First, we’ll explore some of the many health benefits of magnesium.
Muscle and Nerve Function
Magnesium is fundamental to neuromuscular conduction and muscular contraction. It helps sustain normal muscle and nerve function, shielding against involuntary muscle contractions and spasms.
Without sufficient magnesium, our muscles would be in a continuous state of contraction. Recent research highlights the vital role of magnesium in these processes.
Magnesium is pivotal in maintaining cardiovascular health. It contributes to the regulation of a normal heart rhythm and blood pressure control. According to various studies, an adequate intake of magnesium may curtail the risk of heart disease.
Magnesium plays an instrumental role in bone health, contributing to bone formation, enhancing the synthesis of the bone matrix, and influencing the bone cells that govern bone homeostasis. A study published in Nutrients emphasizes the significant role of magnesium in bone health.
Emerging research has found correlations between magnesium levels and mental health. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and stress disorders may be linked with lower levels of magnesium. Several studies shed light on the importance of maintaining adequate magnesium levels for mental well-being.
Digestion and Metabolism
Magnesium is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, playing a crucial role in energy production and possibly contributing to weight management. This comprehensive review explains how magnesium is vital for various biological processes, including digestion and metabolism.
Role in Diabetes
Magnesium can improve insulin sensitivity, thereby playing a role in diabetes management. A deficiency can often be observed in individuals with diabetes, as noted in a study in the journal Diabetes Care.
Different Types of Magnesium and Their Specific Benefits
Choosing a magnesium supplement can be confusing as each type has unique benefits, differences in their absorption rate, dosing needs, etc.
Understanding the uniqueness of each type can help you select the most suitable one for your health needs.
Magnesium Citrate Benefits
First on our list is Magnesium Citrate, a type of magnesium that’s known for its positive effects on gut health. It is also well-regarded for its potent laxative effects, which can make it a good choice for those dealing with constipation.
Magnesium Citrate works by attracting water through the tissues by osmosis. Once in the intestine, it can soften the stool and induce the urge to defecate. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrates its effectiveness and the rapid relief it can bring for those suffering from constipation.
Magnesium Glycinate Benefits
Next is Magnesium Glycinate, a compound of magnesium and the amino acid glycine. This type of magnesium is known for its superior bioavailability, meaning it is highly absorbable and less likely to cause digestive issues such as diarrhea.
Moreover, Magnesium Glycinate is also known for its calming effects on the brain. Glycine works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, thereby inducing a calming effect. This makes it a great supplement to take in the evening for anyone who suffers from poor sleep.
Numerous studies have found this form of magnesium may help with conditions like insomnia, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
Magnesium Malate Benefits
Next on our list is Magnesium Malate. This type of magnesium is a combination of magnesium and malic acid. Malic acid is a natural substance found in fruits and vegetables and is particularly abundant in apples.
It’s known for its role in the Krebs Cycle – a series of chemical reactions used by all aerobic organisms to release energy.
Magnesium Oxide Benefits
Although Magnesium Oxide is not as bioavailable as other forms of magnesium, it contains a high amount of elemental magnesium.
Magnesium Oxide can provide short-term relief from constipation, and it shows potential for migraine prevention. Magnesium Oxide’s benefits for migraine sufferers were detailed in a study published in Headache, which found that the daily supplementation of magnesium resulted in a significant decrease in the frequency and severity of migraines.
Magnesium Taurate Benefits
Magnesium Taurate is another type of magnesium, a chelate of magnesium and the amino acid taurine.
Both magnesium and taurine have been found to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. This particular combination may help to prevent arrhythmias and protect the heart against damage from heart attacks.
The cardiovascular benefits of Magnesium Taurate are supported by a study in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
Magnesium L-Threonate Benefits
Finally, we have Magnesium L-Threonate. This form of magnesium has the unique ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which means it can directly benefit cognitive function.
A study published in Neuron showed that Magnesium L-Threonate improved both short-term and long-term memory in rats, suggesting its potential benefits for cognitive health in humans.
Once you know the type that’s best for you, then you can find out the dose you need.
Recommended Dosing of Magnesium
Understanding the correct dosage of magnesium is important for optimizing its benefits and avoiding potential adverse effects. The general recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies by age and sex.
Most adults, as advised by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), require around 300-400 mg per day. However, specific circumstances such as pregnancy, strenuous exercise, or high-stress conditions might necessitate different dosing recommendations.
