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    Sleeping 101

    Sleeping 101

    In today's society the physical and mental demands of our responsibilities don't leave enough hours in the day to get everything done. When we get overwhelmed with deadlines, errands, studies, and projects, proper sleep is unfortunately one of the first casualties.

     

    Sleep is a crucial part of keeping ourselves healthy. As much as we try to "burn the midnight oil" and grind out extra hours to get things done, neglecting proper rest puts our bodies, minds, and emotions in a state of imbalance. This affects more than muscle recovery or mental clarity — it can even distort our sleeping patterns, hunger, and hydration signals.

     

    What can we do to ensure we get proper rest when the world doesn't stop turning? Create a good wind-down or pre-bed routine that relaxes and de-stimulates our senses.

    Sleep Strategies

     

    1. Natural Light & Morning Activity

    Getting light exercise in the morning can help regulate your body's circadian rhythm and improve circulation. Getting outdoor activity promotes better oxygen intake and blood flow, positively impacting our health.

     

    2. Caffeine Cut-Off

    I love a strong brew or tasty energy drink to get the gears turning just as much as anyone else, but did you know caffeine can last in your system for up to 8 hours? This can easily cause sleep deprivation. Avoiding it after the morning hours ensures your body flushes it out long before you attempt to sleep.

    3. No Snacks Before Bed

    There's no question proper nutrition centered around unprocessed, whole foods helps your body get the nutrients it needs. Studies show opting for carbs before bed can improve sleep, but how do you expect your body to focus on rest when it's busy digesting food? Try to have your last meal at least 2 hours before you plan on sleeping to avoid digestion issues or sleep disruption.

    4. Turn Off Screens

    Blue light from screens suppresses our natural melatonin production, which can easily mess with our sleep. Certain devices and apps have implemented “night mode” to reduce blue light,  but it's still a good idea to minimize your screen time at least an hour before bed.

    5. Cool Dark Space

    Our body temperature needs to drop to get a good night’s sleep. A cooler room promotes deeper sleep, and for most people about 65 degrees is the sweet spot. Light coming through windows can prevent your brain from winding down, so keep your bedroom completely dark with blackout shades/curtains and eliminate all forms of light when trying to sleep.

    6. Meditation/Yoga

    Our minds are constantly thinking, focusing on tasks that need to be done in the future. This can keep us tossing and turning when we truly need rest. Relax physically and mentally with a stretching/yoga routine and a mental stillness practice like meditation. This ensures we transition to a state of rest. Alternatively, writing down tasks you need to complete the next day can potentially remove anxiety about them.

    Supplements

     

    Quick fixes are often our first instinct, rather than taking the healthier route — simple lifestyle changes. Even something as widely accepted as melatonin supplements can be detrimental. In very small doses (0.5mg) melatonin may be beneficial. However, people often take up to 10mg which seriously derails their natural melatonin production, especially when taken habitually.

     

    Taking drugs to counteract poor sleeping habits is like eating fast food every meal and taking a fat burner to lose weight.

     

    That being said, there is one supplement I highly recommend: “Lunar” by Legion Athletics. I’ve been taking it for years and it always helps give me a good night’s sleep. It helps me fall asleep faster, easier, and deeper. Lunar’s dosage has been formulated by scientific research and has minimal impact on natural sleep patterns. For me, taking it 3x a week maximizes its effectiveness while allowing my body to maintain its natural chemical balance.

    Top 10 Supplements From The World's Greatest Formulator

    Top 10 Supplements From The World's Greatest Formulator

    By Team ICON Meals Shawn Wells. Follow Shawn on Instagram


    I’m incredibly humbled to be known as “The World’s Greatest Formulator,” and it’s an honor that I don’t take lightly. Now, I wouldn’t have gotten into supplements, become so passionate about formulating, and been tagged with that nickname if I didn’t strongly—very, very strongly—believe that supplements could be tremendously helpful to virtually everyone.

    As you can imagine, one of the most common questions that I get goes a little something like this: “Shawn, what are your top supplements?” Basically, people want to know what supplements I use personally, and of course, they want my insight into what supplements I think may be best for them to take.

    Obviously, a supplement regimen should be personalized based on an individual’s needs and goals, and so it would be virtually impossible to provide a list that unequivocally applies to everyone. Having said that, here are my top 10 supplements, which I use myself and most often recommend to others.

    Creatine

    Creatine is perhaps the most popular and extensively studied sports nutrition supplements of all time. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand, “Studies have consistently shown that creatine supplementation increases intramuscular creatine concentrations, can improve exercise performance, and/or improve training adaptations.”

