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Do You Need Supplements?

By Elwin Robinson

To answer the question of whether or not a person needs supplements, first we need to answer a more fundamental question:

What Exactly is a Supplement?

The simple answer is: the way most people treat it, is it's anything that's not a food or a drug. Obviously, the lines between them are not always crystal clear. There are some things that are classed as drugs in some countries…

For instance: Benfotiamine is a form of Vitamin B1 that some countries class as drugs, but other countries class as a supplement.

Melatonin is similar.

With regard to food, it's very clear that if you've got a plate of dinner in front of you, that's food. Likewise, it's very clear if you've got a pill in your hand, that’s a supplement.

But what about if it's some Beetroot Powder or Raspberry Powder or something like that?

These things are almost foods, yet many people would consider them supplements because they come as powdered form, in a packet. In reality, the only difference between powdered Beetroot or Raspberry, and the ‘food version’ is that the powered version just had the water removed from it.

Generally when people talk about supplements they think of Pills, Capsules and maybe Powders. That's on a practical level.

However, a more accurate way to describe a supplement is to say that:

A Supplement is an Extract…

Here’s what I mean:

Everything in food is necessary to some degree. You need water, you need fiber, you need macronutrients, you need micronutrients and so on.

However, there are a lot of cases where foods are not very nutrient dense, so they lack the nutrition necessary to give people everything they need (depending on their particular health issues and circumstances).

So the beauty of a supplement is that it contains concentrated or extracted nutrients or compounds, which give you enough, or more than enough for your needs.

I have 3 ways that I like to subcategorize supplements:

The 3 Types of Supplements

  1. Building Blocks
  2. Biochemical Instructions
  3. Hormones and Neurotransmitters

Let’s talk in detail about each of those sub-categories…

A Building Block can be a nutrient that your body can't make itself:

  • These Building Blocks are classed as essential nutrients (if you don’t get enough of them in your diet, eventually you might develop deficiencies and health issues)
  • Examples include: Vitamin A, the B Vitamins, and Vitamins C, D, E and K
  • Minerals are also essential nutrients, and include: Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Zinc and Copper
  • Then we have Amino Acids - the building blocks of protein - of which at least 8 are essential (because your body doesn’t make them on its own, so you have to get them from diet and/or supplementation). Examples include: Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Tryptophan, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Histidine and Lysine
  • There’s also essential Fats, Omega 3 and Omega 6
  • Finally, we should address Carbohydrates - strictly speaking NONE are “essential”, because you can live without them, though you may find you cannot live OPTIMALLY without them. That said, the Science shows that we can convert both Fat and Protein into Glucose if necessary - proving that Carbs are not necessarily essential

OR:

A Building Block can be a nutrient that your body does make itself, but may not make enough of for optimal health:

  • Technically, the body can make these nutrients on its own. However, for a variety of reasons - including genetics, poor lifestyle choices and sickness/dis-ease, the body often doesn’t make enough of these nutrients for OPTIMAL health

Examples include: Choline, Co-Enzyme Q10, and Amino Acids such as L-Tyrosine and Glycine. Your body can produce these nutrients, yet many people feel much better when they get more of these nutrients into their system via quality supplementation

A Biochemical Instruction:

  • This classification of supplement is not something your body needs or makes itself, but it will send an instruction that tells your body to do something

For instance: Turmeric. Nobody ever died of a Turmeric Deficiency. Your body doesn’t make its own Turmeric. However, Turmeric - or its main Active Ingredient: Curcumin - can go and do very interesting and powerful things in the body, such as turning on Anti-Inflammatory Genes, and turning off Inflammatory Genes. Therefore, it’s a very popular supplement.

The same can be said for Berberine, Moringa, Resveratrol, Ashwagandha, Saffron and many other natural plant and animal extracts.

