SUPPLEMENTS: STICK TO THE BASICS

In the pursuit of optimal health and well-being, nutritional supplements can help if your diet is lacking or your lifestyle is particularly demanding. From cardiovascular health to immune support and energy production, a well-chosen supplement regimen can complement a balanced diet.

The issue however is that it is a multibillion-dollar industry in which most supplements are unfortunately a complete waste of time. With a well-balanced diet, good sleep patterns and management of stress levels (including deep breathing and meditation) there are very few supplements you should ever really need. If there are certain issues you need to deal with, you should still not load up on supplements but stick to a few specific supplements that can help and then move back to these fundamentals.

If you are going to take supplements it is a case of you getting what you pay for. I would recommend investing in a quality brand to ensure the best results. 

Let’s take a look at the supplements that I both personally take and recommend. Starting with the top two that I feel everyone can benefit from – Omega 3’s and Magnesium.

FISH OIL

Benefits:

  • Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, supports heart health, reduces inflammation, and contributes to brain function. It also aids in joint health and can benefit skin conditions. A basic way I explain the two is that EPA is good for the body and inflammation while DHA is good for the brain.

Dosage:

  • I recommend clients take 3g of Omega 3 fatty acids (a combination of both EPA and DHA) per day. I also recommend eating fish at least three times a week.

Best Time to Take:

  • I take fish oil both morning and night spreading the dose evenly.

MAGNESIUM

Benefits:

  • Magnesium plays a crucial role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, supporting muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and bone health. It also aids in energy production.

Dosage:

  • The recommended daily intake varies but generally ranges from 300 to 400 mg. Factors such as stress levels, physical activity, and individual needs can influence magnesium requirements.

Best Time to Take:

  • Magnesium supplements are often taken in the evening, as they may promote relaxation and contribute to better sleep. Magnesium Threonate is a good option to have in the morning as it supports brain health and cognitive function. I personally take 2 capsules of Magnesium Threonate in the morning and 3 capsules of Magnesium Glycinate (good for the muscles) in the evenin

Additional Optional Supplements

I general principle I like to follow (which Charles Poliquin actually told me) is not to take more than five supplements at any one time. I have worked with many coaches that have far exceeded this and the only results I saw were coach got more money and the client got frustrated.

The skill is in knowing which ones to recommend.

VITAMIN D

Benefits:

  • Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, immune function, and the absorption of calcium. It also plays a role in modulating the immune system and may contribute to mood regulation.

Dosage:

  • I recommended clients take 1000 IU in summer combined with daily safe sun exposure and up to 10 000 IU in the winter.

Best Time to Take:

  • Vitamin D is best taken with a meal containing healthy fats to enhance absorption. Morning or early afternoon is often recommended to support circadian rhythms.

ZINC

Benefits:

  • Zinc is an essential mineral that supports immune function, wound healing, testosterone levels and DNA synthesis. It also plays a role in maintaining a sense of taste and smell. Here in Western Australia, the soils are very deficient in Zinc so it is more important to consider supplementation than an area that has much more mineral-rich soils such as New Zealand. 

Dosage:

  • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc varies by age and sex, but generally ranges from 8 to 11 mg for adults. 

Best Time to Take:

  • Zinc supplements are best taken with food and in the morning.

VITAMIN B COMPLEX

Benefits:

  • The B-vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) collectively support energy metabolism, cognitive function, and the health of the nervous system. They also play a role in mood regulation.

Dosage:

  • Dosages vary depending on the specific B-vitamin. In general, following the recommended daily allowances on the product label is advisable. When looking for a quality B Vitamin be sure to choose one with Methylcobalamin (B12) and not Cyanocobalamin which is a much cheaper synthetic version of B12. It is a simple way of seeing if the company is producing the supplement on the cheap. 

Best Time to Take:

  • B-vitamins are best taken in the middle of the meal. I prefer taking them in the morning to boost energy levels throughout the day.

MULTIVITAMINS

Benefits:

  • Multivitamins provide a comprehensive array of essential vitamins and minerals, addressing potential deficiencies and supporting overall health. They contribute to immune function, energy production, and various physiological processes. You probably won’t require all the nutrients in a multi but it is a good insurance policy for picking up on any deficiencies you may have.

Dosage:

  • Follow the recommended dosage on the product label, as formulations vary.

Best Time to Take:

  • Multivitamins are best taken with a meal to enhance absorption. I will split the recommended dose between morning and night.

VITAMIN C

Benefits:

  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune function, collagen production, and helps the body absorb iron. It also plays a role in maintaining healthy skin and tissues.

Dosage:

  • The recommended daily intake varies, but a common recommendation is around 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.

Best Time to Take:

  • Vitamin C does help with stress relief so I like to take it mid-afternoon which is when I want my cortisol levels to start to drop. It is water-soluble and generally well-tolerated.

CREATINE

Benefits:

  • Creatine is a compound involved in energy production, particularly during short bursts of intense physical activity. It supports muscle strength, power, and overall athletic performance.

Dosage:

  • A common dosing strategy is a loading phase of 20 grams per day (divided into 4 doses) for 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5 grams per day. Some individuals skip the loading phase and take 3-5 grams per day from the start.

Best Time to Take:

  • Creatine can be taken at any time, but many individuals choose to take it post-workout to replenish creatine stores used during exercise.

HCL – HYDROCHLORIC ACID

Benefits:

  • Stress and age both result in a decrease in digestive enzymes (HCL) and as such an ability to break down and absorb all the nutrients from your food, particularly protein. Supplementing with HCL can help maximise the nutritional value of your diet.

Dosages:

  • 1 to 3 capsules depending on tolerance. If you feel a warm sensation back off on the dosage. If you feel the warm sensation when taking one capsule HCL is probably not required.

Best Time to Take:

  • Taken during meals. Not recommended with shakes, fish or vegetarian/vegan meals.

SUMMARY

Supplements can play a role in your overall health but unless you are deficient in a particular nutrient supplementing with it will probably be of no benefit. Individual needs vary, and it’s important to not overdo your supplement regimen. Stick to five at an absolute maximum and reassess each month.

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