been exposed to sunlight or UV light—check the label to see if they have been subjected to UV light.

What to look for in a supplement: Choose an option that uses Vitamin D3, which most studies have found is more effective at raising and maintaining blood levels of vitamin D than D2.

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3

B Vitamins

There are 8 B vitamins. B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin).

Like vitamin D, B vitamins don’t provide energy on their own. “However,” says Michels, “You still need to consume them daily to support energy metabolism. B vitamins act as co-enzymes in metabolic processes, helping convert food energy to a form of energy the body can use,” says Michels.

Stress, inflammation, and unhealthy eating patterns can deplete your levels.

And since your body can’t produce B vitamins you need to get them from your diet or via supplements, says Michels.

Your goal:
B1 (thiamine): 1.2 mg
B2 (riboflavin): 1.3 mg
B3 (niacin): 16 mg
B5 (pantothenic acid): 5 mg
B6 (pyridoxine): 1.3 mg – 1.7mg
B7 (biotin): 30 mcg
B9 (folic acid): 400 mcg
B12 (cobalamin): 2.4 mcg

Best food sources: Animal products, leafy greens, sunflower seeds, legumes such as black beans, and whole grains.

What to look for in a supplement: “Choose a B complex supplement that provides active–or ‘body ready’ coenzyme forms–to support more efficient utilization,” says Michels. “Choose B12 (methylcobalamin), B6 (P5P), or folate (methyltetrahydrofolate).”

V Thrive The Vitamin Shoppe Bioactive B-Complex

B12

Iron

Not getting enough iron can leave you too weak to pump it.

“If your body doesn’t have enough iron to make hemoglobin (the protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body), you likely will feel fatigued,” says Ehsani. “Having low iron, your cells can’t carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.”

Vegans and vegetarians who do not eat meat, poultry or seafood are all more susceptible to iron deficiency. If you don’t eat meat, it’s critical to get plant-based iron sources, such as beans and lentils, into your diet.

Pro tip: “Always pair your high iron food choice with a source of vitamin C for better absorption, so if you’re having steak, pair it with tomato slices,” adds Ehsani.

Your goal: 8 mg/day

Best food sources: Beef, chicken, eggs, shellfish, and in plant sources like cream of wheat, fortified cereals, black beans, lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and molasses.

What to look for in a supplement: “Synthetic iron is well-known for causing constipation. Look for a plant-based iron supplement if you suffer from constipation or have had digestive slowness with previous iron supplementation efforts,” says Michels.

Nature Made Iron 65 mg

B12

“B12 is one of the most recognized B vitamins for energy support,” says Michels. “This is because vitamin B12 is involved in the production of red blood cells (think oxygen to the body) and deficiency may cause megaloblastic anemia, which presents with symptoms of fatigue and depression.”

She adds, “B12 is also needed to synthesize several happy and mood hormones, which certainly influence our mental energy, cognition and mood.”

Studies are crystal clear that if you have a B12 deficiency, it can cause fatigue. Seriously. If you lack the nutrient you can feel so wiped out that you may feel like you’re dying.

“While all eight B vitamins play unique roles in energy metabolism, B12 supports carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism by helping the body convert food into energy,” says Michels.

This energy is in the form of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which helps store and transfer energy into your body’s cells.

Your goal: 2.4 mcg per day

Best food sources: Beef, chicken, seafood, eggs, and milk–as well as fortified nutritional yeast.

What to look for in a supplement: “Methylcobalamin is the active- or ‘body ready’ form of B12 that supports more efficient utilization,” says Michels.

Vitamin B12 injections are also an option. Since they bypass the gut, they can be great for people with absorption issues.

Nature Made B12 1000 mcg

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen—a plant in herbal medicine that is considered to help your body cope with stress—that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to increase energy (3).

“Ashwagandha helps to counteract the negative effects of stress on hormones,” says Michels. “If unmanaged stress is the reason for your fatigue, then ashwagandha may be a supportive addition.”

One study published in 2019 on ashwagandha found that those who took 250 mg of the herb daily over an 8-week period reported reduced stress, and lower cortisol levels were measured, as well as improved sleep quality, compared to the placebo group (4).

Your goal: “Most ashwagandha supplement options provide between 300-800 mg/serving, with directions to take up to 2 times per day,” says Michels.

