Monthly Archives: April 2016

MultiVitamin Increase

You’ve seen the headlines. One day no one needs to take vitamins, the next day, it turns out everyone needs them.

Just how important is it to take vitamins anyway and which ones are we to choose for best results?

If you’re a high performance athlete then you know you can be more vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies than the average person.

Bodybuilders and other athletes place a heavy demand on their bodies and often restrict certain nutrients/foods to get lean. But doing this can actually create a barrier between you and that muscle growth you’re striving for.

So if you’re struggling with muscle growth, energy replenishment or even positive performance outcomes then you might just have a poor micronutrient intake.

WHAT ARE MICRONUTRIENTS?

Micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals and additional co-factors such as co-enzymes, are essential to life. Micronutrients make myriad biochemical processes happen. Pound down all the protein and carbs you want but chances are if your micros are not in the correct balance, you can forget about building quality muscle.

Frequently neglected among athletes are vitamins. There are 13 in the human body: 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E and K – stored in the body for long periods) and 9 water-soluble (8 B-vitamins and C – rapidly flushed from the body and excreted in urine).

Many feel that a complete vitamin intake can be achieved with a well-balanced diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, with an ever-growing list of environmental toxins depleting the body of essential nutrients, poor soil quality & food preparation methods, and daily stress compromising health it is unlikely that a desirable vitamin intake can be obtained through whole foods alone.

The demand is even greater for strength athletes, including bodybuilders. The collective stress of ongoing resistance training and nutrient restriction (for example, high sugar fruits pre-contest) coupled with environmental factors make a quality multi-vitamin a muscle-building mandatory.

WHY INCREASE VITAMIN INTAKE?

As of 2009 more than 2 billion people globally were affected by micronutrient deficiency.14With 50% of the general population at risk of vitamin D deficiency2 and 1 in 4 adults deficient in vitamin B12 it is clear that even in developed countries, the right nutrient balance can be very difficult to achieve.9

People with no vitamin deficiency symptoms, many believe they are getting their required vitamin intake through a well-balanced diet. But such diets are, in reality, less than optimal.

In fact, over time, the suboptimal intake of vitamins may result in a breakdown of the cellular metabolism required for the proper growth and functioning of bodily tissues and organs. Disease and illness may result. Physical capabilities will certainly decline.

Some people are at greater risk of vitamin deficiency. For example, aging populations are less capable of absorbing vital nutrients. In addition, athletes continue to suffer micronutrient depletion due to the rigors of intensive training.

Those vulnerable to vitamin deficiencies may simply choose to increase their intake of wholesome foods. While a well-balanced diet devoid of processed foods undoubtedly provides a solid foundation for continued good health, such an approach can still lead to subclinical vitamin deficiencies.

Today’s farming practices and pest control measures have been shown to significantly reduce the mineral content of soil and the vitamin content of produce.15, 16 Un-ripened fruits also lack certain nutrients. Processing and preservation can strip fruit and vegetables of valuable vitamins.

Nitric Oxide Supplements

Until you have achieved “the pump” you haven’t fully lived.

If you have never walked out of the gym with your biceps feeling like they are going to explode, your whole life has been a lie.

I’m only half kidding here. Well, actually I am not kidding at all; the pump is the best.

In fact, there is a whole class of supplements that were originally designed to help you achieve the pump, known today as nitric oxide boosters.

More recently, nitric oxide boosters have been utilized in wider applications as they are meant to increase blood flow.

Increased blood flow can improve nutrient delivery to muscle tissue, allowing you to train longer, harder, recover better, and makes achieving the elusive pump easier.

While most nitric oxide boosting supplements contain a plethora of ingredients, there are really only a few things you need to know about to really understand NO boosters.

WHAT IS NITRIC OXIDE?

So before we go any further we should probably fill you in on what the heck nitric oxide is and why the heck you would want to boost it.

Nitric oxide causes vasodilation. This effectively increases blood flow which can increase nutrient and oxygen delivery to the muscles. Essentially, vasodilation gives your muscles more go juice.

L-ARGININE

The Quick and Dirty: Arginine is an amino acid that is turned into nitric oxide in the body. In theory arginine should improve blood flow and thus improve performance and enhanceyour training.

Currently, the results are mixed and we don’t have a slam dunk case for it. This supplement may be a case of “responders vs non-responders” and some self-experimentation may prove that it is an effective supplement for you.

The Deeper Dive: The real science from studies done on L-arginine studies indicate that it does get taken up into the body and that nitric oxide boosting supplements with L-arginine do effectively increase arginine levels.

However, the increase of arginine levels in the blood doesn’t always translate into efficacy for blood flow or improvement in work capacity. One study has shown that arginine supplementation increases levels of arginine in the blood but does not increase levels of nitric oxide or muscular blood flow, nor does it enhance muscle protein synthesis.1

Yet, another shows that it increases blood volume but not strength performance.2

Even longer term supplementation of arginine appears to be largely ineffective. 7 days of supplementing with 12d/day of an arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate supplement showed that it did indeed increase plasma levels of L-arginine but had zero effect on hemodynamics or blood flow.3  More studies have shown no meaningful or significant increase in training capacity.

Currently, the evidence suggests that L-arginine may increase circulatory blood flow, but does not consistently or meaningfully increase training performance. No it isn’t all doom and gloom as when you look deeper into the research it appears that there are definitely “responders” and “non-responders” (I looked at a lot of papers and made assumptions based on means and standard deviations).

Perhaps it is time to enter a brand new era of NO boosting and find something that is more effective.

HOw to protect pharma monopolies

The Food and Drug Administration has historically been the one federal agency that has wreaked havoc on the nutritional supplement industry, imposing rules and regulations that hamper, harass and strangle supplement manufacturers and sellers.

Now the Justice Department is joining the fray, as noted by the Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA), an advocacy group that promotes sustainable health through various natural means, including through the use of nutritional supplements.

In recent days, the group said, Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a video about supplements for National Consumer Protection Week (a quick read of her bio shows that she’s a Harvard-educated lawyer, but there are no medical qualifications listed in her resume, so what makes her an expert in nutritional supplements is a bit of a mystery).

Since she obviously is no expert on this subject, we have to assume that she’s relying on others for her information – or, as ANH-USA said in an action alert, “she must be relying on distortions and untruths she has been fed by other agencies of the government such as the FDA and Centers for Disease Control.”

For example, the group noted, Lynch, in her video, warns consumers against “ingesting substances whose safety and efficacy are not guaranteed” via an FDA study – as if this biased agency is supposed to be the gold standard for nutritional research or otherwise not compromised by presidential (read donor) politics.

“Dietary supplements caused zero deaths”

As ANH-USA has pointed out in response to others who have made similar statements, the FDA does not do its own research, it relies on industry studies to reach decisions about whether to allow new drugs and treatments to come to the market. And most of those studies are done by the drug makers themselves, not independent (and unbiased) researchers.

“No independent review is done to check the industry’s results, which has led to all kinds of manipulation and sometimes disastrous outcomes (see the examples of Vioxx and Avandia). And after approval is granted, the actual medicine itself is never tested, even though it may be manufactured in Chinese plants or other faraway locales,” the advocacy organization said.

In fact, so-called “FDA approval” has never been a guarantee that a product is safe. That should be obvious given that, even when properly prescribed, prescription drugs are responsible for about 1.9 million hospitalizations per year and about 128,000 deaths, ANH-USA said, citing the most recent statistics.

And that is just for hospitals. Deaths outside of hospitals would greatly contribute to the overall total if those were counted as well.

“In stark contrast, dietary supplements caused zero deaths in 2013, the last year reported,” ANH-USA reported.

In addition, Lynch makes the claim that supplements “endanger public health” because they allegedly contain harmful ingredients. Let’s examine that.

Like all industries, of course, the supplement industry contains some bad actors. But even at that, supplements that may contain some unsafe ingredients are already “adulterated,” meaning the FDA has a responsibility to remove them from the market and prosecute the manufacturers.