In this post you will learn about the best energy supplements for seniors and if they are something you really need.
You’ve probably realized that as you age your energy levels rarely are what they used to be in your youth. This is a natural effect of aging to an extent, but lifestyle choices and medical conditions can play a huge role in your energy levels.
It’s easy to turn your focus on different kinds of supplements when you want to improve your energy levels. But the truth is that supplements will not magically improve your energy levels if your lifestyle habits, medical conditions, and medications are not in order. So always start there.
More importantly, you should always discuss using new supplements with your doctor since many supplements can have interactions with medications and medical conditions.
That said, if you are already leading a healthy and active lifestyle, supplements can help you improve your energy levels significantly in some cases.
But it’s important to recognize the difference between different kinds of energy supplements. A high energy food supplement has a very different use than a central nervous system stimulant for example.
So let’s start by looking at the different kinds of energy supplements and their uses.
What Are Energy Supplements
Energy supplements are supplements that help you feel less fatigued and improve your perceived energy levels. They can also be supplements that help you get enough actual energy (calories) out of your diet.
Energy supplements can be split into three distinct categories:
- Supplements that increase your caloric intake of energy, these are essentially high-calorie food. They are used when seniors lose appetite and are having problems maintaining a healthy weight.
- Supplements that reduce fatigue and increase energy levels by stimulating the nervous system. These are substances that can increase your energy levels without the added calories. These are called stimulants.
- Supplements that support your own energy systems. These are compounds that you get from food typically but not necessarily optimum levels for improving energy levels.
High Energy Food Supplements
The first category consists of different kinds of concentrated high-calorie supplements that are essentially food. The main sources for energy in your diet are carbohydrates and fats.
While protein supplements are very effective for increasing protein intake and preserving muscle mass, I don’t count them into this category since protein should never be used as a primary energy source.
These energy supplements are effective only if you need to get more calories because you suffer from malnourishment are having issues with your appetite.
If you are suffering from malnourishment you should always plan a diet with a qualified professional and treat the underlying cause for loss of appetite.
If you are exercising a lot and have always had trouble maintaining weight, then energy supplements might help you increase your energy levels.
On the other hand, If you are at a healthy weight or overweight, adding high-calorie food supplements will not likely improve your energy levels. They will just make you gain fat.
This category includes actual high energy foods like oils, nuts, and instant oats as well as concentrated carbohydrate supplements like maltodextrin and glucose.
This kind of energy supplement works by stimulating the central nervous system. They are most effective for producing immediate results in perceived energy levels.
While the increase in energy is real, there are issues with stimulants, however. They offer diminishing results and often build up a tolerance pretty fast. Meaning that you need to take more to have the same effect.
Since they stimulate the central nervous system, this can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from mild agitation to panic attacks and irregular heartbeats. That’s why stimulants should only be used in moderation.
The most well-known stimulant is caffeine that you get from coffee. I’m sure your familiar with what it feels like to drink a cup too much of strong coffee. You can get jittery and anxious. With seniors, the negative effects are naturally more dangerous since they can affect your heart.
To make things even more serious, stimulants are often very addictive. If you are a coffee drinker and have never weaned off coffee, you know this already.
Supplements in this category include caffeine, nicotine, ephedrine. It might come as a surprise to you that drugs like amphetamines and cocaine are basically stronger versions of these stimulants, so it’s easy to understand why caffeine and nicotine are so addictive.
Another kind of energy supplement that doesn’t increase your caloric intake are supplements that support the energy systems of your cells.
They can increase both physical and mental performance by improving the energy metabolism of your muscles and nervous system. These are the best kind of supplements because they generally don’t build resistance or cause addiction.
They simply help you remove deficiencies or support your own energy systems. This category includes vitamins, minerals, and naturally occurring compounds like creatine monohydrate and l-carnitine.
Do You Need Energy Supplements
Before resorting to different kinds of energy supplements it’s important to rule out any lifestyle choices or medical conditions that might be affecting your energy levels negatively.
Energy supplements aren’t magic pills that will give you endless energy and reduce your fatigue. They won’t help you gain or maintain weight either if you are struggling to eat enough consistently.
I recommend that before you take any supplements you make sure these parts of your lifestyle are in check since they have a major effect on your energy levels:
- Untreated medical conditions. Things like sleep apnea, insomnia, diabetes, depression, infections and heart disease among many other conditions can severely affect your energy levels. If you suspect you have any undiagnosed medical conditions, make getting treatment your priority. Supplements aren’t the solution to this.
