Health

Boost From a Bottle

A real-deal guide to top energy supplements.

Boost From a Bottle
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You tossed and turned last night, and this morning there's no time to eat breakfast. But you need a boost, so you zip over to your local Whole Foods market or health-food store where several shelves are dedicated to energy supplements. But can you really get energy in an easy-to-swallow capsule? What's in all those bottles, anyway? And do they work?

According to our panel of nutrition experts, energy supplements are no substitute for good lifestyle habits. Still, the supplements listed here can help--and certainly they're a more healthful solution than a six-pack from Starbucks.

Before you swallow anything, talk to your doctor to rule out physical causes for your fatigue--and to make sure the vitamin or herb you're considering won't interact with any other drugs you're taking, including over-the-counter medications like aspirin and Motrin.

Side effects can be more pronounced in people with health problems. "If you have a health condition, your body isn't working well as a cleansing tool, and taking supplements may exacerbate your condition," says Nicole Hilburt, R.D., of Temple University Hospital and Health System in Philadelphia.

With that in mind, consult the list below to see which supplement could be right for you.

Bee Pollen
How it Works
This superfood contains practically every nutrient necessary to sustain life, says Ken Babal, C.N.

Cautions
Test for allergic reactions by putting 2 or 3 granules under your tongue, says Babal. Those with bee allergies should be cautious.

Forms
Bee pollen can be eaten plain, or blended into drinks. It can also be found as a liquid extract and in pill form.

Dosage
Take 1/2 tsp of bee pollen granules, says Babal. Or take 2 to 4 tablets a day of Cernilton, made from flower pollen extract.

Gingko Biloba
How it Works
Ginkgo extract improves circulation, mental acuity, depression, and asthma, reports ConsumerLab.com, an independent testing company.

Cautions
Spasms, cramps, and mild digestive problems can occur. Avoid ginkgo if you're taking aspirin or any other bood-thinning drug.

Forms
Look for extract, not leaves. Since fatty acids are needed for absorption, teas will not provide the same benefits, says Ed Bauman, Ph.D.

Dosage
Bauman suggests up to 240 mg of a 50:1 extract, or 40 to 80 mg" of powder extract.

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