Many of you who know me, know i’m not a huge supplement fan. With the state of the supplement industry as it is, there are literally MILLIONS of products that promise the earth but often don’t deliver and more often than not, have zero scientific backing and actually don’t work.
I’m a huge fan of getting all the essential vitamins and minerals from our diet, however there are times when its preferable to top up your diet with some supplements that do help and are backed by science. Your diet should take care of 95% of your bodies needs. Supplements should take up less than 5% really. Put this into perspective… if your weekly food shop is £100, then you shouldn’t be spending any more than £5 a week, on average, for supplements. Food is the main weapon here!
So here are a list of supplements that i recommend the majority of people take, where to buy them from and roughly how much. If you are taking supplements that are not listed below, then please comment below and i’ll tell you if they are worth the money or not. These are the supplements i deem to be worthy of spending money on, i can’t think of any other supplement that is needed that you can’t get from food.
NOTE – i am not sponsored by any supplement company and never will be. I do not get a rev share from the below suggestions. These are recommendations from experience.
OMEGA 3 FISH OILS
Omega3 fish oil tablets help increase the omega3 fatty acids in our body. Omega3 fatty acids can be found naturally in lots of foods, however the quantity that we desire is not that achievable for most peoples diet and therefore its easier to supplement with the tablets. They have many benefits within our body, including: –
- Blood fat (triglycerides). Fish oil supplements can lower elevated triglyceride levels. Having high levels of this blood fat puts you at risk for heart disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) can curb stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Depression. Some researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants and may help the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Baby development. DHA appears to be important for visual and neurological development in infants.
- Asthma. A diet high in omega-3s lowers inflammation, a key component in asthma. But more studies are needed to show if fish oil supplements improve lung function or cut the amount of medication a person needs to control the condition.
- ADHD. Some studies show that fish oil can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in some children and improve their mental skills, like thinking, remembering, and learning.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some research suggests that omega-3s may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and have a positive effect on gradual memory loss linked to ageing.
A good source of Omega3 foods are: –
- salmon (wild has more omega-3s than farmed)
- lake trout
- flaxseed and flaxseed oil
- canola oil
- soybean oil
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mustard Seeds
- Winter Squash
- Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
- Romaine Lettuce
- Green Beans
- Turnip Greens
- Bok Choy
Due to the amazing benefits of this fatty acid and also taking into account how cheap it is, it would highly recommend everyone take this on a day to day basis.
Typically Men should take 3-5g a day (3-5 tablets) and women should look at 2-3g a day (2-3 tablets).
90 tablets of 1000mg (1g) tablets costs around £5 from online retailers – BulkPowders.co.uk do a good product.
LIQUID VITMIN D
If you live in the UK or another country that has poor sunshine all year around, then the chances are your Vitamin D levels could be more optimal. Many people in the UK alone are Vitamin D deficient and thus topping up your daily diet with added Vitamin D would be advisable. As you can see below, the health benefits are substantial: –
- Healthy bones
Vitamin D plays a substantial role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood, two factors that are extremely important for maintaining healthy bones.
In adults, vitamin D deficiency manifests as osteomalacia or osteoporosis. Osteomalacia results in poor bone density, muscular weakness and often causes small pseudo fractures of the spine, femur and humerus. Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease among post-menopausal women and older men.
- Reduced risk of flu
Children given 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day for 4 months during the winter reduced their risk of influenza A infection by over 40%.
- Reduced risk of diabetes
Several observational studies have shown an inverse relationship between blood concentrations of vitamin D in the body and risk of type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetics, insufficient vitamin D levels may have an adverse effect on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance. In one particular study, infants who received 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D had an 88% lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes by the age of 32.
- Healthy infants
Children with normal blood pressure who were given 2,000 IU/day had significantly lower arterial wall stiffness after 16 weeks compared with children who were given only 400 IU/day.
- Healthy pregnancy
Pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D seem to be at greater risk of developing preeclampsia and needing a cesarean section. Poor vitamin D status is also associated with gestational diabetes mellitus and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. It is also important to note that vitamin D levels that were too high during pregnancy were associated with an increase in food allergy of the child during the first two years of life.
- Cancer prevention
Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. Some studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormonally active form of vitamin D) can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death and by reducing cell proliferation and metastases. Vitamin D has an influence on more than 200 human genes, which can be impaired when D status is suboptimal.3
Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma severity and swine flu, however more reliable studies are needed before these associations can be proven.
