Insomnia, physical exertion, stress, grief, sleep apnea and depression can all cause low energy, reports Medline Plus. It is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis before opting for self-treatment, in case you have something more serious, such as Addison's disease, cancer or diabetes. If your doctor approves, there are several vitamins and herbs that may boost your energy levels.
The B vitamin family is an important source of energy. According to Deborah Mitchell in "A Woman's Guide to Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements," B vitamins help fuel energy metabolism, and you need at least three different types working in conjunction, or the process can malfunction and cause low energy. There are nine compounds in the B vitamin family, including pyridoxine (B-6), folate (B-9) and cobalamin (B-12). The best option is to take a B-vitamin complex that includes all the B vitamins. Be sure your selected complex also includes inositol, which some supplements leave out, cautions Mitchell.
American and Asian Ginseng
American ginseng and Asian ginseng are both adaptogens -- a compound that helps your body adapt to stress and assists with restoring normal physiological function. Both types of ginseng contain gensinosides that may be responsible for the purported ability to enhance cognitive function and alleviate mental fatigue. In "The Most Effective Ways on Earth to Boost Your Energy," author Jonny Bowden suggests taking 200 to 400 milligrams of the standardized extract each day. He notes some sources suggest higher doses but also points out taking excessive amounts of gensinosides may cause an opposite reaction, perhaps leaving you with even lower energy.
Siberian ginseng is also an adaptogen, but it has different active compounds called eleutherosides. Because Siberian ginseng is not a true ginseng, it is called eleuthero in the United States, to avoid confusion. Eleuthero can be particularly helpful for stress-induced fatigue, and it can also boost energy and stamina, according to "The New Healing Herbs." Eleuthero may have more of a stimulatory effect than ginseng, states Shawn Talbott in "The Cortisol Connection."
Ashwagandha is a traditional herb from Ayurveda, a type of medicine practiced in India. Rich in iron and other plant compounds, ashwagandha may help boost your energy levels. Ayurvedic practitioners classify this as a rasayana herb, meaning it increases health and longevity. According to Bowden, the herb can enhance stamina and appears to have a protective effect on the adrenal glands to help reduce stress and its effects on the body. It also contains choline, which is a neurotransmitter necessary for cognitive function.
- Medline Plus: Fatigue
- A Woman's Guide to Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements; Deborah Mitchell
- Harvard School of Public Health: Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12
- The Most Effective Ways on Earth to Boost Your Energy; Jonny Bowden
- The New Healing Herbs; Michael Castleman
- The Cortisol Connection; Shawn Talbott
- American Cancer Society: Eleuthero (Formerly Siberian Ginseng)