You’re looking for the best energy supplements, so you probably fall into one of three camps:
- You are chronically fatigued from stress or lack of sleep and you need help
- You want to enhance your mental performance for work, sports, or school
- You are a high-level athlete who needs to stay focused during intense training periods
We dedicate and awful lot of time to cognitive enhancement; we review supplements that sharpen focus, improve memory function, and enhance learning. But we spend very little time talking about energy.
This is a huge mistake. Energy has an enormous effect on your physical and mental performance. Increasing your energy levels will often have as much of an impact on your cognition as the most powerful nootropics.
In this article, we’ll look at how you can naturally boost energy levels in a safe and sustainable way. We will look at the most effective natural substances to consume for higher energy levels, and we’ll give you some tips for reducing fatigue on a day-to-day basis. At the end, we will highlight the best energy supplements currently on the market.
The effects of low energy levels
We all know what it feels like to be fatigued, whether it’s from a lack of sleep, stress, or a lack of food.
However, few people understand just how much of an effect fatigue has on your physical and mental performance. Even fewer people appreciate just how much low energy levels can affect your work.
When your energy levels are low, your performance suffers in a number of ways. You will experience:
- Loss of focus
- Poor working memory function
- Slow reaction times
- Decreased motivation
- Low mood
- Inhibited verbal fluency
- Poor decision making
- Reduced creativity
People often overlook the severity of the side effects you experience when you are seriously fatigued.
Then there are the more physical side effects of being low on energy:
- Significantly reduced stamina
- Reduced strength
- Less ability to recover from exercise
Failing to properly manage your energy levels clearly has a disastrous effect on your cognitive function and your physical performance.
This is an especially pressing problem these days. It is pretty much accepted that the current working age population is more stressed out and over-worked than previous generations. We get less sleep, do more work, and spend less time relaxing than our parents, or their parents, or their parents…
So whether you’re trying to build a business, gain an edge in the gym, or just get by on 6 hours sleep a night, you could definitely benefit from improving your energy levels, whether it’s from simple lifestyle changes or by using a good quality energy supplement.
Choosing your energy supplements
There are three ways to approach energy boosters. You can either use:
- Synthetic energy pills and powerful stimulants
- Individual herbs and vitamins for energy
- Energy supplements that combine multiple natural energy boosters in a single stack
Of these, we think the last option is by far the best.
If you want to really make a big difference to your mental and physical performance, then you need to take a holistic, multifaceted approach to energy.
Low energy levels do not always have a single cause.
Likewise, there is often no one single fix for low energy – you need to tackle low energy on multiple fronts.
You also want to avoid synthetic energy boosters or harmful stimulants. Although these energy supplements give you a short-term kick, they usually cause side effects, can be harmful in the long-term, and sometimes cause dependency.
That’s why pre-made natural energy supplements are the best option for people looking to improve focus, increase mental stamina, and combat fatigue. The best energy supplements will provide a balanced blend of minerals, herbal extracts, natural stimulants and vitamins that have been scientifically-proven to increase energy levels. Top quality energy boosters will be safe and free of side effects too.
The most effective natural energy boosters
We will now list some of the most effective herbs, minerals, and vitamins for energy.
Obviously, everyone is different. The exact reasons why you are so fatigued might be different than the next person. But there are some very common reasons why people are fatigued, and some substances have been proven to work reliably well across populations and in large study groups.
We will therefore be focusing on natural supplements that – together – help with multiple common causes of low energy and fatigue, like lack of sleep, vitamin deficiencies, and so on.
As always, we ignore hype, “traditional use” claims and pseudo-science. We look at the hard scientific evidence backing up a substance to see if it really works as advertised.
Here are the best natural energy boosters that you might want to try if you’re struggling with fatigue, poor cognitive performance, or chronic stress:
- Rhoodiola rosea
Here are the best substances to use if you are struggling with poor sleeping patterns or insomnia:
Finally, here are the best vitamins for energy:
- Vitamin C
We will now go through the most important of these natural energy supplements and explain how they work.