    In other words, research clearly, consistently, and convincingly shows that supplementation with creatine increases strength, hypertrophy, power, and athletic performance. Even more, creatine supplementation may enhance recovery from exercise, injury prevention, thermoregulation, rehabilitation, and traumatic brain injury (i.e., concussions).

    Benefits of CreatineBut the application of creatine extends beyond those better-known benefits. For example, emerging evidence suggests creatine supplementation may have clinical applications in a variety of neurodegenerative conditions (including muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s), diabetes, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, aging, brain and heart ischemia, depression, and pregnancy.1

    I recommend using creatine monohydrate (such as Creapure®) and taking 3 – 10 grams per day. It doesn’t matter if you do it in divided doses, so whatever is best for you with compliance.

    Alpha-GPC

    What is alpha-gpc?

    Alpha-GPC is a naturally-occurring choline, which refers to a class of molecules that are used for various functions in the brain. For instance, choline is the main building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which performs several critical functions including facilitating communication in areas of the brain associated with memory and concentration and triggering muscle contraction.

    Along those lines, supplementation with Alpha-GPC offer several potential mental and physical benefits including improved cognitive function, attenuated cognitive decline, increased power output, and increased growth hormone production. In one randomized controlled trial, Alzheimer’s patients supplementing with Alpha-GPC (400mg @ 3 times/day) for 180 days experienced significant improvements in cognitive function.2

    Alpha-GPC improves cognition

    From an athletic performance standpoint, one randomized controlled trial found that supplementation with 600mg per day of Alpha-GPC for 6 days significantly increased lower body force production. The researchers concluded, “Sport performance coaches can consider adding A-GPC to the diet of speed and power athletes to enhance muscle performance.”3

    I prefer the branded form, Alpha-Size, by Chemi-Nutra.

    TeaCrine®

    what is theacrine?

    Theacrine is structurally similar to caffeine but is longer lasting, and research has shown that supplementation with theacrine increases energy, focus, concentration, willingness to exercise, and motivation to train while reducing fatigue—all without any increase in heart rate.4 Also unlike caffeine, theacrine, which possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, has been shown to provide these neuro-energetic effects while also being non-habituating.5

    Research has also demonstrated synergy when theacrine is consumed with caffeine, and the combination has been shown to improve feelings of wellbeing, attention, alertness, focus, and energy levels while reducing feelings of lethargy and grogginess when compared to placebo or caffeine alone.6

    Benefits of teacrine compared to caffeine

    TeaCrine® is a branded, patented, research-backed form of theacrine that I use myself and recommend to others. I recommend taking 200mg per dose, but doses up to 400mg have been shown to be safe. If taking with caffeine 125mg is effective.

    Curcumin

    What is Curcumin?

    Turmeric is one of the hottest spices and dietary supplements, and for good reason. Turmeric, which belongs to the ginger family, has a long history of use in the Indian system of holistic medicine known as Ayurveda. While there is a laundry list of health benefits associated with turmeric, many of them seem to trace back to its curcuminoids, notably curcumin, a powerful antioxidant polyphenol that gives turmeric its yellow pigment.

    With over 3,000 preclinical investigations, curcumin is one of the best studied botanical constituents in the biomedical literature.7 These studies have revealed that curcumin has antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects.8 Not surprisingly, studies have shown that curcumin may have beneficial effects on inflammation, cancer, joint health, blood sugar management, infections, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, mitochondrial function, athletic performance, and more.

    It’s worth noting that the potential health benefits of turmeric and curcumin are limited by poor solubility, low absorption from the gut, rapid metabolism, and rapid elimination.9 With that in mind, when supplementing with curcumin, taking a water-soluble form, a liposomal form, or combining it with black pepper may improve absorption. Assuming one of these bioavailability-enhanced versions of curcumin is used, then I recommend a dose between 200 – 250mg of curcuminoids per day.

    Curcumin by curcuwin

    My favorite form is CurcuWin by OmniActives as it has 46x the bioavailability and is EDC-free.  EDC is a toxic solvent that is carcinogenic that’s found in many curcumin products in the industry.

    Berberine

    Berberine is main bioactive alkaloid found in multiple Chinese medicinal herbs, including Coptidis RhizomaCortex PhellodendriHydratis Canadensis (also known as goldenseal), and Coptis Chinensis. Berberine has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to treat gastrointestinal infections and diabetes.

    What is Berberine?
    Along these lines, Berberine is well-known as a potent insulin sensitizer, which has been validated in multiple randomized controlled trials. In fact, it has been shown to be equally effective at reducing insulin resistance as the popular diabetic drug Metformin—that’s powerful!10,11 To me, this alone is more than enough reason to make my top 10 list, especially considering that blood sugar management, insulin sensitivity, and metabolic function touch virtually every corner of human health and optimization.

