My Supplement Regimen
I don’t currently play any sports (in high school I played basketball and volleyball) but I lift at least three times a week and do cardio on my rest days (usually HIIT, because I can’t stand to jog at the same speed for more than ten minutes). As much as I try to eat healthy, there are def parts of my diet that are lacking a lil somethin’ somethin’ (lookin’ at you, Breyer’s Thin Mint cookies n cream ice cream) so I try to fill in the gaps with a few supplements. Here’s my routine:
Morning: 1/4 t gelatinized maca powder, 5000 IU vitamin D capsule, first 200 mg magnesium glycinate tablet
Afternoon: 25 mg iron bisglycinate capsule + 500mg vitamin c tablet
Evening: second magnesium tablet
Before bed: 30mg zinc monomethionine, two fish oil capsules
Plus the occasional creatine monohydrate (usually taken post-workout to replenish my creatine phosphate stores and speed up recovery; make sure you drink a hella ton of water or your kidneys will die and you will shrivel up like Spongebob out of water..ok not really but you could become Spongebob), vitamin B complex when I drink alcohol (metabolizing ethanol depletes B vitamins), and activated charcoal (for upset stomachs).
- maca powder: maca is a cruciferous veggie that's native to Peru, and its root (similar to a parsnip) is usually consumed as a ground powder. this adaptogen—a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and maintain homeostasis—recently gained traction and been touted as a "superfood" because of its supposed benefits—increased libido, decreased depression, more balanced hormone levels, and lowered blood pressure. gelatinized maca has undergone boiling and pressurization to remove the starch, making it easier to digest.
- taste: earthy, nutty, a little like butterscotch. some people love it right from the start. for me, it was an acquired taste.
- i've been taking it on and off since feb 2016. sometimes i'll have it in the morning for a month straight and then get sick of it and take a break.
- vitamin D: most people are deficient in vitamin D! personally, I take vitamin D because it helps with reducing my hormonal acne, which usually erupts along my jawline. As a student, and especially during the winter, I spend most of my time indoors and I wear sunscreen everyday, so I've opted to supplement with 5000IU every 1-2 days, but you should definitely get a blood test before hopping on the bandwagon. the form that our skin produces is cholecalciferol, aka D3, so look for this in your supplements and not ergocholecalciferol, or D2.
- taste: no taste because it's encapsulated. most often yellow in color due to the olive oil it's packed in, although the current brand I use, NatureWise, uses coconut oil so my capsules are a milky white.
- have been taking pretty much every day since november 2015, with breaks when I go on vacation and about once a week during the summer.
- APRIL 2018 UPDATE: met with my doctor at MIT medical and since my most recent blood test results from march showed that my serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D level was 61 ng/ml (recommended range is 30-100ng/ml), she says I can take 5000IU once a week now to maintain even in the winter, instead of every day/every other day.
- magnesium glycinate: magnesium is a cofactor for 300+ cellular processes in the body. Leafy greens, fish, whole grains, and nuts n' seeds are good sources of magnesium, but I don't eat get enough of those in my diet so..cue these pills. touted benefits: improved sleep, less of a sweet tooth, and alleviated restless leg syndrome. a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with sleep bruxism (aka nocturnal teeth grinding), so I gave her some magnesium to help with that (see Google's results for magnesium & bruxism)
- taste: no taste because I swallow these as tablets (KAL brand). They're a bit large so not for everyone. Doctor's Best sells smaller capsules but you have to take 4 per day to get the RDA, whereas I only need two KAL tablets.
- have taken since november 2015. originally started with magnesium malate tablets, but switched to glycinate because it's more bioavailable.
- APRIL 2018 UPDATE: my doctor at MIT medical recommended that I take magnesium to improve my insulin sensitivity, because I belong to one of the ethnic populations that are predisposed to better/worse insulin resistance. yay genetics
- iron bisglycinate: when I got my blood tested in may 2015, my ferritin levels were 15 ng/ml (the lab's recommended range is 13-100 ng/ml). after reading several running forums where people recommend at least 25 ng/ml for runners and discussing my activity levels with my PCP at MIT medical, we agreed that I could start iron supplementation. I regularly donate blood and have normal hemoglobin levels, but iron deficiency without anemia—low ferritin and normal Hgb levels— is possible.
- taste: I've heard that liquid formulas and chewables are quite nasty, so I take iron bisglycinate capsules from Solgar.
- have been taking one capsule 2-3 times a week with Vitamin C (to aid absorption) since feb 2018. wasn't consistent with it before because I had moderate acne breakouts over the past year and wanted to get my diet in shape before adding a possible pro-oxidant. Got my ferritin levels tested in feb 2018 and they've increased to 35 ng/ml!
- APRIL 2018 UPDATE: I learned from my doctor's appointment that it's not ideal to get your ferritin levels tested when you're sick, as ferritin is doubles as a marker of inflammation; if you're sick, your immune system is heightened and your ferritin levels are likely elevated.
- zinc monomethionine: zinc helps with my acne! additional touted benefits: speeds wound healing, boosts immune system, and increases testosterone.
- taste: no taste because it's a small caplet that I swallow. I use Source Naturals' OptiZinc.
- have been taking since april 2016.
- fish oil: good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. (krill oil is also a good source of omega-3's and contains a naturally-occuring bonus antioxidant called astaxanthin, but krill oil is more expensive). i definitely notice a difference in my skin when I take fish oil and when I don't. some of the best skin that I had was over the summer when I'd buy and sautée salmon skin/steaks from Hmart and eat them twice a week, all other lifestyle habits constant.
- taste: tasteless because it's encapsulated. some people get fishy-smelling burps though. I buy from either Naturemade or VivaLabs.
- have been taking since october 2016.
If I had to choose my top three supplements, they'd be fish oil, vitamin d, and magnesium. I highly recommend doing your own research and talking to a doctor before starting any supplementation. My words are in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.