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Very few industries on planet earth have more hype than the supplement industry. You can find a supplement for just about anything, burning fat, building muscle, better memory, mental focus, sexual performance (you get the picture).
Logic dictates that if every one of these supplements worked, we would all be walking around in optimal health and performing amazing feats of mental and physical acuity, but the truth is most of these products aren't worth the labeling their titles are printed on. What's worse, if you aren't aware of all the different ingredients that are being mixed in with these products you can do damage to your kidneys, liver, and heart, and some of this damage can be so severe it can lead to death.
It doesn't matter what slight advantage you gain from taking supplements, if you don't live to see another work out then it is pointless.
Now that we have gotten the depressing part out of the way, the bright side is that some supplements are backed by science which can provide beneficial properties with limited chance of serious damage to the body.
Below we will be going over some of the top supplements and what they can do for your health and performance.
It may seem obvious, but protein is essential not just for building muscle, but for ensuring optimal health in your later years in life as well. When going through sickness, facing hospitalization or any other stressful event it is imperative to keep up protein intake to retain muscle, maintaining bone health and support other bodily functions.
This is because as we grow older when going through stressful experience the body does not process protein as effectively. Seniors who keep up with their protein intake are 30 % less likely to experience functional impairment than those who eat less. Per research done in 2016, it is advised that adults have a protein intake between 1.2 and 2.0 g/kg/day or higher.
Although protein is important, what is MORE, important is where that protein is gotten from, especially for the elderly. Those in their golden years need to receive their protein from foods NOT from supplements. While there is not necessarily anything inherently unhealthy about drinking a protein shake, it is much healthier to get what is needed from a variety of foods such as fish, steak, chicken and pork. A protein supplement shouldn't ever replace real food, there are way too many benefits that come with getting protein the natural way.
The most obvious use for Protein is to build muscle. In a study performed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine which involved thousands of resistance trainers, it was found that those who kept a high Protein intake showed a significant increase in performance and strength when training.
Again, although it is better to get your protein from food, the amount of protein required to bulk does not always make getting protein from food viable so in this case, it may be necessary to use supplements such as protein shakes to meet your macro requirements.
Turmeric is a spice that is mainly used in Asia to treat a variety of health issues. Turmeric has numerous scientifically proven health benefits such as the ability to help with inflammation, prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.
The main ingredient in Tumeric is Curcumin, Curcumin has been shown to increase the brains capacity to create BDNF (Brain-Derived Neutronic Factor) which is a type of growth hormone found in your brain. Certain mental disorders such as depression and Alzheimer's have been linked to a decrease in BDNF so anything that can help your brain increase this process is beneficial to your health.
Interestingly, some people believe this quality of Turmeric also can help with memory and increase intelligence, more study is needed to confirm this, but, logically, this would occur given the fact Turmeric increases BDNF
Vitamin D is naturally provided to the body through proper exposure to the sun. In some places where access to the sun is not always available (such as Seattle), it may be necessary to take supplements to ensure you maintain healthy levels required for bodily and mental functions.
An interesting fact about Vitamin D is that, contrary to the name, it is a pro-hormone. What makes a vitamin a vitamin is that it is something that it cannot be naturally created by our bodies, this is not the case for Vitamin D as it is naturally produced by the body when the skin is exposed to natural sunlight.
When sunlight hits our skin, Vitamin D can be synthesized by our body naturally and research has shown that 5-10 minutes of exposure to sun two to three times a week can give adequate amounts of this prohormone. Unfortunately, unlike other pro-hormones, Vitamin D breaks down rapidly making it easy for your body to run low, especially during times when the sun is not readily available such as winter
Vitamin D has been linked to a myriad of health benefits, to list a few:
Prevention of Numerous Diseases: Vitamin D has a powerful effect on over 200 genomes, which have the potential of being impaired if there is a deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is possibly linked to an increased risk of numerous health issues such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, and autism.
