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What to Know About Nutritional Supplementation
With Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT
There’s a lot of confusion around supplements, leaving many wondering, “What supplements should I take?” or “Do I even need to take any at all?” Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT, shares the top supplements he recommends for most everyone, why supplementing is perhaps more important now than ever, and the importance of quality and how to identify the best options.
Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT, is the director of nutritional products at Life Time.
“Most people could benefit from some supplementation,” says Kriegler. “As a dietitian, I’d love for people to just be able to eat super healthy food and get everything they need. But when you look at it objectively, supplements play a critical role in health.”
Here are just a few of the reasons he cites for why we can use the support:
- Our food supply has changed. The health of our soil — and the nutrients our foods can absorb from it — has changed dramatically over the last several decades. For a variety of reasons, including modern agricultural practices, much of our soil is depleted of many nutrients. Its quality also varies by farm, county, state, and region.
- Our modern lifestyles expose us to an increasing number of environmental stressors. These drain our bodies of nutrients.
- We’ve never consumed so much processed food. Food processing strips away nutrients in the interest of manufacturing, packaging, and shelf-stability.
- Many of us use over-the-counter and prescription medications. When taken on a regular basis, these can also actively deplete nutrients from the body.
- (Re)Introducing Life Time’s Nutritional Products Line
- Are Dietary Supplements Unregulated?
- 5 Ways to Spot a Bad Supplement
- The Foundational Five: The 5 Supplements for Every Body
- How Much Protein Do I Need? With Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT
- Which Protein Powder Is Right for You?
- High-Quality Multivitamins: Why You Need Them. How to Shop for Good Ones.
- Why Omega-3s? With Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT
- Why Magnesium? With Samantha McKinney, RD, CPT
- Why Vitamin D? With Anika Christ, RD, CPT
- Here’s What to Know About Vitamin K
- Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics
- Creatine: Why This Supplement Is Not Just for Bodybuilders
- Digestive Enzymes: What Are They? Why Do You Use Them?
- Salt’s Place in a Healthy Diet
- Paul Kriegler’s articles on ExperienceLife.Lifetime.Life
- Paul Kriegler’s Life Time Talks episodes on hydration, immunity, intermittent fasting, wine, and health care
- @_cafepk_ on Instagram
Optimize your nutrition and fill in nutrient gaps with daily essentials and specialty supplements.
The Foundational Five Supplements
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Transcript: What to Know About Nutritional Supplementation
Season 14, Episode 14 | March 7, 2023
Welcome back to Life Time Talks. One of our favorite guests is back. Paul Kriegler, you’re here. And this time, we’re talking supplements. Thanks for coming back again.
Thanks for having me.
All right. We’re going to do your bio again because we know people want to know more about you and hear it again. So Paul is a registered dietician and personal trainer who’s worked at Life Time for over 13 years. Throughout college, he competed in track and cross country and has since finished several marathons and three Ironman Triathlons.
Paul serves as the director of nutritional products at Life Time and consults on a number of scientific and health-related topics for Life Time. And you know all about all the supplements.
And we’re excited to talk through this because we get a lot of requests in our inbox like tell me about this, tell me about omega-3s, tell me about vitamin D. And we have covered those, but this is our opportunity to deep-dive into each of them a little bit and talk through them.
It’s a big topic.
It is. I feel like it should be Paul Supplement Kriegler for the middle name Supplement because he knows all about these supplements that we’re about to dive into. Paul, so this is a big topic. This is a huge topic. And we’ve got a lot to get through today. So let’s dive right in. Who should be taking supplements, and who should not be taking supplements?
Most people could benefit from some supplementation. Yeah.
Oh, there’s a number of reasons. I can dive into them right now if you want. The main thing is our food supply has changed quite a bit in the last several decades. So from the soil health and the nutrients that our foods can take up from the soil, that’s changed remarkably. And it varies by the farm and by the county and by the state and region.
So just knowing that it’s been depleted of so many nutrients over the last several decades suggests that we should be filling in those depleted nutrient gaps somehow, some way. On top of that, we’ve never consumed so much processed food that strips away some nutrients in food processing and stabilization and packaging in the interest of shelf stability.
And then on top of that, our modern lifestyles leave us exposed to an increasing number of environmental stressors that deplete our body of nutrients. And then anyone who takes a prescription or over-the-counter medication on a regular basis should probably look at taking supplements as well because they actively deplete nutrients from our body when we take them.
Sad to say it as a dietician. I would love for people to just be able to eat super healthy food and get everything they needed from A to Z. It’s just when you look at it objectively, supplements are going to play a critical role in health.
So essentially, times have changed is what you’re saying. We’ve evolved a lot. I like how you touched on the soil health and the demands of society, the stressors. So we have a lot of different variables that are very present. And as we evolve as human beings in this space, so does technology, so on, and so forth to make sure that we continue to advance with it.