    But there’s more. Berberine has been shown to activate AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is responsible for a variety of crucial functions in the body. For example, AMPK, which is known as an “energy sensor,” is thought to be responsible for multiple health benefits assigned to exercise and caloric restriction.12 Speaking of which, AMPK possesses anti-aging properties via activation of mitochondrial biogenesis. In addition, Berberine has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

    Berberine can improve insulin sensitivity

    I recommend taking 500mg of Berberine three times daily. Only buy this from a reputable company, many of the berberine products are spiked with other plants and not nearly as effective.

    Ashwagandha

    What is Ashwagandha?

    Also known as Withania somnifera, Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub found in the arid parts of India. Ashwagandha literally means “smell of horse,” which is part because it’s commonly believed that it can help develop strength and vitality similar to that of a horse.13 Referred to as a “royal herb” because of its well-known rejuvenating effects, Ashwagandha is an “adaptogen” that’s highly regarded for its ability promote health and longevity, slow the aging process, revitalize the body, combat stress, and improve feelings of well-being.

    For me, some of the most interesting benefits are Ashwagandha’s capacity to improve energy levels and mitochondrial health.14 On one hand, Ashwagandha can have beneficial effects on mitochondrial functioning; what’s more, Ashwagandha can reduce the activity of the enzyme responsible for breaking down ATP (i.e., increasing cellular energy levels).15 Case in point, one of the primary components of muscle development and exercise performance is energy production. Along these lines, when combined with resistance training, Ashwagandha has been to increase muscle size and strength and boost endurance.15

    In addition, Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its ability to increase resilience, reduce stress, and decrease cortisol.13,16 Along those lines, there is an interesting link between chronic stress (e.g., psychosocial stress, stressful life experiences) and mitochondrial dysfunction. Specifically, chronic stress can generate toxic by-products, promote systemic inflammation, and alter gene expression, ultimately damaging mitochondria and accelerating cellular aging.17

    I’d recommend looking for an Ashwagandha extract that’s standardized to at least 5% withanolides, which are thought to be the compounds responsible for the benefits associated with Ashwagandha. A typical dosage is 300mg taken twice daily.

    My favorite form is Sensoril by Nutragenesis/Natreon.

    Rhodiola rosea

    Another one of my favorite adaptogens is Rhodiola rosea. Adaptogenic herbs like these are used to strengthen the body’s immune response and increase an individual’s ability to cope with physical and mental stress. That is, adaptogens help shift the body toward balance. Adaptogens are typically used for stress relief, brain health, and adrenal health, and they have been shown to improve health in a variety of different ways.18

    Rhodiola Rosea can lower stress

    Rhodiola, also known as golden root, is used in Russia to combat fatigue, ward off sickness, and improve mood. Rhodiola’s most popular applications include relieving fatigue and improving concentration, memory, and productivity.19 Several studies have shown that supplementation with Rhodiola can:

    • Stimulate focus and cognitive function
    • Calm emotions
    • Enhance learning
    • Reduce fatigue
    • Improve sleep
    • Reduce irritability
    • Increase strength
    • Increase quantity and quality of work
    • Improve mental and physical performance
    • Improve feelings of wellbeing

    Overall, Rhodiola is considered “an excellent choice for individuals who are weighed down by stress and fatigue as a result of demanding intellectual work.”19 I recommend using a Rhodiola supplement containing 3% Rosavins and 1% Salidrosides (the “active” components of the adaptogen). Dosing is typically 288 – 680mg per day. I’ve also formulated with a 5% rosavins and 2% salidrosides product.

    Exogenous ketones

    Under normal circumstances, the brain and central nervous system (CNS) rely on glucose for fuel. However, during periods of prolonged fasting (a few days) or severe carbohydrate restriction (as is the case with a very-low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet), the body’s carbohydrate reserves become depleted. And since the brain and CNS cannot use fat for fuel, the body is forced to turn to an “alternate” energy source: Ketones.

    Ketones are molecules produced by the liver (via a process called ketogenesis) as a by-product of fat burning. Research now suggests that ketones may be the preferred fuel source for the brain, and ketones have been shown to have cognitive performance (e.g., better focus, less brain fog, fewer energy crashes), cognitive health (reduced risk of neurodegeneration, reduced inflammation), and cognitive recovery (recovery from traumatic brain injury) benefits. Ketones, particularly BHB, may help upregulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which essentially serves as fertilizer for cells of the brain and CNS.

