Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a profoundly frustrating condition that’s difficult to diagnose and even tougher to treat. It affects around 800,000 to 2.5 million people in the U.S., and 90% of CFS cases may go undiagnosed. CFS symptoms can reduce your quality of life and leave you scrambling for answers.
There’s no cure for CFS. However, some measures can reduce its impact on day-to-day living and help you re-engage with your routine. It’s important that you talk to your doctor about treatments, which may include prescription medications and daily scheduling to maximize your energy. Beyond that, there are a few supplements that may provide a helping hand.
The best energy supplements for chronic fatigue may not resolve every symptom immediately, but they may help you finish the laundry, walk the dog, or see a friend without the need for bed rest afterward.
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The Symptoms, Causes, and Impact of Chronic Fatigue
CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is more than tiredness. Instead, if you have CFS, these persistent CFS symptoms may last for years:
Fatigue may leave you bedridden for days after completing a simple task
Rest may not restore you, no matter how long you sleep
Maintaining routines for work and personal life can be draining
Along with constant fatigue, CFS can also cause:
Problems with focus and memory
Disturbed or non-restorative sleep
Symptoms that get worse while standing
There’s no specific test for diagnosing CFS, and the medical research to date gives us only a limited understanding of why or how it develops. However, if a diagnosis is reached, doctors may recommend:
Activity management, pacing daily tasks in a way that reduces CFS/ME’s impact on energy levels
Medications to improve sleep
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to manage the emotional fallout of life with CFS
Lifestyle adjustments like a calendar or schedule to manage CFS-induced memory and concentration issues
Frustrated with your fitful and unrestful sleep? See our article: Why Your Sleep Suffers With Age — And What to Do About It.
The 13 Best Energy Supplements for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Some supplements may boost your energy if you have CFS, especially if you already have a nutrient deficiency. CFS can reduce your levels of certain nutrients, so testing before you supplement may help you balance some of the disease’s more draining symptoms.
Before you try a supplement, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe to take with your regular medications.
Here are 13 research-backed energy boosters for people with chronic fatigue.
1. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplements may significantly reduce fatigue in CFS patients, particularly at higher doses in the long term. Supplementing up to 1,200 mg daily is safe and shouldn’t interfere with your body’s natural production of CoQ10, according to a meta-analysis of over 70 clinical studies. This makes CoQ10 one of the best energy supplements to try for chronic fatigue.
CoQ10 reduces fatigue in healthy people, but it has an even bigger impact for those with CFS, possibly because the illness may cause extreme CoQ10 depletion.
CFS/ME may lower your levels of a vital coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ is found in every cell in your body, and is a critical driver of your energy levels, metabolism, and immune system. A shortage of NAD+ may contribute to the damaging fatigue and neurological symptoms you experience from CFS.
Supplementing a particular form of NAD+ called NADH can increase energy levels for CFS sufferers. NAD+ supplements can be a safe and effective addition to conventional CFS therapy.
Learn more in our guide: 17 Energy Boosters to Level Up Your Day
3. Peak Rise™
Peak Rise™, a top energy-boosting supplement from Lifeforce, contains B vitamins, caffeine, and patented blends like Cereboost®, TeaCrine®, Dynamine®, and EnXtra®. Studies have demonstrated that these proprietary blends can help improve cognitive function, working memory, and motor speed.
Peak Rise™ works without inducing jitters and mid-afternoon crashes, making it one of the best energy supplements to try for chronic fatigue. The components in Peak Rise™ work by helping neurotransmitters communicate more efficiently with neurons in the brain.
One to three daily capsules can provide a significant energy boost and help reduce mental fogginess.
Based on research in the bestselling book Life Force by Tony Robbins, get primed for your morning and maintain peak performance all day long with the premium-grade formula of Peak Rise™. Combines 14 research-backed ingredients, including seven patented, clinically tested compounds like TeaCrine®, Dynamine™, Cognizin®, and Cereboost®.
4. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal supplement that may improve energy levels for those suffering from chronic fatigue. Two daily 200-mg doses significantly improved symptoms over eight weeks in one study, and a large body of research shows it’s both well tolerated and effective in reducing chronic fatigue symptoms.
How does it work? Scientists are still uncovering the mechanisms here, but the supplement may support cognitive processes and mental performance. This Asian herb may also help improve mood and promote calmness.
CFS can cause debilitating brain fog. See our article: Best Vitamins for Brain Fog? 7 Supplements to Boost Focus
5. Essential Fatty Acids Like Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids provide energy and protect cell membranes throughout your body. Studies found that 92.6% of people with CFS have low omega-3 levels, making omega-3 one of the best energy supplements to try for chronic fatigue.
High doses of omega-3s may be especially helpful for those with CFS. A similar condition called post-viral fatigue reduces the levels of fatty acids in the body, but correcting them significantly improves fatigue, concentration, and low mood.