And to your point, there’s a lot of great healthy foods out there, but we’re still depriving ourselves of certain nutrients and minerals, therefore, enter supplements, yes? Is that what you’re saying?
Well, and one thing I think that’s interesting in the notes when we were prepping for this episode is you noted that almost every one of us is taking supplements in some shape right now because of what’s happened to our food source. So speak to that a little bit.
Yeah, food fortification. It’s the widest-spread way of supplementing a population. So this started back in the 1920s and ’30s starting with iodized salt. Researchers and health experts at that time recognized that some people were developing goiter. And it was from an iodine deficiency. And the fastest way to get enough iodine into the entire population was just to add it to table salt. And that wiped out that problem.
And then vitamin D was probably next. It was added to the milk supply so that children would stop developing rickets. And vitamin A is also added to milk. And then fast forward to more modern times, and there’s iron and B vitamin supplementation or fortification in pretty much all cereal grains and rice. So whether you like it or not, you’re probably taking supplements through the food fortification program.
Right. But is there– I mean, we know that we all need some. Is there anybody who should avoid it, just to make sure we’re covering off on that?
Yeah. I mean, if anyone is being– if they’re managing a chronic health condition with their doctor, they have to go to their doctor first to make sure that specifically, for their individual case, they know what they should avoid.
Most often it’s vitamin-K-containing supplements that need to be avoided for those on blood thinners. And then any other complicated medical scenario, just check with your doctor. So anything we say today is just general topic. It’s not giving people advice directly as an individual.
Always a good caveat to set ourselves up with. Absolutely.
I like to say I’m not a doctor, and I’m not your doctor.
So don’t take anything to heart without checking with your doctor first.
Right. So when it comes to supplements, it’s the quality of sourcing tends to be something that’s hotly debated in our world that we’re in. You are immersed in this. Can you speak to why the quality of these matters and why we should be paying attention? And what do we do at Life Time? I know you lead that program to make sure that we have really high-quality supplements.
Yeah, that’s a good question. So designing a supplement, it’s literally to provide a nutrient that the diet is lacking. And it makes the most sense to provide that nutrient in the form that it would show up naturally in the diet. So I call it food form of the nutrient.
But the reality is those are a little more expensive to get the most bioavailable is what it’s called. So the form in which the body recognizes, absorbs, and uses without any extra steps of conversion or activation. That’s the best way to supplement.
And it varies by nutrient what’s the best form. But our approach at Life Time is to design supplements using the right form and the nutrients, which happen to cost a little bit more oftentimes. But it’s the best way to deliver directly to the body the thing it needs as the cofactor in metabolism.
So that’s probably the main thing with quality to be concerned with. And I always phrase it this way. No one I talk to would take their car to the mechanic and say, give me the cheapest breaks you got. So it baffles me that people go bargain shopping for supplements.
These are nutrients your body needs to operate at full tilt, at optimal, as close to optimal as you can. Why would you ever want to shortcut that? Don’t bargain-shop for supplements because it’s going to come back to bite you.
So the right form of the nutrient and then the right dose. And that’s a little bit trickier. Dosing, you’ll see a huge variety of dosing by different nutrients. Some of that has to do with the different forms, the potency of them when they’re in that stable powdered form, if you will, for vitamins, for example, like magnesium.
One of the best forms of magnesium for us to absorb is glycinate or malate. And those happen to be 40% magnesium by weight. So you might put 100 milligrams of that material in the pill, but only 40 milligrams of that is magnesium.
Well, some supplements label the total amount of material in the formula, not the active ingredient that you’re trying to get from the formula. So there’s some gymnastics that are done by some bad actors in the space. But our approach is to label our products with the amount of active ingredient, not the material that contains the active ingredient in the formula. So pick the right form.
The right dose, it is tricky because you have to take this approach of I’m going to present the body with maybe more than what it needs so that it can take what it needs and be completely sufficient and not be left taking a supplement and still be lacking.
And it looks weird on labels sometimes when you see several 1,000% of the daily value. And that’s because the daily values are probably largely outdated. And they are based on what applies for a sedentary individual to maintain health in the way of avoiding clinical deficiency syndromes of that nutrient.
So the daily value is a bare minimum. It’s like the bottom rung of the ladder when you’re climbing up towards optimal health. In many cases, especially for active people, they’re burning through B vitamins. They’re burning through minerals. They’re sweating out zinc and selenium in addition to other electrolytes every day.
You need to overconsume relative to the daily value. Otherwise, you will end up depleted. So I know some people get confused like, I don’t want to– I don’t want to overdo it. Chances are very low that your body is going to build a toxicity to anything other than vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Those are the fat-soluble vitamins that we are more cognizant of because those get stored in our fatty tissue. And you can develop toxicities of those if you overconsume those. But everything else, it’s fair game. You can go above and beyond the daily value and reasonably safely.
