Scientific articles

The Best Supplements




Walking through the supplement aisle can make you feel pretty confident. Promises like “fat loss,” “muscle gain,” and “reduced aging” plaster nearly every bottle and container. And with more than 29,000 dietary supplements to choose from, there’s no wonder you feel uncertain about which ones are more show than substance. Here are top supplements—sensational marketing claims sold separately.

1. Fish Oil

Fish oil is known for delivering omega-3’s, essential fats that our bodies can’t make on our own so must get them from our diet. Even if you eat fish one to two times per week, you won’t be taking in enough omega-3’s to meet your body’s needs. By taking a high quality fish oil, you can reduce triglycerides, lower your risk of heart disease, protect your brain health, and potentially lower your risk of diabetes. Omega-3’s may even help with losing body fat. When choosing a supplement, pay seeks brands that deliver a minimum of 2 g EPA and DHA (two of the three acids in omega-3s) daily.

2. Vitamin D

Plenty of data has suggested that the majority of Americans have less than optimal levels of Vitamin D. That’s not surprising – the nutrient is tough to get from food (though canned salmon, milk, and sardines are all good sources), and the only other method is sunlight. Some people live in areas with less sunlight, and cannot make sufficient amounts of this vitamin, and even when you are outside, most people are covered with clothing and/or suntan lotion. Most experts agree that supplementing with at least 1000 IU’s daily is a good start.

3. Whey Protein

Whey protein is not an essential supplement, but it is a good one to have on hand. Because whey is high in branched-chain amino acids, it can aid recovery from exercise. More importantly, whey protein is a quick, convenient source of quality calories.

4. Greens Products

While not a replacement for fruits and vegetables, Greens products (fruit and vegetable concentrates) are a good “insurance” policy if your produce consumption is lower than idea. Less than 6% of men and 9% of women aged 5 to 34 consume the recommended minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Greens can help fill this void. They’re especially handy when real produce is hard to come by, like during times of heavy travel.

5. Probiotics

Here’s the deal -- there are millions of different strains of bacteria in our guts. Some are good. Others, not so much. The bacteria in your gut can influence your overall health, digestion and immune system. Probiotics can help replenish and nourish your internal supply of good bacteria, sometimes leading to less gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Aim for a product from a trusted brand that lists at least 3 billion organisms per serving. Keep it refrigerated after opening to protect those organisms.

6. Turmeric (Curcumin)

Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian dishes, and a key component in the spice is curcumin. Hundreds have studies have suggested that curcumin possesses a wide range of beneficial health properties, including anti cancer, anti viral, anti arthritic and anti inflammatory properties. The nutrient’s very strong anti inflammatory actions are seen as one of the primary drivers of these benefits.

7. Cinnamon

Another powerful spice, cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any of the spices. Several studies have shown that cinnamon may improve insulin sensitivity, which improves utilization of carbohydrates and leads to better blood sugar control. Sprinkle it in shakes, on oats, yogurt, cottage cheese or wherever you’d enjoy the added flavor. Or if you want the assurance of getting a specific dose, you can choose a supplement. Studies have shown that 1g daily (about 1/2 teaspoons) is sufficient.

8. Psyillium

Psyillium is a soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar in people who have diabetes. If you choose to supplement, start with small doses and build over time.

9. Creatine

Creatine is one of the most extensively studied nutritional supplements, both in clinical research and by real-life athletes, and to date most findings indicate one thing: Creatine works. The supplement may enhance muscle function during high-intensity exercise, and cause muscle hypertrophy, likely due to increased water retention by muscle cells, although some data suggest there may be gains in muscle fiber diameter as well. Vegetarians may have a greater response to supplementation because of their limited intake of dietary creatine. Creatine supplementation under supervision, 3-5g per day, can help improve strength or speed, or help you add on weight.

10. Beta Alanine

β-Alanine supplements have garnered interest over the last several years as several research investigations have linked its use to performance improvements. Some clinical research shows that taking beta-alanine improves some measures of physical performance, especially during high-intensity exercise and strength training. Beta-alanine is used, under supervision, for improving athletic performance and exercise capacity, building lean muscle mass, and improving physical functioning in the elderly.

11. Glucosamine

Glucosamine is found naturally in the body, particularly in the cartilage: it is one of the building blocks of cartilage and is also found in the fluid that lubricates the body's joints. Glucosamine's job in the body is to generate cartilage production and repair. It can also be manufactured and sold in supplement form -- this type of glucosamine often comes from animal cartilage.

12. Green Tea

Green tea contains high levels of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps combat dangerous free radicals, which can damage cells and DNA. Polyphenols may also be able to prevent inflammation and swelling. The antioxidants in green tea supplements may help protect the heart and blood vessels.





1- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases

2- Journal of the American Medical Association: Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cancer Risk

3- SpringerLink: Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Psychiatry: A Review

4- "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism"; Effect of Creatine Supplementation and Resistance-Exercise Training on Muscle Insulin-like Growth Factor in Young Adults; D.G. Burke et al.; August 2008

5- "European Journal of Applied Physiology"; The Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Muscular Performance and Body Composition Responses to Short-Term Resistance Training Overeaching; J.S. Volek et al.; May 2004

6- "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism"; Effect of Creatine Supplementation on Body Composition and Performance: A Meta-Analysis; J.D. Branch; June 2003

7- "Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry"; Long-Term Creatine Supplementation Does Not Significantly Affect Clinical Markers of Health in Athletes; R.B. Kreider et al.; February 2003

8-; Is it Important to Include Probiotics in a Healthy Diet?; Katherine Zeratsky; April 2010

9- "The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements"; Gary B. Huffnagle and Sarah Wernick; June 2008

10- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium

11- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D

12-; What Are Prebiotics? How Are They Different From Probiotics, and What Health Benefits do They Offer?; Katherine Zeratsky; October 2009

13- Harvard Health Publications: Fish and Fish Oil: Good For Most Folks but Not For ALL




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