Select the Right Supplements
Supplementation is fairly common in the U.S. and other developed countries. There's all sorts of options when it comes to choosing what to supplement and where to buy from. Tons of supplements focus on macronutrients; proteins powders, bars, shakes or fat supplements like MCT oils, fish oils and omega 3s. Others choose to supplement nootropics to enhance cognitive function, things like caffeine, aniracetam, nicotine, taurine, L-theanine and many more. Then, some believe plant extracts and herbs are best to supplement, things like ashwagandha, ginseng, milk thistle or rhodiola. We also have vitamin and mineral supplements that range from specific vitamins, to small trace minerals, to multivitamins. There are several questions you should get answered when buying supplements. A few of these questions are: What should I supplement? What additional supplements might be helpful for specific improvements to my performance? What is the best form of the supplement I am looking to buy? Where is the best place to buy these from? Filtering through the masses of information and advertising surrounding the supplement world can be a big job. Here is what the Enlightened Neanderthal suggests you look for when selecting your supplements.
Micronutrients Before Macronutrients
Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These are the nutrients we need in greatest volume, but that is not typically where our health gets lost. In my opinion, protein is far less important than most supplement companies want us to believe. Ok, maybe if you are a body builder but for 99% of the population who live in developed countries, protein intake is plenty high. I was a college athlete, in a grueling sport. We lifted, ran, and wrestled almost every day. Even with these extreme physical requirements, I don't believe supplementing protein ever helped me all that much. We now know that consuming protein and carbs, both of which trigger insulin response, have a testosterone and growth hormone lowering impact on the body. This means consuming a high carb protein shake after a lift might do more harm than good. There is certainly a trade off between refueling with macronutrients and keeping your body's natural hormones high. I would argue that hormones are far more important, most of the time, than refueling. If after reading this you still feel you want to supplement macronutrients, I would strongly consider supplementing healthy fats like MCT oils, fish oils and cholesterols like butter and eggs before you put money into supplementing protein. Unless you consciously make a point to consume healthy fats, you probably aren't getting optimal amounts. If you want to hear more about the benefits of fat and hormone productions, check out my other articles 3 Reasons Why Fat is Beautiful & Healthy and Houston, We Have a Hormone Problem.
For our purposes, I will define micronutrients as compounds like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, bioflavonoids, prebiotics and probiotics. These are the nutrients that should be at the top of our list of supplements. Here is how the CDC (Center for Disease Control) describes the importance of micronutrients:
"Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, which although only required by the body in small amounts, are vital to development, disease prevention, and wellbeing. Micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from the diet." (http://www.cdc.gov/immpact/micronutrients/)
As you can see by the serious tone of this message, micronutrients are essential for health and high performance. In the past, organizations like the CDC have focused on avoiding major illnesses that arise from extreme deficiencies of certain micronutrients. As science develops further, we are beginning to understand how even slightly low levels of micronutrients cause the body to perform below its potential in the short run and small deficiencies that last many years can lead to early death in diseases of aging. We need far more than protein, carbs and fat to maintain and create a healthy body. This is why supplementing micronutrients should take precedence far before macronutrients.
Start With Complete Health Supplements
Many people and companies try to segment and piece together what they believe to be a couple of the most important supplements. Some push fish oils, others push vitamin D or B vitamins. All of these are important but you should realize that your body is a massive chemistry set that requires more than a couple vitamins or minerals. Your bodily chemistry set needs raw materials to complete millions of chemical reactions and cell processes each day. On top of all these chemical reactions, your body has to physically build structures like, bone, heart, lung, skin and brain tissues. These tasks require raw material. You simply cannot build something out of nothing. This is why I suggest finding supplements that offer as many of the basic raw materials your body needs to perform, recover, and renew itself.