I mean, the word that stood out to me is quality and going back to the quality. And usually, the myth is the empowerment of the education to understand the value of why it is whatever it is at cost-wise. And to your point, people sometimes want to take the shortcuts. Oh, OK, I can just get this multivitamin, or I can get this fish oil, or whatever it may be.
So first, because we have all this readily available education out there, if you will, the part that I’m about to get super excited about is utilizing this platform to empower individuals before they make a purchase the why behind it and how the process is different when it comes to our supplements.
And I know a lot of things are not regulated within supplementation around FDA. So when somebody is looking to make an investment in this space, what are certain things that you can say and stand by, being that you’re right in the mix here, when it comes to our nutritional supplements the why one should want to make that investment in this space?
Yeah. Let me clear something up. You said the supplements are not regulated. The FDA does have regulatory authority over supplement manufacturers. Their regulatory framework is different from their framework for prescription and over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics. But they are responsible for upholding consumer safety.
The way it’s set up for supplements is a lot of the onus is on the supplement manufacturers and the companies marketing those supplements. But if they do things incorrectly and the FDA catches them, they can be shut down. And there’s been a couple of cases in recent years where massive recalls of all products produced back to 2015 or ’13 have been recalled.
But the FDA does have authority. They’re terribly under-resourced. And some bad actors in the industry know that. And they can essentially make a big profit before the FDA catches up to them, which gives everyone in the space a bad name.
But Life Time’s had their own brand and formulas for over 20 years now and, from the word go, has stuck to a list of principles that make it something that I’m super– if I was a– if there was anything wrong with our supplements, I would probably not be able to speak. I’m a heavy user.
Not afraid to admit it. I experiment with everything. But that probably shows a little bit of the value of going with a company that has its own interest. Life Time wouldn’t put our name on it if it wasn’t something that was very, very high-quality.
So what we do is we partner with manufacturers that follow the established FDA good manufacturing practices. And that’s a whole collection. I’ve got an article about this on Experience Life.
It’s a whole collection of requirements, everything from the physical plant itself to ingredient selection, sourcing, management, employee training and education, process training, record keeping, adverse event reporting requirements.
So that’s a FDA mandate that the supplement industry– you can’t even start unless you meet good manufacturing practices. And the FDA does register or certifies all of our facilities. So our products are made in FDA-registered CGMP, Current Good Manufacturing Practices, facilities.
And then they’re double-checked by the National Sanitation Foundation, NSF. So those facilities where our products are made are also signed off on to a higher degree of quality by NSF. And both the FDA and NSF show up unannounced to do periodic audits.
And they basically halt everything that’s going on in the building, look at everything from how your machines are set up, your staff training manuals, your recordkeeping, your batch records, everything. And all of our partners in that space have never had even a single deficiency letter handed to them by one of those two organizations.
So we’re proud of that, the partnerships that we’ve had for a long time with our manufacturing partners. And that’s why we very seldom see a finished product get rejected that final stages of quality control’s testing. I think I can count on one hand the number of times that we’ve had to reject a lot of product.
So are those elements– what did you say, the CGMP?
Yeah. Current Good Manufacturing Practices.
Is that on labels for stuff? Do we tout that on a label when we find that?
You can put a stamp that– yeah, you can stamp the product with that.
You can also find it on a manufacturing company’s website. They’ll have all their certifications. And you can request them and that sort of thing.
So I think that’s a whole other element of this is doing your research upfront to know what you’re getting and knowing that you can find that information if you find a product you have questions about digging a little deeper into it. It does take time and effort to do that, but I love knowing that level of detail and care that’s been taken just at the lifetime for itself.
And we have good reason to trust our partners because everything I just said. But then we also verify that. We do periodic random self-testing. So we take product that reaches our warehouse or our shelves and send it off to a third-party lab–
–so that our manufacturing partners don’t even know that we’re doing it. So we trust them, but we’re also verifying that it is what it is, everything from its meeting nutrient claims on the label, which is also an FDA requirement. If something doesn’t meet nutrient claims, the FDA can go back in and shut them down.
Just like I said, it’s not proactive. It’s a reactive regulation model, which, to this date, it’s worked reasonably well. You compare it to adverse events and negative outcomes of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and supplements look like a walk in the park.
Right. So just one thing. Claims, there’s often a lot of claims with health products. What does the FDA require in terms of what you can claim on a label for supplements? Are there rules around that?
OK. Lots of claim. Good. That’s good to know.
Yep. There’s an entire lengthy Code of Federal Regulations, CFR, that pertains to dietary supplements and food. So dietary supplements are a subset of the food regulations. The claims, like what you say in your marketing, are also regulated by the FTC. So your marketing practices are overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.
And those two departments in tandem often combine forces when there’s a bad actor in the space. And they bring in the Department of Justice and carry out enforcement action.
We’re getting into legal stuff.
