Tag Archives: vitamin d

  • Can Multi-Vitamins Help You Recover Faster?

    Whether you are a weekend weight lifter or a serious competitive athlete, we all know that feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness, better known as DOMS. This soreness comes from microtears in the muscle following intense physical activity. These tears are nothing to worry about but the soreness that comes from them can be annoying and sometimes restrictive. This is especially true if you are too sore to get back into the gym.

     

    We know that nutrition is the way to recovery but do multi-vitamins play a part in this? Can a multi-vitamin help to increase recovery? Let's take a look at the facts about multi-vitamins to find out.

     

    What is a Multi-Vitamin?

    Multi-vitamins are comprised of all the essential vitamins and minerals deemed necessary by government recommendations. The idea behind a multi-vitamin is that one needs to fill the gaps left behind by the lack of nutrients in a diet. Theoretically, everyone should be able to get in the recommended amount of nutrients without a supplement but the reality is that most people do not.

     

    The Case for the Multi-Vitamin

    The average person simply does not eat enough of the right foods to acquire the vitamins and minerals needed to satisfy government recommendations. What's more, those who are extremely active require MORE nutrients than the average person. Again, this may be difficult to achieve with only a whole food-based diet.

     

    Muscles have been shown to respond to several key nutrients such as Vitamin D and B6 in regards to recovery and energy production. If someone is lacking in a whole food diet or is over training, the risk for a deficiency increase. This is why a multi-vitamin may be of great use to most people.

     

    If you are a very active person, even if you have a great diet, consider a multi-vitamin to boost your recovery. This may help reduce soreness, promote results, and get you back in the gym.

     

    If you would prefer to take only a few individual vitamins as opposed to a complete broad spectrum vitamin, here are a few key nutrients to focus on for recovery:

     

    • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin B6
    • Vitamin D
    • Magnesium
    • Zinc

     

    Word of Caution

    Too much of a good thing can be toxic in the case of multi-vitamins. You must not exceed the recommended dosage prescribed on your specific brand. You do not want to exceed upper limits of specific minerals and vitamins as the side effects can be dangerous.

     

    What's more, it's worth noting that whole food-based multi-vitamins are far more bioavailable than those created with synthetic compounds. Consider investing in a liquid multi-vitamin. If you prefer capsules, again, make sure you find yourself one that has predominantly whole food-based ingredients.

     

    Lastly, the best form of nutrients is in real food. A multi-vitamin is a supplement to your diet, meaning it should just be the side help and not the primary focus. Never replace whole foods for supplements.

     

    Ready to buy your multi-vitamin? Click here to select from one of our top sellers.

     

    References

    1. Melvin H Williams. Dietary Supplements and Sports Performance: Introduction and Vitamins. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2004; 1(2): 1–6. Published online 2004 Dec 31. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-1.
  • 4 Ingredients Proven to Boost Your Testosterone Levels

     

    When men reach the age of 30, their testosterone levels peak and from there, these levels slowly begin to decline each year. The average guy loses 1% of his total testosterone each year. If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, this number may be higher. If you're pursuing weight lifting and eating a balanced diet, this number may be lower. One thing that every man can do is supplement. Supplements are a safe way to increase natural testosterone levels but not all ingredients work. Let's take a look at the top 4 scientifically proven testosterone boosters.

     

    1. Tongkat Ali

     

    Eurycoma Longifolia Jack is most commonly referred to as Tongkat Ali and sometimes sold as Malaysian Ginseng. Regardless of the name, this herbal remedy is from the rain forests of Malaysia and it's been used in traditional medicinal practices for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. At one time, it was used as an overall health aid. Once it was brought into the West, it was used primarily for increasing sex drive and libido. Eventually researchers discovered it had a positive impact on men's testosterone levels. (1)

     

    How much to take:

    • Extract form: 200 to 300mg (Based on 100:1 extract)

     

    1. Ashwagandha

     

    Another herbal remedy from ancient times, Ashwagandha has played a part in primarily Indian alternative medicine for many years. At one time, Ashwagandha was used as an overall health and well-being supplement. Modern medicine has discovered that Ashwagandha has many benefits outside of the fitness world including being an anti-inflammatory and a cancer fighter.

