Best Vitamins And Supplements To Boost Energy In 2023

Medically Reviewed

Taylor Wallace is principal and CEO of Think Healthy Group and a nutrition and food studies professor at Tufts University.
Taylor Wallace, Ph.D., C.F.S., F.A.C.N. Nutrition
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When you feel tired, your first thought might be to reach for a sweet snack for an energy boost. But that sluggish feeling may not stem from a lack of energy alone. Your diet might be missing certain vitamins or nutrients that no amount of caffeine or sugar can fix.

However, popping extra vitamins isn’t necessarily helpful, either. “How nutrition affects a person’s energy is highly individualized,” says Lauren Cornell, a registered dietitian in Los Angeles and owner of Lauren Cornell Nutrition. Sometimes people start taking vitamins without doing the legwork to identify the problem, she says. “If you’re having significant mental or physical fatigue, speak to a registered dietician.”

Each person’s vitamin needs depend on their age, diet, sex and other factors. Read on for expert information about the best vitamins for energy and how to source them most effectively.

Nutritional Causes of Lack of Energy

“Energy comes from an overall healthy diet,” says Roberta L. Duyff, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. “If people are following the ‘MyPlate,’ guidance, they’re going to be adequately nourished,” she says, referring to the USDA dietary guidelines. Severe vitamin deficiencies are rare, says Duyff, but some dietary habits can skip over important vitamins and other nutrients that affect energy metabolism. Examples of such habits include:

  • Not eating a wide variety of foods. “Typically, when there is an energy issue, it comes from ongoing nutrient deficiencies due to dietary restrictions or a lack of variety in the diet,” says Cornell. “If you’re on a restrictive diet, you’re likely not obtaining certain nutrients.” For example, if you follow a vegan diet, you might not be getting enough vitamin B12 from the food you’re eating since the best sources of B12 are animal-based foods. Iron is present in plant foods, but your body doesn’t absorb it as well as the iron in animal-based foods. In this case, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adding a supplement to your wellness regimen.
  • Following a fad diet. “If you’re following a low-carb fad diet like paleo or keto, you’re missing out on many of the key vitamins and minerals found in foods that contain carbohydrates that are necessary for energy production,” adds Cornell. B vitamins are among the most important of these nutrients.
  • Having digestive tract issues. People with digestive tract issues, such as Crohn’s disease or colitis, as well as picky eaters are also at risk of not getting enough nutrients for energy, says Cornell.
  • Consuming too few calories. “If a person is trying to lose weight and they’re cutting back on calorie intake or over-exercising, they may be over training and underfeeding,” says Cornell. “This is not good for weight management nor energy.”

Top Vitamins for Energy

“Nutrients that yield energy are carbohydrates, protein and fat—especially carbohydrates,” says Duyff. Though vitamins and minerals don’t provide energy directly, they do work within the body to trigger processes that produce energy. Here are the vitamins involved in metabolic processes that impact your energy and their recommended amounts, according to the National Academy of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).

Note: There are risks associated with taking too much of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron and vitamin A and D. Some vitamins also interact with medications. Always check with your physician or a registered dietitian nutritionist before adding any vitamin supplements to your wellness regimen.

The B Vitamins

B vitamins work together to help the body produce energy, says Duyff. Each one, except folate, plays a part in at least one step of the energy production system within the cell, according to a review of vitamins and minerals for energy, fatigue and cognition in the journal Nutrition[1]. Key B vitamin players include:

Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine helps turn the food you eat into energy. Although most Americans don’t suffer from vitamin B-1 deficiency, people with diabetes or alcohol abuse disorder or who are older may not get enough thiamine. Symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency include muscle weakness and confusion.

Found in: Whole grains, meat, fish, legumes and seeds

Recommended daily amounts:

Women: 1.1 milligrams
Men: 1.2 milligrams
Pregnant people: 1.4 milligrams
Breastfeeding people: 1.4 milligrams

Note: Some medications can lower a person’s thiamine levels.

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Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin also helps turn the food you eat into energy. Over time, a severe vitamin B-2 deficiency can lead to weakness and fatigue. Most Americans get enough riboflavin, but those who may not include vegans, vegetarian athletes, pregnant or breastfeeding people and people who don’t eat dairy.