So to say it’s unregulated, it’s not entirely accurate. It is under-regulated purely because the FDA is under-resourced. And it’s relatively easy for anyone to start up a supplement brand and get a long ways down the road before the regulators catch up to him. So that’s why it’s still termed a little bit of the Wild West.
That’s why I even came out and said, so with FDA– so with that being said, I think going back to the value, the why, we are a step ahead of the rest. But even looking at our country as far as the US, being the most obese, having a lot of these metabolic diseases, and then what we tend to do is, all right, well, we can take some of these supplements to help get us in a better place.
So going back to that quality and all that quality control, I think that goes a long– I know that goes a long way.
And you just said it. You’re a heavy user. So you stand by it. And I’m hoping all the listeners now take this as a piece of the puzzle. Still ask questions, but the more and more we’re going to dive into this episode, we’re going to start to break down a few of these different supplements and the why.
Yeah. Well, and Jamie asked, what do you– what did companies have to do to follow this FDA? You also have to notify. So when we come out with a new product and there’s a couple of little bullet points of benefits, the phrasing of those benefits has to be such that it’s not misleading.
Nothing is definitive. You can’t say something will do this. It may support this or may promote that. So it’s where you have very soft claims. Sometimes some of those get wiped out by our legal review and external counsel and that sort of thing.
And then any of those claims that end up on packaging or our marketing materials, they also have to be sent to the FDA. So I have to sign into the system at the FDA and say, this product, this is the UPC panel, this is the ingredient panel, this is what we say about it. And these are the supporting evidence to make those statements.
So we have to notify within 90 days of putting that product out on the marketplace. I can guarantee you there’s companies that don’t do that step at all, but we do it every time.
That’s awesome. Well, let’s dive into some of these supplements because there’s key ones. Obviously, it depends. Each individual is going to have different needs. And there’s different ways to test for where you might be low depending on the nutrient.
But let’s start with some of the top supplements to take. These are ones we get a lot of questions about. We have a whole episode on protein, but I do just want to take a second here to just revisit protein and why it matters real quick.
Yeah. Protein, people struggle to get enough food protein. And when I say get enough, it’s different than the RDA, which is the minimum amount of protein to prevent deficiency versus what’s needed for optimal health and fitness and performance. So they’re two separate targets. So getting enough of that optimal amount is a challenge for a lot of people from whole food sources.
So in terms of what’s the easiest thing people can do for the most potential benefit, to manage appetite, boost metabolism, improve body composition, physical performance, recovery, energy levels, just long-term resilience and immune resilience, getting their protein right and their hydration. But getting their protein right is number one priority. You fix that, and you fix a lot of what people have challenges with on a day-to-day basis.
All right. Came out of the gate, protein punch right there. Multivitamin. Got a lot of them out there. And what is so significant about a multivitamin? What purpose does it serve?
Yeah. If you look at NHANES data, which is National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey run by the USDA periodically, it suggests that Americans are deficient or insufficient in almost two dozen nutrients. A high percentage of Americans are insufficient relative to the RDA, mind you, which is that minimum amount.
So then you put that in context of someone who might be exercising, putting their body through extra stress, and managing their calorie intake. So maybe they’re trying to be eating in a calorie deficit and exercising to create a bigger deficit. And now you’ve got the scenario where their complete nutrient deficit.
Multivitamin is the best kind of blanket approach. A high-quality multivitamin that’s formulated for active people is where I would start them. So definitely, more than your bargain brand one a day because tablets just don’t break down in your gut anyway.
It should be a loose powder capsule. And usually, you have to take more than one a day to get good coverage. So that’s why a multivitamin, I think, is the next best place to start for people beyond protein.
Right. And you know there’s several benefits of that too. Let’s dive into those.
Yeah. They’ve gotten a bad rap, multivitamins. But you ask some of the leading experts in the functional medicine space, and they’ll tell you, oh, people need to have some vitamin E and D and A and B-complex vitamins, probably some trace minerals, maybe some extra magnesium to really round out their nutrient profile. And what you’ve arrived at is a really high-quality multivitamin.
And some of the research in the space of multivitamins has produced either neutral or negative results mostly due to poor study design. And one of the most well-known one was a 12-year study of male physicians that looked at male physicians. It was a double-blind placebo-controlled study taking a one-a-day vitamin or a placebo.
And a lot of critics of that study suggest that those people were too healthy, to begin with, to benefit from that minuscule dose of multivitamins. And they were looking at it in the context, does this prevent cancer or heart disease?
Well, nothing will prevent– no one thing will ever prevent a multifactorial lifestyle-related pattern of metabolic change. So that’s probably poor studies design. More recently, a three-year study that was published in one of the Alzheimer’s journals showed that a multivitamin formula was successful in reducing cognitive decline by a significant margin.