    Ketones are not only used by the brain, they can also fuel skeletal and cardiac muscle. From a performance standpoint, ketones can help fuel endurance performance, enhance metabolic flexibility, and increase the body’s utilization of fat for fuel. Recent studies have shown that combining the ketogenic diet with weight lifting results in comparable (and in some cases, better) improvements in strength, power, and body composition as the typical Western diet.30–32

    Supplementing with exogenous ketones can help expedite the process of getting into ketosis, provide the benefits of elevated blood ketone levels, and accelerate keto-adaptation—with or without following a ketogenic diet.

    Optimal dosing is 5-10g of BHB (not accounting for the mineral salts bound to the BHB – including that would 6.5-13g of BHB salts.

    DHA

    It’s no surprise to see omega-3 supplements—such as fish, krill, and algal oils—at the top of recommended supplement lists. After all, EPA and DHA are nutrition all-stars. They are well-known for supporting:

    • Heart health2–4
    • Brain health, cognitive function, and mood5–10
    • Eye health and vision11–13
    • Skin health14,15
    • Immune function16
    • Metabolic function17–19
    • A healthy inflammatory response20

    Recent research has shown that DHA and EPA may also have anti-aging properties.21–23 Several recent studies have even shown that these super fats can boost metabolic rate, increase calorie-burning lean body mass, and boost fat burning to boot.17

    But here’s the deal. Most people tend to refer to the two omega-3 fats DHA and EPA as if they are one and the same, leading many to believe that they are interchangeable and provide similar health benefits. The fact of the matter is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, DHA and EPA each have very specific functions, and along those lines, offer very unique and distinct health benefits.

    For instance, EPA levels seem to be closely correlated to mood, and studies have shown that supplementation with EPA can help boost feelings of wellbeing and help temper aggression.28,29 On the other hand, DHA generally exceeds EPA by 5- to 30-fold in most tissues of the body.30

    In fact, DHA is the most predominant fatty acid in the brain and eye tissue, where it is several HUNDRED-fold more abundant than EPA. Along those lines, DHA has been shown to improve both memory and reaction time.9 DHA has also been found to elevate levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a very important growth factor for the brain and central nervous system that plays a key role in cognitive function, mood, and mental health.31

    DHA may also be more effective than EPA at improving markers of heart health, and recent research shows that DHA appears to be superior to EPA when it comes to promoting a healthy inflammatory response.20,32,33 One particularly nifty attribute of DHA is that the body can convert it, on an as-needed basis, to EPA. However, the opposite is NOT true, meaning that the body can’t convert EPA to DHA.30

    Based on the current body of research, a good recommendation is to take at least 500 – 1000mg (possibly as high as 2000mg) of DHA daily, and it’s a good idea to complement that with regular consumption of oily fish (e.g., wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, oysters, mussels).

    Probiotics and Prebiotics

    Like omega-3 supplements, probiotics are commonly recommended and for many good reasons. Of course, probiotics are particularly popular due to their ability to help keep harmful microorganisms in check, promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, support a healthy digestive tract, and aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.

    Beyond that, there are several overlooked health benefits of probiotics including:

    • Boosting immune function and supporting a healthy inflammatory response
    • Enhancing intestinal barrier function
    • Enhancing antimicrobial activity
    • Staving off upper respiratory tract infections
    • Boosting mood
    • Reducing anxiety and helping manage the body’s stress response
    • Improving cognitive function and memory
    • Helping with weight management
    • Increasing satiety and aiding with appetite control
    • Enhancing sports performance
    • Reducing muscle damage and enhancing recovery
    • Promoting heart health
    • Supporting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
    • Improving skin health and protecting the skin from photoaging
    • Supporting detoxification

    In addition to probiotics, prebiotics are also one of my top supplements. These indigestible carbohydrates essentially serve as “food” for the healthy bacteria in the gut, which ferment these fibers. A by-product of the fermentation is short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, which fuels the immune system, signals the release of key appetite-suppressing hormones, and protects the brain and nervous system (via BDNF).

    The importance of Gut Health

    While it’s so difficult to narrow it down, there you have my top 10 supplements. There are so many others that I’ve used—and even currently use—and recommend to others. Along those lines, I’d love to hear your feedback, and if you have questions about supplements that didn’t make the list, please let me know.