Caffeine is the archetypal energy supplement. We are all familiar with what caffeine does; pretty much all of us have experienced a caffeine buzz at some point in our lives. Caffeine is extremely effective for increasing energy levels and improving both athletic and mental performance. Note that caffeine does not give your body more energy. Instead, it manipulates your brain chemistry to make you feel less tired. Caffeine also has nootropic properties; it improves focus, increases motivation, and increases mental stamina.
However, caffeine is not a perfect energy booster – it has its downsides. Caffeine is an extremely powerful stimulant, and with that, you always get side effects. Even relatively low doses of caffeine can cause notable side effects, including anxiety, irritability, energy crashes, jitters, dizziness, loss of focus, and more.
Theanine and caffeine work extremely well together. They actually have a synergistic relationship; theanine heightens caffeine’s positive effects while tempering its worst effects. By combining the two, you get the sharper focus and energy kick from caffeine but none of the jitters or anxiety. That is assuming you use them correctly – we recommend taking theanine and caffeine in a 2:1 ratio. So if you’re taking 60mg of caffeine, try to have 120mg of theanine at the same time.
Tyrosine is one of our favorite nootropics. It is also a fantastic supplement for increasing energy levels and enhancing cognitive function at the same time. We always recommend Tyrosine to people who are looking to optimize cognitive performance during times of peak stress or sleep deprivation.
Tyrosine is not one of the most widely-used nootropics today, yet it has some of the most comprehensive scientific backing. Clinical trials have shown that Tyrosine supplementation improves focus and memory function in people subjected to sleep deprivation, intense cold, and more. If you want to combat fatigue and optimize your performance in work or in the gym, Tyrosine can really help.
PQQ, also known as Pyrroloquinoline quinone or methoxatin, is a really interesting substance. It is a redox cofactor. Because it is a redox cofactor, some researchers have argued that it qualifies as a new B vitamin. While there has been resistance to these claims, it is clear that PQQ can directly affect energy levels and athletic performance.
So how does PQQ give you more energy? PQQ protects your mitochondria from oxidative stress, optimizes cellular energy production within the mitochondria. Your mitochondria are your body’s engines; they “produce” energy in your cells. By making your mitochondria more effective and protecting them from oxidative damage, PQQ promotes higher energy levels 24/7.
We’ve written about citicoline a lot on VAGA, and we think we’re right to do so. Citicoline is a phenomenal nootropic; it brings about a substantial and rapid increase in focus, concentration, and information processing. It also facilitates better mind-muscle connection, which makes it a fantastic pre-workout.
While citicoline is generally thought of as a nootropic, it makes for a phenomenal energy supplement. Citicoline can actually be considered a stimulant as it increases nervous activity in humans; specifically, it increases the flow of acetylcholine between neurons. Using about 250mg of high quality citicoline will give you sharper focus, more mental stamina, and faster information processing. Combined with the likes of caffeine, PQQ or Tyrosine, citicoline can be extremely effective for energy.
Ashwagandha is not usually listed as an energy supplement. Indeed, ashwagandha does not technically class as an energy booster…at least not directly. But we believe that ashwagandha is highly effective at promoting healthy energy levels when used correctly.
Ashwagandha reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol inhibits recovery, suppresses testosterone, promotes inflammation, and disrupts sleep. If you have a high-stress job, an intense training regime, or any problems with your sleep, then you are probably feeling constantly fatigued. Your testosterone levels will be low, and bodily inflammation high.
If that’s you, then supplementing with ashwagandha might make a huge difference to your physical and mental performance.
Like ashwagandha, magnesium is not a stimulant or energy booster as we normally think of them. But like ashwagandha, magnesium can significantly improve energy levels when used properly.
Magnesium is necessary for proper cardiovascular function, brain function, and hormone synthesis. Magnesium deficiencies cause issues with sleep and low testosterone. Supplementing with magnesium, as you might imagine, has been shown to increase free serum testosterone and improve sleep quality. If you can successfully increase testosterone levels and improve sleep quality, you will inevitably see a significant increase in energy levels throughout the day.