A Hormone/Neurotransmitter or a direct precursor:

  • GABA is one example. It’s an Amino Acid you can buy over the counter, but also a powerful naturally occuring sedative neurotransmitter

  • L-DOPA found naturally in the herb Mucuna, is the direct precursor of Dopamine, the ‘Feel Good’ Neurochemical that gives pleasure, motivation and mental clarity.

  • 5-HTP found naturally in a type of seed, is the direct precursor of Serotonin, the ‘Feel Good’ Neurochemical that gives a relaxed feeling of confidence and contentment

  • In some ways these supplements are Neurotransmitters - instructions for your body. On the other hand, they could be classed as “Building Blocks…the building blocks of important neurochemicals.

Overall, classifying supplements is NOT a perfect science…

There’s often overlap. Some supplements are many things.

Now we have a better understanding of what a supplement actually is, we can ask the next question:

Why Exactly Would a Person Need a Supplement in The First Place?

Well, it depends what type of supplement we’re talking about.

One perspective, which I totally understand, is this:

“If a person is eating a good, healthy, balanced diet, then they should be getting everything they need.”

For some people that is the case, but it depends on the situation. Of course, it also depends on how you define “getting what you need.”

If “getting what you need” means “getting enough to survive”, then most people in the developed world today are probably getting what they need from food.

However, if you're talking about getting enough to feel your absolute best, and also to reduce and slow down the aging process as much as possible, then I would say that most people are not getting all the nutrients they need from food…

Not even close.

If we break it down into the different types of Supplements that I talked you through in the previous section, here’s how it looks:

As far as the “Building Blocks” go - the essential and non-essential nutrients - there’s a few reasons why most people are NOT getting enough of these things…

First of all, it could be that they're not getting enough from their diet. Simple as that. There are actually many things that people think that they’re getting enough of from their diet, but they're not…

One well known example is Vitamin B12.

If you're a vegan or vegetarian, there's a greater than 50% chance that you're actually deficient in this incredibly important and essential nutrient.

Iron is another one. Iron deficiency Anemia is a debilitating and potentially fatal condition if left untreated…

These 2 nutrients are so important, so commonly deficient and the effects of becoming deficient in them so devastating, that even Medical Doctors, who usually know almost nothing about nutrition, still routinely test for them.

However, the reality is, this is true with any of the essential nutrients…if you were to become deficient enough in any of them it is very dangerous and could be fatal….although a severe condition is relatively rare in the developed world…(depending on your perspective.)

Omega 3 is another important nutrient that MDs don’t routinely test for, but do often acknowledge the importance of. Many people get some Omega 3 in their diet - maybe in the form of Plant Based Linoleic Acid. The trouble is, your body is not very good at converting Linoleic Acid into the forms it really needs like EPA and DHA. That's why a lot of the time people either eat fish or supplement with those long chain Omega 3s such as EPA and DHA.

There are other reasons why you may not be getting enough “Building Blocks”...

One is that you're just not consuming enough.

Another is that you're not absorbing enough from the food you consume (there’s definitely truth to the saying that “You are what you absorb” - not just what you EAT). In this case you're taking in enough of the nutrient either via food or with a supplement, but it's not getting into your bloodstream…

This is usually because of digestive issues.

Why?

Well, it’s a huge topic. But it could be because:

  • Your stomach isn't producing enough acid for optimal digestion

  • Your gallbladder is not releasing enough bile for optimal digestion because it's partially blocked

  • Your liver isn't producing enough bile for optimal digestion because it's overloaded or congested

  • Your Pancreas isn’t producing enough enzymes for optimal digestion to break down the food

  • Maybe you've got some kind of intestinal dysbiosis like SIBO or SIFO

As you can see - there could be lots of reasons why you're not absorbing nutrients properly, so that they go to the bloodstream.

Now, even when nutrients do successfully get into the bloodstream, it is also possible to still be deficient in the nutrient. This scenario is less common, but it's still possible: when nutrients are not getting from the bloodstream into your cells.