Found in: Eggs, meats, milk, green vegetables and fortified cereals

Recommended daily amounts:

Women: 1.1 milligrams
Men: 1.3 milligrams
Pregnant people: 1.4 milligrams
Breastfeeding people: 1.6 milligrams

Note: There are no harmful effects of vitamin B2, and it typically does not interact with medications.

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Vitamin B-3 (Niacin)

Niacin is another B vitamin that helps turn food into energy. Although a deficiency in this vitamin is rare, people who may not be getting enough include those who are undernourished due to anorexia, alcohol use disorder and inflammatory bowel disease.

Found in: Poultry, beef, pork, fish, nuts, legumes and fortified breads

Recommended daily amounts:

Women: 14 milligrams
Men: 16 milligrams
Pregnant people: 18 milligrams
Breastfeeding people: 17 milligrams
(These amounts include niacin equivalents, meaning a combination of niacin you consume and niacin that is converted from tryptophan in foods.)

Note: Dietary supplements with at least 30 milligrams of nicotinic acid can cause itchy skin, redness, rashes, headaches and dizziness.

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Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B12 contributes to keeping your blood and nerve cells healthy. Though most Americans consume vitamin B-12 from food, older adults and people who eat little or no animal-based foods can become deficient. If you don’t get enough vitamin B-12 over time, you may feel tired or weak or experience pale skin, palpitations, loss of weight and appetite, infertility and nerve damage. Vitamin B-12 deficiencies can also cause depression and memory problems.

Found in: Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, clams, beef liver and nutritional yeast

Recommended daily amounts:

Adults: 2.4 micrograms
Pregnant people: 2.6 micrograms
Breastfeeding people: 2.8 micrograms

Note: Even in high doses, Vitamin B-12 has not been shown to cause harmful side effects.


Iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin in red blood cells that carries oxygen through your entire body,” says Cornell. “If you’re tired and feeling physically weak, you may not be getting enough iron.” An iron deficiency can also cause difficulty concentrating and trouble fighting off germs. People who may suffer from iron deficiency include women with heavy periods, pregnant people and those who don’t eat meat, poultry or seafood. People with certain gastrointestinal diseases may also not get enough iron.

Found in: Lean meat, seafood, poultry, spinach, lentils, kidney beans and nuts

Recommended daily amounts:

Women 19–50 years old: 18 milligrams
Men 19–50 years old: 8 milligrams
Adults 51 years and older: 8 milligrams
Pregnant people: 27 milligrams
Breastfeeding people: 9 milligrams

Note: Iron can cause stomach pain, nausea and constipation, as well as decrease the body’s ability to absorb zinc. “A chelated form of supplemental iron is usually easier on the digestive system,” says Cornell. (Chelated means that it has been manufactured to be more easily absorbed.) Also, iron supplements should be kept out of reach from children, as an accidental overdose can be fatal.

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Magnesium helps regulate muscle and nerve function, among other roles. “Magnesium is an electrolyte, as are potassium, sodium, calcium and chloride,” says Cornell. “They facilitate communication between tissues and organs in the body.” To explain how electrolytes work, Cornell compares them to electric poles with wires that connect them—there is a current that travels from the poles to homes. Electrolytes are like the electrical currents that travel between the poles that allow the communication to happen, such as when your brain sends a message to your bicep to pick something up. Muscle cramping and weakness can be common symptoms of an electrolyte deficiency, says Cornell.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramping, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and fatigue. People with type 2 diabetes, long-term alcohol use disorder or gastrointestinal diseases like celiac disease are more likely than others to have a magnesium deficiency.

Found in: Dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, milk, yogurt and fortified cereals

Recommended daily amounts:

Women: 310–320 milligrams
Men: 400–420 milligrams
Pregnant people: 350–360 milligrams
Breastfeeding people: 310–320 milligrams

Note: Magnesium supplements may interact with certain medications.

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Additional Ways to Boost Energy

Beyond these particular vitamins and minerals, lifestyle factors can play a significant role in energy metabolism. Consider the following suggestions for a natural boost.

  • Follow an overall healthy diet. Need specifics? Check out MyPlate from the USDA, says Duyff.
  • Keep up your fiber intake. “If you’re not getting enough carbohydrates in your diet, you’re likely not getting enough fiber,” says Cornell. To boost energy, she suggests eating more whole fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, legumes and winter squash, as well as whole grains.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of energy may also simply be the result of not getting enough sleep, says Cornell.
  • Drink water. Don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout the day, says Cornell, especially if you’re older. “As we age, thirst and hunger diminish.”

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