The recommended intake of Vitamin D is predicated on your age, if you are curious how much you should be consuming, here is a list provided by NIH.gov
Although bacteria have a bad rep in terms of causing disease and illness, we need a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut to ensure proper health and can even help relieve certain health issues. As insane as it may sound, in a healthy gut, approximately 100 trillion microorganisms are representing more than 500 different species. Most of these are not harmful and serve to keep pathogens (harmful bacteria) in check while aiding indigestion.
Here is a list of some of the top disorders that maintaining a healthy level of probiotics may serve to prevent:
Prebiotics act like fertilizer and encourage the growth of probiotics which as you now know, are necessary for your health. In one research study, prebiotics has been shown that taking prebiotics for three weeks could reduce the severity of exercise-induced asthma in adults by 40%. Participants in the study also noted improvements in eczema and allergic symptoms. Prebiotics are found in fiber-rich foods such as:
There has not been a lot of research that has been done regarding the benefits of prebiotics, but some benefits that may come with using them are:
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega 3 is a fatty acid that comes in many forms, two of these forms are very important for mental health and brain development, these are EPA and DHA. Both types are found abundantly in fish.
EPA and DHA have both have been shown to have a myriad of health benefits such as boosts brain health, improves heart functioning, and easing depression.
Another important type of Omega is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), this acid is found in plant-based foods such as walnuts and flax seeds. ALA has been linked to lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, slowed skin aging and improved nerve function.
Humans produce ALA in small amounts so at times it is good to increase your levels by consuming foods that are high in this form of Omega 3.
Here is a list of foods that are high in Omega 3:
Magnesium is a mineral that is naturally found in abundance in the human body, it is mainly located in your bones, however, magnesium is also found in your blood and soft tissues such as muscle. Magnesium is so important because it is a co-factor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, this includes but is not limited to:
Numerous foods can provide an abundance of magnesium, here is a list of some of the top choices:
Whole Wheat. Most whole grains are a good source of magnesium, but whole wheat flour wins with 160 mg per cup
A deficiency in magnesium can spell trouble for multiple body systems, so you must make sure your bodies magnesium levels stay up to par. Here is a list of some of the issues that come with a deficiency in magnesium:
Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10 for short) is a nutrient found in all cells and has numerous health benefits. It has been shown to:
As an added benefit for those who participate in strength training, CoQ10 has been shown to reduce the oxidative damage that comes with building muscle and can help you recover from muscle fatigue and also prevent the risk of skin and brain damage.
While it is possible to get CoQ10 from foods, most of what you can find to eat does not contain adequate amounts of CoQ10 to help with any deficiency, because of this, you may want to turn to a supplement if you feel you may be running low on this nutrient
Vitamin B 12
Vitamin B 12 (also known as cobalamin) is an important vitamin that is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body. B 12 is essential to bodily functions and its deficiency is all too common. Some people are simply not eating enough foods that contain vitamin B 12 and others simply can't get enough, such as the elderly.
Vitamin B 12 is present in numerous different kinds of food such as:
Animal Liver and Kidneys.
Other "Organ" Meats
A deficiency of B 12 comes with a whole host of side effects, none of them which are pleasant. While a small deficiency usually won't result in any serious issues, a major deficiency and lead you to become anemic becoming anemic here is a list of the potential problems that can arise when B 12 is lacking:
Given the fact that B 12 is so important to your overall health, it is important to know how much B 12 you need per your age group, Web MD provides an excellent chart that should be referred to.
The Next Step:
Now that you know about some of the top supplements that may actually benefit your health you may be wondering WHERE do you find them? Going to a store may seem like the most logical choice, but there is a good chance you are going to pay double or even TRIPLE the amount you normally would simply because they have a lot more overhead to account for. One great option is to visit an online store like A1 Supplements.com, there you can find just about EVERYTHING you need and the best part is the prices are PHENOMENAL!