It’s known that men benefit from whey protein supplements and exercise, and for what is believed to be the first time, the same can be said for women, according to a large study.
Multivitamins are, for some reason, a bit controversial. Some people say you need them, others insist they do more harm than good. So, what are multivitamins, really? Do you need them? Should everyone be taking one? What constitutes a “good” multivitamin? Are they really dangerous?
What Is A Multivitamin
Most multivitamins are in either capsule or pill form, though some are sold as powders. A multi– vitamin will contain multiple vitamins, minerals, and other elements. Some vitamins for example, only have different B vitamins, alleging stress relief as a benefit. This would not be considered a multivitamin. The majority of multivitamins will contain:
- Vitamin C
- Several B vitamins (1,2,3,5,6,9,12)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
And depending on the vitamin, more. The dosages will vary product to product as well.
Why Multivitamins Are “Bad For You”
The idea that multivitamins are bad for you, can lead to disease, and should be avoided is brought up frequently. Using weak science, incomplete data, and false assumptions people or organizations will try to scare people away from taking multivitamins. Some reasons commonly given for why multivitamins are terrible for your health are:
- “Abundance” of research associating multivitamin use with increased rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- No evidence that they increase lifespan
- Little to no government regulation as a supplement
- Vitamins/minerals less bioavailable than in food (somewhat true, as most vitamins and minerals require fat to be absorbed)
Why Multivitamins Are Good For You
There are plenty of things wrong with the reasons listed above as well as how those conclusions were arrived to. First, some simple and clean facts:
- Studies show no increased rates of CVD in men or women
- Decades of data regarding multivitamin use shows a decrease in all-cause mortality
- Yes, it is preferable to get all the vitamins/minerals/elements from diet. It’s just not feasible. For financial, time, and practical reasons, diet alone is not enough
Now let’s look the vitamin deficiencies in American adults not using multivitamins:
- Vitamin D: 96%
- Vitamin C: 48%
- Vitamin E: 96
- Vitamin A: 58%
Those are large numbers.
Vitamin deficiencies in American adults using multivitamins:
- Vitamin D: 25%
- Vitamin C: 3%
- Vitamin E: 5%
- Vitamin A: 2%
The science used to conclude multivitamins are bad for you is executed poorly, along with the omission of data in most published reports. Many of the claims against multivitamins are based off of research with no biochemical analysis done. In other words, no blood work is done in these studies; the research is relying on participants’ memory of what multivitamin(s) they took, how often, for how long, etc.
In the majority of this research the participants end up deficient in one or more vitamins/minerals/elements. This is true. What’s not published is that these participants began the study already deficient in those vitamins/minerals/elements. A similar problem occurs with disease states. Many of the participants begin the study in diseased states, so to say that multivitamin supplementation caused the diseased states observed at the conclusion of the study is disingenuous, at best.
The most egregious aspect of this is when these stories get sensationalized, the data supporting the use of multivitamins is omitted. When reading the actual research data, it’s obvious that overall, multivitamin use is beneficial to health in many aspects, but this is left out, seemingly, for the appeal of a shocking headline.
Many people turn to dietary supplements for a boost to their routines. To help cut the confusion, the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health has two new resources to help people understand what is known about the effectiveness and safety of many ingredients in dietary supplements.
This is the first of what will be an ongoing series, where I go into a little detail about a specific supplement and its benefits.
Glutamine, while not an essential (the body does produce it) amino acid, is a very important amino acid. For general health reasons and even more so for performance enhancement, supplementing glutamine can be beneficial.
-As the most abundant amino acid in the body, glutamine is used for several processes. The immune system relies heavily on glutamine. During and after intense exercise, muscle glutamine levels are depleted, so your immune system will be weakened. It can take up to 6 days for glutamine levels to get back to normal.
-Glutamine also helps to maintain your cells volume and hydration which speeds up wound healing and burn recovery.
-The intestines (especially the small intestines) benefit from glutamine supplementation as it helps to protect the integrity of the intestines.
-Ulcer cure rate is greatly enhanced by glutamine, up to 92%!
-As mentioned above, with exercise glutamine is depleted. This is bad for muscle protein synthesis (MPS), growth hormone production, and glycogen replenishment.
-A small dose, about 2 grams, of glutamine first thing in the morning has been shown to increase levels of circulating growth hormone, some studies show up to 400%! Growth hormone also helps to metabolize fat.
-Glutamine will help to keep you out of catabolism, meaning your muscles won’t be broken down, and will simultaneously help with muscle growth by promoting MPS.
Depending on the effects you’re trying to get, the dosage may vary (from 2 to 10 grams) and in either case, start small and see how your body handles it.
Up to 80% of Americans are magnesium(Mg) deficient. It’s not easy to get the recommended amount of Mg (about 400mg for men and 300mg for women) just from food, so supplementing Mg is vital. On to the benefits!
Magnesium (Mg) has been shown to improve memory and learning and the inverse has been observed. Emotional health is also impacted by Mg. Low levels of Mg have been associated with increased occurrence of externalising behaviors (depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) in adolescents. Again the opposite was also observed. Low levels of Mg are associated with higher occurrence of depression. AND proper levels of Mg have been shown to aid in stress management. Studies show that Mg can reduce the risk of heart disease (10%), stroke (12%), and type-2 diabetes (26%). Even 100mg more per day of Mg reduces the risk of stroke by and type-2 diabetes.
Gut health is improved, as Mg is essential to nutrient absorption. Mg reduces hunger cravings and helps to prevent constipation and colitis. Risk of colorectal cancer is lowered by about 13% for every 100mg of Mg. Detoxification is aided by Mg, and glutathione, the most important antioxidant in the body requires Mg. Aging is slowed by Mg, by reversing age-related changes in the brain. All cause mortality is lower for with higher levels of Mg.
Mg calms the nervous system, allowing better quality of sleep. Low levels of Mg have been associated with nervousness before bed and restless legs syndrome. Chronic fatigue is associated with low Mg, due to hundreds (about 350) of enzymatic functions being compromised. Fat loss is greatly aided by Mg as it improves insulin sensitivity, with the opposite being true. The production of ATP (energy) and anabolic hormones requires Mg. As well as IGF-1 (growth hormone), though to a lesser extent. Protein synthesis requires Mg to promote growth of lean muscle tissue. Mg also helps the body to reduce lactic acid buildup, reducing fatigue during workouts.
For help finding the right magnesium supplement for you, check out:
Along with magnesium, most Americans are deficient in vitamin D. It is a common misconception that getting regular sunlight will provide adequate amounts of it. Even living somewhere where it’s always sunny, you will most likely not absorb enough vitamin D from just sunlight. This is where supplementation comes in.
Higher levels of serum vitamin D (the amount found in blood) are associated with a lower level of all-cause mortality. Higher levels of vitamin D are also associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
Aside from those health benefits, vitamin D is also beneficial for sleep, mood, and memory. A gold standard (double-blind, placebo controlled) research study found that the group given vitamin D supplementation had significant effects on sleep quality. “…improves sleep quality, reduces sleep latency, raises sleep duration and improves subjective sleep quality…”
Vitamin D and fish oils are great for mood enhancement through increasing serotonin. Vitamin D upregulates the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects “mood, decision-making, social behavior, impulsive behavior, and social decision-making.” There are also many neurological disorders, from autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, to depression, that are linked to low brain serotonin.