What a subject, sure to ruffle some feathers! Most respected fitness, exercise, bodybuilder and nutrition experts have one thing in common, they disagree with each other on the subject. Are supplements worthwhile, useful or even necessary at all. Some think that as long as you follow a healthy diet, vitamins and other healthy supplements are not necessary. Others see vitamins and the like as kind of an insurance policy for your health. And then there are the advocates of mega-vitamin supplementation.
My personal “opinion”, “attitude”, and “research” on this subject is that a healthy diet is always number # 1 before any supplement should be considered. And, your training program “intensity” can play a major role in your decision. Speaking from a personal point of view after 37 years of research, study, self experimentation on myself as well as clients and my personal need to “find the most effective” way to build muscle that will last a life-time have brought me to this conclusion. I do believe that at certain times in a person's life-cycle, supplements can have reasonable value to their overall health and well being. In fact, supplements are now taking the place of drugs in medical therapy and sometimes with greater effectiveness. But I have to be careful of how I say this because I do not want to mislead you. Many “supplement-hucksters” are making claims that their “steroid replacements” are as effective as drugs (steroids) and that is not true. The product may help or it may not, it depends on many factors. The one point I want to make clear is that NO legal supplement will produce the same results as a DRUG or steroid. But … remember every drug has a know or unknown reaction to the body that is unhealthy. Even aspirin can upset and ever cause damage to the stomach.!
Sure, some “nutraceuticals” are finding their place in medical circles. Niacin, Tryptophan and other amino acids as well as select herbal supplements and minerals are being prescribed. It's also true that if your diet is not in order and you are deficient in some essential vitamin or mineral, the right supplement will produce and amazing change in your health. It has in mine. But again, I want to remind you that some of the marketing and down-right lies surrounding the supplement advertising make it confusing, hard to understand and costly for the average person.
However, there are a few basic benefits that almost everyone will experience with some of the old tried-and-true products. Sometimes the benefits can not be felt as immediate as a drug but the health benefit is there if the supplement is natural and helping to build the body in a “healthy” process.
I am moderate in my supplementation and have experienced with a LOT of supplements through my training career. I follow a healthy diet that has changed in the ratio of macro and micro nutrients as I age, and that is the way it should be. A person's ability to assimilate and digest certain foods change as they age. I've experienced some amazing changes in my muscle building and strength performance with the use of specific healthy supplements. I've seen measurable increases in strength, muscle mass, muscle tone and recuperation time when I use specific supplements.
Supplement # 1 Multi-Vitamin & Mineral tablet.
I could go on and on about the current commercial farming methods of crop fertilization, GMO's and even what country the fruits and vegetables are produced in and their methods of farming, but I will spare you. Just know this, unless you are eating certified organically grown fruits and vegetables, the vitamin & mineral content of the produce is very low. If the vitamins and minerals are NOT in the soil then they are NOT in the produce! Crop rotation is no longer followed and the soil is nutrient depleted. GMO's and man-made fertilizers are what feed the industry. Do yourself a favor and take a quality multi-vitamin & mineral tablet at least once a day.
Supplement # 2 Liver Tablet.
It was in 1979 that I got started with “real” desiccated liver tablets. I read about an experiment conducted by Dr. BH Ershoff. Dr. Ershoff had three groups of 12 rats that were fed the same diet for 12 weeks. The second group of 12 rats was given a plentiful addition of B-vitamins and yeast, and the third group of 12 rats was given additional B-vitamins and liver. They were all thrown in a pool of water. The first two groups lived an average of 13 minutes and 18 seconds, and thirteen minutes and 24 seconds respectively. Of the liver fed-group, 3 rats lived 63, 83 and 87 minutes and the other nine were swimming after two hours, when the experiment ended. If you are looking for strength and endurance this is the supplement you want to take. Do NOT take Liver Extract, it has to be Desiccated Liver tablets. There is a difference! If liver tablets are so potent why do not I see them being sold by supplement companies, you ask. Simple, it's hard to write up a “newly discovered secret substance hype story” on a nutritional food with simple ingredients. All bodybuilders pre-steroid era and even Arnold and Lou Ferrigno used desiccated liver tablets. I take them almost every day of the week.
These are just two “staple supplements” that I use almost every day of the week.
In a forthcoming article I'll talk about protein powders, energy supplements and other nutritional supplement formulas that I know of or have formulated for myself and my clients that I believe are of help in building a lean and muscular physique that will build that muscle that last's a lifetime.