     

    References:

    1. Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:18. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z.
    2. De Jesus Moreno Moreno M. Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Ther. 2003;25(1):178-193.
    3. Bellar D, LeBlanc NR, Campbell B. The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:42. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0103-x.
    4. Ziegenfuss TN, Habowski SM, Sandrock JE, Kedia AW, Kerksick CM, Lopez HL. A Two-Part Approach to Examine the Effects of Theacrine (TeaCrine®) Supplementation on Oxygen Consumption, Hemodynamic Responses, and Subjective Measures of Cognitive and Psychometric Parameters. J Diet Suppl. May 2016:1-15. doi:10.1080/19390211.2016.1178678.
    5. Taylor L, Mumford P, Roberts M, et al. Safety of TeaCrine®, a non-habituating, naturally-occurring purine alkaloid over eight weeks of continuous use. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13:2. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0113-3.
    6. Kuhman DJ, Joyner KJ, Bloomer RJ. Cognitive Performance and Mood Following Ingestion of a Theacrine-Containing Dietary Supplement, Caffeine, or Placebo by Young Men and Women. Nutrients. 2015;7(11):9618-9632. doi:10.3390/nu7115484.
    7. Aggarwal BB, Sung B. Pharmacological basis for the role of curcumin in chronic diseases: an age-old spice with modern targets. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2009;30(2):85-94. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2008.11.002.
    8. Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Malani N, Ichikawa H. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:1-75. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_1.
    9. Jäger R, Lowery RP, Calvanese AV, Joy JM, Purpura M, Wilson JM. Comparative absorption of curcumin formulations. Nutr J. 2014;13:11. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-11.
    10. Wei W, Zhao H, Wang A, et al. A clinical study on the short-term effect of berberine in comparison to metformin on the metabolic characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012;166(1):99-105. doi:10.1530/EJE-11-0616.
    11. Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2008;57(5):712-717. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2008.01.013.
    12. Wall CE, Yu RT, Atkins AR, Downes M, Evans RM. Nuclear Receptors and AMPK: Can Exercise Mimetics Cure Diabetes? J Mol Endocrinol. 2016;57(1):R49-R58. doi:10.1530/JME-16-0073.
    13. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
    14. Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9.
    15. Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9.
    16. Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, Abedon B, Ghosal S. A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. JANA. 2008;11(1):50-56.
    17. Picard M, Juster R-P, McEwen BS. Mitochondrial allostatic load puts the “gluc” back in glucocorticoids. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2014;10(5):303-310. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2014.22.
    18. Seely D, Singh R. Adaptogenic Potential of a Polyherbal Natural Health Product: Report on a Longitudinal Clinical Trial. Evid-Based Complement Altern Med ECAM. 2007;4(3):375-380. doi:10.1093/ecam/nel101.
    19. Abascal K, Yarnell E. Increasing Vitality with Adaptogens: Multifaceted Herbs for Treating Physical and Mental Stress. Altern Complement Ther. 2003;9(2):54-60. doi:10.1089/107628003321536959.
    20. McCleary SA, Sharp MH, Lowery RP, et al. Effects of a ketogenic diet on strength and power. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):P41. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-S1-P41.
    21. Rauch JT, Silva JE, Lowery RP, et al. The effects of ketogenic dieting on skeletal muscle and fat mass. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):P40. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-S1-P40.
    22. Wilson JM, Lowery RP, Roberts MD, et al. The Effects of Ketogenic Dieting on Body Composition, Strength, Power, and Hormonal Profiles in Resistance Training Males. J Strength Cond Res. April 2017. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001935.
    23. Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ. Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2002;106(21):2747-2757. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000038493.65177.94.
    24. Bradberry JC, Hilleman DE. Overview of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Therapies. Pharm Ther. 2013;38(11):681-691.
    25. Lee JH, O’Keefe JH, Lavie CJ, Marchioli R, Harris WS. Omega-3 fatty acids for cardioprotection. Mayo Clin Proc. 2008;83(3):324-332. doi:10.4065/83.3.324.
    26. Morris MC, Evans DA, Bienias JL, et al. Consumption of fish and n-3 fatty acids and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Arch Neurol. 2003;60(7):940-946. doi:10.1001/archneur.60.7.940.
    27. Hibbeln JR, Ferguson TA, Blasbalg TL. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies in neurodevelopment, aggression and autonomic dysregulation: opportunities for intervention. Int Rev Psychiatry Abingdon Engl. 2006;18(2):107-118. doi:10.1080/09540260600582967.