- Wrong medication. Many medications can severely reduce your energy levels. It’s always wise to check with your doctor and even get another opinion if your medication is causing a severe lack of energy. Unfortunately in many cases, the medications are necessary and this is a side effect you have to live with. Always consult with your treating doctor if it’s ok to try supplements since supplements can have interactions with medications.
- Sleep schedule. If you don’t suffer from medical conditions that affect your sleep but don’t get enough sleep, this will naturally reduce your energy levels. Learn more about improving sleep quality for seniors.
- Diet. Your diet can affect your energy levels significantly especially if you don’t eat enough. The same goes if you eat an unhealthy diet that causes you to gain fat mass and have unstable blood sugar levels. Having a healthy diet and body weight can improve your energy levels significantly.
- Lack of exercise and activity. While you would expect that being at rest is the best thing when feeling tired or fatigued, exercise and being active have been proven to improve energy levels. So make sure you do some form of exercise or enjoyable activity every day. Feeling tired can also be a symptom of simply being bored due to lack of interesting activities so this helps with that as well.
The Best Energy Supplements For Seniors
Creatine is a very common supplement used mainly by power athletes and bodybuilders since it increases muscle performance and size.
Creatine supplements increase your body’s stores of phosphocreatine which is used to make energy within your cells. This includes your brain and nerve cells.
Many people don’t know that creatine has been shown to improve cognitive function in both young and old.
The great thing about creatine is that it’s a natural compound in your body and you get the double benefit on improving the performance of your muscles and your brain. You can learn more about creatine in my article Best Memory Supplements For Seniors.
L-Carnitine is another natural compound that affects the energy production of your cells. L-carnitine has been shown to improve cognitive function and energy levels in the elderly.
A high-quality multivitamin can be a great energy supplement if you have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. A multivitamin cannot and should not replace a diverse and healthy diet, but it can help you make sure you are getting all your essential micronutrients.
High Energy Food Supplements
I know, I know, my first recommendation is actually a food and not a supplement. But the truth is that nuts are a great source of energy since they are very high in good fats.
Nuts also contain a lot of minerals and vitamins that support your energy systems and they help keep your blood sugar levels steady.
If you need to eat more, a handful of nuts is a great way to get in high quality healthy calories. Walnuts are especially good for the brain and nervous system.
Instant oats are a great form of energy supplement if you need to get carbohydrates. What makes instant oats great is that they are a powder made out of wholegrain oats so they contain a lot of healthy minerals and fiber.
It’s great for a steady source of energy as well as improving gut health. It’s very easy to use, just mix with water in a mixer and drink it. If you don’t like the taste, you can mix it up with some orange juice for example.
Any kind of healthy oil is a great energy supplement. This is because oil is pure fat and contains over twice the energy per gram than carbohydrates or protein.
Healthy fats are good for cardiovascular health as well. My recommendation is olive oil as it’s one of the most researched healthy fat sources.
Caffeine is the classic stimulant that you are very likely familiar with. The most common sources of caffeine are coffee and tea, the beverages that people drink almost everywhere in the world.
Also, beverages like maté and hot chocolate contain some caffeine. What makes caffeine a great stimulant is that in small amounts it has mainly positive health effects if you are not over-sensitive.
But the problem is that you build tolerance and addiction, so after a while, you need more to get the same effect. High amounts of caffeine also have negative effects.
That’s why you should monitor your caffeine intake carefully and only use it when you need it. This way you will get the best of both worlds, a significant energy boost, and the positive health effects.
I recommend you get your caffeine from coffee or tea since they both have positive health effects even without the caffeine.
Green Tea Extract
One of the best stimulants is green tea extract. This is because it contains both caffeine and a compound called l-theanine. The l-theanine will counter some of the negative effects of caffeine as it has a calming and energizing effect, which makes this combo more effective than caffeine alone.
Green tea is also one of the best sources of antioxidants, so it helps to improve longevity and fight against inflammation.
I hope you found this post about the best energy supplements for seniors useful and it gave you some ideas on how to start improving your energy levels.
Remember that supplements are often not the solution. Lifestyle habits are. But supplements can offer some relief if you are otherwise healthy and need a bit of a boost to your day to day activities. Just remember to use them responsibly.
Since many supplements, especially stimulants and herbal supplements can have negative side effects and interactions with medications and medical conditions, it’s always important to discuss using them with your doctor.
If you have any questions about improving energy levels or about the supplements, feel free to contact me through the comments section below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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Thanks for reading and see you next time.