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Beneficial supplements... which ones are right for you?

psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
So just like my other threads, I figured (well, it was more requested, lol) it would be beneficial to have a thread to discuss supplementation. The focus of this thread will be on the science and utilization of supplementation, more so, than what everyone is taking. The primary focus of this thread is to provide basic education and sources of information to enable a user to make a more informed decisions and to be able to have these discussion, if they feel necessary, with their health care provide or nutritionist.

Before someone starts to supplement, you should ask yourself, why do you need to supplement? Do you have a deficiency in your blood work? Have you evaluated your diet (calorie level, macro split, timing, types of foods)? Have you evaluated your training (frequency, intensity, weight/rep range)? In general, Eric Helms puts it in perspective with the below picture:

Eric-Helms-Muscle-Strength-Training-Pyramids.jpg


If you have already worked to address all the major areas noted above and still feel like you would benefit from supplementation, there are a variety of supplements that can enhance your overall performance and help support you achieve your goals. I would like to further emphasize enhance, because I feel its a disservice to yourself and the hard work you have put in, to suggest that supplements are the reason for your success.

Overall, Shredded by Science with Eric Helms, has a good video on the subject, which is a good place to start. It is a few years old, so I will add additional supplements that aren't discussed.



I will definitely state, that I am no way an authority on this topic, but I do want to create a place that would allow us to discuss the efficacy and use of supplements. And as with all my other threads, I will continue to update them as updated recommendations and science is discovered. To help organize this thread, I will categorize the sections.


Performance and Muscle building

Creatine: Probably the most notable and well-studied supplement on the market. To quote Examine.com

"Creatine is a molecule produced in the body. It stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine releases energy to aid cellular function during stress. This effect causes strength increases after creatine supplementation, and can also benefit the brain, bones, muscles, and liver. Most of the benefits of creatine are a result of this mechanism."

Essentially, Creatine increases intracellular water storage, which can allow for increased improvements in performance.

Dosing: 3 to 5g daily

Loading: While one does not have to load, it can help you determine if you are a responder. Generally, a person would see the full benefit within a week or two. Loading will allow those results in 4 or 5 days. You would have to ask yourself if a week is worth the additional cost of loading.


Sources:
1. https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/
2. https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10324688/considering-creatine/p1
3. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/creatine-monohydrate


Beta Alanine

"Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps buffer acid in muscles, increasing physical performance in the 60–240-second range. Beta-alanine can aid lean-mass gain."

Overall, researchers found that beta-alanine supplementation resulted in a minor but statistically significant improvement in endurance (2.85%) when the exercise duration was between 60 and 240s (the duration you see in supersetting) and/or following programs with little rest between sets, higher loads of volume or programs like cross-fit. Beta-Alanine tends to improve exercise lasting less than a minute or greater than three minutes in duration, the magnitude was very small and was not statistically significant. So depending on how your workout is designed, it may be worth taking. If taken in conjunction with Creatine Monohydrate, there may be an effect to improve overall performance for both low rep and high rep programs.

Dosing: 2 to 5g.

Sources:
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22270875
2. https://examine.com/supplements/beta-alanine/
3. https://legionathletics.com/beta-alanine/


Caffeine


To no surprise, caffeine is a stimulatory anti-sleep compound extracted from coffee beans or synthesized in a laboratory. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and it can be used to improve physical strength and endurance. It is classified as a nootropic because it sensitizes neurons and provides mental stimulation. Caffeine’s main mechanism concerns antagonizing adenosine receptors. Adenosine causes sedation and relaxation when it acts upon its receptors, located in the brain. Caffeine prevents this action and causes alertness and wakefulness. This inhibition of adenosine can influence the dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and adrenaline systems.

It should be noted, that habitual caffeine usage can lead to a tolerance, so it is best to cycle on and off of caffeine or limit use to around workouts.

Dosage: 4-6mg/kg of bw.