For individual types of magnesium, the dosage often depends on the specific condition being targeted, and the bioavailability of the particular form of magnesium.
Here are some general guidelines by magnesium type:
Magnesium Citrate Dosing
Magnesium Citrate is typically used for its laxative effects. For constipation relief, adults can take a dose of 240-480 mg of magnesium citrate, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It’s best to start with a lower dose and adjust based on the response.
Magnesium Glycinate Dosing
Due to its high bioavailability and calming properties, the dosage for Magnesium Glycinate can vary. For general health and stress relief, a dosage of around 250-400 mg per day is often recommended.
Magnesium Malate Dosing
The dosage of Magnesium Malate recommended can differ depending on the purpose. For fibromyalgia patients, a higher dose may be needed, often around 500-700 mg per day. For general use, a lower dose of approximately 200-400 mg per day may be sufficient.
Magnesium Oxide Dosing
Magnesium Oxide is often recommended in higher doses due to its lower bioavailability. For general health, around 400-500 mg per day is often suggested. For the treatment of migraines, the dose may be increased to around 600 mg per day, as per the American Migraine Foundation.
Magnesium Taurate Dosing
Given its cardiovascular benefits, the dosage of Magnesium Taurate is typically aligned with general health recommendations, around 300-400 mg per day.
Magnesium L-Threonate Dosing
Due to its unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, Magnesium L-Threonate often has specific dosing recommendations. For cognitive benefits, research such as the study published in Neuron suggests a daily dose of around 1,000-2,000 mg.
It’s important to understand that these dosage guidelines are generalized. Individual needs may vary greatly depending on a variety of factors including diet, overall health status, and specific health concerns.
Therefore, it’s always recommended to consult a healthcare provider before starting or adjusting any supplement regimen, including magnesium.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency and Overdosing
Magnesium deficiency may include symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. In severe cases, it can lead to numbness, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Conversely, while it is less common, magnesium toxicity can also occur, especially from excessive supplementation. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, and in extreme cases, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest. Therefore, it’s important to adhere to the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any issues.
Foods High in Magnesium
In addition to taking supplements, incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your daily diet is another easy way to meet your magnesium needs. Foods high in magnesium encompass a wide range of options across food groups. Here are some high quality food sources of magnesium:
Green Leafy Vegetables: Spinach, Swiss chard, and kale are all good sources of magnesium. Add some to a salad, smoothie, or as a cooked side dish.
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds are also high in magnesium. Adding a handful of these to your diet can significantly contribute to your daily magnesium intake.
Legumes: Foods like lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and pinto beans are high in magnesium and offer an array of other essential nutrients like fiber, protein, and iron.
Whole Grains: Grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats are rich in magnesium. Whole grain bread and pasta can also contribute to your daily magnesium requirements.
Fish: Certain types of fish, particularly mackerel, salmon, and halibut, are good sources of magnesium.
Avocados: Besides being a great source of healthy fats, avocados are also high in magnesium.
Bananas: While known for their potassium content, bananas also provide a decent amount of magnesium.
Dark Chocolate: Great news for chocolate lovers … dark chocolate is rich in magnesium along with being packed with antioxidants. Just watch the sugar intake.
Tofu: Often a staple in vegan diets, tofu is also a good source of magnesium.
Dairy Products: Milk, yogurt, and cheese, particularly hard cheeses, can contribute to your daily magnesium intake.
Given its critical role in the body, it’s clear that maintaining optimal levels of magnesium is essential for good health.
While the right diet can provide ample magnesium, supplementation may sometimes be necessary, particularly for those with specific health conditions or dietary restrictions.
Personally, I use magnesium glycinate to help with anxiety and mood. I find that it helps calm my mind and I sleep better when I take it at night.
If you’re looking for a high quality, NSF-certified magnesium glycinate supplement, then I definitely recommend checking out Pure Food Magnesium Glycinate.
It’s up to you to figure out which type of magnesium is best for your specific health needs.
Most people who have tried to build lean muscle have taken nutritional supplements at some point in time.
And unfortunately, most of those supposedly magical all-natural / herbal remedies just don’t work … especially for those of us “hard gainers” who seem to struggle with growing new muscle.
But in this article, we will uncover three of the best muscle building, all natural supplements for both women and men that actually work in human clinical trials. That’s right–all of these are backed by real, credible research studies. [Anecdotally, I can attest to having personally used and seen great results when using this supplement stack!]
Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein, which is why it’s the most important nutrient if you want to build muscle.
Many people, particularly those who adhere to a plant-based diet, struggle to get enough protein to gain any muscle.
A2021 study found that whey and plant (soy) protein were equally effective in supporting lean muscle gains.
A2019 study showed similar body composition improvements after taking whey and pea (plant-based) protein for 8 weeks.
A 2015 study found that supplementing with pea protein produced similar muscle gains to whey protein.
And since an estimated 68% of people are lactose intolerant, it stands to reason that many folks probably not be consuming dairy-based proteins like whey.
There are other animal-based proteins like collagen but they haven’t been studied as extensively for building muscle as whey and certain plant proteins. Some studies have shown that collagen may not be as effective as whey for muscle protein synthesis.
Regardless of which source you decide is best for you, one thing is for certain: protein powders work if your goal is losing fat and gaining lean muscle. Here’s proof …
Protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power.
While studies on athletes have shown that protein and amino acid supplements may increase MPS and reduce fatigue, muscle soreness and low-to-moderate exercise-induced damage, current studies showing clear negative effects associated with high-protein diets or, e.g. BCAA supplements, are mainly reported in subjects with some type of metabolic disturbances.
Supplementation with whey protein, combined with RT can increase muscle mass with no effects on muscle strength. Whey protein supplementation may alter body composition in favor of additional fat free mass with no significant changes in body fat.
Dietary protein supplementation significantly enhanced changes in muscle strength and size during prolonged resistance exercise training in healthy adults. Increasing age reduces and training experience increases the efficacy of protein supplementation during resistance exercise.
For untrained individuals, consuming supplemental protein likely has no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the initial weeks of resistance training. However, as the duration, frequency, and volume of resistance training increase, protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power.
Protein supplementation may enhance muscle mass and performance when the training stimulus is adequate (e.g., frequency, volume, duration), and dietary intake is consistent with recommendations for physically active individuals.
Since protein powders are dietary supplements, the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products. So first, ensure that whatever protein powder you’re using is routinely third party tested for mold, pathogens, and heavy metals. Supplement manufacturers should have COAs they can share with you and if they don’t, it’s definitely a red flag!
Some research suggests that whey protein might cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
However, there’s limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from a combination of food and supplements.
Don’t use whey protein if you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy products.
Possible interactions include:
Albendazole (Albenza). Avoid using whey protein if you are taking this parasite-killing drug. The supplement might delay or hinder the drug’s effects.
Alendronate (Fosamax). Use of whey protein with this drug used to prevent or treat osteoporosis might decrease absorption of the drug.
Certain antibiotics. Use of whey protein with quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics might decrease your absorption of the drug.
Plant protein powders all absorb small amounts of heavy metals from the soils they’re grown in. Usually these levels are not high enough to have negative impacts on human health but it’s a good idea to check with the supplement manufacturer and review their heavy metal testing reports.
Creatine to Increase Strength and Build Lean Muscle
Creatine is an amino acid found in your body’s muscles and in your brain. Though it can be made synthetically, most people get creatine through seafood and red meat. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also make creatine.
Creatine is one of the best supplements for building lean body mass and increasing athletic performance.
Of 22 studies reviewed, the average increase in muscle strength following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 8% greater than the average increase in muscle strength following placebo ingestion during resistance training (20 vs. 12%). Similarly, the average increase in weightlifting performance (maximal repetitions at a given percent of maximal strength) following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 14% greater than the average increase in weightlifting performance following placebo ingestion during resistance training (26 vs. 12%).
The study found that a 5-day creatine loading regime coupled with resistance training resulted in significant improvements in both average anaerobic power, as measured by the 30-second Wingate test and back squat strength compared with just training alone.
Twelve weeks of low-dose creatine supplementation associated with resistance training resulted in increases in lean mass in the elderly.
Creatine Side Effects
According to the Mayo Clinic, evidence suggests that using creatine generally won’t hurt if taken as directed.
When used orally at appropriate doses, creatine is likely safe to take for up to five years. As with any dietary supplement, it’s important to choose a product that follows recommended manufacturing practices and subscribes to third-party testing to ensure the product’s quality.
Creatine can cause weight gain, generally as lean body mass (more muscle).
Creatine might be unsafe for people with preexisting kidney issues. One case study suggested that creatine might worsen kidney dysfunction in people with kidney disorders, but creatine doesn’t appear to affect kidney function in healthy people.