They claim 60%. That was a three-year study. So you have to look at the whole collection of research and say some of them probably aren’t picking up on the true benefit of nutrient adequacy while some of them are.
There’s other studies that show significant improvements in immune resilience from just taking a simple multivitamin, especially in older populations. And what I mean significant immune benefits, it’s like they’re sick fewer days a year. They bounce back faster. They miss less work.
Those types of things end up translating to a pretty high economic cost and possibly even higher healthcare costs down the line if you approach older age in a really healthy, vibrant state because you consistently took in nutrients that your body needed. I think that’s a really great investment.
And is a plethora of other benefits as well. We have our multivitamins as far as women’s and men’s, and then we have a performance one. What’s the main differences between those?
Yeah. The performance one is designed for athletes or people who just demand a lot out of their bodies. So there’s a few extra ingredients. In the AM dose, it’s mainly T cream. So the T cream helps the body use caffeine better. And it can be used without caffeine as well. But it’s great for motivation, mood, and focus. So that’s in our AM dose.
And then the PM dose has Relora, which is helpful for relaxation at night. So it’s really designed for anyone who lives a demanding life. Athletes in mind first, but there’s also people that live really demanding lives that don’t work out as hard as they want to work out for whatever reason. So they can also benefit from that.
We have prenatal as well. And, I mean, obviously, we know the benefits of why it’s called prenatal. But I know even my wife, beyond having the baby, she continued to take it. So I understand some of the differences, but for our listeners, prenatal vitamin beyond having a baby, is it beneficial, or should you go back to–
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. To my knowledge, it’s probably the first or second vitamin formulation on the market that has an adequate amount of choline. Choline is something that just now became a nutrient that has an assigned daily value in the 2020 dietary guidelines that just got added because it plays such a vital role in maintaining healthy neuron function and brain health, especially in developing babies.
So that’s why it’s got popular in the prenatal space. But I think it’s a lifespan nutrient. It’s also showing up in the gaming supplements and the pre-workout supplements because choline excites your brain and neurons to allow your memory, cognition, and focus to work better. You can take it beyond just the perinatal period.
All right. Our next one is omega-3s, which we do have a mini episode with you on, but let’s talk briefly about those too.
Yeah. Omega-3 fatty acids crucially important to many factors in our health. It’s one of those nutrients we can’t make ourselves. And the sources of nutrients in our diet from plants are really difficult to convert to the right forms that our body uses for our cell membranes and nerve insulation and hormone production and inflammatory signaling.
Anyway, needless to say, omega-3s are an essential fatty acid. You’ll see them labeled as EFAs because we can’t make them. We need them for a lot of health reasons, but we can’t make them. And our needs for them go up if our omega-6 intake is high.
Get that ratio right.
Yeah. Modern processed foods, primarily due to seed oils like canola oil and soybean oil and corn oil, it flips our ratio. And if that ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s is inflated towards omega-6s, whether it’s due to high omega-6 intake or low omega-3 or a combination of the two, it seems to produce this chronic inflammatory state, which is a nightmare for health.
What should the ratio be? I mean, is it 2 to 1? What–
3 to 1.
3 to 1?
Yeah, definitely lower than it is. Some hunter-gatherer populations are probably more like 1 to 1. But there’s another way to measure omega-3 status, and it’s called the omega-3 index. We’re looking at adding that test– it’s a fingerprint test– to our portfolio as well just so people can check.
But by that method, 8% to 12% of your red blood cell should be omega-3 fatty acid content. That’s the window of where it appears that you have the lowest risk of a lot of common health conditions if you maintain a omega-3 status in that window.
Now, we’re including this article. I mean, it’s a foundational five on our Experience Life site. So other benefits that we have supports normal inflammation levels, immune function, cognitive and brain function, normal stress response. So great benefits.
And I remember on our last episode that we talked about fish oil, we talked about an allergy form that is coming about. And you know me. I get excited within the plant-based aspect. So what exactly would be that-
– it would serve the same benefit or whatever, higher concentrate?
Yep, it’s just a different source. So the omega-3s that come from animal foods are EPA and DHA. And it turns out certain forms of algae can produce EPA and DHA as well. So it’s a matter of using algae to produce the same nutrient and then concentrating it in the same fashion that fish oil would be concentrated. So, yeah, it’s a like for like when it ends up in the soft gel.
I’m happy. I’m happy.
Good news. All right. Magnesium. We know it’s that important one for calm– many other things.
It’s a cofactor in 300-plus reactions in our metabolism. But magnesium in our soil, so in our food supply, has gone down at least 25% and probably worse in some areas depending on where the food is grown and the soil management and that sort of thing.
And it was low, to begin with, in our diet. Unless you’re eating a lot of sprouted seeds, properly prepared beans, it’s just difficult to get enough magnesium from the diet, especially now in modern times. And it’s so critical. It helps your body utilize vitamin D. It helps your muscles relax. It helps your brain function. There’s just so many. The list goes on and on.
