Supplements

  • Creatine and Kidney Function

    Some people argue that creatine supplementation results in adverse health effects particularly kidney damage. Media reports and several websites play an active role in spreading such erroneous information. While this may appear to be true to the eyes of the public, the truth is actually quite the opposite. This article will present the benefits of creatine supplementation and the effects of its chronic use to human health from a scientific standpoint.

    Overview on Creatine
    Creatine is a protein substance naturally found in the human body. Because creatine is mostly found in muscles, it is believed that creatine plays a dynamic role in generating muscular energy. Today, it is one of the most talked-about dietary supplements that helps to develop and increase muscle strength. Due to the supplements' hailed benefits, creatine appears to be one of the most used supplements among athletes which some scientist have raised concern about. They contend that chronic use of creatine supplements lead to reduced kidney function.

    Use of Creatine Supplements
    Creatine supplements are widely used among professional athletes and "gym junkies". Consumption of the supplement is not illegal nor restricted in any country. One case in point is the International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association which permit their students to take creatine supplements and further reveal that no plans have been set in prohibiting its use in colleges and universities.

    Other than building muscle strength, creatine supplements are used in treating the following conditions:
    Depression
    Eye problems
    Parkinson's disease
    High cholesterol
    Arthritis
    Congestive heart failure
    Muscular disorders such as muscle dystrophy

    Creatine Supplementation Damages Kidney: Fact or Fallacy?
    In spite of many claims stating that creatine monohydrate supplements decrease renal function, this has been proven otherwise. In a study conducted in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition this year showed that 3 months of supplementation with creatine monohydrate and a high protein diet had no significant impact on kidney function including Glomerular Filtration Rate or Cr-EDTA clearance. (1) in which subjects were individuals attending resistance training routines while taking high-protein diet.

    In another study published in the American Journal of Kidney Disorders, scientist gave a subject with only one kidney a high dose (20g/d for 5 days and then 5g/d for the next 30 days) of creatine monohydrate each day and found that there was no negative changes to Glomerular Filtration Rate nor Cr-EDTA clearance, again showing creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function. (2)

    To date, no long term clinical studies have shown adverse effects from the use of creatine mononhydrate in various populations including athletes, infants or adults. (3,4,5)

    Summary
    Long-term use of creatine monohydrate supplements is considered safe as medically backed by studies referenced in this article. This has led the International Society of Sports Nutrition to publish a position stance on the use of Creatine. It is the position of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that the use of creatine as a nutritional supplement within established guidelines is safe, effective, and ethical. (6)

    References
    1) Lugaresi R, Leme M, De Salles V, Murai I, Roschel H, et al. Doe long-term creatine supplementation impair kidney function in resistance-trained individuals consuming a high protein diet? JISSN. 2013;10(26).

    2) Gualano B, et al. Effect of short-term high-dose creatine supplementation on measured GFR in a young man with a single kidney. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010.

    3) Kreider RB, Melton C, Rasmussen CJ, Greenwood M, Lancaster S, Cantler EC, Milnor P, Almada AL: Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Mol Cell Biochem 2003, 244:95-104.

    4) Poortmans JR, Francaux M: Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999, 31:1108-1110.

    5) Robinson TM, Sewell DA, Casey A, Steenge G, Greenhaff PL: Dietary creatine supplementation does not affect some haematological indices, or indices of muscle damage and hepatic and renal function. Br J Sports Med 2000, 34:284-8.

    6) Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Greenwood M, Campbell B, Spano M, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Antonio J: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007, 4:6.

  • What's the real deal on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?

    The habitual use of high fructose corn syrup nowadays is widely associated with the ballooning cases of chronic diseases including obesity and type 2 diabetes. But is HFCS really to blame for the rise in these metabolic conditions? More recently HFCS appears to be taking the brunt of the blame game whilst table sugar goes almost unnoticed.

    What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
    High Fructose Corn Syrup, abbreviated as HFCS, is a special form sweetener that is made up of 55% fructose and 42% glucose. Although commonly related to the United States of America, high fructose corn syrup was actually first introduced in Japan in the 1970s when they convert cornstarch into a special form of sweetener.

    High fructose corn syrup works by developing a sweeter sugar taste similar to that of cane sugar. It is relatively cheap, thus more and more manufacturers are now using it in place of cane sugar.

    How does High Fructose Corn Syrup Differs from Sugar?
    HFCS is a blend of both glucose and fructose molecules. The fructose component of the syrup can vary between 40-55% depending on its intended purpose. There is only a minor subtle difference between HFCS and sugar (sucrose) particularly at a molecular levels. Sucrose is an equal 1:1 ratio of both sucrose and fructose making it 50% fructose and 50% sucrose. The molecular difference between HFCS and table sugar is negligible at best.

