BY KEITH CORMICAN
For some health and fitness enthusiasts, supplements are a vital part of their daily routine, for others, they are somewhat of a ‘dirty word’, expensive, needless and marketing hype. However, when used correctly they can enhance your performance, boost mental ability and ensure that your health is working at its optimum level.
I would like to highlight some nutritional bullets!
(1) For a healthier heart – Plant Sterols.
Sterols are organic compounds found in animals and plants. Recent studies have found that the plant type can reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol by over 10%. You can get what you need each day from one yogurt-shot drink or 3 servings of sterol spread. Taking sterols before eating blocks your cholesterol receptors located in your liver – so limiting the amount of dietary cholesterol your body can absorb. Daily dose – 2.5 grams. Best food sources – Benecol/Actimel yogurts, Flora Proactive Spread, Natural Peanuts.
(2) Clear Arteries – Niacin.
Niacin in low doses boosts your HDL (good) cholesterol, reduces artery-blocking plaque and lowers LDL cholesterol by up to 20%. However, niacin can cause liver damage and even low doses can cause an itchy sensation from what is known as ‘niacin flush’. Daily dose – 18 mg. taken with food. Best sources – Peanuts, Chicken and Swordfish.
(3) Stronger Bones – Calcium with Vitamin D.
As you age, testosterone production naturally slows down which causes your bones to lose calcium. Many men suffer from bone-withering osteoporosis. Calcium can fight this, but no matter how good your intake, you will not make the most of it without some vitamin D to absorb it. Daily dose – Calcium – up to 1,500 mg. Vitamin D – 5-10 mcg. Best food sources – Calcium – broccoli, whole milk, cheddar cheese. Vitamin D – Salmon, eggs and sardines.
(4) Bigger Muscles – Whey and Casein Protein.
Studies have shown that men who consumed both whey and casein protein gained 50% more muscle mass than those who consumed whey alone. Drinking a protein shake with 16 grams of casein and 24 grams of whey after a weight training session will build you 8-10 % more muscle in ten weeks. Daily dose – No RDA. Whey protein is digested quickly, so it is ideal after a workout. Casein, however, takes up to 7 hours to digest properly and works best when taken just before going to bed. Best food sources – Protein shakes and protein bars provide the best concentrated form. Both also occur in milk.
(5) Stronger Joints – Glucosamine and Chonoroitin.
Taking these two together has been shown to significantly reduce pain from osteoarthritis. Chondroitin works with Glucosamine to inhibit the breakdown of cartilage. But glucosomine on its own is beneficial. It helps to repair damaged cartilage, reducing joint pain and inflammation in the process. Daily dose – 1,500 mg. of Glucosomine, 1,200 mg. of chondroitin. Best food sources – neither occur naturally in foods.
Perhaps you are now convinced that supplements are worthwhile, or maybe you are still sitting on the fence. Don’t hang onto the supplements you have bought for too long. It is not wise to take any that have expired, as once they have gone several years past their date of manufacture, the potency of the ingredients decreases. Because of a process known as ‘oxidation’ the ingredients may start to break down into unwanted ‘metabolites’. For example, if L-Glutamine has passed its expiry date and it is stored in a humid environment, it may start to break down into glutamic acid and ammonia – this is not good! Liquids, oils and liquid capsules break down faster than tablets. You should also take into consideration how the supplement is stored. If kept in a cool, dry place and left completely sealed it may still be potent and effective. However, this is dependent on the product. Sealed products such as tablets and pure protein powders might be fine after their expiry dates. This does not apply to EPAS and fish oils.
In conclusion, if you want maximum potency, take your supplements as far away from their expiry date as possible.