And most multivitamins– I mean, Life Time’s multivitamins are formulated with the highest magnesium amounts I’ve ever seen in a multivitamin. But it takes up so much physical space in that formula. If you look at the three PM capsules of our men’s, for example, or a performance, 40% of what’s in there is magnesium.
So it just takes up a ton of physical space. So most formulas leave it out, and they make you take it as an extra supplement. And in many cases, people still need to take it if they’re taking our multivitamins because there’s a lot of– if you look into the research and the benefits on magnesium supplementation, some really beneficial things start to happen when people, regardless of their diet, start taking about 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium a day in supplement form.
Blood pressure normalizes. Blood sugar management improves. Mood improves. So talking about depression, anxiety is crazy right now. A lot of what we’re seeing in mental illness could be traced back to nutrient inadequacies, not just magnesium, but other things.
Other things as well. Yeah.
From a digestion standpoint, I remember when I was taking probably a little too much magnesium. So with that, obviously, what’s happening with the body as far as within magnesium? What’s happening in the gut obviously if you’re taking too much magnesium?
Yeah. Too much at once can create what’s called a hypertonic solution in the digestive tract. And to dilute it, your body pulls water in from elsewhere. And, yeah, you get bathroom urgency.
I love the phrasing.
Yeah, that was perfect.
Bathroom urgency. I like that. All right. Vitamin D and vitamin K.
Yep. Vitamin D and vitamin K, both fat-soluble vitamins. They really act more like hormones or signaling molecules in our body. Ideally, we get enough vitamin D through our own production of it if we’re exposed to enough UV rays.
But we spend a lot of time indoors. And when we are outside, we’re shielding ourselves from the sunlight, whether it’s sunscreen or shade and clothing and whatnot. But both critically important for bone health and cardiovascular health. And vitamin D and K are also good for immune health.
So having the right amounts of those and taking them as a combination. You can take too much vitamin D. And what can happen then is you get better at absorbing calcium. And a lot of food is fortified with calcium. And there’s a lot of easier calcium sources than magnesium in our diet anyway.
And without vitamin K present, your body can start depositing that excess calcium in soft tissues like in your artery walls. So we’re seeing– and there there are studies that show negative effects of calcium supplementation, especially in women, I think, older than 50.
They’ve all been told, take calcium for your bones, osteoporosis risk. Well, they should have been told to take vitamin D, K, calcium, and magnesium, and protein to build stronger bones because if you just take calcium, you run the risk of stiffening your arteries. And there’s actual clinical evidence of more so strokes and artery occlusions due to calcium over-supplementation in women.
I’m going to go back to the vitamin D. I know we were going to move to the next one. But you said getting exposure to sunlight. So people like to ask the question or know at least how much sunlight. 20 minutes, 30 minutes outside?
Usually, summer sun here in Minnesota because it’s really between May and early October, which we have any hope of getting adequate sunlight. About 20 minutes of unprotected face, hands, and arms should be enough. And if you have darker skin pigmentation, you can tolerate longer, and you probably need longer in the sun.
In certain time of day?
Yeah, noon. But it doesn’t have to be at noon. You can be outside any time the sun is up, and you’re getting UVB rays that help stimulate that vitamin D production.
Awesome. All right.
Good to know. Probiotics.
Probiotics. Yeah. Anyone who’s been on antibiotics knows things change. And depending on how frequently you go on antibiotics, you might need to be more aggressive with probiotics. But probiotics are the organisms, so the bacteria, that maintain good health and metabolism in our digestive tract.
And that translates to whole body health too. They actually are responsible for producing most of our serotonin, which is our feel-good brain chemical. They maintain a large portion of our immune system response, which is housed in the gut.
And taking antibiotics, even if you need to periodically for an illness, wipes it out. So you need to sometimes supplement with probiotics. So put the organisms back in the system and feed them fibers. The food– those are called prebiotics– that the organisms actually eat so they can proliferate and give you those good health benefits.
And even if you don’t take antibiotics but you’re constantly using hand sanitizer and you’re living the most sterile environment you can, chances are your microbiome is out of balance or a little weaker than it could be.
So probiotics for a lot of folks is a good idea.
Well, I guess a probiotic, this next one. Watch for it. Some creatine. Let’s talk about some creatine.
Yeah. So creatine, I put this on the list because it’s not just for bodybuilders. There’s a ton of emerging evidence for supplementing with creatine as a fast and efficient way of maximizing muscular creatine stores throughout the lifespan.
So pregnant mothers taking creatine actually can help the baby if there’s any sort of traumatic birth because if there’s any deprivation of oxygen during delivery or shortly after birth, it’s healthier for the baby’s brain. They have a better survival rate, better retention of cognitive faculties because they have healthier creatine stores.