Youngevity , a company whose products I personally use and strongly endorse, offers a line of supplements called 90 For Life. Their Healthy Body Start Paks offer a complete nutrient profile of the 90 essential nutrients your body needs on a regular basis to maintain health in the short and long run. For a list of the 90 For Life nutrients click HERE. There are 60 minerals, 2-3 essential fatty acids, 16 vitamins and 12 essential amino acids that your body needs. If forced to go without any of these nutrients long enough, the body will break down in some way. Different deficiencies will manifest themselves in different ways. Some may experience poor memory and cognition, anxiety, depression, others may have severe inflammation, acne, poor sleep or sore joints. In the long run, nutritional deficiencies can lead to more severe problems like alzheimer's, severe arthritis, heart failure and cancer. I strongly believe that supplementing the essential nutrients is one of the best steps you can take for your personal health.
In my own experience I have felt the benefits of consuming the 90 For Life, Healthy Start Paks on a regular basis and they are profound. Expensive? If you compare their price to other supplements they do appear expensive. If you take a deeper look at the amount of quality nutrients they provide, there seems to be no way you could ever match what they offer by hand selecting and piecing together a supplement regimen from your local supplement store. Fractionalizing supplementation by selecting a small number of vitamins or minerals is something a lot of people attempt. This type of supplementation, though better than nothing, will bear limited benefits. Many of the nutrients we need depend on the presence of several other nutrients to work together with for proper absorption and use. We call these nutrients cofactors. For example, calcium needs vitamin D to be used and absorbed properly by the body. B vitamins need omega 3 fats to be properly used by the body. Youngevity has formulated their products to ensure synergy between the different nutrients in their supplements. If you believe you can find better, more complete supplements somewhere else, I would urge you to use Youngevity's Healthy Start Pak and other products as a reference to help guide you in mixing the right balance of nutrients. Just look for their supplement facts on the product pages for complete details and ingredients.
High Absorbability is Essential
You are not what you eat, you are what you absorb. No one wants to flush money down the drain and that is exactly what you will be doing, literally, if you buy supplements that are not highly absorbable. Youngevity's supplements are 90-98% absorbable, which is far superior to typical supplement offering the class average of only 8-12% absorbability! Colloidal and plant derived supplements are in forms that are small enough to digest and become available to the body. Youngevity offers plant derived and colloidal minerals that many of us are deficient in. Liquid supplements typically have the highest rate of absorbability. Easy mixing and absorbing in water is a sign that the supplement is also easily absorbed by the body. Whether you buy Youngevity or something else, make sure your supplements are easily absorbed into liquid form and the manufacturer has proven their high absorbability rate. Many vitamins and minerals can come in several different forms; magnesium for example commonly comes in about 9 different forms. Some of which are useless for humans because we cannot absorb them. Yougevity pride's themselves on the absorbability of their nutrients. If at the very least, using the Youngevity product supplement facts can help guide you in finding other good supplements.
High Standards and Quality Control
The supplement industry has taken some criticism in the past when a few low quality supplements were tested and found to less nutrients than claimed. Youngevity strives to use as much organically produced material as possible. They avoid using harmful dies that add to the already high amounts of toxins we consume. Instead they use natural dies like beat root extracts to color their supplements. Youngevity also has very high quality control standards to ensure that each supplement has at least the amount of nutrients that are listed on the label. You can check out their quality control procedures on their website HERE. Their fish oils for example are created in an environment and process that protects the oils from going rancid and oxidizing. Many fish oils have a rancid smell to them, even the first time you open them, because they were processed in an oxygen rich environment that promotes oxidation. The formula of each of Youngevity's products is extremely specific and intentional. When creating supplements it is so crucial to have nutrients that work synergistically together rather than competing with each other for absorption and process fulfillment. You can take my word for all of this but it is always good to know the information and look into things yourself. I urge anyone to compare supplements Youngevity's Healthy Start Paks with any other multivitamin or supplement package around. You will, in the process, learn a ton about what things to look for, what forms of vitamins and minerals are best and what makes a complete, high quality supplement.