    What does science tell us about HFCS?
    There has been mostly negative media exposure surrounding HFCS particularly accusations that it is a significant contributing factor the rise in chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. However from a scientific stand point, the effects of HFCS to satiety, weight loss and hormonal responses have found no significant difference between HFCS and table sugar. In a study published in 2007, scientist investigated the effects of HFCS consumption and fasting blood glucose, insulin, leptin and ghrelin levels in a group of female subjects. (1) The results showed that there were no significant differences between the effects of HFCS and table sugar on fasting blood glucose, insulin, leptin and ghrelin levels. This was again confirmed in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008 where table sugar and HFCS did not have substantially different short-term endocrine/metabolic effects. (2)

    Summary
    HFCS frequently cops a bad wrap by the media. This point of this article is not to suggest HFCS is good for us, but to merely highlight that often what you may hear in the media may not always be exactly right. Yes HFCS is bad for our health in high intakes, however so to is table sugar. And as this article points out (with scientific reasoning) both HFCS and table sugar have the same negative metabolic and endocrine effects. To be on the safe side, I'd recommend you avoid the pair of these sugars as there is no denying that they contribute to metabolic conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes in the long term.

    References
    1) Melanson KJ, Zukley L, Lowndes J, Nguyen V, et al. Effects of high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose consumption on circulating glucose, insulin, leptin, and ghrelin and on appetite in normal-weight women. Nutrition. 2007;23(2):103-112.
    2) Stanhope KL, Griffen SC, Bair BR, Swarbrick MM, et al. Twenty-four-hour endocrine and metabolic profiles following consumption of high-fructose corn syrup-,sucrose-,fructose-, and glucose-sweetened beverages with meals.

  • Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA)

    What is gamma-aminobutyric acid?
    Gamma-aminobutyric acid, also commonly referred to as GABA, is one of the various neurotransmitters that regulate chemical processes in the human body. It plays a major role in brain activation as it counter-regulates the functions of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, mostly resembling the interaction of yin and yang (1). GABA is the most potent inhibitory neurotransmitter which controls the depressive and sedative functions of the human brain, thus making it critical in the functions of the parasympathetic nervous system. It is also directly involved in maintaining muscle tone and muscle mass.

    GABA is synthesised endogenously however at very low rates. Dietary sources are scarce with some animal and plant based products containing GABA, however again at very low concentrations.

    What are the health benefits of GABA?
    Primarily, GABA is medically used to induce relaxation of skeletal muscles and, in high doses, to induce sleep. It is also used to promote lean muscle growth, and is thus used as a sports nutrition supplement. It is believed that GABA may help to increase human growth hormone (hGH). Human growth hormone, as its name suggest, promotes the growth of lean muscle mass and other tissues within the body. In high concentrations it also helps to reduce body fat mass as well. In a study conducted back in 1980, scientist showed that a single 5g oral dose of GABA enhances the secretion of Growth Hormone analogues - Immunoreactive Growth hormone (irGH) and Immunofunctional Growth Hormone (ifGH) within three hours. (2)

    How is GABA taken?
    As a sports nutrition supplement, GABA is best taken at a dosage of 2-3g per day. Due to its powerful calming effects, it is best taken prior to bed as opposed to prior to exercise. It is important to highlight though that the uptake of GABA into the systemic circulation is very minimal. And as a result, GABA is usually used as an adjunct to other drugs and/or sports nutrition supplements that can enhance GABA levels. It is usually prescribed with nitric oxide (NO) because the latter can enhance the permeability of the blood brain barrier to GABA. (3)
    Finally, because of its potency as a depressant, it must be used cautiously and is contraindicated for people who are simultaneously taking other neurodepressive or neutrally active prescription medications such as sedatives and anti-depressant drugs. If in doubt, please consult with your doctor prior to use.