And then go to the other end of the spectrum in the aging population, it helps maintain cognitive function, strength, balance, and coordination at a time when– a lot of times people end up going on the health decline because of a fall or a broken bone or what have you.
They’ve lost muscle mass and strength and energy. Creatine can help maintain that longer in the life so that the quality of life can be maintained longer. And then in the middle, people are probably mostly familiar with the benefits of creatine for increasing power, strength, and recovery times in between hard workout sets.
So the reason it’s on here as a supplement that I highly recommend is most people don’t eat enough raw meat or raw fish to truly maximize their creatine stores. Creatine happens to be vegan. So it’s plant-based.
The widest margin of benefit to be gained from supplementing creatine is in the vegetarian and vegan population. So that’s why I think it’s end to end and everyone in between. Creatine is something that’s a high-priority supplement for a lot of folks.
Spoke to my heart. Thank you.
Spoke to my heart.
And it’s not dangerous. It won’t make you get bulky. All the things that people might be afraid of, none of that.
It’s all benefit.
There you go.
We just debunked that there. I love it.
All right. In our last supplement on the list, the big, last, final– enzymes.
Enzymes. Yep. So if someone is totally averse to taking any supplements at all, I try to just have them at least take enzymes. So digestive enzymes are just what they sound like. They help you break down your food and access the nutrition in your food more efficiently.
So it’s not really a dietary supplement because there’s no essential nutrients in them. There’s no vitamins or minerals in them. It’s just a helpful source of the enzymes that your body uses and makes their own. But it allows you to access the nutrition in the food you are eating.
A lot of great information. A lot of great information. And once again, I go back to the value piece, the empowerment through that education. Now let’s go ahead and apply it, still ask questions, stay informed. We talked about the benefits and the why you should be taking some.
Are there anything supplements, if you will, out there that you probably should avoid and you can say, yeah, if you see these red flags, this is what you should be looking for?
Yep. So if you look in the other ingredient section, which is usually right below the nutrition or supplement facts table, if you see magnesium stearate, just don’t take it. It’s a long-chain fatty acid that’s used purely to make the powder on the production line flow better. It only serves as a production aid to speed up production.
On the back end, it actually makes the nutrients in the formula harder to absorb. It makes everything float on top of your stomach acid or any watery substance. So it diminishes nutrient availability and increases production speed. Don’t take it. None of our products have it.
Magnesium stearate. Something to watch for.
And then be wary of proprietary blends. That’s often a sneaky way for companies to put ingredients on the label by name but in inadequate amounts to have any meaningful difference. So they’ll say proprietary blend 3,000 milligrams, and then there’s 50 things underneath it. You don’t know what you’re getting really. And oftentimes it’s a way of pixie dusting or window dressing the formula to make it look better than it actually is.
Not as good. How about things that– we’ve got this here. Weight loss and sexual enhancement products.
Yeah. This is–
Watch for that?
This is the troublesome side of the industry. They’re often adulterated with illegal substances. The male enhancement supplements that are pretty much on every convenience store counter at the checkout routinely get recalled by the FDA for containing the ingredients in Viagra and Cialis.
So they’re essentially prescription drugs masquerading as supplements so someone can make a profit. And then the weight loss products too. If you’re that aggressive with a formula to induce weight loss, it’s often tinkering into the methamphetamine or amphetamine class of compounds. And the risk-reward ratio is just way too risky in that category of supplements.
But it’s often those are the things that people start to supplement. They’re like, I’m good enough over here. They won’t build their supplement foundation from the nutrients on up. They’ll try to go for that end outcome need. And it’s just a waste of money and too risky.
Yeah. I’m going back to the weight loss piece because you see a lot of energy drinks or something that helps metabolize and fat efficiency burner and all these other things. So we’re talking about supplements, but at the same time, when I think of these energy drinks, caffeine, so on, and so forth, thoughts around there because I know we said weight loss. And I know this is something that it promises, if you will, or it would yield this.
What’s your thoughts around some energy drinks?
Yeah. I mean, you can measure metabolic increases in the very acute time period after taking caffeine or other stimulants. But it doesn’t necessarily translate to long-term body composition change probably because you have to end up taking so much of it that it ends up disrupting your sleep cycles, and that messes up with your appetite.
So in the long term, it probably makes the process more challenging. But in the short term, yeah, you can measure little increase in metabolism. So I would say poorly conducted science.
It’s not untrue that it’s a metabolic boost, but it’s also– it is untrue that it’s an actual metabolic boost in the long term. That’s why you’re better off starting with the protein and the essential vitamins and minerals because that’s what your body needs to build protein, which makes your metabolism go faster. And the vitamins and minerals are the literal cofactors of all the metabolic processes your body is supposed to be conducting.
We’ve come full circle back to that protein, back to that first one, that protein. So one thing we just want to talk about a little bit is timing. We can address this briefly. But we, at Life Time, like our multivitamins. We have AM and PM. Are there ideal times to take supplements?