    28. Parker G, Gibson NA, Brotchie H, Heruc G, Rees A-M, Hadzi-Pavlovic D. Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(6):969-978. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.163.6.969.
    29. Osher Y, Belmaker RH. Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2009;15(2):128-133.
    30. Stonehouse W, Conlon CA, Podd J, et al. DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(5):1134-1143. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.053371.
    31. Witte AV, Kerti L, Hermannstädter HM, et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and structure in older adults. Cereb Cortex N Y N 1991. 2014;24(11):3059-3068. doi:10.1093/cercor/bht163.
    32. SanGiovanni JP, Chew EY. The role of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in health and disease of the retina. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2005;24(1):87-138. doi:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2004.06.002.
    33. Stough C, Downey L, Silber B, et al. The effects of 90-day supplementation with the omega-3 essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on cognitive function and visual acuity in a healthy aging population. Neurobiol Aging. 2012;33(4):824.e1-3. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.03.019.
    34. McCusker MM, Durrani K, Payette MJ, Suchecki J. An eye on nutrition: The role of vitamins, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants in age-related macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, and cataract. Clin Dermatol. 2016;34(2):276-285. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2015.11.009.
    35. Cosgrove MC, Franco OH, Granger SP, Murray PG, Mayes AE. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(4):1225-1231.
    36. Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):298-307. doi:10.4161/derm.22876.
    37. Gurzell EA, Teague H, Harris M, Clinthorne J, Shaikh SR, Fenton JI. DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function. J Leukoc Biol. 2013;93(4):463-470. doi:10.1189/jlb.0812394.
    38. Logan SL, Spriet LL. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation for 12 Weeks Increases Resting and Exercise Metabolic Rate in Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Females. PLOS ONE. 2015;10(12):e0144828. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144828.
    39. Abbott KA, Burrows TL, Thota RN, Acharya S, Garg ML. Do ω-3 PUFAs affect insulin resistance in a sex-specific manner? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(5):1470-1484. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.138172.
    40. Jeromson S, Gallagher I, Galloway S, Hamilton D. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Skeletal Muscle Health. Mar Drugs. 2015;13(12):6977-7004. doi:10.3390/md13116977.
    41. Allaire J, Couture P, Charest A, et al. DHA is more potent than EPA in attenuating cardiometabolic risk in men and women: a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. FASEB J. 2016;30(1 Supplement):130.1-130.1.
    42. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Epel ES, Belury MA, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2013;28:16-24. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2012.09.004.
    43. Farzaneh-Far R, Lin J, Epel ES, Harris WS, Blackburn EH, Whooley MA. Association of marine omega-3 fatty acid levels with telomeric aging in patients with coronary heart disease. JAMA. 2010;303(3):250-257. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2008.
    44. Farzaneh-Far R, Lin J, Epel E, Lapham K, Blackburn E, Whooley MA. Telomere length trajectory and its determinants in persons with coronary artery disease: longitudinal findings from the heart and soul study. PloS One. 2010;5(1):e8612. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008612.
    45. Martins JG. EPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009;28(5):525-542.
    46. Logan AC. Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: a primer for the mental health professional. Lipids Health Dis. 2004;3:25. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-3-25.
    47. Arterburn LM, Hall EB, Oken H. Distribution, interconversion, and dose response of n-3 fatty acids in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(6 Suppl):1467S-1476S.
    48. Matsuoka Y, Nishi D, Yonemoto N, Hamazaki K, Hamazaki T, Hashimoto K. Potential Role of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Omega–3 Fatty Acid Supplementation to Prevent Posttraumatic Distress after Accidental Injury: An Open-Label Pilot Study. Psychother Psychosom. 2011;80(5):310-312. doi:10.1159/000322980.
    49. Buckley R, Shewring B, Turner R, Yaqoob P, Minihane AM. Circulating triacylglycerol and apoE levels in response to EPA and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in adult human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2004;92(3):477-483.
    50. Jacobson TA, Glickstein SB, Rowe JD, Soni PN. Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and other lipids: a review. J Clin Lipidol. 2012;6(1):5-18. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2011.10.018.

