Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Supplements, etc.

Right now there is a big discussion in my household about supplements.

Generally, most people think of supplements as the vitamins people take once a day. A multivitamin is a good place to start, since no matter how conscientiously we may vary our diets and eat plenty of fresh healthy fruits and vegetables, we are probably not getting our recommended daily allowance of everything. Add to that the depletion of the nutrients in soil lessening the vitamin and mineral content in our food and one can certainly argue that at the minimum a multivitamin is a good place to start.

Others swear by using things like Fish Oils to aid in digestion and vitamin/mineral absorption, or higher doses of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system. An extra dose of zinc is believed to help relieve the severity of a cold, and there are a variety of recommended other supplements for joint health, prostate health, eye health, etc. And of course, one cannot evaluate all of this without the standard disclaimer that these statements are not approved by the FDA.

One shameless plug is for the wonderful whole food multivitamin effect of the Beachbody Product, Shakeology (see the icon on the page to click for more information). 70 ingredients in the making, this can be used as a very healthy snack or combined with juice or milk as a meal replacement. This would take the place of a multivitamin, and then some!

But in our household my 15 year old son is trying not to lose weight and get into shape (he is quite thin and VERY fit), but wants to gain muscle mass. To do this one much add larger amounts of protein to the diet. This is accomplished in several ways, including extra food protein sources at meals and snacks such as tuna, hard-boiled eggs, and meat. The other option is to supplement with a protein powder, generally a whey protein.

Be careful when shopping for this product. Many of them are full of artificial flavorings and sweeteners - something you don't want or need to put into your body. You are best to look for one that is 100% protein powder. You can drink it with water or mix it with milk, juice, or even added to recipes (I am told...I have never seen it done).

Right now the big discussion in our house is on the use of Creatine. says of Creatine
"Creatine works by saturating your muscles with a high-energy compound called creatine phosphate, and it can be used by the body as an immediate energy supply when you need to push out those last few reps in the gym.* Creatine also hydrates muscle cells with water, promoting muscle fiber growth."

It is a naturally occuring amino acid in your body, and the supplement form comes from sources such as beef.

Our concern is whether there are side effects that can be a hazard to our son's health.

Men's Health Magazine reports,
"Creatine is one of the most-researched sports supplements out there," Kerksick says. "And there's no published literature to suggest it's unsafe."

Greenhaff has been studying creatine for about two decades, and says he never encounters the cramping that is sometimes reported. "I'm not saying people don't experience cramps, but I don't believe it can be very common," he says. "If there were any major adverse side effects, we would have seen them by now."

But there have been anecdotal reports of kidney damage, heart problems, muscle cramps and pulls, dehydration, and diarrhea, in addition to other negative side effects. The key word here: anecdotal.

So the Creatine has entered the Kelly household, but with a family vacation starting in a few weeks we have decided our son should hold off a few weeks just in case he does have some stomach cramping. We don't want that on the trip!

There are certainly plenty of other supplements out on the market. DO YOUR RESEARCH before putting anything into your body. And don't just take the word of your buddy at the gym.

You are getting fit and healthy, one doesn't want a pharmacopia interfering with that goal!