Supplements and Vitamins for Fatigue and Tiredness
There are several vitamins, amino acids, and even plant extracts that help boost mental performance, daily functioning, energy levels, and mood. These include: omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexanoic acid (DHA), Vitamin E, B12, and D, N-acetyl cysteine, Acetyl-L-carnitine, and green tea extract. Adding these supplements to the diet is especially useful for people who tend to feel sluggish in the morning or become drained during the day.
Dr. Artemis Simopoulos of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health in Washington DC explains that “ foods such as cereal grains that are made out of wheat, corn, or rice are high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, but low in omega-3 essential fatty acids and this is associated with certain conditions that dramatically reduce overall well-being” . However, increasing the dietary intake of omega-3s suppresses the development of various conditions [1, 2]. A study conducted by Dr. Erika Freemantle from the Research Centre for Aging in Sherbrooke, Canada also showed that omega-3 fatty acids help reduce fatigue by supporting enhanced energy levels, memory function, mental performance, and mood .
One of the essential acids that makes up omega-3s is DHA and this substance supports optimal brain health by protecting its cells from damage [4, 5]. Research has even shown that the concentration of DHA is normally high in areas of the brain that are responsible for concentration and memory [4, 6]. Therefore, if you frequently become sluggish during the day, you may need to increase the level of DHA in your body through supplementation.
Furthermore, Dr. Chan from the Center for Cell Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research at the University of Massachusetts suggests that “a supplement which contains a combination of vitamin B12, E, N-acetyl cysteine, and Acetyl-L-carnitine improves the ability to complete tasks as well as memory and mental clarity” .
In order to sustain energy during the day, the body requires a steady supply of vitamin D. Interestingly, in addition to receiving adequate amounts of this vitamin from a multivitamin, consuming omega-3 fatty acid also enhances the level of vitamin D in the body [8, 9]. Another useful substance according to Dr. Andre Schmidt and fellow researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland is green tea extract, which is described as having the ability to “support normal brain cell function and in doing so, improves concentration, mental clarity, memory, and energy” . Tea is an excellent source of green tea extract, and having a cup of iced green tea or hot tea in the morning is a good way to boost mental performance. However, it is important to take supplements such as green tea extract regularly as Dr. Schmidt’s study showed that discontinuing the intake of this extract caused a decrease in mental performance and clarity. Improvements in mental functioning were observed once the participants started taking the extract again.
As you can see, there are many supplements and vitamins for fatigue and tiredness. A multivitamin that contains one or more of the substances that have been described can help reduce chronic fatigue. In addition, most of these vitamins, amino acids, and especially green tea extract can be consumed through foods or beverages (e.g., teas or smoothies). The key is to ensure that you are getting an adequate supply of these substances daily in order to experience the health benefits.
1. Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79.
2. Gómez Candela C, Bermejo López LM, Loria Kohen V. Importance of a balanced omega 6/omega 3 ratio for the maintenance of health: nutritional recommendations. Nutr Hosp. 2011 Mar-Apr;26(2):323-9.
3. Freemantle E, Vandal M, Tremblay-Mercier J, Tremblay S, Blachère JC, Bégin ME, Brenna JT, Windust A, Cunnane SC. Omega-3 fatty acids, energy substrates, and brain function during aging. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2006. 75(3):213-20.
4. Pottala JV, Yaffe K, Robinson JG, Espeland MA, Wallace R, Harris WS. Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes: WHIMS-MRI Study. Neurology. 2014. 82(5):435-442.
5. Chang CY, Ke DS, Chen JY. Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta neurologica Taiwanica. 2009. 18(4):231-241.
6. Stonehouse W, Conlon CA, Podd J, Hill SR, Minihane AM, Haskell C, Kennedy D. DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2013. 97(5):1134-1143.
7. Chan A, Remington R, Kotyla E, Lepore A, Zemianek J, Shea TB. A vitamin/nutriceutical formulation improves memory and cognitive performance in community-dwelling adults without dementia. J Nutr Health Aging. 2010. 14(3):224-30.
8. Cherniack EP, Troen BR, Florez HJ, Roos BA, Levis S. Some new food for thought: the role of vitamin D in the mental health of older adults. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2009. 11(1):12-9.
9. Li L, Men WW, Chang YK, Fan MX, Ji L, Wei GX. Acute Aerobic Exercise Increases Cortical Activity during Working Memory: A Functional MRI Study in Female College Students. PLoS One. 2014. 9(6):e99222
10. Schmidt A, Hammann F, Wölnerhanssen B, Meyer-Gerspach AC, Drewe J, Beglinger C, Borgwardt S. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014. 231(19):3879-88.
By Dr. Karen Vieira Ph.D