Boost From a Bottle

Photography by: Mike Lorrig
Boost From a Bottle
Guarana
How it Works
This Amazon vine contains xanthine derivatives like caffeine that work as short-term stimulants.

Cautions
Be careful of caffeine overdose if you are also consuming coffee, tea, or chocolate.

Forms
Can be taken as a powder in water or juice. Available in sports and specialty drinks, such as SoBe.

Dosage
Bauman recommends 200 mg a day of a standardized extract.

Spirulina
How it Works
"A food to feed humanity," is how Bauman describes this single-cell algae. It is mostly vegetable protein and is packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Cautions
May cause dizziness and a cleansing effect for novices at dosages greater than 1 tsp at a time, says Bauman. Build up dosage gradually.

Forms
Spirulina powder can be added to greens, seaweed, juices, applesauce, or yogurt, says Bauman. Tablets are also available.

Dosage
For maintenance: 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp per day. When you need a boost: 1 tsp to 1 T daily.

Vitamin B
How it Works
"Vitamin B in general helps extract energy from a healthy diet by metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbs," says Babal. Vitamin B12 helps the processing and absorption of iron, says Kravich.

Cautions
The Office of Dietary Supplements suggests you use caution if you are taking drugs for GERD, peptic ulcer disease, or diabetes.

Forms
B vitamins can be taken orally as pills or liquids. They are also plentiful in fortified cereals, mollusks, beef liver, trout, and salmon.

Dosage
Kravich suggests "a good B100 complex like Twinlab or Solgar." The RDA for B12 is 2.4 mg--a 1,000 mcg daily supplement "will help your energy levels, especially if you don't eat meat or eggs."

Booster Buyer Beware!
Leave these three popular energy supplements on the shelf:

Ephedra
(aka ma huang) is a source of alkaloids like pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. It has been used as a nasal decongestant, an asthma treatment, a central nervous system stimulant, an appetite suppressant, and a metabolism booster to aid in weight reduction. Unfortunately, ephedra can have serious side effects. In 2004, the FDA banned products made from ephedrine alkaloids because they present an unreasonable risk of illness or injury.

Bitter Orange
(aka sour orange, Seville orange, citrus aurantium, and zhi shi) is touted as a safer alternative to ephedra, but a recent study at Mercer University in Atlanta suggests that it may be connected to adverse heart conditions.

Kava Kava
has been linked to liver toxicity and failure in Switzerland, Germany, and the United States. The University of Sydney in Australia recently examined all the theories related to kava's effect on liver toxicity and determined they were inconclusive, but stated that the potential risk cannot be ruled out.