What to look for in a supplement: “Confirm that the ashwagandha supplement you’re interested in buying is standardized for the active, called Withanolides or uses the patented, concentrated extract called KSM-66,” says Michels. “The standardization process ensures that a specific level of the active is indeed in the product you’re buying.”

Cordyceps

Like ashwagandha, cordyceps is another adaptogen. Some studies suggest cordyceps may improve energy by increasing ATP (1).

“Cordyceps are a type of mushroom full of antioxidants, vitamins and enzymes,” says Michels. “They boost the body’s ability to make energy and are a good option if you have unmanaged stress or if you train intensely.”

Your goal: “Most cordyceps supplement options provide between 500-1000 mg/serving, depending on source, with some directing to take 1-3 times per day,” says Michels.

What to look for in a supplement:
There are different types of Cordyceps- cordyceps militaris and cordyceps sinensis. “Choosing which type to supplement depends on your goals,” says Michels.

Cordyceps militaris may improve tolerance for high intensity exercise, by helping to lengthen the time to exhaustion and increase breathing capacity during high-intensity exercise. Studies with cordyceps sinensis have suggested it may help boost physical endurance and strengthen the response of your immune system (56).

“Some research has shown that cordyceps sinensis may have higher levels of adenosine, which is linked to energy metabolism,” says Michels.

The Vitamine Shoppe Cordyceps Mushroom Supplement

ENDLESS ENERGY

Magnesium

“Magnesium is a mineral and an electrolyte needed for energy production,” says Ehsani. “When you are low in magnesium you may experience fatigue and muscle spasms.”

Adds Michels, “Magnesium is needed in over 350 processes in the body. Deficiency negatively influences efficiency of these processes, so it has a big impact on energy.”

If you sweat a lot you need to replace it through food or supplementation.

Your goal: 400-420 mg/day

Best food sources: Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, whole grains like oatmeal, shredded wheat, legumes, and also in nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds and almonds

What to look for in a supplement: There are different magnesium compounds. A good pick is magnesium glycinate. Some studies (7) have found that magnesium may help improve symptoms of insomnia to let you sleep (and more sleep equals more energy).

Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate

CoQ10

CoQ10, which stands for coenzyme Q10, is a fat-soluble antioxidant made naturally by the body and is used by the mitochondria in your cells to help make energy in the form of ATP, and protect cells from oxidative damage.

“CoQ10 production and levels naturally decline as we age and some medical conditions, as well as certain medications, like statins, have also been found to deplete CoQ10 levels,” explains Michels.

“The more CoQ10 is used as an antioxidant to counteract oxidative stress caused by certain medical conditions, medications, and aging, the less it can be used by the mitochondria to produce energy.”

If your CoQ10 levels decline, it may leave you fatigued.

Your goal: 30-100 mg

Best food sources: Fatty fish, organ meat, eggs, poultry, and nuts (although the amount found in dietary sources isn’t usually enough to significantly up your levels so supplements may be a better bet). And don’t fry your pork chops; in one study, researchers estimated that frying foods destroyed up to 32% of the CoQ10 (8).

What to look for in a supplement: “The active form of CoQ10, known as ubiquinol, is more readily absorbed and utilized by the body than the inactive form Ubiquinone,” says Michels. “As we age, we have a harder time absorbing, converting inactive ubiquinone to active ubiquinol, and utilizing so choosing the active form is best.”

NATURE MADE CoQ10 200mg

Zinc

Don’t just use it in an attempt to help shorten the duration and severity of colds. Zinc may also be critical for staying on top of your energy game.

“Zinc plays a role in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body, such as protein and DNA synthesis proper and wound healing,” says Ehsani. “Low zinc status can impair immune function, which can lead to sickness and cause fatigue. In a small study, researchers found that supplementing with zinc significantly reduced feelings of fatigue and serum zinc levels,” she adds.

Your goal: 11 mg/day

Best food sources: Oysters, red meat, poultry, crab, lobster, wheat germ, zinc-fortified cereals, beans, nuts like almonds, whole grains like oats, and dairy.

What to look for in a supplement: “Most supplements have between 15-30 mg per day,” says Ehsani. “Look for one that is third-party tested for purity and potency. Or look for the USP seal, which stands for United States Pharmacopeia, that makes sure the supplement is safe.”

THORNE RESEARCH Zinc Picolinate 30mg

References