Possible interactions of creatine include caffeine. Combining caffeine with creatine might decrease the efficacy of creatine. Use of creatine with a daily amount of caffeine greater than 300 milligrams might also worsen the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Further research is needed.
Glutamine to Speed Recovery and Increase Strength Gains
L Glutamine is the most abundant essential amino acid in our bodies and one of the “building blocks” of protein. It’s a “conditional” amino acid, which means that your body can make some on its own but uses it in large amounts.
Around 60 percent of your skeletal muscle is made up of glutamine, which is why it has been used by athletes and bodybuilders for years to help build and preserve lean body mass.
Let’s look at the available evidence on the effect l glutamine supplements have on muscle gains.
L-glutamine supplementation resulted in faster recovery of peak torque and diminished muscle soreness following eccentric exercise. The effect of L-glutamine on muscle force recovery may be greater in men than women.
Glutamine supplementation, mainly when associated with physical exercises, improves strength and power of knee muscles and glycemia control, besides boosting plasma antioxidant capacity of elderly women.
Studies evaluated observed that glutamine supplementation improved some fatigue markers, such as increased glycogen synthesis and reduced ammonia accumulation, but this intervention did not increase physical performance.
L-glutamine administration could represent an important therapeutic strategy for reducing muscle loss in catabolic diseases and inflamed aging.
Glutamine Side Effects
L-glutamine is generally safe but may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
back, leg, feet, hands, or arm pain
So, based on a solid body of evidence, protein powder, creatine, and L glutamine are three of the best supplements for lean muscle gain.
Finding a protein powder that works for you can be a highly personal ordeal. Whether you choose an animal protein like whey or collagen or plant-based protein, we recommend sticking with a product with USA-sourced ingredients and no added sugar (especially the latter if gaining LEAN muscle is your goal).
And any supplement you choose should be produced in a GMP-certified, FDA-approved facility, and third party lab tested for impurities like mold, food borne pathogens, and heavy metals.
The most important thing when trying to build lean muscle, regardless of your gender or age, is to create consistent habits. Supplements are just one piece of the puzzle. Doing resistance training several days a week and improving your diet with more clean, high protein foods are imperative if you want to get lean and actually stay that way!
*Note: Ginkgo’s effect on memory enhancement has had conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that ginkgo extract might modestly improve memory in healthy adults, most studies indicate that ginkgo doesn’t improve memory, attention or brain function.
Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe?
When used orally in moderate amounts, ginkgo appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Here are some important safety considerations when taking this supplement though:
In certain people, ginkgo can cause headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, upset stomach, constipation, and allergic skin reactions.
If you are epileptic or prone to seizures, avoid ginkgo.
If you are older, have a bleeding disorder or are pregnant, don’t take ginkgo because it might increase your risk of bleeding.
Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes.
Don’t eat raw or roasted ginkgo seeds, which can be poisonous.
Possible interactions include: Alprazolam (Xanax), Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, herbs and supplements, Anticonvulsants, Antidepressants, Certain statins, Diabetes drugs, Ibuprofen
The herbal remedies collectively referred to as “ginseng” are derived from the roots of several different plants. One of the most commonly used and researched of the ginseng plants is Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng.
The main active components of Panax ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.
Results of clinical research studies demonstrate that Panax ginseng may improve psychologic function, immune function, and conditions associated with diabetes.
1. Improve cognition and focus. 2. Reduce blood sugar. 3. Boost happiness and well being.
Overall, Panax ginseng appears to be well tolerated, although caution is advised about combining it with some pharmaceuticals, such as warfarin, oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin, and phenelzine.
Because ginseng may affect blood sugar levels, people taking drugs for diabetes should not use ginseng without talking to their doctor first. Ginseng can interact with warfarin and with some medicines for depression. Do not take ginseng without consulting your doctor if you take any medications. Caffeine may amplify ginseng’s stimulant effects.
Given the lack of evidence about its safety, ginseng is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Turmeric is a spice that’s a member of the ginger family. It’s commonly used in several types of Asian cuisine. Turmeric roots contains a yellow-colored compound called curcumin that has some pretty impressive health properties.
In addition to the digestive benefits below, there is strong evidence that shows turmeric is high in anti-oxidants, which help protect your cells from damage and can help reduce inflammation, pain, anxiety and even symptoms of depression.