Again, these are all cases where supplements can be helpful, because if you're not getting enough of a particular nutrient from your diet alone, and then you take a supplement, then you take in more and that can resolve the issue, despite maybe not having resolved the digestive issue yet.

In some cases there’s a vicious circle where a nutrient deficiency can cause the digestive problems I mentioned above, and so you have to find a way of getting enough of the nutrients you need in order to resolve the problem.

If you're also not absorbing enough of a nutrient from taking a supplement, that could be because often nutrients are absorbed better with food because they've got all the co-factors that naturally come with it… but not necessarily.

In some cases, there are things in food that block the absorption of a nutrient you need. For instance, a lot of foods that are high in calcium, plant foods specifically, also contain a lot of phytates or oxalates which block the absorption of calcium. In that particular case, it may make sense to have a supplement that doesn't come with the antinutrients that stop you absorbing the nutrient.

There are certain forms of different nutrients, taking them sublingually or a liposomal version - where they’re then they're transported very easily directly into the cells. Again, potentially more easily than when we get them with food.

Those are the common issues that can create a deficiency, whether it's your digestion, not getting enough in your diet or not getting the nutrient transported successfully into your cells.

But there's another reason which is more interesting and slightly more controversial, but it’s very interesting to me, because it’s been one of the biggest breakthroughs for me in my own health and also in helping other people, so I want to share it:

You need a certain amount of different nutrients to have different enzymes working properly.

Now, when I say enzymes, most people think of digestion, but really you need to think of enzymes as being the things that cause chemical reactions in your body…creating chemicals that you need out of other chemicals.

I'll give you an example:

I was having a buildup of something called sulfite in my body, which is a ‘bad’ form of an essential mineral called sulfur. You’ve probably heard of sulfites. They use them to preserve food. Some people have issues with sulfites. Some people have allergies, including me.

But sulfites are actually something your body makes naturally when it’s converting the sulfurous part of foods into sulfate, which is what your body needs and can utilize… but it can get stuck as sulfite, because the Enzyme that converts it from sulfite into sulfate is not working optimally.

If it gets stuck as sulfite, what can be really helpful is to take more than you would otherwise need of the cofactors (essential nutrients for an enzymatic process), which kickstart the sulfite oxidase enzyme that accelerates that process of converting sulfite into sulfate. In that particular case, molybdenum is the essential mineral cofactor that would do that job specifically.

Now, in that particular case, I'd even done blood tests that told me my blood had plenty of molybdenum. So I didn't have a deficiency in it, and yet taking more of it kickstarted the process to help my body deal with the excess sulfites, converting them from something toxic into the essential mineral: sulfate..

I just had a similar experience with something else called thiamine, which is Vitamin B1. It's actually not very easy to get an optimal amount of Vitamin B1 from diet alone. Especially if you're eating healthily, because governments mandated it to be added to many fortified foods when they realized, around a century ago, how common a deficiency was in the population. (Same reason they made it illegal not to add Iodine, another essential mineral, to table salt). If you eat processed foods, you're ironically less likely to become deficient in thiamine than if you eat a whole foods diet, unless you really know what you're doing and you're eating the right way.

Taking a larger than usual amount of Vitamin B1 can kickstart your mitochondria and that will kickstart cellular energy production if that has slowed down for whatever reason - because of toxicity, because of lack of some other nutrient, because of stress and lack of sleep, all these kinds of things. I’m not recommending you do this without proper guidance, but it’s another example of using more than you would seem to need actually being very beneficial. Dr Derek Lonsdale first suggested the validity of this approach.

The idea is that you take a big dose of thiamine, even though you're not deficient in it, because it'll kickstart that enzyme and get everything working properly. In my case, I felt an increase in energy every time that I had it. Nowadays I don’t actually take a large amount of it anymore, but it got that process working.

Do You Need to Take Tests to Determine What Supplements to Take?

It depends on the situation...

In terms of not getting enough of a specific nutrient from your diet, or not absorbing enough because of digestion issues, you can usually work that out with a blood test.