B12 is found in practically every energy supplement in the world for very good reason – it is absolutely vital for proper energy metabolism! B12 is needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system, the production of DNA, and the production of red blood cells. We therefore don’t need to tell you how B12 relates to energy; a poorly functioning nervous system and a lack of blood cells will definitely leave you fatigued!
B12 is in many foods – it is actually added to many foods like milk and cereal, and because of the way most cattle is raised nowadays, it is often fed to them as a supplement too! So while B12 deficiencies are rare, supplementing with extra B12 is an effective way to raise energy levels.
Consuming large doses of B12 will have you feeling refreshed and renewed in no time. Because of this, we would expect to see B12 in every energy supplement. The best energy supplements will contain reasonable doses of B12 in combination with other natural energy boosters.
B6 is another vital vitamin for energy metabolism. In fact, we would go as far as to say that B6 is he most important vitamin for energy production in the human body. B6 is necessary for the maintenance of nerve cells, red blood cells, and skin cells. If your nerve cells and red blood cells are not properly maintained, you will gradually start to feel fatigued and your cognitive performance will suffer.
Now, B6 deficiencies are extremely rare, so nobody really feels fatigued because of a lack of B6. It is found in plenty of commonplace foods. However, if you want to boost energy levels in the short-term and eliminate fatigue for an intense training session, B6 is great. This is possibly one of the best natural energy supplements for a short-term kick – ideal for athletes.
CoQ10 is a widely used energy supplement. It is extremely effective for reducing fatigue, increasing physical energy levels, and promoting recovery. CoQ10 plays a vital role in energy metabolism; it is responsible for shuttling electrons across mitochondrial membranes, which is how your cells ultimately release energy from food.
CoQ10 does more than facilitating energy metabolism and ATP production. Studies have found that CoQ10 also protects mitochondria from damage. CoQ10 also seems to stimulate the formation of new mitochondria too.
The evidence backing up the use of CoQ10 as an energy supplement is a lot flimsier than other substances on this list. However, it wouldn’t be on this list at all if he didn’t have some hard scientific backing. Several robust, peer-reviewed clinical trials have found that CoQ10 reliably and effectively promotes energy levels.
The best energy supplements
We will now take you through the best energy supplements currently on the market.
Over the years we have seen a lot of energy supplements come and go.
Hundreds of energy supplements have come onto the scene promising amazing results, but the vast majority end up disappearing when people figure out that they just don’t deliver.
We’ve seen lots of stacks which claim to naturally boost energy, but in reality they use dangerous synthetic stimulants to increase energy levels.
The best energy supplements deliver increased energy levels, and they do so without causing side effects, health issues, or dependency.
We apply a very strict method when judging supplements, including supplements for energy. For something to appear on our list of the best energy supplements, it needs to meet the following criteria:
- Ingredients are backed by hard, publicly available, peer-reviewed clinical trials
- None of the ingredients can be known to cause serious side effects or dependency
- Quality of the product must represent superb value for money – no fillers, no bogus substances, no low-grade ingredients
So, with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best supplements for energy on the market today. These supplements are all excellent for promoting energy and focus, and they all represent great value for money. They have individual strengths; take the time to read about them and see which is the right energy supplement for you.
#1 – Best supplement for energy and focus – Performance Lab Energy + Stim
If your goal is higher energy levels, improved focus, and better cognitive performance, then this is the stack for you.
Performance Lab Stim delivers a 50mg dose of natural caffeine combined with 100mg of Suntheanine. This results in a cleaner, sharper, longer caffeine buzz with fewer side effects.
The caffeine and theanine is supported by Tyrosine, which has been shown to improve cognitive performance in people with sleep deprivation. All this is capped off with a B vitamin complex to support energy metabolism and neurotransmitter production.
Performance Lab Energy works in a very different, but complimentary way, to Stim. It is designed to optimize and protect your cell mitochondria, enhance energy metabolism, and reduce oxidative stress. This is a daily, long-term energy supplement for people fighting chronic fatigue.