1. Relieve IBS 2. Aid digestion 3. Ease heartburn 4. Reduce gas and bloating
According to JECFA (The Joint United Nations and World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives) and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) reports, the Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) value of curcumin is 0–3 mg/kg body weight.
Despite this well-established safety profile, some negative side effects have been reported. A small percentage of people in several clinical studies reported nausea and diarrhea.
Dietary fiber is a plant-derived nutrient that can’t be digested by your body. This is a good thing because fiber helps move material through your digestive system.
Problem is, most Americans still aren’t getting enough of it from their diet, especially if you follow a low carb or ketogenic diets.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is at least 25-30 grams. Most people get around 15.
A 2019 meta analysis of studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years showed that the health benefits of eating at least 25g or more of dietary fiber a day included:
1. Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, many types of cancers. 2. Improve digestive health. 3. Live longer.
If you’re struggling to get enough fiber from whole foods in your diet, then a supplement containing a little extra fiber may help. In rare cases, eating more fiber can lead to side effects. Here are some specific examples:
Is Fiber Safe?
Fiber supplements may decrease the absorption of some medications. Therefore, you should not take supplements within 2 hours of taking other medications.
When using fiber supplements or increasing dietary fiber intake, you should gradually increase your intake over a few weeks to avoid or reduce adverse effects such as intestinal flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and cramping.
If you have a preexisting medical conditions, and especially one in which you need to restrict fluid intake (e.g., renal dysfunction or congestive heart failure), or if you’re currently taking any medications you should discuss the use of fiber supplements with your primary health care provider.
If you have intestinal ulcerations, stenosis, or disabling adhesions you should avoid fiber supplements because of the possibility of fecal impaction or intestinal obstruction.
The Best Supplements for Immunity
Zinc is an essential trace mineral and the second most abundant metal in humans. Since the human body does not store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet. Zinc deficiency in humans is quite prevalent, affecting over two billion people.
Here are some proven benefits of taking a zinc supplement:
1. Boost your immune system. 2. Treating common cold and recurrent ear infections, the flu, upper respiratory tract infections.
Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc
Is Zinc Safe?
Zinc is likely safe for most adults when applied to the skin, or when taken by mouth in amounts not larger than 40 mg daily.
In some people, zinc might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage, and other side effects. Using zinc on broken skin may cause burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.
Zinc should not be inhaled through the nose, as it might cause permanent loss of smell. Avoid using nose sprays containing zinc.
Taking more than 100 mg of supplemental zinc daily or taking supplemental zinc for 10 or more years doubles the risk of developing prostate cancer. There is also concern that taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate zinc supplement increases the chance of dying from prostate cancer.
Taking 450 mg or more of zinc daily can cause problems with blood iron. Single doses of 10-30 grams of zinc can be fatal.
Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs to keep your bones healthy. Our bodies can only absorb calcium, the main part of bones, when vitamin D is present.
The amount of vitamin D your skin makes from sunlight depends on several factors, including the time of day, season, latitude and your skin pigmentation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production might decrease or be completely absent during the winter months. Sunscreen, while important for preventing skin cancer, also can decrease vitamin D production.
Many older adults, in particular, don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D.
If your doctor suspects you’re not getting enough vitamin D, a simple blood test can check the levels of this vitamin in your blood.
Taking a multivitamin with vitamin D may help improve bone health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.
1. Decrease risks or falls and fractures in the elderly. 2. Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. 3. Lowering risk of colorectal cancer. 4. May improve inflammation and clinical symptoms in COVID-19 patients.
Taken in appropriate doses, vitamin D is generally considered safe.
However, taking too much vitamin D in the form of supplements can be harmful. Children age 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women who take more than 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D might experience:
Aluminum. Taking vitamin D and aluminum-containing phosphate binders, which may be used to treat high serum phosphate levels in people with chronic kidney disease, might cause harmful levels of aluminum in people with kidney failure in the long term.
Anticonvulsants. The anticonvulsants phenobarbital and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) increase the breakdown of vitamin D and reduce calcium absorption.
Atorvastatin (Lipitor). Taking vitamin D might affect the way your body processes this cholesterol drug.
Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux). Don’t take vitamin D with this psoriasis drug. The combination might increase the risk of too much calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia).
Cholestyramine (Prevalite). Taking vitamin D with this cholesterol-lowering drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates. Use vitamin D cautiously if you’re taking drugs processed by these enzymes.