Firstly, you can just do a standard blood test or get the blood test results from your doctor and investigate if any issues may be correlated with potential nutritional deficiencies. For instance, if thyroid function is low, then you might consider the fact that you may be low in selenium. Or iodine. Or L-tyrosine. If you have issues with red blood cells, some kind of anemia, you may possibly need more B Vitamins, Iron, or Copper.

You can either come from that direction or you can test for the actual nutrients to see what you have less than optimal amounts of. You can do a comprehensive nutrient panel, which I like to do periodically, that will tell you what level you have of those things in your blood. Now, that's the standard test, and it’s usually enough in most cases.

But then if you can get a more advanced test - such as the Genova Diagnostics NutrEval. They present the results in a very user-friendly way. They will also measure based on metabolites. For instance, vitamin B12 is one that famously might be showing up as sufficient in your blood test results, yet you can have symptoms of a lack of it, like pernicious anemia or macrocytic anemia or neurological issues.

In that case, it can be much more useful to look at your levels of methylmalonic acid and see if that is outside of the range of what you want it to be. They’ll be able to see that: because you have an abnormal level of that metabolite, that shows that you don't have the nutrient that prevents that abnormal level, if that makes sense. That's the other way that you can tell if you may benefit from more of it, in the case of building blocks.

The cheapest way, but probably least reliable, is to look at what food you’re taking in, and look at a comprehensive nutrition table at what nutrients it has, and see if you are meeting at least your RDI of every essential nutrient. This is not very reliable because it doesn’t account for digestion or absorption issues, but even doing this I never meet anyone consuming over 100% RDI of every nutrient they need, purely from food….I would love to meet someone who does!

How About Biochemical Instructions?

Why would you need these?

Well, you might take it to make up for a deficiency in that instruction.

My favorite examples are peptides.

Peptides are basically strings of up to 50 amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. They are little chemical instructions, and they go in and basically tell your genes to do something or they tell your enzymes to do something. They “switch the switch”, they methylate the gene or demethylate it, or they tell an enzyme to increase their action or to downregulate.

The most famous peptide, and the first one to be discovered, is insulin. It's not a nutrient, it's an example of an instruction. The instruction being to clear the glucose away from the blood, which the body then does.

When you don't have enough of those peptides, things don't function properly. The insulin one is obviously well known, and if your body stops being able to make insulin, you can die fairly quickly, so that's obviously a very serious medical issue.

However, there's also the subclinical, submedical - not bad enough for the medical industry to care about it - type of deficiency.

Let’s Talk About The Thymus…

The thymus is a gland that sits just on top of the heart. It's a key part of the whole immune system.

The immune system is extremely important to your health.

For most people, their thymus is strong and healthy up until the age of around 30. You may have observed that, for many people, around age 30, a lot of things start to go downhill. Your thymus basically shrivels up and the efficiency of what it does, and how well it works goes way down.

One of the main things that the thymus does is produce these peptides that keep your immune system working properly.

So how do you deal with this issue? How do you maintain a strong and fully functioning immune system once you’re past 30?

Well if you take certain Peptides - such as Thymosin Alpha 1 or TB 500, you can actually make up for the lack of the ability of the Thymus to make enough of these important peptides. This is like taking insulin if your pancreas is not able to make enough…it’s not great that you have to, but you will feel way better if you do.

Unfortunately these peptides are expensive, usually have to be prescribed (depending where you live) and, like insulin, have to be regularly injected. This puts them out of the reach of many people, currently.

Still, we could say the “food” your immune system needs is Peptides - and we give it that food via supplementation with things like Thymosin Alpha 1 and TB 500.

Of course, a second best option is to support the immune system in other ways…including lifestyle, herbs and giving it the essential building blocks it needs, like Zinc and Vitamin D3.

How About Hormones?

If some people are not making enough Testosterone anymore, they take Testosterone.

If they’re not making enough Progesterone, they take that.