Recovery

L-Citrulline

L-Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid, that is turned into L-arginine in the kidneys after supplementation. This means that L-citriulline is a more effective method of increasing L-arginine levels in the body. L-Citrulline is used as a sports performance and cardiovascular health supplement. L-Citrulline supplementation results in reduced fatigue and improved endurance for both aerobic and anaerobic prolonged exercise.

Overall, the research does indicate that there seems to be a benefit if properly dosed: in one study conducted with resistance-trained men, supplementing with 8 grams of L-citrulline before their chest workouts increased the number of reps they could do by 52%. It also significantly decreased post-workout muscle soreness. In another study, 6 grams of L-citrulline per day increased cellular energy production (ATP) during exercise by 34%, which increases your capacity for physical output and intensity.

Dosage: 6 to 8g

Note: recommended to take about an hour prior to exercise (slightly different than the recommendations regarding creatine and beta-alanine).

Sources:

1. https://legionathletics.com/l-citrulline/
2. https://examine.com/supplements/citrulline/


General health and wellness

Fish Oil

Fish oil is a common term used to refer to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fats are usually found in fish, animal products and phytoplankton. Fish oil is recommended as a source of these omega-3 fats as they are the cheapest and most common source of them. Fish oil works primarily through eicosanoids, which are signalling molecules. A proper ratio of omega 3:6 fatty acids will influence which eicosanoids are released in response to stress[1].

Dietary sources of DHA and EPA are fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and trout, and shellfish, such as mussels, oysters and crabs. Some nuts, seeds and vegetable oils contain another omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)[3].

There's strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels. There also appears to be a slight improvement in high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol, although an increase in levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol also was observed [3].

It should be noted that there is a conflicting evidence of whehter or not the improvements in metabolic markers actually reduce the chances of cardiovascular events. In one of the largest meta-analyses to data [2], there does not seem to be sufficient evidence to support the reduction in cardiovascular events.

Dosage: 250mg of combined DHA/EPA with general recommendations at 1000mg.


Sources:

1. https://examine.com/supplements/fish-oil/
2. https://examine.com/nutrition/fish-oil-and-major-cardiac-events---meta-analysis/
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-fish-oil/art-20364810


Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient. It is one of the 24 micronutrients critical for human survival. The sun is the major natural source of the nutrient, but vitamin D is also found naturally in fish and eggs. It is also added to dairy products.[1]

Supplemental vitamin D is associated with a wide range of benefits, including increased cognition, immune health, bone health and well-being. Supplementation can also reduce the risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. People deficient in vitamin D may also experience increased testosterone levels after supplementation.[1]

Most people are not deficient in vitamin D, but they do not have an optimal level of vitamin D either. Due to the many health benefits of vitamin D, supplementation is encouraged if optimal levels are not present in the body.[1]

Below is a summary of vitamin D levels [2]:

ng/mL* <12: Associated with vitamin D deficiency, leading to rickets in infants and children and osteomalacia in adults
ng/mL* 12 to <20: Generally considered inadequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals
ng/mL* ≥20 Generally considered adequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals
ng/mL* >50: Emerging evidence links potential adverse effects to suchhigh levels, particularly >150 nmol/L (>60 ng/mL)


Research shows that insufficient vitamin D levels increases the risk of many types of disease, including osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis and even the flu, but in this article we’re going to focus on the positive.[3]

Thus, it’s not surprising that research has demonstrated that supplementation with adequate amounts of vitamin D improves heart health in various ways[3]:
  • It reduces triglycerides in the blood, which are a type of fat that can increase your risk of heart disease if your levels become too high
  • It improves blood pressure and blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels
  • It improves function of the endothelium, which is a thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels
  • It improves your cholesterol profile
  • Research shows that a vitamin D deficiency nearly doubles your risk of reaching a “pre-diabetic” level of insulin resistance and ultimately progressing to type II diabetes.
  • Research shows that insufficient vitamin D levels dramatically increases the risk of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Having low levels of vitamin D drastically increases the risk of developing various forms of cancer, including those of the breast, thyroid, and bladder.
  • Immune cells rely on vitamin D to regulate how they respond to threats in the body, first by attacking and destroying, followed by “cleaning up” and returning to a state of dormant readiness.

