What the f*ck should I be taking anyway?
Walking into a supplement store is like walking into a pharmacy, where everything usually prescribed to you is readily available. How do you decide what to take?
- Cycle: Cycle everything you take. Our bodies enjoy novelty, and some supplements have an accumulative effect (think fat-soluble vitamins A/D/E/K). Take breaks even from those ‘safe’ water-soluble vitamins, like all B vitamins.
- Avoid Hyper Dosing: Trying to boost your collagen formation by taking vitamin C? Don’t overdo it. Stick to the label’s dosage instructions unless otherwise coached by a health professional. Too much of a ‘good’ thing can negatively affect your health.
- Mimicking Nature: Remember that supplements do their best to replicate substances naturally found in food or herbs, but it will never be able to replace it. Food sources contain other substances to make the nutrients more bioavailable, whereas supplements often contain an isolated nutrient. The best example is vitamin A in supplemental form can increase the chances of developing lung cancer in smokers and ex-smokers alike, whereas vitamin A from food sources does not lead to the same risk factors.
- Supplemental Form Matters: Are you taking no-name brand supplements in hard tablets? You’re probably wasting your money. Most people’s digestive systems cannot properly break down large tablets, leading to it’s excretion (poop/pee!). Stick to liquid, powder, or gelatin/vegetable based capsules instead, to get what you paid for.
- Fish Oils and Probiotics: Fish oils or Omega 3 supplements, are praised for their ability to reduce overall inflammation. Probiotics are helpful for maintaining a healthy balance of flora (bacteria) in your gut. However, most fish oil and probiotic supplements are not stored or packaged properly. If you buy either of these products at room temperature, by a no name brand, you’re likely consuming rancid oil and/or dead bacteria… increasing overall inflammation in the body rather than reducing it. Stick to reputable brands like Genestra, found in the fridge at your local health food store or supplement store.
So where should I start? If you’re new to taking supplements, it’s generally safe to start with the following:
- Multi-Vitamin: Taking a multi-vitamin will prevent any major deficiencies from occurring, but will not be able to completely reverse any existing deficiencies. They contain low doses of each nutrient.
- High-Quality Fish Oil: Most of us could use a little help reducing the overall inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation occurs from the air we breathe (pollutants), the pesticides in our food, stress from our lives, and the physical stress we put on our bodies by working out. Fish oils help our bodies recover from the daily grind.
- Greens Powder: Especially for those new to healthy eating, a greens powder can prove useful. Helpful for detoxifying heavy metals and other compounds out of the body, improving overall health. Note: this is not meant to replace eating your greens!
- Protein Powder: Useful especially right after exercise to rebuild muscle and increase recovery, or during periods of illness, when appetite is low.
- BCAA’s: Branch chain amino acids are helpful to consume right before doing fasted exercise or during intense/prolonged exercise, to prevent muscle from being broken down for energy.
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