The benefits of using Performance Lab Energy and Stim together are extensive. They include:
- Enhanced mitochondria for lasting energy
- More efficient energy metabolism
- Rapid increase in mental and physical energy levels
- Reduced fatigue
- Heightened focus
- Enhanced cognitive function
Performance Lab have completely dominated the market with their brand new range of energy supplements. The company focuses exclusively on high quality, pure ingredients, and simple, easy stackable formulas. This “stackability” is a major selling point for people with very particular needs.
The combination of Performance Lab Energy and Stim is – in our opinion – an unbeatable stack for increasing energy levels, heightening focus, decreasing fatigue, and enhancing cognitive performance. The two supplements are purposefully designed to work together: Stim can serve as a ‘as and when’ energy booster while Energy can serve as a daily fatigue-fighter. Two fantastic energy supplements together make for one powerful stack.
Learn more about Performance Lab Stim.
Learn more about Performance Lab Energy.
#2 – Runner-up – Qualia Nootropic Energy
Qualia Nootropic Energy is a brand new energy supplement from Neurohacker Collective. It is designed to be an all-in-one, complete energy supplement. Qualia Nootropic Energy delivers nootropics for enhanced cognition, stimulants for higher energy levels, as well as a range of herbs and amino acids for reduced stress, greater focus, and reduced oxidative stress.
After reviewing the formula, we think this energy booster is definitely going increase energy levels. Qualia Nootropic Focus also looks capable of significantly improving focus, information processing, reaction times, and so on.
However, there are some big problems with this energy supplement. The main reason why it is not our top rated energy supplement is the price tag – Qualia Nootropic Focus is $99.00 per month. The first bottle is $59.50, but that price is conditional on you signing up for a subscription. Despite its many strengths, this energy stack is not worth $100 a month!
There is also a bit too much caffeine in the formula for our liking. The 90mg of caffeine you get in this energy booster is more than you get form a single espresso. We much prefer Performance Lab’s setup, where you can take Stim on top of the Energy stack as and when you need a boost.
At the end of the day though, this is still a great energy supplement. It is listed as one of the best energy supplements for some very good reasons:
- Provides a good dose of Caffeine
- Delivers lots of Tyrosine
- Big dose of Alpha-GPC for cognition
But it is not the best energy booster for a few very important reasons:
- No B vitamins
- Caffeine should not be used every day
- Many users wont want Alpha-GPC every day
Neurohacker Collective is one of the leading brands in the nootropics industry. These guys burst onto the scene with Qualia, which was a single nootropic stack. They have since launched individual nootropics with more precise functions – Qualia Mind and Qualia Focus. These are good quality supplements for sure; Qualia Mind is effective for enhancing short-term cognitive performance, while Qualia Focus looks like it will support brain health and functionality over the long term.
However, Neurohacker Collective do have a major problem with pricing – all of their products are super expensive! Qualia Nootropic Focus is exactly the same. In our opinion, $99 a month is just too much. Compared to Performance Lab Stim ($35) and Performance Lab Energy ($50), it just doesn’t make sense!
How safe are energy pills?
Generally speaking, energy pills are some of the least safe supplements on the market. There are a lot of dangerous energy pills out there; supplements which contain harmful synthetic stimulants, addictive substances, and untested adrenaline-boosters.
At the same time, there are plenty of energy pills out there that are extremely safe. The best energy supplements on the market today are typically very safe for repeated, regular use. Top-tier energy boosters will use sensible doses of ingredients that have been thoroughly tested in clinical conditions.
The best way to stay safe while using energy pills is to do your research carefully. Assess your caffeine tolerance and calculate your existing intake as accurately as you can. Think carefully about whether or not you really need any extra caffeine.
We believe that you can often get better results if you try to fix the deeper issues with your lack of energy – what is really causing your fatigue? Often, just taking more caffeine masks a deeper problem (e.g. lack of sleep, chronic stress, mitochondrial issues, vitamin deficiencies).
