Me and My Supplements
What supplements do you take?
Depending on what magazine you read or what athlete you follow on Twitter there could be huge variations when it comes to answering this question. Use this supplement to gain hooooge muscles! Take this supplement to drop all your body-fat overnight! If you use this other supplement you’ll become a genius and have that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!!
Certain claims can be overblown and whenever possible choose to get nutrients from organic, real food sources first. However, there are beneficial results from taking supplements – the right supplements for your specific situation. I believe that supplements play a practical role in supporting realistic and well managed health goals.
I want to give you some clarity and hopefully provide a roadmap – or at least a starting point – as you navigate through the supplement world. You do not need to take everything that I take. I have come to this list through the help of doctors, acupuncturists, and my own research. This is what I feel works best for me and I want to share this information. I want to highlight my strategy for supplements and how I use them to help me be healthy, support my immune system, and maintain strength.
My daily supplements:
- Vessel Care
- Vitamin D3
- Maca Root
- Rhodiola rosea
- Digestive Enzyme
What is Health?
I think it is important to first define “health” because this word can be so broad that it can begin to lose meaning. I believe that health is much more than the absence of disease or injury. Dan John eloquently discusses this idea in his book, Intervention.
…let’s get through the first issue: the idea that “health” and “fitness” is the same thing. They are not, and when you confuse them, you really start down the wrong road. I have been using Philip Maffetone’s definition for health for a long time now:
“Health is the optimal interplay of the organs.”
Health is something that can always get a little better. Health is something measured by blood tests*, longevity, and the lack of bad health. Health is something you probably take for granted until you don’t have it. In fact, I remind myself often to breath in deeply, smile, and enjoy a moment of good health. It is a gift.
So now we have a framework to start with as you begin to pick and choose which supplements to add and which to avoid.
[*I went through a series of blood tests with Dr. Darren Farnesi to get real evidence if my body was deficient in any nutrients and which supplements would help fill in those holes. The tests were well worth it and there will be another article detailing those results to follow shortly.]
Now Set a Goal
Any well thought out goal will do here. It will be your goal and you don’t have to defend it or explain it. Just have one that you can really connect with and believe in. Do you want to add muscle? Want to gain more endurance for your race? Want to look good naked? Looking to simply have more energy and feel better throughout the day? Awesome! Once you have a goal work backwards to find the supplements and actions you can take to help you achieve that goal.
My goal: I take supplements to support my immune system to ensure robust health while promoting optimal health and the ability to live an active lifestyle.
Within that specific goal I have found that 3 categories have emerged:
- I take supplements that help promote my health.
- I take supplements that support my immune system.
- I take supplements that help build muscle.
Having set a goal of where you want to go simply work backwards. For example, you want to add muscle. There are supplements that will help. However, you must be eating enough good foods first. If you’re 6’3 and 145lbs and only eat 1,500 calories/day it doesn’t really matter what supplement you take. Begin with the basics of healthy eating, adequate rest and recovery, and drink enough water before adding a supplement. Remember that supplements are just that – supplementary to your (hopefully already) healthy lifestyle.
Supplements I Take to Promote Health
- Vitamin D3 – Mine has 2,000 IU and I take 2 everyday. Read this article for more in depth info.
- Vessel Care – I take this like a multivitamin because after my blood work it was found that my methylation of B vitamins was 30% of normal levels…aka, I was always tired. Before I began taking Vessel Care I needed 1-2 hour long naps almost daily. Once I began taking it my energy levels shot back up and I felt great!
- Flameout (Omega-3) – I’ve been using this for years. You don’t have to use this brand but please use something to add more healthy fats to your diet.
- Curcumin – this stuff is great and has a ton of health benefits.
- Digestive Enzyme – these help breakdown protein, carbohydrates, and fats aiding digestion and improving nutrient absorption. I take one before I eat.
- Probiotics – work throughout the digestive system to maximize absorption, digestion and regularity. I take these daily – preferably a few hours away from other herbs.
Supplements I Take to Support My Immune System
The first 3 supplements are classified as adaptogens – compounds that literally help the body adapt to – and resist – physical, chemical, and environmental stress.
- Maca Root – Maca root has the capability to regulate, support, and balance the hormonal systems of both men and women. And since it’s boosting the hormones, it may also help with fertility, digestion, energy levels, all things sexual, and to boost the immune system. I take 1 pill in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.
- Ashwagandha – one of the most vital herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, but is most well known for its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion, and it has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. I take 1 pill in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.
- Rhodiola – Traditional uses of the plant include stimulating the nervous system, improving depression, enhancing work performance, improving sleep, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high-altitude sickness. It also boosts physical and mental performance, along with enhancing recovery from intense-resistance exercise. I take 1 pill in the morning and 1 before a workout.
- Glutamine – is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. It supports muscle tissue and immune function. It is involved in many metabolic processes, including the synthesis and protection of muscle tissue, the production of glycogen, and immune support during periods of immune and muscular stress. L-Glutamine is also a major source of fuel for enterocytes (intestinal cells) and hence supports the integrity of the intestinal lining. I take a spoonful in water 1-3 times each day.
Supplements I Take to Build Muscle
- Resveratrol – is a polyphenol found in such foods as peanuts, grapes (and consequently, wine), and mulberries. It acts as both an estrogen antagonist and an aromatase inhibitor and promotes fat loss. It increases testosterone, promotes blood vessel health and cardiovascular health in general. I take 3 pills once each day.
- BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acid) – BCAA have been theorized to act as a metabolic fuel during exercise, particularly during intense and/or prolonged physical activity. This effect “spares” muscle glycogen during training, at least when BCAA are taken pre-exercise. I take 3 pills before a workout and 2-3 right after the workout is over.
How This Can Help You
First, thanks for taking the time to read this information. I wanted to compile my information and experience to hopefully serve as an example of what may work. I know that there is a lot of information on supplements and I hope this helped provide some clarity.
Since my IBD diagnosis in 2008 I have been researching what my body needs to function and thrive. There are certain considerations that I need to take into account that you may not. I have lost 30+ pounds on 2 separate occasions due to IBD complications. I have also regained that lost weight and strength both times.
I have come to the above list of supplements after years of research and thoughtful experimentation. I hope that this approach is what comes through and not that you simply copy and paste my supplements into your daily health routine. Please research what your body needs to achieve your goals
I do not want this article to be a “look-at-what-I-do-so-it-must-be-the-only-option-for-everyone“. I know there are many options out there and my approach is hopefully something that will spur you to investigate your health. Please research what your body needs to achieve your goals.
If you are interested in continuing this conversation “like” this article on Facebook and leave me a message there.
~With Strength & Nutrition
[please consult with a medical professional before randomly adding/subtracting a supplement into your daily routine]