The research is clear: maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D has a profound effect on heart and circulatory health, brain health, improves insulins sensitivity and helps maintain a good immune system[3]. Needless to say, this is one supplement that should be considered taking to improve and/or maintain overall good health.


Dosage: The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin D is currently set at 400-800IU/day, but this is too low for adults. The safe upper limit in the United States and Canada is 4,000IU/day. Research suggests that the true safe upper limit is 10,000IU/day. For moderate supplementation, a 1,000-2,000IU dose of vitamin D3 is sufficient to meet the needs of most of the population. This is the lowest effective dose range. Higher doses, based on body weight, are in the range of 20-80IU/kg daily.


Sources:

1. https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-d/
2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
3. https://www.muscleforlife.com/vitamin-d-benefits/


Feel free to discuss the benefits of any other proven supplement.

edited March 2018
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Replies

  • Wheelhouse15Wheelhouse15 Posts: 5,594Member Member Posts: 5,594Member Member
    These are great resources from Eric Helms. Thanks for sharing them.
  • DavidsdottirDavidsdottir Posts: 1,295Member Member Posts: 1,295Member Member
  • middlehaitchmiddlehaitch Posts: 8,150Member Member Posts: 8,150Member Member
    Wow, that was fast work.
    Thank you very much for setting up and starting the thread.

    Cheers, h.
  • PsychgrrlPsychgrrl Posts: 2,775Member Member Posts: 2,775Member Member
    I would encourage folks to read up on the side effects for Beta Alanine, particularly the “tingles.” I did not read about them when I started taking it (just stupidly focused only on the benefits) and it kinda freaked me out.

    I take a slightly smaller dose to minimize those tingles and feel it does help me in my workouts. As for creatine, I am one of the folks who is non-responsive. After trying numerous formulas, companies and dosages, I’ve given up and moved on. I have heard from most others they feel it is very effective for them.
  • Wheelhouse15Wheelhouse15 Posts: 5,594Member Member Posts: 5,594Member Member
    Psychgrrl wrote: »
    I would encourage folks to read up on the side effects for Beta Alanine, particularly the “tingles.” I did not read about them when I started taking it (just stupidly focused only on the benefits) and it kinda freaked me out.

    I take a slightly smaller dose to minimize those tingles and feel it does help me in my workouts. As for creatine, I am one of the folks who is non-responsive. After trying numerous formulas, companies and dosages, I’ve given up and moved on. I have heard from most others they feel it is very effective for them.

    There are many that have that effect including citrulline malate. It's not harmful but some do find it very annoying.
  • PsychgrrlPsychgrrl Posts: 2,775Member Member Posts: 2,775Member Member
    Psychgrrl wrote: »
    I would encourage folks to read up on the side effects for Beta Alanine, particularly the “tingles.” I did not read about them when I started taking it (just stupidly focused only on the benefits) and it kinda freaked me out.

    I take a slightly smaller dose to minimize those tingles and feel it does help me in my workouts. As for creatine, I am one of the folks who is non-responsive. After trying numerous formulas, companies and dosages, I’ve given up and moved on. I have heard from most others they feel it is very effective for them.

    There are many that have that effect including citrulline malate. It's not harmful but some do find it very annoying.

    Definitely not harmful, but alarming if you’re not expecting it. And my reaction could be stronger than others. I started taking it when I was a newbie and blew through the potential side effects with the typical sense of “it’ll never happen to me” that most of us feel at one time or another. Usually right before life proves otherwise. :lol:
  • Gallowmere1984Gallowmere1984 Posts: 6,628Member Member Posts: 6,628Member Member
    I’d throw in Ashwagandha and Curcumin under recovery. The first is an adaptogen, and the second is primarily an antinflammatory. Both are pretty well backed by research that can be verified via examine.com.

    However, both need to have piperine to have acceptable bioavailability.
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    I’d throw in Ashwagandha and Curcumin under recovery. The first is an adaptogen, and the second is primarily an antinflammatory. Both are pretty well backed by research that can be verified via examine.com.

