Thursday, May 26, 2011

Supplementally Yours

In a perfect world, food would be enough.  There would be no irradiation, no genetic modification, no pesticides.  In a perfect world, everything would be seasonal, locally and sustainably grown, and grown in nutrient-rich soil.  In a perfect world, everyone would have a complete diet, and in a perfect world, no one would have any need for anything more than that.

This is not a perfect world.

Supplements have a bad rap.  A few months ago, I was talking to someone about the viability of a vegan diet, and gave several examples of people (including myself) who thrive on it.  The response was, "Yeah, but they all have to supplement a lot."  My response was, "Of course they do.  You probably should, too."  The fact of the matter is, no matter how healthy you think your diet is, chances are, it could use a little supplementing.  Granted, I take things to an extreme, as I live and breathe health and nutrition, but most people could stand to, at minimum, take a good multivitamin.  (I do my multi in the form of a Vega shake made with unsweetened almond milk for breakfast every day, and add into that a greens supplement, as I strongly believe you can never have enough greens, and a berry supplement for inflammation control, as inflammation inside the body leads to serious illness).

These are the supplements I take every day, and the reasons I take them.  I know it sounds like a lot; it hasn't been a big deal for me and it's become so routine that I don't really think about it much.  I know that my lifestyle isn't for everyone, but it works really well for me.  And, while I am very, very conscious of my diet, I am absolutely not a "food is fuel" type person.  I love food.  I love good food.  I cook a lot, and I go out to eat a few times a week.  My life is not on hold because of my eating choices.  This is just for informational purposes; do with it what you will.

Oh, come on.  It's not that bad.


-Strontium:  Very important for bone health.  I wrote about it in detail in this post.

-Hyaluronic Acid:  Hyaluronic acid has been proven in study after study (like this one, for instance) to improve joint integrity, relieve arthritis, improve wound healing, and more.  Arthritis runs in my family, and as I work with my hands a lot and do a lot of heavy lifting, staying as pain-free as possible is very important.  Plus, I'm a klutz and have cats with pointy feet, so anything that speeds up wound healing is a good thing in my book.

-A vegan DHA supplement (made from algae):  As a vegan, the fatty acid DHA is hard to come by through diet alone.  It is generally found in fish oil.  DHA has been linked to the prevention of mental decline (and I can use all the mental help I can get!  ;) ), is protective against cancer and renal disease, and much more.  I highly recommend all vegans take a vegan DHA supplement.

-CoQ10:  As you may know, my father had his first heart attack at age 33, and had a slew of other heart problems throughout his life.  I make sure I take care of my heart.  CoQ10 is one way I do this.   This coenzyme has a strong role in heart health, and is being studied for its role in cancer prevention.   It also helps with migrane headaches, Parkinson's Disease, periodontal health, and shows potential in increasing lifespan.  In short, good stuff.

Resveratrol:  This phenol is the reason that wine is supposedly good for you.  Well, wine also leads to breast cancer in women and adds a lot of calories to the diet (plus alcohol tends to stimulate the appetite, all of which leads to weight gain) while the resveratrol alone seems to inhibit breast cancer, so I'd rather just take the phenol and call it a day.  Resveratrol has been shown not only to improve heart health, but to be useful for preventing a host of age-related chronic diseases, so it is definitely on my list of must-takes.

Turmeric:  for its anti-inflammatory and brain health-enhancing properties.  More on that here.

GPC/PS (Glycerophosphocholine, phosphatidylserine):  This powerhouse combo of complicated-sounding chemicals is a one-two punch for Alzheimer's prevention and brain health.  (GPC)(PS)   PS has also shown applications for sports recovery (very useful for me!).


SPORTS RECOVERY/ANABOLICS:

No, I don't do steroids.  I do, however, take supplements that have been proven to help muscle recovery and improve muscle growth, such as these:

-BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) :
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/6/1583S.full

-Mucuna Dopa:  http://www.naturvitae.com/UK/ERBE/Mucuna_pruriens_Velvet_Bean.php

-Beta Alanine:
http://www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317%2807%2900277-1/abstract;
http://www.springerlink.com/content/j471337168464032/

-Creatine Monohydrate:  Creatine supplementation is extremely controversial, for some reason.  However, the fact of the matter is, it is one of the most researched sports supplements out there, and there is little to no evidence that oral consumption of CM (about 5-20ish grams/day) has side effects or that it causes liver or kidney damage, as many people like to report.  What it does do, and has been proven to do over and over, is increase muscle strength and endurance in healthy adults.  As a matter of fact, it even shows significant benefits to those with neuromuscular diseases such as ALS.  As an added benefit, creatine supplementation has been shown to benefit cognitive abilities


So yeah, in a perfect world, all of this would easily come from our diet.  But when it comes down to it, we could all need a little help (some of us more than others).  Supplementation is not a bad word.  As a matter of fact, it's a word that will likely significantly enhance, if not save, your life.


Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

4 comments:

  1. B12 for vegans, present in soy milk and other "veg" products, but not in any non-animal whole foods.
    D3, from sun is great, not too much though, and even in SoCal supplements are needed in winter.
    Coffee and dark chocolate.

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  2. Yes on all of the above! And definitely B12 for vegans (this is why I recommend a multi). Nutritional yeast, which I use in a lot of recipes, is rich in B12, too.

    Coffee is another thing that gets a bad rap... fodder for another blog. :) And dark chocolate-- try to get a sugar free kind if you can! (There are some great high-quality, often raw, organic dark chocolates that use erythritol as their sweetener...)

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  3. Thanks for the "list"...very interesting and I've written some down to pick up and give a try. I'm very interested in the Strontium since I'm now dealing with stress fractures in both feet from marathon training. I have a normal bone density scan, the only sign of osteoporosis was my Grandmother, so I don't think I'm going that way, but who knows.
    I'm RKC and I "live" bodyweight workouts! I'm hoping this supplement will be helpful so I can get back out on the roads....
    Supplements I also take are Elk velvet antler for overall greatness and I'm looking into one called "maca". I was given this name to help with menopause issues. I'd love to hear if you've heard of either of these. I'm a huge advocate for the antler....I won't let a day go by without it!
    Thanks again for the post!

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  4. I know maca has been studied for its ability to enhance libido and semen quality, and possibly helps mood. Elk velvet, from what I understand, may have some benefits for arthritis (but as it is not a vegan product, it is not one I have personal experience with).

    Let me know how it goes with the strontium-- I know many people have scored significantly higher on bone density tests after using it for a while!

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