Q: How many of those “energy” supplements actually energize you? –Jane Schaeffer, 63, BREINIGSVILLE, PA
A: A Many do, as long as you pick one targeted to your particular type of fatigue. My goal is to help patients find no more than five supplements that address their health concerns. But you need to pinpoint the problem before you can find your own personal fatigue fighter. These are some I recommend.
1. B-complex vitamins boost energy in just a few weeks. The Bs help your body extract energy from the food you eat, but the big bonus for women is that these nutrients also restore energy by balancing hormone levels and recharging the immune system. Look for a B-complex supplement with about 50 mg each of pantothenic acid, thiamin, and vitamin B6; 800 mcg of folic acid; and 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12.
2. Iodine is hard to get in the diet because it’s not as abundant in soil as it once was. Low levels can lead to underactive thyroid—your metabolism slows, leading to fatigue. Kelp, a good source of iodine, isn’t easy to work into your diet, so I suggest a 75 mcg supplement. Don’t take higher doses unless tests of your thyroid and iodine status indicate a need.
3. Shatavari, or Indian asparagus, is the Ayurvedic solution if menopause symptoms—hot flashes, night sweats, moodiness—are waking you up at night, contributing to your fatigue. Look for it in powder or pill form and take about 400 mg a day
4. Rhodiola may be the next big fatigue fighter, numerous studies suggest. This plant is an adaptogen—a compound that helps the body acclimate to stress. It’s helpful for adrenal stress and mental fatigue and for calming the nervous system. Start with 200 mg a day.
5. Magnesium helps regulate the sleep cycle, balance hormones, and reduce anxiety, so it’s especially beneficial for insomnia. Take 200 mg of a chelated form—it’s easier to absorb and not so harsh on the stomach—before bed.