    VITAMIN C: Everything you need to know: Benefits, Dosage and Sources

    VITAMIN C: Everything you need to know: Benefits, Dosage and Sources

    Chemical name: Ascorbic acid

    • It is water soluble.
    • Deficiency: may cause megaloblastic anemia, scurvy, connective tissue deterioration
    • Good sources include: fresh fruit and vegetables – the Kakadu plum and the camu camu fruit have the highest vitamin C contents of all foods, with liver, red & yellow peppers, kiwi fruit & guava having high values too. 

    One of the first vitamins that people sweep off the shelves at the drug store when they’re battling a cold, cough or flu is Vitamin C. It is unique in the fact that the human body cannot make it, making it an essential compound we need to either get from food or supplement with. Interestingly, dogs have the ability to produce vitamin C for their needs, while we can’t. As another example, vitamin D can be made in the body when we’re exposed to sunlight, but only in small amounts, so supplementing with it is often necessary. It is very popular due to its low price, its safety and its antioxidant properties.

    What is Vitamin c?

    WHAT DOES IT DO?

    The short answer: A LOT. The fact that a deficiency can have so many negative implications on health backs its essentiality in our diet. Vitamin C is pivotal in many of the metabolic reactions that keep our bodies functioning because of its role as a cofactor, or a ‘helping molecule’, for many of these biochemical processes. It is suggested to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis, reduce sunburn and decreasing wrinkles! The biosynthesis of collagen, which is a major component of bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage, is dependent on vitamin C, making it essential for health hair, teeth, skin, joints and bones. It is also necessary for the production of L-carnitine and major neurotransmitters.

    The main role of vitamin C is an antioxidant. It is our most universal antioxidant and by sequestering free-radicals in the body, it fights off the dreaded process called oxidation, that we all know is fundamental to poor health.  Interestingly, it also has the ability of acting as a pro-oxidant – depending on what the body needs. Even more, it has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants in the body such as vitamin E. Oxidative damage is an underlying cause of several diseases making vitamin C’s antioxidant capabilities powerful in preventing and even treating numerous health conditions.

    Most well known is vitamins C’s impact on the immune system. We know it is important because we see deficiencies in the vitamin in those with infections or who are immuno-compromised. It is known to aid in the production of immune cells (phagocytes and T-cells) and can help ward off respiratory infections to some degree. Due to its antioxidant effect, it protects our immune cells which actually produce a lot of reactive oxygen species (ROS), especially lymphocytes. The ROS can be great for warding off bacteria and viruses but can also harm the immune cell themselves, so vitamin C protects them to a degree.

    There is evidence that vitamin C of at least 200mg/day could reduce the duration of the common cold by about one day, and given its low cost and safety, it may be worthwhile to supplement when you have a cold. Hundreds of studies have examined the effect vitamin C has on the immune system and a recent meta-analysis indicated that “routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified” for the general population, but could be useful for those who do regular intense physical exercise.

    With that said, vitamin C does not exactly boost the immune system, but actually supports it by protecting the immune cells and improving their lifespan and ability to fight against infections. 

    Why vitamin C supplement

    VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY

    Most well known is scurvy; a pathological condition that leads to blood vessel fragility and poor connective tissue production. Symptoms include fatigue, malaise and inflamed gums. Inadequate vitamin C causes collagen synthesis to become impaired, leading to joint pain, poor wound healing, and hyperkeratosis.

    Deficiency is uncommon but can still occur in people who have limited food variety. Smokers are at higher risk to vitamin C deficiency, and even those who are exposed to secondhand smoke!

    If you’re someone who gets sick regularly, then you may have a deficiency in vitamin C.

    DOSE

    The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin C is 60mg. This amount can easily be obtained from the diet. In some cases, people take much larger doses between 2,000mg and 3,000mg per day, generally to boost the immune system and reduce the duration of a cold or flu. High doses like this however can cause diarrhea, gastric distress, fatigue, headaches, insomnia and heartburn in some people.

    Even if you don’t have any of these side effects, taking 3,000mg a day can just be a waste of money. The more you supplement, the more you speed up your metabolism of vitamin C and so you may want to slowly decrease your intake by 500mg a week if you are taking such high doses. A dose of 500mg-1,000mg daily is generally a good target.

    Selected food sources of Vitamin C

    FOOD SOURCES

    Many fruits and vegetables have vitamin C, with the Kakadu plum and camu camu fruit having the highest content. Guavas, strawberries and red and yellow bell peppers are amongst the highest. Liver is also rich in vitamin C. You can find a detailed list of foods containing vitamin C here.

    Keep foods containing vitamin C refrigerated and covered as often as possible and try not to cook them at high heats as this deteriorates the vitamin content significantly. Your vitamin needs should primarily be met by eating a well-formulated, whole foods-based diet, but in the modern world where we have mass-produced fruits and vegetables that generally lack sufficient amounts of the nutrients we require, supplementation can be very helpful.

    SUPPLEMENTS

    Vitamin C is found in most multivitamin products and other immune-boosting formulations, but it is also found as a single ingredient. A review concluded that consistent daily supplementation with vitamins C was more effective at reducing the duration and severity of a cold compared to taking it at the onset of symptoms. So, it may be worthwhile working on incorporating enough vitamin C into your diet, or considering some of the supplements you can buy.