     

    When it comes to men's health, Ashwagandha has been shown to improve the quality of your sleep, lower cortisol (catabolic hormone) levels, and increase testosterone (anabolic hormone) levels. (2)

     

    How much to take:

    • Extract form: 300 to 400 mg

     

    1. Vitamin D

     

    The same essential vitamin found in dairy products is, indeed, a testosterone booster. Vitamin D has been shown time and time again in scientific studies to be one of the most effective ways to support testosterone production. Ideally, you're getting in whole food-based Vitamin D and spending some time in the sun. However, supplementing with a high quality Vitamin D3 product is also an excellent way to hit your daily recommended serving. (3)

     

    How much to take:

    • Vitamin D3 – One serving per day with a meal

     

    1. ZMA

     

    ZMA has been a staple in the bodybuilding world since that ground-breaking study was released to the public. Used primarily for sports recovery and to improve healthy sleeping patterns, ZMA is also a highly effective testosterone booster. ZMA is made up of Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6. On their own, these ingredients have ALL been shown to have a positive response on your testosterone levels. Together, they are unstoppable. Studies show that when men supplement with ZMA, they see a boost in testosterone as well as growth hormone. (4-6)

     

    How much to take:

    • One serving 30 minutes before bed on an empty stomach.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Whether you are approaching the big 3-0 or you passed it long ago, it's never too late to start a healthy regimen to increase the thing that makes you a man: testosterone. Healthy testosterone levels result in an improved quality of life. If you want to naturally and safely boost your testosterone production, these four supplements are the best of the best.

     

    References

     

    1 Shawn M Talbott, Julie A Talbott, Annie George, and Mike Pugh. Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 28. Published online 2013 May 26. doi:  10.1186/1550-2783-10-28. PMCID: PMC3669033

     

    1. Vijay R. Ambiye, Deepak Langade, Swati Dongre, Pradnya Aptikar, Madhura Kulkarni, Atul Dongre. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 571420.

     

    1. Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

     

    1. Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count. Arch Androl. 1981 Aug;7(1):69-73.

     

    1. Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, Mogulkoc R.Biol. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Trace Elem Res. 2011 Apr;140(1):18-23. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

     

    1. Symes EK, Bender DA, Bowden JF, Coulson WF. Increased target tissue uptake of, and sensitivity to, testosterone in the vitamin B6 deficient rat. J Steroid Biochem. 1984 May;20(5):1089-93.
  • Men and Vitamin D: The Top 4 Benefits

    If you're like most guys, every time you open your Facebook account, you'll see your wall flooded by fitness websites telling you which supplements to take to make you more of a man. With thousands of supplements on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out which one you should be taking on a daily basis. What's more, most of the supplements that are recommended are usually a specific brand that's being sponsored. Rarely do you find a sponsored supplement backed by studies and research.

     

    Guys, if you want a clear cut, scientifically proven supplement to take, look no further than Vitamin D. Let's review the top 4 reasons why you should be taking this vitamin every day.

     

    1. Immune System

     

    With the weather changing, there's no better time to start taking Vitamin D. Unlike Vitamin C, which springs up everywhere around this time, Vitamin D has been shown to boost your immune response. Here's how it works: There are specific cells in your body that combat illness. These special cells utilize Vitamin D to work efficiently. If you aren't getting enough Vitamin D through food, supplements, and the sun, you may see yourself getting sick more often. Taking a daily dose of Vitamin D may help to improve your immune response and defend your body from the common cold among other illnesses. (1)

     

    1. Testosterone

     

    For men, having a low testosterone level can be more than an inconvenience in the bedroom, it can negatively impact your health in a big way. Symptoms of low testosterone include losing muscle mass while gaining fat mass. You'll feel more irritable and go through mood swings. You'll start feeling tired more often. Arguably, the worst symptom is low libido and poor bedroom performance. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to dramatically impact your testosterone levels in a positive way. (2)

     

    1. Mood

     

    Speaking of your mood, Vitamin D is an excellent mood booster. Have you ever noticed that you have more bad moods during the colder, winter months? Since it's so cold, you aren't going outside. Since you're not going outside, you aren't getting your daily rays of sunshine. Sunshine helps the body create Vitamin D. You need a healthy level of Vitamin D to stabilize your mood. Taking Vitamin D supplements has been shown to support your mood and mindset. (3)

     

    1. Muscle

     

    Last but not least, if you want to be ensuring your lean muscle tissue gains, then you need to be supplementing with Vitamin D. This important vitamin has been shown to support muscle building and fat loss. Studies show that those supplementing with Vitamin D demonstrated a higher level of muscle and a lower level of fat. If you're a guy who has the bodybuilding stage on his mind, remember that Vitamin D supports testosterone levels. Testosterone plays a critical role in building muscle mass. (4)

     

    Conclusion

     

    It doesn't matter if you are a gym rat or you just want to avoid the worst of cold season, taking Vitamin D is a smart idea. It has been shown to support your testosterone levels, balance out your mood, beef up your immune system, and support lean muscle. Find a quality Vitamin D supplement and talk with your doctor if you're currently on any other medications.

