Looking for a natural pick-me-up? Try these nutrients to boost your energy and metabolism.

Every living thing needs energy to function and thrive, and the human body is no exception. While some people seem to have unlimited reserves of energy, others feel the impact of low energy levels, including fatigue, irritability and difficultly focusing. If you’re like most people, chances are you’ve felt low on energy at some point in your life may be even in the past week.

The good news is that there are safe and natural ways to support energy production in the body. A combination of nutrients and positive lifestyle changes may give your body and brain the boost they need.

What is energy?

In the human body, energy is the ability to perform a task. Whether running a mile or cleaning the house, any task performed by the body is known as mechanical energy. Energy is also experiential, meaning a person feels (or does not feel) energized. So, while someone may not feel like going for a run, he might have the mechanical energy to perform the task of running.

We get energy from two main sources: macronutrients, which are found in food and needed in large (macro) amounts, and micronutrients, which are found in vitamins and minerals and needed in small (micro) amounts. The three types of macronutrients carbohydrate, protein and fat provide the body with calories, or energy. During metabolism, these calories are converted into glucose, or simple sugars (from carbohydrates), amino acids (from protein), and fatty acids (from fat), all of which are energy sources the body either uses or stores for later use. When macronutrients are consumed in excess, the body stores energy in the form of glycogen (short-term storage) and fat (long-term storage). So while its necessary to get enough macronutrients in your diet to promote healthy metabolism, energy and weight, it’s also important to avoid consuming too many calories.

Micronutrients, found in sources like chromium and B vitamins, are needed in small amounts to support energy production and metabolic systems, among other bodily functions. Although they do not have any caloric value, these essential nutrients are necessary for proper conversion, use and storage of energy in the body. While they’re consumed in micro amounts, they play a macro role in helping you feel energized and actually have the energy to perform tasks.

Here’s the takeaway: Optimal energy levels require optimal metabolism. And optimal metabolism requires a healthy lifestyle and diet, complete with adequate food, vitamin and mineral intake.

Energy-supporting nutrients

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, many people consume more calories than they need but do not get enough nutrients. And since certain nutrients are needed for metabolism, supplementing can be an important part of energy production.

Stay balanced

Nutrients are great for supporting energy levels and promoting healthy metabolism. But they aren’t enough. To have optimal energy and support nearly every function of your body you need to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Regular exercise helps support metabolism, thereby boosting energy, and a fit body is a naturally more energized one. While stress drains energy, activities like yoga can help reenergize and promote energy production. And staying hydrated can also help the body be more metabolically efficient.

So, get regular exercise, lower your stress levels, eat well, drink more water and make sure you’re getting the right nutrients. Even small changes can have a big impact on energy production and quality of life.

B vitamins

Often called the energy vitamins, B-complex vitamins support metabolism of carbohydrates and healthy cells.

SOURCES: Food sources include cheese, eggs, lamb and fish, as well as fortified cereals and soy products. Many multivitamins contain several B-complex vitamins.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE:
Thiamin, 1.5 milligrams (mg); Riboflavin, 1.7mg; Niacin, 20mg; B6, 2mg; Pantothenic acid, 10mg; Biotin, 300 micrograms (mcg); B12, 6mcg; Folate, 400mcg

Caffeine

When used in moderation, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and can support metabolism, mental alertness and energy levels.

SOURCES: Natural food and beverage sources include coffee, tea, kola nuts and chocolate. Caffeine is also added to many energy drinks and sodas and can be taken in supplement form.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE: No established daily value

Chromium

This mineral supports healthy glucose levels and carbohydrate metabolism, which may support energy levels and promote a healthy body weight.

SOURCES: Food sources include whole-grain foods, green beans, broccoli and bran cereals. The extract can also be taken in supplement form.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE: 120mcg

Ginseng

A study in Psychopharmacology found that ginseng may support mental function. Some researchers believe ginseng may encourage the uptake of blood glucose by the brain.

SOURCES: In extract form, ginseng can be taken as a supplement, or the dry root can be added to tea or chewed.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE: While there is no established daily value, many supplements contain 200mg of ginseng extract.

Green coffee

A natural source of caffeine, unroasted green coffee bean supports energy levels. The chlorogenic acid contained in green coffee may also encourage metabolism of fat.

SOURCES: In extract form, green coffee can be taken as a supplement or added to a beverage. Look for a product that contains 100 percent pure green coffee bean extract to avoid unnecessary fillers and binders.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE:
While there is no established daily value, many supplements contain 400mg of green coffee bean extract.

Green tea

The naturally occurring caffeine in green tea boosts energy levels, and the extract may also support healthy blood glucose levels and metabolism.

SOURCES: Dried tea leaves are available in capsule form, or liquid extract can be made from the leaves and leaf buds.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE: While there is no established daily value, some supplements contain 300mg of green tea extract.

Guarana

Extract from this South American fruit contains high levels of natural caffeine, which supports energy levels and metabolism.

SOURCES: In extract form, guarana can be taken as a supplement or added to food and beverages.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE:
No established daily value

Multivitamin

A combination of nutrients, many multivitamins are specifically formulated to boost energy and support metabolism.

SOURCES: Supplement forms include liquid, powder and tablet.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE:

The established daily value varies by nutrient. Please reference Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) at ods.od.nih.gov.

Taurine

When combined with caffeine, the amino acid taurine may support cognitive performance.

SOURCES: Food sources include meat and fish proteins. Taurine can also be taken in supplement form or added to a beverage.

RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE:
No established daily value

Dr. Andrew Myers, is an expert in nutrition and preventive medicine and the co-author of Health Is Wealth: 10 Power Nutrients That Increase Your Odds of Living to 100 and Health Is Wealth: Performance Nutrition. Visit healthiswealth.net for more information.