    Most supplements contain vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid which in contrast to some supplemental vitamins has similar bioavailability to the ascorbic acid found in food. You may also find buffered forms of vitamin C which are attached to a mineral (like calcium, magnesium, sodium, etc.) such as calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate which buffers the vitamin C. . Adding these minerals results in a less acidic form of vitamin C, tempering its potential irritating effect on the gut and enables you to take slightly higher doses and you get the added benefit of getting in some minerals.

    Simple ascorbic acid is the cheapest and obviously preferred, but forms that are buffered with minerals, as explained above, may be more tolerable by the gut for certain people.

    Liposomal vitamin C is another form that is slightly superior to regular vitamin C and we are seeing in a lot more products today. Here, the vitamin C is encapsulated in liposomes, which are like tiny bubbles that accelerate the absorption of the vitamin across the gut wall and into the bloodstream. Above all, intravenous (IV) vitamin C proves to have the best bioavailability in the body, but due to the associated risks of administering anything intravenously, it is not used frequently.

    Some supplements combine vitamin C with bioflavonoids – natural substances found with vitamin C that enhance its antioxidant power. They are essentially antioxidants themselves and help to fight free radicals and reduce sources of inflammation and oxidation. Research has shown that when enriched with bioflavonoids, there is no obvious benefit in raising the levels of vitamin C in the blood over any particular source, but the bioflavonoids may help vitamin C carry out its incredible antioxidant capabilities within the body.

    Because we require these naturally occurring additional compounds (cofactors and enzymes) to be present for vitamin C to carry out its biochemical reactions properly, a process used to make vitamins in a lab known as fermentation is preferable, as it involves all of the compounds found with vitamin C in nature, making it absorbed more readily by the body. Fermentation is a natural process that labs can use to make a compound, versus synthetically producing a compound from chemicals.

    JOINT REPAIR

    When supplementing with collagen (or gelatin) to improve joint health post injury, for example, it is important to add at least 50mg of vitamin C with the collagen to support the collagen biosynthesis within the body.

    A NOTE ON CANCER TREATMENT

    Early studies have suggested that high dose vitamin C could improve the quality of life and increase survival time of cancer patients. Some studies showed no improvement. The conflicting results could be explained by the fact that the route of vitamin C administration affects plasma vitamin C concentrations differently. High oral doses can raise plasma levels to about 220 micromol/L, while IV (intravenous) administration can increase plasma concentrations to above 26,000 micromol/L! These high concentrations are cytotoxic to tumor cells. In this case, vitamin C acts as a pro-oxidant (as opposed to an antioxidant), killing tumor cells. Based on these findings, high-dose IV vitamin C is supported as a drug to treat cancer.

    How to supplement vitamin c

    A NOTE ON COVID-19

    Due to the growing evidence of the low risk and the benefits of IV vitamin C, The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians released a statement encouraging the use of IV Vitamin C in patients who are infected with the Coronavirus. The statement says, “healthcare practitioners on the front lines of treating moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 to utilize intravenous Vitamin C (IVC, also known as IV Ascorbic Acid) as an adjunctive measure in the care of their patients.”

    Additionally, according to the Chinese Expert Panel, the treatment actually decreased the duration of stay in the hospital by 3 – 5 days compared to patients who didn’t receive vitamin C IV. This is a low cost and effective treatment that could significantly free up space in hospitals. However, clinical trials are still being carried out and the safety and efficacy is not one hundred percent clear as of now, even though numerous case studies support it.

    Any of the statements above should not be considered a replacement for recommendations from your doctor for the treatment of cancer or COVID-19, and you should consult your doctor before pursuing any IV treatment.

    I hope this gives you more insight to this incredible vitamin. Be sure to be wary of the scams out there while we’re fighting off the Coronavirus – you’ll be surprised how desperate people are to make money! Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments! Check out my Instagram page to see the latest on Vitamin C, and my personal opinions, as well as for more content on ingredients coming up!

    Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and all of the information above is for information purposes only. Consult with your doctor before implementing any of the above.

    Original blog may be found directly on Shawn's site: https://shawnwells.com/blog/vitamin-c/ 

    Stay connected with Shawn Wells:

    Want to be featured by ICON Meals? Submit your stories to info@iconmeals.com or send us a DM on IG or Facebook!

    REFERENCES

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/195878#types

    https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

    Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000980. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4.

    https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-vitamin-c-myth.html

    DePhillipo NN, Aman ZS, Kennedy MI, Begley JP, Moatshe G, LaPrade RF. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2018;6(10):2325967118804544. Published 2018 Oct 25. doi:10.1177/2325967118804544

    https://organixx.com/vitamins-to-boost-your-immune-system/#summary

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915787/

     

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