Should you be taking supplements? What I Recommend
If you are like me, you want to make sure that what is going into your body is going to enhance your life, not hinder it. That’s why I have put together this handy guide of some of the more common supplements as well as details of some that I take on a regular basis.
Let me just start by saying this article will not be discussing protein or fat loss supplements.
You can read my article on protein HERE.
In my opinion fat loss supplements should never be taken by anyone, anywhere.
Millions of us take vitamins and dietary supplements hoping to achieve good health, ease our illnesses or defy aging. Recent years have seen a massive boom in supplement use as products that were once the preserve of specialist health food stores have become available alongside our groceries in the supermarket and on the internet. As availability has grown, so have sales. In 2009 the UK market for dietary supplements and vitamins was worth more than £670 million.
There are two types of vitamin: water-soluble (like vitamin C and the B vitamins), and fat-soluble (like vitamins A & D). If your body already has enough of the water-soluble vitamins, then when you take more, they are just filtered straight out into your urine. You can’t ‘boost’ your vitamin levels past ‘enough’. With the fat-soluble vitamins, they are stored in your fat and places like the liver, and if you take a large extra dose you can actually overdose on them, so they are usually found in much smaller quantities in vitamin pills.
Today’s supplements contain not just vitamins and minerals, but herbs, amino acids, enzymes, fibre and fatty acids.
Should You Be Taking Them?
Taking supplements will not correct a poor diet. We get a lot more from foods than just one or two vitamins or minerals; we also get energy, protein, fibre and other natural compounds that can have beneficial effects on our health.
There is a lot of research to suggest isolating specific vitamins and minerals into a supplement means they are not used in the same way in the body as if they were found naturally in foods. There are many other nutrients and compounds that increase absorption rate and effectiveness.
There are however some science-backed vitamin supplements that can do just that… supplement a healthy and balanced diet.
One of the most effective ways to find out if you need to be supplementing is to get a full blood test from your doctor, or there are now online blood tests.
Like with anything you put into your body you need to make sure the supplements you choose are top quality. By Buying any old supplement over the internet, you run the risk of getting products that could be contaminated with toxic compounds.
Supplements I Take
Below are the supplements and brands that I personally use on a daily basis, the effects that I have felt are purely anecdotal and not necessarily backed by any current studies.
I have put quite a lot of research into the supplements that I use and there are a few brands that I know and trust.
Vitamin D is rare in our diet and is formed in the body when we are exposed to sunlight, and in the UK many of us are not getting enough during the 6 months of the year where we barely see the Sun!
It is, in fact, a hormone, not a vitamin. It comes in two forms as either D3 or D2, and does not have significant biological activity. It must be metabolized within the body to be used effectively.
There is a lot of on-going research into the benefits but currently, Vitamin D is known to be crucial in the absorption of calcium, facilitating normal function of the immune system and there are studies to suggest it can reduce the risk of getting Multiple Sclerosis and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, experiments using cultured cells have demonstrated that vitamin D has potent effects on the growth and differentiation of many types of cells.
There is a danger of taking too much Vitamin D. Excessive exposure to sunlight does not lead to overproduction of vitamin D. Vitamin D toxicity is the result of overdosing on vitamin D supplements.
This winter is the first time that I have taken a daily dose of vitamin D3 and I have to say it is the only supplement I take that has a direct effect on my immune system, energy levels, and feelings of well-being.
I take 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 with my first meal and there is an almost instantaneous boost in energy.
Furthermore, I haven’t caught any of the cold or flus that have been going around this winter.
I use Vitamin D3 by Nutriadvanced – https://www.nutriadvanced.co.uk/d3-5000-60-tabs.html
Read more about the benefits of Vitamin D Here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/
Zinc is a crucially important mineral that’s involved in ALL areas of the body, including, cognitive (brain) function, immunity, hormones, bones, and vision. It’s involved in over 300 reactions in the body.
There is evidence that taking zinc within a day of developing symptoms of a cold reduces the duration of the cold by about a day and that regular supplementation (for at least five months) protects people against catching colds. For many people, the limited benefit seen here may not seem worth the expense and possible side effects of taking zinc.
I take zinc if I feel that scratchy throat feeling at the start of a cold or if I think I have been overtraining and not getting enough sleep.
A diet that’s rich in fish oil has so many benefits for your health. As well as supporting your heart and brain, it can also be good for your skin, joints, and mood.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are important for good health and cannot be made by the body – they must be obtained from the diet. Eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily, such as fresh tuna, mackerel, and herring.
Unfortunately, many Fish Oils can contain heavy metals and other detrimental compounds. Often, rancid fish oil is used which contain less of the good stuff and can contribute to bad breath.
I personally use the Bare Biology brand. They only use wild-caught fish oils, contain a high amount of the active ingredients and they take pride in using certified sustainable fisheries.
I take four capsules with my first meal.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and 50% of magnesium is located in the bones. Magnesium, similar to zinc, is a necessary cofactor for over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. This includes everyday processes, such as muscle building, maintaining nerve function, keeping a healthy heartbeat and sustaining optimal immune system function.
Magnesium is not easily absorbed in the body unless first attached to transporting substance. For this reason, many supplement manufacturers have “chelated” magnesium to organic and amino acids. A few of these include magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate and magnesium carbonate. Quality depends on the amount of magnesium in the supplement and how bioavailable it is. Bioavailability refers to the amount of magnesium in the supplement that can be assimilated by the digestive system and used for cellular activity and health benefit.
Anyone that exercises regularly should consider taking a magnesium supplement. Exercise can increase demand for magnesium by up to 20%. This research has shown that exercise induces a redistribution of magnesium in the body to accommodate metabolic needs. There is evidence that marginal magnesium deficiency impairs exercise performance and amplifies the negative consequences of strenuous exercise.
I personally use Magnesium-L-Threonate which has been shown to improve brain function and memory.
I have also used Magnesium Citrate which has a good level of bioavailability.
I usually take three capsules right before bed.
ZZZZs by Form Nutrition
I have been using ZZZZs before bed for years, it is the only sleep supplement that I reccommened to my one on one coaching clients.
ZZZZ’s is a nootropic sleep supplement to help you make the most of your days by naturally supporting a regenerative sleep.
Centred around 5-HTP, calming amino acids and essential dietary minerals magnesium and zinc, ZZZZs works to address any deficiencies that may be affecting your sleep and by calming and relaxing to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
I take one capsule just before bed.
L-lysine is an essential amino acid. Many people know that several amino acids are known as the “building blocks of protein” and are needed in order for a huge number of proper internal functions, including growth.
Specifically, L-lysine is very important in the creation of carnitine, which converts fatty acids into energy and also lowers cholesterol levels. L-lysine also seems to play a role in absorbing calcium and helps the body form collagen, which aids in the growth and maintenance of bones and connective tissue (including skin).
I first started using L-Lysine to combat cold sores. If I spend a weekend drinking and not getting enough sleep I nearly always get a cold sore. I started using it whenever I felt that pulsing sensation on my lips, and since using it I haven’t got any cold sores.
I find it far more effective than any cream, it can stop a cold sore in its tracks and decrease the severity of the cold sore.
I highly recommend it!
I take one capsule as a preventive measure when I know I haven’t got enough sleep or if I feel like a cold sore is about to come on.
I hope this guide has given you a bit of extra supplement knowledge. I have only written about supplements and providers that I have had personal experience with, there are many others out there that are perfect for plenty of other needs. Remember, I am not telling you what you should be taking, that is something you are going to need to find out for yourself, but I hope that you now have a great starting point when it comes to discovering what supplements will (and won’t!) enhance YOUR body!