    However, both need to have piperine to have acceptable bioavailability.

    Thanks. Once I get time, I will look into them and add them to the list.
  • OkiludyOkiludy Posts: 564Member Member Posts: 564Member Member
    I found this video the other day and thought of this thread. It states studies on why he recommends each supplement. I really like Jeff Nippard's approach to videos and it is worth a watch IMHO.



    1. Protein
    2. Caffeine
    3. L-Citrulline
    4. Multivitamin
    5. Creatine




  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    Okiludy wrote: »
    I found this video the other day and thought of this thread. It states studies on why he recommends each supplement. I really like Jeff Nippard's approach to videos and it is worth a watch IMHO.



    1. Protein
    2. Caffeine
    3. L-Citrulline
    4. Multivitamin
    5. Creatine




    I love his videos. Especially his new series, science applied.
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    Started to add supplements related to health and wellness. It will expand as I get more time.
  • Gallowmere1984Gallowmere1984 Posts: 6,628Member Member Posts: 6,628Member Member
    psuLemon wrote: »
    Started to add supplements related to health and wellness. It will expand as I get more time.

    You could probably add fish oil (or just epa/dha in general so as to avoid offending vegan sensibilities, and flax is not a viable substitute), zinc and magnesium to the health and wellness section. I haven’t met too many people who actually consume enough of any of these via diet alone.
    edited March 2018
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    psuLemon wrote: »
    Started to add supplements related to health and wellness. It will expand as I get more time.

    You could probably add fish oil (or just epa/dha in general so as to avoid offending vegan sensibilities, and flax is not a viable substitute), zinc and magnesium to the health and wellness section. I haven’t met too many people who actually consume enough of any of these via diet alone.

    Ironically, I wrote about fish oil, but for some reason it was identified as vitamin D, which was my next one.

    I have struggled a bit if I was going to add minerals. Over consumption of minerals, without a deficiency, can lead to health problems.
    edited March 2018
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 35,239Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    gainerpal wrote: »
    Yeah, fish oil omega 3 fatty acids. It helps to add hawthorn berries too or other natural cardiovascular improving supplements to help displace and absorb them. They are great for the heart!

    There is no human evidence to support Hawthorne berries.
  • ahoy_m8ahoy_m8 Posts: 1,874Member Member Posts: 1,874Member Member
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6254/1343

    indicates the cholesterol/triglyceride benefits of w-3 PUFAs observed in the Inuit are due to a particular gene adaptation phenomenally unique the Inuit. No Inuit gene, no cholesterol/triglyceride benefit. Sort of like the nutritional benefit of milk depends on whether you have the gene to digest it.

    psuLemon, the mayo reference you cite says "Studies show..." without actually referencing them.

    ETA: more readable overview of the study https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/science/inuit-study-adds-twist-to-omega-3-fatty-acids-health-story.html
    edited March 2018
  • Wheelhouse15Wheelhouse15 Posts: 5,594Member Member Posts: 5,594Member Member
    ahoy_m8 wrote: »
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6254/1343

    indicates the cholesterol/triglyceride benefits of w-3 PUFAs observed in the Inuit are due to a particular gene adaptation phenomenally unique the Inuit. No Inuit gene, no cholesterol/triglyceride benefit. Sort of like the nutritional benefit of milk depends on whether you have the gene to digest it.

    psuLemon, the mayo reference you cite says "Studies show..." without actually referencing them.

    Thanks for that link, definitely interesting!
  • OkiludyOkiludy Posts: 564Member Member Posts: 564Member Member
    @psuLemon What is the general feeling of probiotics? I read a few studies but not would like to know what the fitness community feels about them.

    https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
  • Wheelhouse15Wheelhouse15 Posts: 5,594Member Member Posts: 5,594Member Member
    Okiludy wrote: »
    @psuLemon What is the general feeling of probiotics? I read a few studies but not would like to know what the fitness community feels about them.

    https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm

    I've seen studies that have shown more benefits from just eating what the bacteria like which is a lot of green leafy vegetables and root vegetables.
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