Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Natural Ways to Boost Energy

Natural Ways to Boost Energy
Do you feel tired and run down? Do you find it hard to stay focused on the task at hand? Are you always reaching for the coffee pot, an energy drink, or candy to get you through the day?

Well, stop! These quick-fix energy boosters are actually energy robbers in the long run. They reduce blood flow to the brain, and when the immediate effects wear off, they make you feel even more tired and mentally foggy.

The next time you need an energy boost, consider some of these natural supplements that support brain health, energy, and focus.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it enables the body to better handle stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It helps to rejuvenate and energize the nervous system in addition to increasing physical endurance and restoring sexual health. It also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging effects.

Caution should be used if you are taking thyroid medications, as ashwagandha may stimulate thyroid function. It may also lower blood pressure or blood sugar, so caution should be used when combining it with hypertensive or diabetic medications. Recommended dosage is 125 mg, twice a day.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is important in energy production. It helps convert fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy. It also helps to eliminate toxic chemicals from the body, and has been shown to increase the level of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Niacin also helps to increase blood flow near the skin. Higher doses may cause skin flushing, characterized by a red and itchy face and neck, which lasts a few minutes. One form of niacin, called niacinamide, causes less flushing. Food sources include meat and dairy products, leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, avocados, nuts, and whole grains. Dosage is 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance for B vitamins.

Green tea leaf extract is another potential energy booster. Included in the extract is L-theanine, an amino acid derivative that has been shown to induce relaxation and reduce feelings of anxiety while increasing concentration and energy. There is scientific evidence that green tea boosts exercise ability, helps muscles recover faster from workouts, and improves attention span.

The typical recommended dosage is 200 mg to 300 mg of green tea leaf extract capsules daily. Up to three cups a day of green tea can be consumed for health benefits, but pregnant women should use with caution, as green tea does contain caffeine.

Panax ginseng is most widely known as a stimulant that promotes energy, improves circulation, and speeds recovery after illness. Research supports its energy-boosting properties, and has shown that it improves physical performance during exercise. Panax ginseng is also considered an adaptogen.

Panax ginseng is well tolerated by most, but caution should be used when taking blood thinners, as its effects can be additive. Ginseng may cause hypoglycemic activity, so caution also should be used when taking it with insulin or medications for hypoglycemia. The recommended dosage is 200 mg of the extract, containing 4 to 7 percent of ginsenosides.

Rhodiola is an herb that has been used to fight fatigue, improve memory, and increase attention span. Research shows that it does indeed help prevent fatigue. In addition, scientific evidence points to an ability to fuel sexual energy, boost immunity, and ease depression. The recommended dosage is 200 to 600 mg daily for the treatment of fatigue and depression.

Rhodiola is best taken on an empty stomach, early in the day, as it may interfere with sleep. It should not be used by individuals with bipolar disorder or those taking hypertensive or hypoglycemic medications.

No comments: