In the quest to optimize our life, using supplements can act as a shortcut toward our goals.
Pop a pill, get some extra superpowers.
Sounds easy, but does it really work?
While they are certainly no replacement for a healthy diet, I truly believe that when used properly, some supplements/extracts can provide key nutrients that will help your body and mind perform at their peak potential.
The real question is: which supplements actually work?
Vitamins B5, B6, B12 are the power players here for assisting with our central nervous system and metabolizing our food into energy.
These important B vitamins play an important role in cell metabolism. Improving your metabolic pathways boosts your energy levels and is a great way to reduce the fatigue often felt during AFS. B5 helps to produce co-enzyme A, which contributes to cellular respiration and the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. B6 acts in several of the pathways that are used to create adrenal hormones. And B12 helps with energy production, cell repair and the maintenance of our red blood cells. The amounts that you need of each are quite different, for example you should be aiming for 1000mg of B5, 50mg of B6 and 100mcg of B12 as a good starting dose.
Natural Sources: Nutritional Yeast, fresh water fish, and eggs.
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid (University of Maryland Medical Center)
Vitamin B6 pyridoxine (Mayo Clinic)
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12 (Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health)
Here are my favorite supplement forms:
is a supplement I’ve been using for months to help increase my energy levels. It’s a vitamin-like compound that is produced naturally in the human body and is also found in most living organisms.
Why is it important? Almost every cell of the human body contains CoQ10. The mitochondria, the areas of cells where energy is produced, contain the most CoQ10.
CoQ10 helps in the production of several key enzymes that are used to create ATP, which is burned by your body for energy, and in the energy transfer between mitochondria and cells.
In layman’s terms, CoQ10 is absolutely necessary to the chemical reaction in our brain and body that gives us energy, and a shortage can leave us feeling lethargic and unmotivated.
It has also been shown to be a potent remedy for people who suffer from migraines, high-blood pressure, or need an immune system boost.
CoQ10 is found primarily in fish and meat, but the amounts in food are far less than what can be obtained from supplements.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb commonly used in ayurveda. It has powerful stress-reducing properties that in turn help improve almost any health marker.
Scientific studies support ashwagandha’s ability not only to relieve stress, but also to protect brain cells against the deleterious effects of our modern lifestyles.
Is an exotic Indian herb, has remarkable stress-relieving properties comparable to those of powerful drugs used to treat depression and anxiety. In addition to its excellent protective effects on the nervous system, ashwagandha may be a promising alternative treatment for a variety of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Ashwagandha has powerful antioxidant properties that seek and destroy the free radicals that have been implicated in aging and numerous disease states. Even more remarkable, emerging evidence suggests that ashwagandha has anti-cancer benefits as well.
“Oral administration of ashwagandha for five days suggested anxiety-relieving effects similar to those achieved by the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam, and antidepressant effects similar to those of the prescription antidepressant drug imipramine.”
Of course, it’s also much better for you!
In a large human clinical study, researchers observed the effects of a standardized extract of ashwagandha on the negative effects of stress and how it affected the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
The participants reported increased energy, reduced fatigue, better sleep, and an enhanced sense of well-being. They showed several measurable improvements, including a reduction of cortisol levels up to 26%, a decline in fasting blood sugar levels, and improved lipid profiles.
Over the past five years, researchers at the Institute of Natural Medicine at the Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Japan have conducted extensive research into the brain benefits of ashwagandha. In another study, researchers found that ashwagandha helps promote the growth of both normal and damaged nerve cells, suggesting that the herb may boost healthy brain cell function as well as benefit diseased nerve cells.
Finally, it has also been shown that ashwagandha extract inhibits acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for concentration. This suggests that ashwagandha could help you stay focused for longer periods of time.
Better mood, lower stress, better sleep, nerve cell growth and longer periods of focus… not bad for one plant!
Real food is always the priority – Supplements are designed to “supplement” the gaps in your nutrition. Start with balancing your nutrient intake by adding in seasonal foods that grow in enzyme rich soil.
If you need some help with this, send me an email: [email protected]
|Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine. 2000 Dec;7(6):463-9.. Bhattacharya A, Ghosal S, Bhattacharya SK. Antioxidant effect of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides in chronic footshock stress-induced perturbations of oxidative free radical scavenging enzymes and lipid peroxidation in rat frontal cortex and striatum. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Jan;74(1):1-6.|