Digoxin (Lanoxin). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this heart medication. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which increases the risk of fatal heart problems with digoxin.
Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which might reduce the drug’s effectiveness.
Orlistat (Xenical, Alli). Taking this weight-loss drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
Thiazide diuretics. Taking these blood pressure drugs with vitamin D increases your risk of hypercalcemia.
Steroids. Taking steroid mediations such as prednisone can reduce calcium absorption and impair your body’s processing of vitamin D.
Stimulant laxatives. Long-term use of high doses of stimulant laxatives can reduce vitamin D and calcium absorption.
Verapamil (Verelan, Calan SR). Taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug can cause hypercalcemia, and might also reduce the effectiveness of verapamil.
The Best Supplements for Pain / Inflammation
Almost a third of Americans suffer from chronic pain–nearly 100 million people.
Prescription pain medications like opoids have become a major problem though.
No serious side effects have been reported in large, well-conducted studies of people taking glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for up to 3 years.
However, glucosamine or chondroitin may interact with the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drug warfarin (Coumadin).
A study in rats showed that long-term use of moderately large doses of glucosamine might damage the kidneys. Although results from animal studies don’t always apply to people, this study does raise concern.
Glucosamine might affect the way your body handles sugar, especially if you have diabetes or other blood sugar problems, such as insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essentialfats—your body can’t make them from scratch and therefore must get them from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables.
Omega-3 fats are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and help regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
There are three main omega-3s:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) come mainly from fish, so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets, is found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially in grass-fed animals.
Omega-3 fats have been shown to help with a variety of health conditions …
1. Prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. 2. Control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. 3. Play protective roles in cancer and other conditions. 4. Reduce symptoms of depression. 5. Reduce arthritis-related joint pain.
I personally use Krill Oil, and highly recommend it.
Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids Safe?
Side effects of omega-3 supplements are usually mild. They include unpleasant taste, bad breath, bad-smelling sweat, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea.
Several large studies have linked higher blood levels of long-chain omega-3s with higher risks of prostate cancer. However, other research has shown that men who frequently eat seafood have lower prostate cancer death rates and that dietary intakes of long-chain omega-3s aren’t associated with prostate cancer risk. The reason for these apparently conflicting findings is unclear.
Omega-3 supplements may interact with drugs that affect blood clotting.
It’s uncertain whether people with seafood allergies can safely take fish oil supplements.
Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol, also known as “French Maritime Pine Bark Extract,” contains catechins similar to those found in green tea, grape seed extract and cocoa polyphenols.
Pcynogenol does appear to possess dual anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and its benefits include increased blood flow and improved blood glucose control.
1. Promotes healthy aging. 2. Improves symptoms of knee pain for patients with osteoarthritis. 3. Shows anti-inflammatory effects. 4.Increases antioxidant capability. 5. Improved endothelial function in hypertensive patients.
One study showed unwanted effects of a “mild and transient nature,” such as gastrointestinal problems, vertigo, headache and nausea.
The Best (Legal) Supplements for Building Muscle and Losing Fat
Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids (the building blocks of life). Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein.
It’s well known that eating an adequate amount of protein is necessary if you’re trying to alter your body composition (gain muscle, lose fat, etc.).
Many folks, particularly those who follow a plant-based diet, struggle to get adequate protein from food alone though.
That’s where taking a protein powder supplement may help.
Here are some known benefits:
1. Build lean body mass (muscle). 2. Reduce body fat. 3. Maintain a healthy weight. 4. Strengthen bones as you age.
Since protein powders are dietary supplements, the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products.
Some proteins, particularly dairy-based ones, may cause digestive distress. People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder.
Protein powders often have gut-disrupting gums and fillers, as well as added sugars or artificial sweeteners, many of which are carcinogenic.
Creatine is an amino acid found in your body’s muscles and in your brain. Though it can be made synthetically, most people get creatine through seafood and red meat. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also make creatine.
When used orally at appropriate doses, creatine is likely safe to take for up to five years. However, there is concern that creatine taken in high doses is possibly unsafe and could damage the liver, kidneys or heart.
Creatine can cause: Muscle cramping, Nausea, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Gastrointestinal pain, Dehydration, Weight gain, Water retention, Heat intolerance, Fever
Don’t take creatine if you have a history of kidney disease or you have conditions such as diabetes that increase the risk of kidney problems. There also is some concern that creatine might increase mania in people who have bipolar disorder.
