- Taking vitamins isn’t a straight source of energy but some may be able to help you feel less fatigued.
- Supplements like B vitamins or vitamin D can be especially useful for those who might be deficient.
- Though vitamins may be able to help, they aren’t a better option than a proper diet and adequate sleep.
With roughly 60% of Americans feeling more tired now than ever before, it’s logical to reach for something that might give a much-needed boost of energy. Some people may prefer coffee, others a cup of tea, while certain folks may take a different approach by supplementing with vitamins.
But with so many different vitamin options on the market, it can be overwhelming to find one that perfectly suits your needs. And since vitamins and supplements aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it’s not always easy to sift through what’s available to find a true quality option.
For help narrowing down what’s best, I spoke to a group of dietitians and wellness counselors who shared insight about which vitamins are good sources of energy, what the side effects might be, and what to avoid when shopping.
Are vitamins a good source of energy?
There’s no contest between getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep every night and a vitamin when it comes to energy production. In short, a magic energy pill or supplement doesn’t exist. But for those looking for caffeine alternatives, vitamins may be a viable option.
Lauren Sepe, MS and nutrition counselor at Kellman Wellness Center, says vitamins themselves aren’t a straight source of energy but that they are “crucial for our bodies to function properly and for optimal health.”
Sepe also cautions vitamin consumers about reading the full label of any supplement, as most energy supplements that include vitamins for boosting energy, namely B vitamins, often contain other substances like caffeine, sugar, or other additives.
What are the best vitamins or supplements for energy?
Wellness coach, Emmie Keefe, has specific go-to recommendations for her clients who are complaining about tiredness and fatigue.
“Many Americans are deficient in vitamin B12, which plays a big role in having adequate energy,” she says, adding that vitamins C and D are also important for energy. “While these don’t directly provide you with energy, a deficiency is going to make you feel lethargic. Getting some sunshine can provide vitamin D while eating fruits gives you vitamin C.”
Concerning vitamin B12, it’s most often found in animal proteins, meaning that anyone who is vegan or abides by a strict vegetarian diet, may have a higher risk of being deficient.
Sepe adds that people in colder climates are more prone to Vitamin D deficiency and that there are limited food sources for Vitamin D, so supplementation is often recommended. This is especially true for those who don’t spend much time outdoors.
“Vitamin D is commonly associated with bone health and immune function,” Sepe says. “And some studies also show that a deficiency in Vitamin D can result in weakness and fatigue.”
Additional supplements have been found to help with energy levels aside from the traditional vitamins, according to registered dietitian, Kylene Bogden, who also works for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Glutathione is a naturally produced substance in the liver that some take in capsules or other forms for various conditions, though researchers are still investigating how useful it is.
Matcha is a strong green tea powder containing caffeine, sometimes even more than coffee, so if you’re avoiding that, this may not be your best choice. It does, however, boast high levels of antioxidants.
Are there side effects to taking vitamins for energy?
Experimenting with various vitamins can seem intimidating because you may not be sure of their side effects, and those who take medication need to watch out for interactions. Registered dietitian, Lisa Moskovitz, says it’s a must to talk to your doctor first.
“At best, you could be wasting money on supplements that might not be doing much for your body,” Moskovitz says. “At worst, it can be toxic to take many different supplements as there is a threshold for how many vitamins and minerals your body can handle at once.”
Though it’s often safe to take vitamins daily, your doctor may recommend a different schedule based on your specific needs or whatever medication you may be taking. You should also never exceed the amount noted on the manufacturer’s label, especially without consulting your physician first.
“Typically, something like a multivitamin is safe to take every day and can be just enough to promote a steady stream of energy without overloading your system,” Moskovitz says. “Be careful with supplements that tout energy-boosting claims as they often contain caffeine or other powerful stimulants that can disrupt mood, digestion, sleep, and even your heart health.
Keefe adds that you don’t have to only look to vitamins for a source of daily energy. “I highly recommend eating a whole food, plant-based diet to hit all your vitamin needs as opposed to relying on one from a bottle,” she says.
What to look out for when shopping
Some people might have a difficult time swallowing capsules, which can be a barrier to getting some vitamins. Instead, opt for powders you can add to water, liquid vitamins, or other alternative forms.
Keefe says to be aware of gummy or candy vitamins as they often contain extra unnecessary sugar or sugar alcohol and aren’t considered a quality alternative.
Although it may seem enticing to take a supplement to boost your energy, vitamins aren’t an easy, straightforward fix. This is especially true for people experiencing sleep deficits, chronic fatigue, or other energy issues — which should be addressed with a doctor.
However, some of those issues may also be linked to vitamin deficiency, which can cause your body to be overly fatigued. In some cases, increasing levels of Vitamins B12, C, and D via a vitamin or supplement may be helpful. Be aware, though, that some energy-boosting products often contain caffeine or sugar.
While vitamins may be an option for some, there are better ways to combat fatigue than via a supplement. Our experts recommend better sleep habits and improved nutrition as a more beneficial change than simply relying on vitamins.