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Natural Ingredients for Energy

In Part 2 of our series on Natural Energy, we take a closer look at ingredients in the top natural energy products and supplements. Dr. Hyla Cass tells us about what to look for, including vitamins and herbs, and what to steer clear of when choosing one of the many popular products that promise a boost these days. Dr. Cass is one of the country's foremost authors and speakers on the subject of integrative medicine.

Some listeners ask for a recap of our podcasts so they can refer to it later. So, here you go. (Don't forget to listen to the podcast for more details and information, though.)

Natural Ingredients for Energy

There are ingredients to look for, and to be aware of, in energy drinks, gels, and supplements:
  • A lot of energy products are very high in sugar. This is a concern not only because of calories, but also because sugar is just not healthy for you. Another concern is the artificial sweeteners in energy products.
  • Look for herbal ingredients that are proven to be safe.
  • Specific ingredients to look for are the B vitamins, vitamin C, yerba mate, goji berries and açaí. These provide energy and a lot of benefits.
The B vitamins and vitamin C are helpful for energy:
  • The B vitamins help the body convert food into fuel and play an important role in the nervous system in helping to make the neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers in our brain.
    • B vitamins are easily destroyed when foods are processed, which is one reason many people are deficient. They are also depleted during stress.
    • They are water soluble, so they are not stored in the body for long and need to be replenished daily.
    • The B vitamins B-12, biotin and folic acid are particularly essential for energy.
  • Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, is important for immune system, is an antioxidant and is also needed for building strong muscles. Natural vitamin C is found in acerola cherry and açaí.
Some star energy product ingredients include:
  • Yerba Mate is a South American herb that has high levels of antioxidants and xanthine alkaloids. These are natural stimulants that occur in herbs like this (including caffeine, theophylline and theobromine). Yerba mate has been used for centuries in South America to promote mental clarity and sustained energy.
  • Goji Berries are packed with antioxidant carotenoids. That's what gives them their bright color.
  • Açaí (ah-sigh-EE) is a berry, and it's a source of antioxidants and fiber, certainly needed for energy.
  • Green Tea has a 5000-year history in China-and recent research associations-with health, energy and alertness. This is based on its antioxidant content and caffeine content which promotes alertness.
Many energy products contain caffeine.
  • Some energy products do contain caffeine while others do not. This is from either added or from caffeine-containing herbs, which contain it naturally. Check the ingredients.
  • Just because something's natural, you still need to be aware of the ingredients.
  • Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others; some get rapid heart rate and other symptoms from caffeine. In those cases it should be avoided or in very low doses.
  • Dr. Cass recommended no more than 150 mg of caffeine per serving. For some people 100 or less is better. (For comparison, a cup of coffee has somewhere between 100-150 mg of caffeine.)
  • Bottom line is safety first. People are tempted to guzzle energy drinks, which is not a good idea. You have to use judgment. Notice how your body responds.
  • When used all the time, energy products do not give the same bang as when used periodically.

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109 comments

Comments

Stacey says …

Bee Pollen is a great way to keep energy up. You can eat it raw or put it in your tea!

Stacey says …

I still believe that a balanced diet is the most important consideration when keeping your spirits, mood, and energy going. I don't eat meat so I don't have to deal with drain of digesting heavy food.

Mannia says …

So I came across this podcast series from a friend. Well it seems obvious. WF = no sugar, WF also = buy our products. Good try. Wouldn't it be great if very corporate company would actually say " find your own way, even if it doesn't mean buying my companies crap. Until then, WF keep shamelessly promoting your "exotic" products.

Merna says …

Vitamins are the best way to naturally deal with energy and health. No need to buy any extra herbs or other products.

Brenda says …

I am so glad you included all of the facts which support this podcast. There is so much great information which passes by quickly, it was good to reference the support in your bullet points.

Emily says …

Hey people check you diets. If you are eating well and taking care of your self you should have the energy to keep you inspired.

Jen says …

Good podcast thanks!

Lisa says …

I have to disagree with your host. There are plenty of studies which note that more then "1 cup of coffee" can be good for you. Likely she is not a parent of young kids. The most important thing a parent can do is make sure they are energized enough to be present with their kids. I get that you are trying to sell products, but please don't screw your message for the sake of the all mighty dollor.

Sammy says …

Natural juicing is another terrific option for energy and health!

