The supplement industry is a multi-billion-dollar giant. Walk into any health store and you're likely to be overwhelmed by shelves upon shelves of shiny labels promising everything from increased strength to shedding fat to improved memory and more. But how much of it all actually works?
The pharmaceutical industry fits a very similar mold. Multi-billion-dollar giant, lots of promised results, and lots of uncertainty - with a side of increased diarrhea, possible nausea and fainting to boot. But, again, what do these pills actually do?
In a few words, not much. Outside of this paragraph, I'll spare you my 10,000-word diatribe on why we're still forced to put up with these pitiful products, the marketed manipulation we deal with and the shaming that sells us on the thought, "Hey, if I buy that, I can look like them, too!"
I would like to help you sift through it all to find supplements that make a real difference, ones from which I make no financial gains. I'll also provide an important tip to help you figure out what you may be missing but don't even realize. Let's get to it.
First things first, Tryptophan. Yeah, that turkey thing. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (we have to get it from our diet) that our brain converts to serotonin. Why should you care about serotonin? Because a lack of it is linked to poor sleep, increased anxiety and depression and a likelihood to overeat, especially carbohydrates.
What's more, serotonin levels decline as we age. This makes it important to consider adding supplemental tryptophan to give our brain the necessary building blocks. Check the accompanying blog on my website for those interested in learning more.
Another possible way to improve serotonin is by taking 5-htp. To be clear, your body breaks tryptophan into 5-htp, but some people lack the enzyme to do this effectively. So by directly taking 5-htp you can solve this problem. I would suggest taking one or the other as taking both isn't necessary.
Adequate levels of vitamin D can also have a big impact on your overall energy and mood. You can improve your levels with responsible exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is fat soluble so having lower body fat levels allows more vitamin D into your bloodstream. Taking supplemental vitamin D can also help.
How do you know if you need vitamin D? Currently the best way to tell is with blood work. If your levels are shown to be low, you may want to consider adding it. But be careful because levels that are too high are just as bad as too low. Like anything else, having a balance is important.
I recommend getting blood work done regularly. I hope in the near future we'll have easier access to blood work, as well as genetic testing. Both provide us with an amazing guide to customize our nutrition and supplement habits, as well as our lifestyle choices.
Until the present day catches up with my hopes and dreams, do your best to get yearly blood work. Go over it with your doctor or health professional to develop a game plan by identifying your deficiencies.
You can waste a lot of money buying a product because so-and-so said it worked wonders for them, while it may not do a thing for you. Be smart and be proactive with your health.
For more details on how to improve your mood, focus and overall healthy lifestyle, visit www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and click the blog "High-powered life." In it you'll find more resources, supplements and suggestions to help you become the Yoda of your own life.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com.