As I spoke about supplements and my recommendations on my Facebook Live chat last week (19th October), I said I would put my list together in a blog post so here it is!
I cannot emphasise just how important it is to focus on the basics of good nutrition as well as sleep, stress, hydration and training before thinking about taking supplements. They are just that, there to supplement an already healthy, balanced diet.
However, once all that is taken into consideration, these are the supplements I would recommend:
So there are 24 essential vitamins and minerals that we should be aiming to consume in doses close to the RDA. This will be in a percentage on food labels.
Getting enough of the 24 vitamins and minerals sounds like a lot however there are only a few that people commonly lack in their diet.
Magnesium and Vitamin D are two that people are often deficient in. A multivitamin tends to have too low of a dose of some vitamins and minerals including these two therefore it might be worth taking these as a supplement on their own which I will talk about below.
2. Fish Oil
If you don’t tend to eat fatty fish on a regular basis it is worth supplementing. When I say fish oil I am referring to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids that I am sure you have heard me talk about before. Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docosahexaenoic acid or DHA are the two omega-3 fats that can be found in fish and animal proteins mainly.
I spoke about the dose of fish oil you should be looking to consume from supplements on my snapchat before and I was shocked at the amount of poor quality fish oils people are consuming, unknowingly. People know fish oils are good for them but don’t know what to look for when buying a supplement form.
If you are one of these people, next time you re looking to buy a fish oil supplement, look at the EPA and DHA content on the label. Combined, the two should add up to around 700mg at least. Daily, we should look to consume around 2g combined which would mean consuming 3 capsules/day.
So many people told me their supplement had a combined EPA and DHA content of under 100mg!! That would mean consuming around 20 capsules a day for the recommended dose.
Take a closer look next time you are purchasing your fish oil supplement. Also, if you do have oily fish in your diet, for example if you have salmon for dinner, then you wouldn’t have to supplement as much that day.
The reason behind supplementing with fish oil is because it provides benefits such as healthier blood vessels, a lower lipid count, reduced risk of plaque build up, lower risk of diabetes & several forms of cancer.
Fish oil (omega-3) supplements are recommended instead of omega-6 simply because the average diet that contains red meat, eggs etc. is likely to get enough omega-6 and thus omega-3 is recommended to balance this ratio as close to 1:1 as possible.
3. Whey Protein
There are two proteins found in milk, whey protein being one and casein being the other. Whey protein is the most popular of the two is whey protein, the water-soluble part of milk. Reason being, whey protein is faster absorbed than other forms of protein.
Whey is often used as a supplement to help people hit their daily protein goals.
Whey has been associated with fat loss but that is more so to do with protein in general, not just whey. Taking in more protein can leave people feeling more satiated and full for longer, which means they are less likely to overeat.
Whey protein WILL NOT harm your kidneys or liver UNLESS you have pre-existing liver or kidney damage, whereby it may exacerbate things.
Protein intake should be anywhere from around 1.8g/kg of bodyweight in people who are inactive, right up to 3-4g/kg bodyweight it has been shown. I like to stick to around 2-2.5g/kg bodyweight in people who exercise regularly.
A decent whey protein will have around 20-30g protein per scoop and I buy a whey protein blend which is generally just a mix of whey concentrate and whey isolate.
Hydro whey is often over priced for what it is, just a little extra protein per scoop and a few grams less carbs/fat.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not exactly necessary when you are already getting good sources of protein elsewhere in your diet and whey is just there to make up the remainder on days you can’t hit your protein through food alone.
4. Vitamin D
As the RDA for Vitamin D has increased from around 400IU to between 1000IU – 2000IU, it is more common that people aren’t getting enough of it.
Yes we can get vitamin D from sunlight, however depending on where you are living in the world, this time of year isn’t exactly great for that. This is where a vitamin D supplement can come into play especially – the winter months.
As sunlight is the main form of vitamin D, it’s important to ensure you are getting enough from dietary sources such as dairy products, fish and eggs, as well as a good supplement.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so it is best taken with a meal and more specifically one that has a good source of fat in it.
The benefits of supplementing with vitamin D include improvements in the immune system, increased cognition, bone health and well being as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and MS.
When we get enough UV light from being in the sun, our bodies produce vitamin D from cholesterol. The UV index of that light has to be 3 or above which isn’t all year round, hence the importance of supplementation.
That’s not to say that because you don’t take a supplement and don’t get enough sunlight that you are going to get every disease associated with vitamin D, no, you simply won’t have optimal levels of vitamin D that’s all.
Due to the health benefits associated with vitamin D it is obviously beneficial to supplement, especially in winter months.
Again, magnesium is one of the essential minerals and is the second most prevalent electrolyte in the body. A deficiency in magnesium increases blood pressure, causes neural excitation and reduces glucose tolerance.
Good sources of magnesium include foods like nuts and leafy veggies, both of which aren’t eaten as much as grains in the western diet, hence why the deficiency is common.
When supplementing magnesium you should aim to consume 200-400mg minimum from magnesium citrate. When taking magnesium oxide or magnesium chloride there may be gastrointestinal side-effects such as diarrhoea and bloating. Magnesium L-threonate can be used for cognitive enhancement.
Be sure to supplement magnesium daily, with food.
Create is one of the most researched supplements out there and rightly so due to the benefits that come with it.
Creatine stores creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine and when the body is under stress, phosphocreatine releases energy to help with cellular function.
This is where supplementing creatine for strength comes into play. As well as strength, creatine can aid the bones in the body, brain, muscles and liver.
Like most supplements, you can get creatine from foods such as meat, fish and eggs. Supplementing creatine in the diet is often done by athletes to increase their lean mass and power output.
The cheapest and most effective form of creatine on the market is creatine monohydrate. This dissolves in water easily and can be added to shakes etc.
Some people use a loading protocol when supplementing creatine however it isn’t necessary. 3-5g of creatine per day is beneficial. Those who have a high amount of muscle mass and high activity levels may supplement with up to 10g per day.
Be sure to consume enough water when taking creatine to prevent stomach cramps and if you decide to do a loading phase, spread the doses out through the day and take with meals to prevent diarrhoea and nausea.
So there you have it, a few of my top supplement recommendations! As I am sure you are well aware by now, supplements will only help if you have your diet nailed and you have the basics under control.
For more details on training and nutrition or for information about online coaching drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.