    References:

    1) Petroff OA . GABA and glutamate in the human brain, Neuroscientist. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12467378. [Accessed September 19, 2013]

    2) Cavagnini F, et al. Effect of acute and repeated administration of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man, 1980. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7376786. [Accessed September 19, 2013]
    3) Shyamaladevi N, et al. Evidence that nitric oxide production increases gamma-amino butyric acid permeability of blood-brain barrier, 2002. Brain Res Bull. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11849830. [Accessed September 19, 2013]

  • Coenzyme Q10: An Overview

    As more people become interested in healthy living, products such as vitamins and dietary supplements are on the rise. One of these supplements is coenzyme Q10 which has gained significant popularity for its role in heart and muscle health. Backed by clinical studies and research, coenzyme Q10 is primarily used to treat hypertension (elevated resting blood pressure) and myalgia (muscle pain). At the end of this article, readers are expected to gain insights about the supplement by answering the following questions:

    What is Coenzyme Q10?
    What are the benefits of Coenzyme Q10?
    What is the recommended dosage of Coenzyme Q10?
    What are the risks involved when taking Coenzyme Q10?

    What Exactly is Coenzyme Q10?
    Coenzyme Q10 is a molecule naturally produced by the body. Also known as CoQ10, coenzyme Q10 can also be obtained from food such as whole grains, animal organs and fish. The enzyme plays a therapeutic role in both energy production and cardiovascular disease prevention.

    What are the Uses of Coenzyme Q10?
    Backed by small and large clinical trials, coenzyme Q10 serves as a dietary supplement that has been shown to offer the following benefits:

    Improves blood vessel function. According to single and double blinded studies, coenzyme Q10 favors endothelial health as evidenced by increased peripheral blood flow. (1)

    Decreases inflammation. In a study published in 2012, scientist showed that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 help to slightly reduce the body's inflammatory response, however these results have not been mirrored in other double blinded studies. (2,3)

    Improves Exercise Performance. In one study conducted in individuals with chronic heart failure, researchers found a 4 week coenzyme Q10 supplementation program helped to increase both work capacity and aerobic capacity. (4,5)

    Lowers Blood Pressure. A randomized, double blinded clinical study done with 83 elders with systolic hypertension showed a noticeable reduction in resting blood pressure after taking coenzyme Q10 for 12 weeks. (6)

    Reduces symptoms of fatigue. People, who take coenzyme Q12 for 8 weeks, reported improved perception of fatigue, according to a study published in 2008. (7)

    How is Coenzyme Q10 Supplement is taken?
    Dose: Coenzyme Q10 is a daily supplement available in 30 to 200 mg. Higher doses of coenzyme Q10 may be given to individuals with significant cholesterol levels however an upper limit of 300mg or more per day is not recommended unless advised by a health professional.

    Side Effects: Adverse effects, which include nausea, heartburn and diarrhea, from taking the supplement are very rare and often, mild.

    Are There Any Risks Involved in Taking the Coenzyme Q12?
    Yes. People who have chronic diseases such as kidney and liver problems should take extra warning when taking the supplement. Although found effective in reducing blood sugar and blood pressure levels, dosage of 300 mg or more may damage the liver when chronically used. In addition, people should be aware of any drug interaction not to mention drugs for thyroid problems. Blood thinners such as coumadin and plavix are contraindicated to coenzyme Q12 supplementation.

    Additionally, there is no accurate evidence about the supplement's safety in pregnant mothers and breast feeding women at present.

    References:
    1) Gao L, Mao Q, Cao J, Wang Y, et al. Effects of coenzyme Q10 on vascular endothelial function in humans: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Athersosclerosis. 2012;221(2):311-316.

    2) Yubero-Serrano E, Conzalez-Guardia L, Rangel-Zuniga O, Delgado-Lista J, et al. Mediterranean diet supplemented with coenzyme Q10 modifies the expression of proinflammatory and endoplasmic reticulum stress-related genes in elderly men and women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012:67(1):3-10.

    3) Lee YJ, Cho WJ, Kim JK, Lee DC. Effects of coenzyme Q10 on aterial stiffness, metabolic parameters, and fatigue in obese subjects: a double-blinded randomized controlled study. J Med Food. 2011;14(4):386-390.

    4) Fumagalli S, Fattirolli F, Guarducci L, Cellai T, et al. Coenzyme Q10 terclatrate and creating in chronic heart failure: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Clin Cardiol. 2011;34(3):211-217.

    5) Glover, EI, Martin J, Maher A, Thornhill RE, et al. A randomized trial of coenzyme Q10 in mitochondrial disorders. Muscle Nerve. 2010;42(5):739-748.

    6) Burke BE, Neuenschwander R, Olson RD. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 isolated systolic hypertension. South Med J. 2001;94(11):1112-1117.

    7) Mizuno K, Tanaka M, Nozaki S, Mizuma H, et al. Antifatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Nutrition. 2008;24(4):293-299.

  • The response of Testosterone to Moderate Training

    Many studies have tried to define how hormones respond to training and exercise stimuli.
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