That’s why we think it’s important to take a holistic approach to increasing your energy levels.
A holistic approach to boosting energy
If you want to naturally increase your energy levels, then we think you should always take a holistic approach. That means trying to fix all of the issues that might be causing low energy levels. It means boosting energy via multiple pathways at the same time.
It’s no good trying to boost energy by taking ever-larger amounts of caffeine.
We have always seen better results when combining multiple substances that treat fatigue and low energy in different ways.
That’s why the best energy supplement will include a sensible dose of caffeine, along with substances known to enhance energy metabolism, reduce stress, support mitochondria function, and more.
How to use energy supplements
So what is the best way to use energy pills?
Should you take them at the same time every day, or should you take a larger dose right when you need them?
The answer is neither, or both.
A daily energy supplement is great, but they have drawbacks. Caffeine is not safe for everyday use – it can lead to intolerance and dependency, not to mention heart issues further down the line. Using a daily stack will also support baseline energy levels, but you wont get the kind of kick we often need from an energy booster.
Powerful energy pills can definitely give you immediate increases in focus, drive and stamina. But they will not solve any of the deeper problems that cause chronic tiredness and fatigue.
So, the best way to take energy pills is to combine both of these strategies.
We think the ideal way to take energy supplements is to use a daily stack for enhancing cellular energy metabolism and fixing vitamin deficiencies, and then to supplement that with a potent caffeine/theanine stack during times of peak mental and physical demand.
That way you get the best of both worlds – constant energy support and a powerful energy boost when needed. You mitigate side effect risks while maximizing the effect that caffeine has on you (as you are using it sparingly).
What are the best herbs for energy?
The best herbs for energy are Ashwagandha (for sleep), Rhodiola rosea (for chronic stress), Korean ginseng (for vitality), and Ginkgo biloba (for cerebral blood flow). These are the herbs with the most solidly proven effects on fatigue, recovery, energy, sleep, and cognitive function.
Does B12 help with chronic fatigue?
B12 is very important for maintaining healthy energy levels on a day-to-day basis. However, B12 deficiencies are extremely rare (even in vegans). Our B12 stores take a long time to run low, and it’s very easy to stock back up (especially if you occasionally eat organ meats). As such, supplementing with B12 is unlikely to cure chronic fatigue.
You would be better off looking at other potential causes of chronic fatigue, like poor sleep quality, stress, low testosterone levels, and so on.
What vitamin helps with chronic fatigue?
Chronic fatigue can be caused by a number of vitamin deficiencies. Energy levels can also be temporarily boosted by taking certain vitamins. It is very difficult to learn which vitamin deficiencies are causing your chronic fatigue, so we recommend taking a basket of vitamins and minerals to try to fix the issue.
For chronic fatigue, we would recommend vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, along with iron, potassium, and magnesium. Together, these vitamins should increase energy levels. If you find you still have chronic fatigue after a couple of weeks on this regimen, then vitamin deficiencies are not the issue.
Which vitamin deficiencies cause chronic tiredness?
Lots of different vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause tiredness, low energy, and chronic fatigue. The human body is extraordinarily complex, and any issues can cause energy levels to drop.
Poor sleeping patterns can cause chronic fatigue. The most common deficiencies which disrupt sleep are B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and magnesium. These vitamins regulate tryptophan levels, which is how they influence sleep.
Low testosterone can also cause chronic tiredness in men. Low testosterone often results from deficiencies in zinc, boron, magnesium, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D.
Because so many vitamins and minerals can be responsible for chronic fatigue, we strongly recommend trying to solve all deficiencies at the same time with a high quality multivitamin.
What is the best energy supplement on the market?
Our top rated energy supplement right now is actually a stack of two supplements – Performance Lab Energy, and Performance Lab Stim. This is a phenomenal combination. In our opinion, this is the best option for naturally increasing energy levels and optimizing performance without side effect risks. The alternatives are either low quality caffeine + theanine stacks (which you can get from black tea and coffee), or extremely expensive (Qualia Nootropic Energy is $99/month).