Foods that are high in Vitamin D include: –
- Cod liver oil
- Raw maitake mushrooms
- Fortified skim milk
One of the most important aspects of supplementing with Vitamin D is that it MUST be in a liquid form and not tablet. Vitamin D needs to be attached to a fat source to be absorbed into the body, therefore when swallowing tablets that aren’t attached to a fat source, our body can’t metabolise it and we just pass it through our system. Waste of money. Therefore it is always advisable to take liquid form of Vitamin D to improve absorption as this is attached to an oil based liquid.
A good supplement for Liquid Vitamin D is “Solgar Natural Liquid Vitamin D”. This can be found on eBay and costs around £10 per bottle.
Typically Men want to consume around 6,000-10,000 IU of Vitamin D a day. Women should look to consume around 3,000 – 6,000 IU.
BCAAs – AKA – Branch Chain Amino Acids are designed to increase your amino acid intake before, during and after resistance weight training. Although i consider BCAAs to be preferable to consume for training, it should be noted there is a caveat here. If you are a enthusiastic trainer and therefore have your macro nutritional profile nailed down, the chances are your protein intake is sufficient enough not to need BCAAs. However, if you are new to the gym or someone who doesn’t have a high level of nutritional knowledge, then BCAAs can be a good way to top up your protein intake that may be lacking and therefore help with recovery and growth.
The majority of gym goers do not have a high level of nutritional foundation in place and therefore i feel its advantageous to take BCAAs around your training to support your recovery.
Typically men should look to take 5-10g of BCAA before they train and another 5-10g after they train. This can seem like a high amount of tablets to take before and after training, but it is preferable – especially if the rest of your diet is lacking enough protein.
Women should look to take around 3-6g BCAAs before training and another 3-6g after training.
A good source of BCAA tablets would be from a brand called Gaspari. Their BCAA 6000 product has a good BCAA profile and cost effective also. At around £21 for 180 tablets, its quite cheap.
I was in two minds to add Whey Protein to this list as i don’t deem Whey Protein to be a supplement anymore. Its very much a food group in its own right and thus not something people should “supplement” their diet with, its something people should consume on a daily basis.
As detailed above, typically many people don’t consume enough protein on a day to day basis and thus having a shake during the day as part of a shack and also after they train would add nothing by good benefits to their diet and health.
For those that don’t know, Whey Protein is a manufactured flavoured powder that is produced from Milk and thus is a very high quality protein to consume. Despite popular belief from the media, Whey Protein is incredible healthy to consume and poses zero health risks to you or even children. Remember, Whey Protein comes form Milk and thus if you drink milk, you are basically drinking a form of Whey Protein… We all know how good milk is for us!
Brands that i use for Whey Protein are PhD Nutrition and Optimum Nutrition. These are arguably the highest quality protein powders available at the moment and also very cost effective and taste amazing. They cost around £20 for a 1KG tub and last weeks/months.
If you know how much protein you require on a day to day basis, then you probably know how much Whey Protein to consume. However, if you don’t track your protein intake, then both men and women could benefit from having a one or two whey shakes a day. 1 scoop in each.
Creatine is found in the body naturally. It is stored in the muscles of our body and is used as a form of energy when performing explosive movements. However, the levels of creatine in our body can vary significantly from person to person. Some people can have naturally low levels of Creatine and some have very high levels – this is purely a genetic influence. Without having extensive blood tests done, its not possible to determine the levels of creatine you have naturally.
This is where testing with Creatine Monohydrate can come in handy. The benefits of supplementing with Creatine Monohydrate are substantial. Exmine.com have an amazing write up on Creatine: – exmine.com/supplements/Creatine/ – Creatine also has some incredible health benefits outside of just lifting weights, so take note of all the benefits you could take advantage of.
A simple test is to buy a cheap Creatine Monohydrate supplement like ‘My Protein Creatine Monohydrate’ – Costs £6 for 500g worth. (nothing fancy is needed, we just want the supplement Creatine Monohydrate so why pay more when thats all we need?) Simply start to take 5-10g a day (timing of this supplement is irrelevant) and see if you see any performance improvements in the gym – weight increases or endurance increases. If you do see improvements in a short period of time (within a week) then you are seeing the benefits of creatine and the chances are you had low levels of this naturally and should continue to supplement with it. If you see no noticeable changes in weight improvements or performance, then the chances are you are naturally high in levels of Creatine and thus consuming more is adding no benefit. Save your money and put it towards a holiday.
Both Men and Women can benefit from this supplement, so i would highly recommend adding it in to your daily diet and seeing if it has much change.