Many people today claim that they get all of their essential nutrients through eating a healthy diet. In fact, Lindsay and I were both this way until January 1, 2018, when we both started religiously tracking our food intake via a handy little app and website called Cronometer. We have always eaten healthy, and we assumed that by eating lots of vegetables everyday, leafy greens every evening, some fruit, eggs, and meats, with minimal carbs, that we were meeting our daily nutrient requirements. We were both absolutely shocked to find out that we are almost always short on key nutrients in our daily diet! We are typically low on Vitamins D, E, & K, as well as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, & Zinc. Potassium was a real eye opener for me, because even with eating foods that are supposedly great sources of Potassium, I was still typically well under 50% of my daily need! WTF!
Another realization is that if we eat this healthy and are still short on vital nutrients, then most people must be drastically short. The simple explanation for this conundrum is that the soil and foods of today are much less nutrient dense than the soil and foods of our ancient ancestors, due to many reasons, not all of which are understood. One study found that the produce of today has a lower amount of Protein, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin C (1). The study claims the changes are due to the varieties of plants we have cultivated. Another study found that wild, natural fruits and veggies are much more nutrient dense compared to the produce grown in a commercial farm that we buy at the grocery store (2). In fact, our typical produce has been bred to have more sucralose, which is similar to table sugar, AKA, it is poison. Keeping all this in mind, Lindsay and I realized we need to supplement our diet to ensure we are getting adequate nutrition intake.
Not All Supplements are Created Equal
We realize, of course, that many of the supplements out in the world are just plain snake oil, or at worse, just downright dangerous. The regulation of supplementation in our country is pretty much nil, so you have to be careful when choosing to put supplements into your body. This is why Lindsay and I do our research, both on the supplement and the supplier, before testing them out in small doses over time to determine if they are right for us. We don’t want to take anything that could harm our body, and not only that, but we don’t want to take anything if it is not effective or a waste of money.
What’s a Primate to Do?
The process Lindsay and I went through to determine which nutrients we need to supplement was by tracking our total intake on Cronometer for a couple of weeks, and seeing which nutrients we are consistently short on. As I mentioned earlier, we were desperately in need of Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Potassium, some B Vitamins, Vitamin D and occasionally Vitamin E and Vitamin K. To start to address these issues, we started taking the following supplements:
I also wanted to take the Cal Mag Zinc, along with Vitamin D and Brazil nuts because they have the basic building blocks for Testosterone production, but that will be another post! With these supplements, we are almost always on track to hit our daily nutrient needs now. Hallelujah!
Supplementing for Performance
Now that we have addressed our baseline nutritional needs, we are getting to the fun part! Sports and Performance supplementation is big business these days. People are always trying to gain an edge in whatever endeavours they are pursuing. However, I am interested not just in gaining an edge physically, but also mentally and emotionally as well. One of my biggest endeavours right now is creating the “Unlimited Human Potential” course. To me, this means optimizing all aspects of your life, from Physical Performance, to Mental Performance, to Happiness. In order to do this, we need to excel at both the gym, at work, and in our personal lives.
Our plan to test out different supplements and figure out the ones that will enhance our lives, is to test a couple at a time, over the period of a month and see what effects they have on us. I have compared different supplements, costs, implementation schedule, etc., and I look forward to updating you in real time. My plan is for us to take an adaptogen, a muscle booster, and a mitochondrial booster. Thus far, on top of our multi-vitamin supplements, we are currently testing out:
We will test these three supplements for the rest of this month, take daily observations, and then draw our conclusions. I am aware that this is not in any way a controlled experiment, but let’s be honest with ourselves here with the fact that life is never a controlled experiment. I would love to just change one variable at a time and keep everything else exactly the same, but that is just not possible in the real world.
According to the most reputable supplement analysis site in existence, examine.com, “Ashwagandha is a popular herbal supplement. It provides neuroprotection, anti-cancer effects, enhanced virility, and can even stave off anxiety. It does not boost testosterone.” I got interested in Ashwagandha because it is what is known as an adaptogen, which is defined as “a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.” I like adaptogens because they just plain help you feel better, sleep better, and be a better human being. They come in two general types, energizing or calming. Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen. The main takeaways from examine.com are that it reduces stress and anxiety, can reduce insomnia and stress-related depression, can reduce cortisol, and can reduce LDL cholesterol. It can also improve the formation of memories, and there is potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease, though the evidence there is not yet thorough enough to draw any conclusions. Studies have also found that supplementing with the root can increase power output. Male fertility also seems to benefit. The root extract is virtually non-toxic, but the leaf extract can potentially be toxic at very high doses. The most common dose is 300-500mg, but more or less can work, depending on the person and the situation. Ashwagandha is best taken at breakfast. We have started taking Ashwagandha 5 times per week, one dose in the morning (3).
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
According to examine.com, “Type II collagen (CII) is a peptide and component of joint cartilage. It’s oral ingestion appears to reduce autoimmunity to the body’s own CII, resulting in less inflammation in instances of osteoarthritis and rheumatism and benefits to joint health.” (4) According to Vital Proteins, “Collagen is the vital building block of our bodies including skin, hair, nails, bones, and joints. Our bodies cannot synthesize enough collagen on their own and our diets today contain minimal collagen.** “
Also from the Vital Proteins website, "HERE ARE JUST A FEW BENEFITS WE’VE SEEN FROM TAKING COLLAGEN DAILY:
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration." (5)
The typical dose of hydrolyzed collagen is about 10g per day for joint and skin health, typically taken with food. We just started testing out the collagen yesterday in our Morning Coffee/Tea, so stay tuned for our updates!
“L-Carnitine is involved in energy metabolism and mitochondrial protection. It is made in the body, but can also be consumed through food. Supplementation of L-carnitine does not burn fat unless the individual is deficient in L-carnitine.”
I initially became interested in this supplement from Dr. Mercola’s book, “Fat for Fuel,” where he mentions supplementing with L-Carnitine for mitochondrial health. This supplement does enhance mitochondrial capacity, alleviates the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, alleviates neurological decline and chronic fatigue associated with aging, can improve insulin sensitivity and blood vessel health, and is a nootropic (brain function booster). It may also act as a potent antioxidant. The typical dosage is 500-2,000mg daily. (6,7)
To Supplement or Not to Supplement
Well folks, that is about it for this update this month. To summarize, it is important to supplement the nutrients that are missing from our daily diets, even when they are eating a healthy diet. In addition, the stresses of modern day lifestyles, pollution, work, etc. make it necessary to supplement above and beyond typical food in order for us to function at our best. We hope you enjoyed this article, and remember, none of this is dietary advice. Be sure to be smart about anything and everything you put into your body. We can’t wait to give you our next supplement update!.