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Supplements Explained Part I

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I get a lot of questions about supplements I take and which ones are the best.  People usually want to know which one’s to take to lose weight.  Read my post, “Magic Pill” and read my take on people who are looking for the easy way out.

One thing that I do know is that I believe it is very important to supplement, especially if you workout regularly.  If you’re a couch potato . . . not so much. LOL.  I take supplements in the morning after my workout and at night before I go to bed.  The problem is that there are just soooo many supplements on the market, who knows which ones to buy.  Well that’s what this post is about.  I’m going to break these into two parts: Supplements Explained Part I and Part II.

In this post I want to clear up what supplements are, why you need them, which one’s you should take and which one’s I take.

First off, supplements have two main functions: (1) They help you recover from your workouts; (2) They help provide the vital nutrients that your body needs to heal and be healthy. 

The fact is that every time you workout you are depleting your energy giving glycogen, muscle protein is broken down and microscopic tears in muscle fibers occur, energy is lost from cells, fluid and electrolytes dwindle and disease causing free radicals proliferate.  Your body is now in need of “recovery” the process of rebuilding your body after an intense workout.  You need to resupply your body with all of the nutrients it lost and help repair what’s damaged.

Why is “recovery” so important?  Think higher energy levels, less fatigue, increased muscles size, and stronger immunity.  The supplements that i’m going to talk about will help your and your body in the recovery process.

Why are supplements so important?  Research suggests that supplements can help prevent diseases like heart disease, cancer and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.  Maintaining a healthy diet and adding supplements can also help reduce depression, sadness, and anxiety, while increasing mental focus and well being.

What supplements are not.  Supplements are not drugs.  Drugs simply cover up the pain and do not address the cause of the problem.  I’m not suggesting you don’t take prescription drugs, I’m just suggesting that there are a lot of good, healthy and positive alternatives that can be just as helpful.  Check with your doctor before you take any type of medication.   Supplements, although they take longer to see results, can provide a greater level of healing with less side effects.

When people ask me what supplements they should take my first question is always, “What is it you’re trying to achieve with supplements?  Weight loss, energy, weight gain, or just maintain a healthier lifestyle.”  In reality everybody is different.  Your age, weight, stress level, gender, exercise intensity should all be considered when looking for supplements.

The following are from Tony Horton’s book “Bring It”, these suggestions come from what he calls “My Super 11 Supplement Program”.  I will post the first 5 here and the last 6 in a later post.

1.)  Multivitamin/Multimineral

Why You Might Need This: Even if you eat a balanced diet, I think you should consider taking a multivitamin and a multimineral. Even the most healthful diets may still lack the needed levels of vitamins and minerals. Few doctors and health professionals would disagree. In fact, several years ago, the influential study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that all adults should take a daily multivitamin to prevent chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. The report, written by researchers and physicians at Harvard Medical School, was based on a review of 152 studies published during the past 40 years. Most experts agree that any multi containing 100 percent of the recommended requirements for each nutrient is adequate.

If your multi is an antioxidant formula, all the better. An essential part of recovery involves mustering your body’s antioxidant defense forces. When you exercise, there’s a dramatic increase in the amount of oxygen used by your body. A fraction of this oxygen is converted into free radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that attack body tissues. Normally, free radicals are not a big problem. But during strenuous activity, free radicals can start outnumbering antioxidants—a condition called oxidative stress. This may leave you vulnerable to disease.

Plus, when you damage muscle cells during exercise, your body is left with a lot of debris for your immune cells to clean up. Think of this scenario as equivalent to a group of janitors arriving to clean up a mess. They get help from antioxidant vitamins like E and C. In short, antioxidants will help repair and clean up the rubbish left over from torn-up muscle fibers—and that, my friends, is crucial.

Effective Dosage: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage. Because vitamins and minerals are particles of food, it’s best to take them with food for maximum uptake by your body.

Note: If you are a woman over 50, it’s unlikely that your multivitamin will contain sufficient levels of magnesium and calcium to meet your needs. Seek out a separate calcium-magnesium supplement with at least 100 milligrams magnesium and 1,000 milligrams calcium.

2.) B-Complex

Why You Might Need This: B-complex vitamins help convert food into energy; help the nervous system and brain function at optimal levels; aid stress relief; maintain healthy skin, eyes, and hair; promote muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract; and support the immune system. B vitamins are easily flushed out of the body, and people on weight-loss diets, alcoholics, or those who take antibiotics or seizure drugs are even more inclined to have a vitamin B deficiency.

Effective Dosage: 50 to 300 milligrams daily. Formulas of B-complex typically provide all the B vitamins in the correct proportions. The Bs are water-soluble and pass through the body quickly, so take them in a time-released formula or divide up your dose over the course of the day and take with food.

3.) Vitamin C

Why You Might Need This: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that slows aging, aids tissue repair, enhances immunity, helps you handle stress, maintains healthy gums, activates folic acid, and increases iron absorption.

Effective Dosage: 500 to 3,000 milligrams daily. Our bodies don’t make vitamin C, so we need outside sources. Ester-C is the better form. It’s non-acidic, enters the blood faster, and stays in tissues longer (combine it with bioflavonoids for a greater effect). Vitamin C rapidly flushes away in urine, so take it in a time-released formula or divide up your dose over the course of the day and take with food.

4.) Fish Oil

Why You Might Need This: Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate the cardiovascular, reproductive, nervous, and immune systems; are a component of cell membranes; prevent blood clots; lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol; reduce inflammation; promote healthy skin, hair, and nails; transport oxygen to the tissues; and lessen PMS and perimenopausal symptoms. Most doctors today recommend that we all supplement our diets with fish oil.

Effective Dosage: 250 to 3,000 milligrams daily. Divide up your dose over the course of the day and take with food.

5.) Gingko Biloba

Why You Might Need This: I’ve read up on this herb’s effects on the brain. It is thought to improve circulation and, thereby, to increase the flow of blood and nutrients to the brain. This may make it an especially useful memory-booster for middle-aged and older people, since blood flow to the brain diminishes as we age. Of course, there are studies that say gingko is all smoke and mirrors. All I know is that when I take it, I remember things, and when I don’t, I’m forgetful.

Effective Dosage: Aim for 120 to 160 milligrams a day, divided into three doses.

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One Response to “Supplements Explained Part I”

  1. breakpoint says:

    Great article. I was one that always thought of supplements similar to drugs and didn’t want anything to do with them. Info like this really clears it all up. Thanks

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