One popular way for fitness enthusiasts and models to make money is through supplement sponsorship. You know who I’m talking about, you may even follow some of these people on social media. I do, some of them are inspiring and extremely motivating. The supplement industry is big business, and I do mean big as in billions of dollars big! It’s only getting bigger. Satisfying people’s demand for shortcuts and quick fixes through supplements is a surefire path to financial gain. Does that mean all supplements are bad? Absolutely not, in fact there are a few supplements that I think everyone should take.
First off let me just be clear, I am not a doctor. The programs and methods I follow are absolutely not for everyone. The supplements and products I use and recommend are those that I have observed to be effective in my own life and training protocols and those of my clients over the years. Ultimately it falls on you, the consumer to decide which products and methods best help you achieve the results and success you desire.
ZMA has been around for a long time. Basically magnesium, the primary ingredient found in ZMA, along with Zinc and Vitamin B-6, is the most chronically depleted mineral in the body. Loss of this mineral is actually the cause of most exercise induced cramping, including nighttime restless leg syndrome. It’s also known that magnesium plays an important role in the communication system between nerve cells. Magnesium supplementation is believed to promote deeper more restful sleep, improved recovery from strenuous exercise, and improved mental acuity.
What I can say from my own experience is that yes it helps reduce soreness and stiffness from strenuous exercise. I’ve been recommending it to all of my CrossFit group class clients for 5 years now. It has also eliminated my own restless leg symptoms at night and I do feel that it helps me get to sleep easier and sleep more soundly. As a side note I’ve found ZMA to be a great at helping reduce the severity and occurrence of hangovers. One of the main causes of hangover besides dehydration is mineral depletion, primarily Vitamin B. A dose of ZMA before bed after drinking does seem to make the next morning more bearable.
Here’s the kicker though. If we all would just eat the recommended dose of green vegetables every day, we wouldn’t need to supplement with additional magnesium and zinc. The most bio-available or absorbable form of magnesium supplement is actually the liquid form that’s rubbed on the skin before sleep.
Iodine is one of the most essential trace minerals in our body. It plays a huge role in the healthy function of our thyroid gland. Sadly thanks to the low-sodium push of the last few decades, many Americans are dangerously iodine deficient. For the past 50 years the greatest source of iodine in the American diet has come from our iodized salt. Now most of us have turned to all natural sea-salts containing little to no iodine. Once again in a perfect world our food would provide the iodine we need. Tragically our heavily processed food doesn’t. Our ancestors got the iodine they need mostly from the natural wild grazing animals they killed for meat. Those animals got it from the wild greens and plants they ate. Our modern corn and soy fed processed meats are pathetically mineral and vitamin deficient.
The best natural sources for iodine are in order of potency, sea vegetables, like kelp, cranberries, unpasteurized and unprocessed fermented dairy products like yogurt, beans, organic strawberries, raw organic cheese, and organic potatoes. Once again, you can supplement, I take Kelp pills, or you can ensure your diet contains plenty of foods high in natural iodine.
Selenium is another trace mineral used by the body to regulate thyroid function. It’s found in many types of nuts most notably Brazil nuts. Selenium deficiency is actually very UNCOMMON in Americans. We just don’t require much of it. The reason I take selenium supplements occasionally is that it is “believed” to help increase testosterone production in men and improve fertility. The book “The 4-Hour Body,” introduced me to this concept. I take one selenium capsule every 2-3 days. Brazil nuts are also packed with selenium, unfortunately they’re also ridiculously expensive. Other sources of selenium are yellow fin tuna, halibut, sardines, and grass-fed beef. Have I felt any noticeable benefit to selenium supplementation since beginning, no I have not. When this supply runs out I’ll probably stop.
Vitamin D is now recognized as a hormone in the human body as much as it is a vitamin. If you suffer from depression, low testosterone, lethargy, and weight gain. I’d be willing to state that you probably have a Vitamin D issue. Vitamin D is synthesized in the body naturally through skin and eye exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation. Unfortunately more and more of us are spending less and less time in the sun and wearing sunglasses more frequently. If you live in the great white north like I do you know that winter time is the sad time of year. Vitamin D is one substance that most scientists and nutritionists agree is deficient in a majority of Americans.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning it must be dissolved in fat for digestion and it is stored in your body fat. This is ironic when you consider that many of our dietary sources of Vitamin D are increasingly low or fat-free. The Vitamin D in your multi-vitamin and fat free milk and cheese will most likely pass right through your system without being absorbed. The best source of Vitamin D that I’ve found are those contained in coconut oil capsules, coconut oil being a wonderful source of natural Vitamin D. I supplement with 3-5000 IU’s (international units) a day with my breakfast in the morning. Now recognize that you can have too much Vitamin D. If you’re taking it in pill form or supplementing try to avoid exceeding 5000 IU’s a day. If you begin supplementing with Vitamin D and start to notice a metallic taste in your mouth all the time, dial it back.
The only other supplements I take are Whey Protein and Creatine mono-hydrate immediately after exercise. I’ll save those two for another article. Hopefully you found this article useful. At the least I hope you’ll take it on yourself to do a little research and dietary review of your own. As always what I do may not be the best thing for you, everyone responds differently to stimulus and stress and it’s on you to experiment and observe what works best for you and your body.