Energy-Boosting Supplements: Myths and Facts

ByABC News via logo

Feb. 22, 2006 — -- Health-food and vitamin companies are touting more "energy-boosting" supplements and exotic-sounding brews to help you leap tall buildings in a single bound -- or so it may seem.

But do these supplements work? Can they be harmful? Samantha Heller, a nutritionist at NYU Medical Center and a contributor to Health magazine, says there is no magic energy supplement bullet. But, she says, there are important vitamins and minerals in food that many people may be lacking that could help boost energy.

Heller gave "Good Morning America" the lowdown on some popular supplements on the market today, and where to find natural energy boosters in the foods you eat.

Co Enzyme Q10 Gel Caps

Noni Juice

Yerba Mate


So you're feeling fatigued and you walk into a health-food store to try and get a boost. Where should you go?

"Not to the supplement section, but to the fresh produce -- whole grains, nuts, and so on are a better choice than these temporary fixes based on sugar and caffeine," Heller said. "It's food that gives you energy and gives you the vitamins and minerals and chemicals that work together to give you the energy you need."

She adds that if you're chronically fatigued, you should visit your doctor. But studies find that many Americans are lacking iron and magnesium, two minerals found in food.

The recommended daily allowance of iron for men and women over 50 years old is 8 milligrams a day, while women from 19 to 50 should get 18 milligrams a day. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, paleness, and being frequently cold.

Iron (ferrous sulfate) food sources:

Heller says that magnesium is a powerhouse mineral used in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including proper muscle, nerve and heart function, protein synthesis and energy metabolism, and again, many Americans are deficient. The recommended daily allowance is 300 milligrams to 400 milligrams a day.

"There is no doubt that you need to boost your intake of high magnesium foods to get your engine running at its peak," Heller said.

Magnesium food sources:

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