Many drugs might interact with creatine and increase the risk of kidney damage. Possible drug interactions include: Nephrotoxic drugs, Caffeine and Ephedra. Combining caffeine with creatine might decrease the efficacy of creatine. Combining caffeine with creatine and the supplement ephedra might increase the risk of serious side effects, such as stroke.
Beta–alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body.
While beta alanine hasn’t been studied as much as creatine, there’s some compelling evidence about the effects of beta-alanine on body composition:
1. Improve exercise performance (particularly HIIT). 2. Stimulate lean body mass growth.
Ashwagandha is probably safe when taken by mouth short-term. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not use ashwagandha if you are pregnant. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might cause miscarriages. Not enough is known about the use of ashwagandha during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Ashwagandha might lower blood sugar levels. This could interfere with medications used for diabetes and cause blood sugar levels to go to low.
High or low blood pressure: Ashwagandha might decrease blood pressure. This could cause blood pressure to go to low in people with low blood pressure; or interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure.
Stomach ulcers: Ashwagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don’t use ashwagandha if you have a stomach ulcer.
“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Ashwagandha might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using ashwagandha.
Surgery: Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Thyroid disorders: Ashwagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. Ashwagandha should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.
Possible Drug Interactions
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants).
Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines).
Sedative medications (CNS depressants).
The following haven’t been studied as much as ashwagandha but preliminary evidence suggests these can also help ease anxiety:
Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine.
According to several small studies, it does appear effective at inducing calmness and reducing anxiety:
Lemon balm is likely safe for most people. When taken by mouth, lemon balm can cause some side effects including increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and wheezing.
When applied to the skin, lemon balm may cause skin irritation and increased cold sore symptoms.
Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lemon balm during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes. Lemon balm might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use lemon balm.
Surgery: Lemon balm might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop using lemon balm at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Thyroid disease: Don’t use lemon balm. There is a concern that lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone-replacement therapy.
Possible Drug Interactions: Sedative Medications (CNS depressants). Lemon balm might cause sleepiness and drowsiness.
Reishi, also known as ganoderma lucidum or lingzi mushroom, is frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. Its popularity extends to Japanese and Korean medicine, and it has been making its way west.
Reishi has anti-oxidative/anti-stress effects and also has a therapeutic effect on insulin resistance, reduces the risk of prostate cancer, and can help treat a variety of conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.
On top of that, the lingzi mushroom is well known for its anti-cancer effects. It is able to activate natural killer cells, increasing their activity and the body’s ability to fight tumors, and reduces the chances of metastasis, which is when cancer spreads to another part of the body, in certain types of cancers.
1. Reduce anxiety and stress levels. 2. Improve subjective well being. 3. Reduce fatigue. 4. Slows development of certain types of cancer.
Reishi mushroom may cause side effects including dryness of the mouth, throat, and nasal area along with itchiness and rash, stomach upset and diarrhea, dizziness and headache, nosebleed, and bloody stools.
Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking reishi mushroom if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Bleeding disorder: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people with certain bleeding disorders.
Low blood pressure: Reishi mushroom might lower blood pressure. There is a concern that it might make low blood pressure worse. If your blood pressure is too low, it is best to avoid reishi mushroom.
A clotting disorder called thrombocytopenia: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in people with thrombocytopenia. If you have this condition, do not use reishi mushroom.
Surgery: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people if used before or during surgery. Stop using reishi mushroom at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs. Reishi mushroom might decrease blood pressure in some people. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs). High doses of reishi mushroom might slow blood clotting. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
I felt compelled to give an honorable nod to CBD, also known as cannabidiol, a compound derived mainly from hemp plants (which are cousins of the marijuana plant–so it does not cause a “high” like THC found in marijuana).
In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.
World Health Organization
Although research is preliminary, it appears CBD has some legit benefits, the strongest scientific evidence being for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.
More recently, CBD is quickly becoming the treatment of choice for people who suffer from anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain (although the last one has not been studied or validated).
A study from the European Journal of Pain showed showed that CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.
More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims but its effects appear to be promising.
The Bottom Line About Supplements
1. Do your homework. Make sure whatever supplement you’re thinking about taking has been studied for safety and efficacy. Examine.com and Pubmed are good sources.
2. Talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement. Especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.
3. Listen to your body. If a supplement makes you feel better, keep taking it. If it doesn’t, stop taking it.