Like we cover in other areas of nutrition, what matters most is you’re getting your daily needs met any time in a 24-hour period. Our AM PM formulas for the multivitamins, they’re designed so that, yeah, you take the nutrients in the morning that help you produce energy when you’re awake during the day and then the nutrients that your body tends to use more of at night to recover and repair and recuperate.
So that’s our approach to managing what ends up being six capsules a day worth of a multivitamin. But do we know that that’s scientifically necessary? Probably not. But there’s no harm in it.
So take them, right?
Take them with food. Most nutrients are absorbed better with food. Some things like creatine ends up absorbing into the muscles where that’s the end tissue that it’s supposed to get to better after a workout.
But, again, does it matter when you take your creatine to get full saturation in your muscle fibers? It happens to absorb faster after a workout.
Got it. Great.
All right. Let’s go into the optimization of absorbing supplements. And I got a few things here in the notes as far as vitamin C helps to absorb iron. Are there any other type of pairings as far as supplementation to help absorb one another?
Typically, you wouldn’t want to take iron with calcium. If you need to take iron as a supplement, you’re deficient already. You’re probably measuring and checking on it with lab tests. So that’s one of those nutrients that’s like– usually, you’re medically managed on that one, and it’s for short term.
But calcium and iron compete for absorption in the gut. And if you need more iron, then just take it without calcium. And vitamin C does help iron absorption in the gut. So that’s one where it’s pretty important.
Calcium and magnesium also compete for absorption. However, that relationship is more nuanced. If you take them together and your body needs more magnesium than calcium, it will absorb the magnesium and leave the calcium. It’s very intelligent.
So those two have to be in balance. And you do see we have a formula to Cal-Mag. And we have calcium and magnesium in our multivitamins. But the body is smart enough to take whatever it needs and leave what it doesn’t.
I love that, that our body is like, well, no–
Yeah, it’s magic, isn’t it?
It will help us find that balance for us if we need it.
I know you mentioned it earlier too, hydration. Simply something as far as just making sure you’re staying on point with your hydration helps out with the absorption. So I know that’s another big one. So I’m going to take a sip right now.
Let’s all take a sip of water.
Anyone else have electrolytes in their water?
Dang, what were we thinking?
You’re always upping us over here.
Well, OK. So with that in mind, are there any other things that we can do in our day-to-day lifestyle that do supports like that? I know we talked hydration, proper diet, sleep. Anything else?
For exercising people, yeah, I think electrolytes. If you’re not salting your food liberally and eating a lot of potassium-rich foods, chances are, especially around this time of year– I don’t know when this is airing, but we’re in October right now. The air just dried out the last two weeks in Minnesota.
And I don’t know if you feel it catching up. Mucous membranes dry out. You got to be more on top of your water and electrolytes to just stay ahead of the curve. But, yeah, overnight, we lose about 500 milligrams of sodium just in our breath as we’re expiring humid air.
And when we exercise and we sweat or if you’re sitting in the sauna, you’re going to lose about 800 to 1,200 milligrams of sodium and other electrolytes each hour. So you need to be on top of supplementing electrolytes as well in many cases unless you’re like me and salt your food very liberally.
And actually, our listeners can hear you have a conversation about sodium in a previous episode. We’re going to link to that as well. Well, Paul, we are going on a lengthy episode here. So what else do you want to add about supplements before we sign off? Anything, any final thoughts?
I think one thing we didn’t cover– and I don’t know. We’ll figure out a way to post this. But there’s a lot of common over-the-counter and prescription medications that we know deplete certain nutrients. So if that’s you and you’re listening to this and you want to have a conversation with your doctor, we’ll provide you with some resources of which class of drugs deplete which nutrients that you should have a conversation with your doctor about.
I think it’s an important piece of the puzzle in terms of working with your healthcare providers to find health for you and not just be a passive recipient of care. Be a participant in your health journey. That’s what we’re about here at Life Time. So we’ll give you those resources.
I love that.
I think it’s time for the mic drop moment. Are you ready?
All right. This might tug a little bit at your heart a little bit here. So new father. A lot of times in the years as far as being a father, I’ve noticed that our children teach us so much more than we will ever teach them. In your first few months of being a father, what’s the thing that you enjoy the most?
Oh, just watching the lights turn on. Every day, she’s more alert. She runs the show.
We get to decide what she’s eating at least for now. Three months. And it’s not a very varied diet. But it’s up to her how much and at what time. So she runs the show.
I love it.
I love that. I love hearing– you can see the new dad pride and joy. And I know we got to hear a little bit about her earlier. Well, Paul, thank you again for coming on. I’m sure you’ll be on again.
Looking forward to it.
We know we can find your articles at experiencelife.lifetime.life and on some social media. We’ll link to all of that. So thanks again.
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The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.