Ilona says …

I really appreciate the podcasts you all create. I find it a good extension of the in store brand. Keep it up.

Bev says …

Love these podcasts!!!!

Kathy says …

I really rely on Vitamins to keep up my energy rocking.

Tina says …

Thanks for this podcast as well!

Tomn says …

Glad to find this podcast through Frugal Mama! It is a gret time of year to move out of the winter sleepy months and Spring into energy!

Fran says …

I have to agree with some of the others here- Coffee can get a bad rap. Let me have my Joe :)

Jill says …

Vitamins, balance, and exercise are all we really need to keep our energy going.

Meridee says …

I was curious about Yerba Mate. I've seen it out for awhile now but have yet to try it. Thanks, I'll check it out.

Dafna says …

Great podcast - thanks!

Dafna says …

Good point about vitamins being water soluble and needing to be taking daily.

Tania says …

Come on and lay off us moms who love coffee. Trust me, we need it.

Gilli says …

Not over eating, and eating evenly through out the day is a natural to keep your energy level.

Em says …

I just looked at an Ice Tea I bought at the store today and could NOT believe the sugar count. So high, I was quite surprised.

JoAnn says …

Nice combo, podcast, thanks.

Susan D. says …

I am a believer in keeping yourself hydrated. Hydration = energy.

Wendy says …

I wish you wouldn't give such a bad rap to caffeine. I really really need my coffee throughout the day, I am a mom of 3 already!

Martha says …

Not to sound goofy but I am crazy for Goji Berries. My friend turned me on to these a year ago and I feel like I am hooked.

Martha says …

Green tea is my bag. I use to be a big time coffee drinker and now I have shifted from black tea to green tea. At first I didn't feel to good when I quit coffee but now I am feeling very smooth throughout the day.

Barbara says …

Eating well, and physical activity can really help with energy. If you still need stimulants then I think the ideas put forth here are good alternatives.

Ann says …

Please repeat after me, caffeine is my friend, caffeine is my friend, caffeine is my friend.

Olive says …

I have never tried Yerba Mate, but I sure see its name everywhere these days. I'll check this out in your store.

Sarah says …

I don't appreciate that she is only suggesting one cup of coffee. I think it does affect everyone differently and for me 2 in the morning and one if the afternoon works so well for me.

Erin says …

I think it is interesting that essentially people look at fad drinks similar to fad diets. Be careful when you think Yerba Mate and Acai can solve your energy issues.

Brent Williams says …

I am so excited for Spring, and already feel more energetic after a long winter. That said, I am going to try a few of these options out, and try to really tune up my system for the summer!

Val says …

It sure is invaluable to be as healthy as possible. When you are young it is an afterthought,. but has age creeps up you start to realize there is no going back.

Polly says …

Like many here, I am fine with Coffee as a part of my daily pattern. It is something I cherish, as do people all over the world.

Gina says …

I am a vitamin junkie. I admit it. It really does help keep my energy even throughout a day to support my system with good liquid multis!

Joe says …

So, no more Red Bull? Just kidding. I don't drink any caffeine, not to be snotty about it, but I have found my energy more balanced with out the ups, and downs I experience with caffeine.

Olive says …

Good Podcast!

Fiona says …

Great podcast!

Lisa says …

The caffeine train, however fun, is still a tough ride for many people. The ups and downs can really pull you away from balance, and can lead to the old crash and burn.

Andie says …

Another good podcast.

Bobby says …

Great insights, I'll check these out.

Manny says …

Another good podcast.

Kelly says …

Natural balance for energy is the way I like to run. It has so much more longevity and in the end actually helps the body strengthen and grow.

Kelly says …

I have become an avid juicer, and really this is a great way to start the day for me! I would suggest everyone try it out.

Jasmine says …

I wonder how many other people came across this, while they were at a coffee shop :)

Karin says …

Big meals can kill your natural energy. It is important to eat a solid breakfast but don't go to heavy your you just won't recover, same goes for lunch. If I eat a heavy lunch I am done.

Terri says …

Vitamins are the only way to go :O Well of course exercise, good eating, happiness, all help!

Tami says …

Eating a balanced diet throughout the day including snacks is a good way to make sure your energy dosesn't go up and down!

Sue says …

I try to keep my coffee intake down to 2-3 cups of coffee per day, but I also take vitamins and support my system with a raw diet.

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