Don’t want to supplement? A single six-ounce serving of wild salmon contains 1,774 mg of omega-3s.
6. Vitamin B12
This crucial B vitamin drives the formation of the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body. If your body’s levels of B12 are low — either because you don’t get enough in your diet or because of an illness — you can develop anemia that leads to fatigue and weakness.
Vitamin B12 injections have been proven to have significant benefits in managing CFS symptoms, with higher doses and longer regimens delivering the best results.
If the thought of a regular schedule of injections gives you pause, an open trial provided an alternative: vitamin B12 nasal drops. Two-thirds of the people in the trial showed less fatigue, more mobility, and higher levels of B12.
Iron helps your blood carry oxygen around your body, helping to keep your energy levels high. Low iron can lead to chronic feelings of fatigue. If you constantly feel like you have no energy, talk to your doctor about checking your iron levels. A clinician can prescribe iron supplements to manage a deficiency.
Tired all the time? See our guide on the 10 Vitamins to Boost Energy and Beat Fatigue.
8. Vitamin D
It’s possible to get enough vitamin D from your diet and from sun exposure, however age, where you live, wearing sunscreen, and other factors play a role. If your levels are low, supplementing with vitamin D capsules or injections can help reverse this deficiency and improve fatigue symptoms.
If you live with CFS, your doctor may recommend a blood panel to test for low vitamin D levels. See our article for more: What Your Doctor Wants You to Know About Vitamin D.
9. Vitamin C
This crucial immune booster may be a helpful ally if you suffer from chronic fatigue, especially if you’re deficient in vitamin C — a possible culprit of fatigue. High-dose vitamin C consistently and significantly reduced fatigue in trials on those with chronic post-viral fatigue.
10. Folic Acid
Folic acid may be one of the best energy supplements for medium to long-term chronic fatigue management. That’s because some CFS patients may be deficient in folic acid, and supplementing may reduce fatigue in those with even slight deficiencies. (In fact, in one study, more than half of all the participants who had chronic fatigue were also deficient in folic acid.)
You may get more energy by supplementing folic acid than by eating foods rich in it, like green, leafy vegetables or whole grains. That’s because the body absorbs folic acid more efficiently from supplements than from dietary sources.
Studies suggest that supplementing 1 mg per day of folic acid for three months can reduce perceived fatigue.
Your muscles use creatine for energy, but CFS can sap your levels of this vital amino acid by damaging your creatine metabolism. This in turn can make your body less consistent and efficient when it comes to fueling muscle movements.
Research on the effects of creatine supplementation is in its early stages, but supplementing creatine may be a promising new treatment for those with post-viral and chronic fatigue.
You don’t have to suffer with low energy. See our article: How to Get More Energy: 12 Ways to Go All Day
If you’re low on energy because of chronic fatigue, you may get some relief by going to the source of your cells’ energy reserves. L-carnitine is a naturally-occuring nutrient that supports the mitochondria, the parts of the cell that generate energy.
By helping your mitochondria function better, oral L-carnitine may improve your body’s energy balance and offset CFS’ debilitating effects. Taking L-carnitine may make omega-3 supplements more effective too, because it plays a central role in the metabolism of omega-3s.
Your body produces the versatile hormone DHEA naturally, though even in healthy people, its levels decline with age. DHEA is central to the production of other hormones, so it underpins many important biological processes. People use DHEA to improve physical performance and to treat the symptoms of aging, menopause, and depression.
DHEA may also help reduce the symptoms of chronic fatigue. One study found that CFS patients who took 50 mg of DHEA daily for six months reduced their fatigue symptoms by 21%. While more research is needed, DHEA is generally considered safe and effective, particularly under the supervision of a Lifeforce medical doctor, with dosage based on the member’s lab test results.
Want to learn more? See our article: Best DHEA Supplement for Hormone Balance and Healthy Aging.
Based on research in the bestselling book Life Force by Tony Robbins, Lifeforce DHEA helps your body produce key hormones, including testosterone and estrogen to help enhance sexual function, metabolism, heart health, and immune function. DHEA levels peak in early adulthood and slowly decline as you age. With a unique formula of low-dose DHEA, Pregnenolone, and 7-Keto DHEA, Lifeforce DHEA helps you maintain the optimal hormone levels your body needs to function at your peak.
Several supplements may boost energy for chronic fatigue patients. Chronic fatigue may cause deficiencies in multiple key nutrients. Supplementing these nutrients has been shown to improve energy for those with CFS. Talk to your doctor about testing for deficiencies and making sure the supplements you take will work well with your existing medications. If you suffer from CFS, you may be able to improve your quality of life and resume your daily routine.
*Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This article was medically reviewed by:
Susan Grabowski, DO, ABAARM Board Certified in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine