One of the most common client questions I get is “What supplements should I be taking?” This month, I would like to outline a few products that have proven to be valuable supplements and worth the money spent. Please remember: There is no supplement in the world that can make up for poor training techniques and poor diet. The fastest way to get healthy and strong is through hard work, proper training, and eating quality foods.
FISH OIL: Fish oil is definitely one of the most common supplements used as of late. Several research articles have evaluated its effect on body composition, training recovery, and health optimization. They are as follows:
Reduced inflammation from physical training
Increase in serotonin levels
Decrease in blood pressure
Activation of lipolytic genes
Suppression of lipogenic genes
Cell membrane health
Activation of enzymes responsible for burning fat
Mitigate insulin response
PROBIOTICS: History provides us with some clues on how different cultures promoted their intestinal health before modern times. Many cultures used fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots as support for intestinal and overall health. In the early 1900s, Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff (Nobel Prize 1908) proposed that the Balkan population enjoyed excellent health due to consumption of large quantities of fermented milks containing beneficial bacteria. These ‘good’ bacteria were later defined as probiotics, which comes from Greek terminology meaning ‘for life.’ In the 1950s, the USDA licensed a probiotic formula for use in animals. They were later pioneered for human use.
So what does that mean for us? The ‘good’ bacteria in your gastrointestinal system can only provide you with optimum health if the proper balance of different types of bacteria is maintained in your gut. This is where probiotics come in. Probiotic formulas are available with many different types of bacterial strains. The most common is Lactobacillus acidophilus. This strain supports several benefits including:
Aids in digesting food, particularly hard-to-digest foods and foods to which some individuals are more sensitive.
Enhances the synthesis of B vitamins and improves calcium absorption
Helps keep a healthy balance of intestinal microflora
Supports overall immune function
This is where probiotics can have a profound effect… not just on your GI health, but on your overall health as well. Keep in mind, 80% of your immune system actually lives in your gut.
VITAMIN D: Vitamin D engages in very complex metabolic processes within your body. Scientists believe that vitamin D serves a wide range of fundamental biological functions relating to many aspects of your health. Your skin naturally produces your body’s supply of vitamin D from direct exposure to bright midday sun with a mere ten or fifteen minutes’ exposure per day. Fear of skin cancer has created a fear of sunshine. People now either intentionally or unintentionally avoid the sun — or smear on sunscreen that blocks the beneficial wavelengths that produce vitamin D in your skin.
Vitamin D can contribute to the following benefits:
Cell formation and cell longevity
Vascular system health
Healthy mood and feelings of well-being
Weight management, including carbohydrate and fat metabolism
Hair and hair follicles
Strong and healthy bones, because vitamin D encourages calcium uptake
Proper digestion and food absorption
MULTI VITAMINS: It is and will always be best to eat whole foods for proper nutrition. However, accessing and eating high quality foods regularly may be a personal challenge for you and your family. Your busy schedule may leave you less time to cook healthy whole foods and eat “fast food” more. Furthermore, the nutrient value in our food is said to be markedly less by the time we eat it because of how it is cooked, stored and packaged. This is where a high quality multivitamin supplement can complement the food you eat. They do not take the place of a healthful diet of unprocessed foods.
The following components are typically found in a quality multivitamin:
Natural beta-carotene — healthy vision and immune system support
Vitamin C — promotes tissue growth and repair, and healthy gums
Vitamin D3 — supports heart, bone, vascular and immune system health
Vitamin E — helps support your muscular system
Selenium — bolsters your healthy immune system
L-cysteine — supports your immune and respiratory systems
Lutein — helps promote your healthy vision
Lycopene — supports your immune system
If you managed to get through all of this, remember that there is no supplement in the world that can make up for poor training techniques and a poor diet. If you are eating well and are looking to optimize your health these supplements have been proven to help in many ways.