     

    REFERENCES

     

    1. Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jul 19;357(3):266-81.

     

    1. Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

     

    1. Sue Penckofer, PhD, RN, Joanne Kouba, PhD, RD, Mary Byrn, BSN, RN, and Carol Estwing Ferrans, PhD, RN, FAAN. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010 Jun; 31(6): 385–393.

     

    1. Lars Rejnmark, PhD. Effects of Vitamin D on Muscle Function and Performance: A Review of Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2011 Jan; 2(1): 25–37.
  • The cause and cure for seasonal weight gain

    Many of us experience some degree of weight gain during the winter season. Some might argue that it is because we need to eat more during winter to keep warm (not true), some say it's because we do less outdoor activities in the cold. Myth or truth, this article explored the scientific findings behind the possible cause of seasonal weight gain and the ways to compact it. The information contained in this article is also relevant to people who have mood slumps or carb cravings due to a change of environment or weather. If you fall into any of the above categories, tune in.

    First thing first, yes, in general, some people are indeed more susceptible to weight gain during winter seasons. The cause of seasonal weight gain is mostly due to environmental factors, however, a possible genetic component has also been postulated. We do tend to eat more in winter, and especially crave for carbohydrate-rich foods, not because they can keep us warm, but they somehow can make us feel better. Does this sound like you? Here is why…

    SAD and Co.

    Yes, that's right, winter makes some of us SAD, acronym for Seasonal Affected Disorder, also known as seasonal depression. SAD is said to be "a combination of biologic and mood disturbances with a seasonal pattern", which usually occur in the autumn and winter and ends in spring and summer (Kurlansik and Ibay 2012, American Family Physician). The cause of SAD is largely due to the changes in lengths of days/nights and drop in temperatures in winter compared to summer. It's said that up to 10% of the population in the US has SAD, with a higher incidence in women than men (Miller 2005, Alternative Medicine Review). People with SAD can experience changes in mood, energy and appetite, which can result in depression, fatigue, carbohydrate consumption especially with cravings for sweats and starch-rich food and consequently result in weight gain. A study that analysed the eating habits of female SAD sufferers found that SAD patients are prone to emotional eating, thus leads to a higher chance of seasonal weight gain and a higher BMI compared to non-SAD sufferers (Krauchi 1997, Comprehensive Psychiatry).

    There are a number of possible explanations for the cause of SAD, including genetic predispositions, neurotransmitter abnormalities, both sound quite serious and a bit of gibberish to most people. However, neither really explains the seasonal rhythm of SAD. I'd go and seek professional medical help if your SAD is that serious. On a more relevant note, one of the most obvious differences between summer and winter seasons, other than the change in temperature, is the shortened daylight period, which will consequently affect a person's circadian rhythm (biological clock) (to learn about the circadian rhythm and BMI please read the Dec 2012 issue of Fit Lifestyle magazine). You don't really need to have clinical SAD to experience similar symptoms, and below are what I personally think is relevant to an average Joe like you and me that suffers seasonal mood and weight changes.

    The slight change in circadian rhythm will alter the production of melatonin, an endocrine hormone and a powerful antioxidant produced by the pineal gland into the blood. As the production of melatonin is kick-started by darkness and inhibited by light, it can be affected by the shortened daylight of winter. It was found that there is a delay in melatonin secretion in response to darkness in clinical SAD sufferers, and there is a difference in melatonin secretion pattern/levels in SAD patients as compared to normal people (Miller 2005, Alternative Medicine Review). A trial of 58 SAD patients were given high-dose of slow-release melatonin and a significant improvement in quality of sleep and vitality were observed, however melatonin therapy had no effect on mood (Leppamaki et al, 2003, European Neuropsychopharmacology). Go and see your doctor if you suspect you have melatonin issues.

    One cannot talk about mood changes without mentioning serotonin, a hormone that controls you mood, appetite and sleep. Inadequate levels of serotonin in the brain can cause carbohydrate cravings. Serotonin has also been found to be a controller of body weight by regulating the body's energy balance. Brain serotonin levels are relevant not only to SAD sufferers, but also to anyone who has mood swings associated with environmental or weather changes. For those who feel the cravings for carbs, it may be caused by inadequate serotonin levels in your brain. The best natural ways to increase serotonin levels, according to Young (2007, Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience) are:

    • Exposure to bright light. Uh-Huh! We live in a bright light-deprived society, where many people spend best part of their day indoors. The lights commonly used indoors do not have enough lux (luminous flux per unit area, a way to measure light intensity) to make you secrete enough serotonin. Whereas even the outdoor light on a cloudy day could make you happier. Get outdoors as much as possible without getting sun burnt, you could be happier and lighter in the process, kill two birds with one stone as they say.
    • Do exercise. It has been scientifically proven that the exercise can make you happy. It was hypothesized that the decline in vigorous physical exercise, in particular, effort based rewards compared to our ancestors may contribute to high levels of depression in the current society. Adequate exercise can increased serotonin levels and hence decrease carb cravings, and you can stay active and healthy in the process.
    • Diet. There is quite a bit of incorrect information floating around about this one. As serotonin is the metabolic product of tryptophan, ingestion of purified tryptophan has been found to increase brain serotonin levels. However, ingestion of food containing tryptophan does not, as the other amino acids contained in the food will compete with the tryptophan. The popular myth that is eating high protein food such as turkey can increase serotonin level, is false; similarly, the popular believe of eating bananas, which do indeed contain serotonin can improve mood, is also false, as the serotonin contained in bananas does not cross the blood-brain barrier to get into our brains to make us happy. In order for a food to increase brain serotonin levels, the tryptophan content of the food needs to be much higher than that of other amino acids, some example of those foods are specially cultivated chickpeas and alkali-processed corns.

    Vitamin D

    Some have stated that the reduced vitamin D synthesis caused by a reduction of sunlight (UV-B radiation) in winter compared to summer is one possible cause of seasonal weight gain and obesity (Foss 2009, Medical Hypothesis). This seems reasonable and indeed, low vitamin D status has been linked with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity. Vitamin D is thought to play a role in adipocyte (fat cell) death and genesis as well as lipid metabolism (Song and Sergeev 2012, Nutrition Research Reviews). However, taking vitamin D (often along with calcium) doesn't seem to make you thinner, as clinical intervention trials using vitamin D yielded controversial results. There is no concrete scientific evidence in humans to indicate supplementation of vitamin D can prevent obesity in real life situations, yet.

    Some may also argue that vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression and can lead to "emotional eating" and hence weight gain. Well, believe it or not, that is also a myth, well, more like an exaggerated truth. Yes, there is an association between low vitamin D levels and depression however, there is currently insufficient evidence to say that vitamin D deficiency is the antecedent cause or consequence of depression (Parker and Brotchie 2011, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica). So can lower vitamin D synthesis in winter cause weight gain? Not sure about that, but in case it does, get into the sun more often and consume food or supplements that contain vitamin D will be sufficient.

    It's not me, blame the genes!

    There seems to be a gene linked to everything these days and weight gain is no exception. There is an established genetic component in weight related disorders such as obesity, where a percentage of people have the genes to allow them to gain weight more easily than others. This phenomenon has puzzled scientists as the survival of these weight gain genes in the human population defies the theory of "survival of fittest", there is nothing "fit" about been obese.

    Two main theories have been postulated in order to explain the presence of fat gaining genes, the "thrifty gene hypothesis" initially proposed by James Neel in 1962, and the "drifty gene hypothesis" first proposed by John Speakman in 2008. Scientists supporting each of the hypothesis argued with each other about the details of what kind of selection pressure required during the history of mankind to allow these genes to survive. Let's leave that part to the scientists, what is relevant, is that, scientists from both sides agreed that there is a genetic predisposition in a population of people so that some people are more prone to weight gain than others. This genetic predisposition is kept there because historically speaking, ancient humans faced famine, seasonal shortage of food and predation (or lack of), hence needed to store fat to have the energy required for survival during periods of abundance. In a developed modern society however, for instance, Australia, there is a perpetual abundance of food, and a lack of predators that feed on us humans. What was historically advantageous for survival became the culprit for causing widespread weight gain and obesity.

    So, some people are genetically prone to gain weight, big deal, because ultimately, weight management is all about calories in and calories out, the choice is yours. If you eat well and exercise adequately, there is really no reason for you to gain weight any more than other people. Think of the number of calories required per day as the speed limit, and to have the "fat gene" means you have a relatively faster car than the average shopping trollies found on roads. It's easier for you to speed if you put your foot down, but there's no excuse, watch the speedometer and exercise discretion, you are more than capable of staying within the limit. It may be is the genes, but it is definitely up to you.

    Final words

    The purpose of this article is to show the scientific understandings behind seasonal weight gain, mood slumps and emotional eating. Not to succumb to the food cravings, instead, continue to eat healthy, spend more time outdoors and do adequate exercise, are probably the most effective natural cures to deal with these kinds of problems. It is all in your hands.

  • Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements Help Prevent Fractures

    A large study has determined that daily vitamin D and calcium supplementation can reduce the risk of bone fractures.
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