Same goes for Estrogen, Thyroid Hormone, Growth Hormone and so on.

The production of all of these hormones starts to go downhill from around the age of 30. But, you can rectify the situation by supplementing with the appropriate biochemical instructions…or their precursors, as we discussed earlier.

Earlier we talked about how these biochemical instructions can turn on or downregulate an enzyme, and then there's things that up or downregulate gene expression.

There's also things that activate or block a receptor.

I'll give you an example of this in my own life…

Recently, I realized that my endorphins were low.

How did I realize that?

Well, in this case I actually didn't do a blood test.

I just realized that I was overly sensitive to pain, yet I didn’t used to be. Something had changed.

Plus, there were some other signs of low endorphins, like being overly emotional - not overly emotional as in constantly expressing strong emotions - more like taking things too seriously and getting upset too easily.

People who have high levels of endorphins don't get upset easily. Why would they? They're euphoric. If you're filled with euphoric blissful feelings, you don't get upset about little things.

In this case, I'd heard all the standard advice about things that increase endorphins, like laughter, exercise and sex and all the rest of it.

And all those things are great, but they don't last for that long. So I dug deeper into it - looking for a way to increase my endorphins in a way that’d last, not just for 20, 30 or 60 minutes.

Some of the most important endorphins in this regard are called enkephalins and enkephalins require the building blocks methionine and leucine, which are 2 essential amino acids.

First of all, I made sure I had these 2 amino acids in my diet - the building blocks.

Next, I had to make sure I didn’t have too much of the enzyme that breaks down the enkephalin prematurely. To do that, I used D-Phenylalanine - a specific form of this essential amino acid that basically blocks the enzyme that breaks down that enkephalin…enkephalinase.

Does that make sense? It ‘blocks’ or reduces the activity of the enzyme that breaks down the Endorphins that make you feel good, and more emotionally resilient.

None of this is a habit forming thing. You actually take it for a while and then your body builds those up and you don't need it anymore. But it’s an example of something that blocked the activity of something, which was breaking down something that I wanted.

People also do that with hormones. Various herbs and other supplements work like this. Chrysin, for example, extracted from cruciferous vegetables, reduces the breakdown of other hormones, like testosterone into Estrogen…which may be appropriate if you have too much estrogen and not enough testosterone.

Ashwagandha reduces the Stress Hormone Cortisol, and also the potentially troublesome hormone prolactin…which some consider the true opposite to testosterone, not estrogen.

Berberine increases the receptors sensitivity to insulin, which can be excellent in several ways: it can lower insulin resistance, and by doing so, it increases the ability of insulin to lower blood sugar, which is good, and then lowers how much insulin is required to be in the bloodstream, which is also good, as too much insulin is almost as bad as too high blood sugar.

Again, this is where the line between supplements and drugs is often not actually clear. One country may say something is a drug, another a supplement. And it’s more complicated than that, because some things that are manufactured by bacteria that act on receptors and gene expression enzymes are classified as drugs, like Rapamycin, and some of them are classified as supplements, like Pylopass®

Let’s Take a Look at The Last Types of Supplements…

There are also supplements that:

  • Assist in the transport of toxins out of the body

  • Increase or reduce the activity of a certain organism within you

Charcoal is an example of a supplement that helps to transport toxins out of you. It’s a binder. If you have food poisoning, it can help.

It binds to lipopolysaccharide, the stuff created by bad bacteria, which is the thing that actually causes you to suffer, and it holds onto it like a magnet and transports it out of your body. Generally that makes you feel better, especially in acute cases, but also sometimes in cases of chronic toxicity too.

Psyllium, a highly absorbent form of fiber, is often used to push toxins through and out of your body

Prebiotics are an example of a supplement that increases or reduces the activity of a certain organism within you. Prebiotics feed the good organisms.

Garlic, or garlic oil reduce the bad organisms.

These are also usually classed as supplements, although I personally would class garlic, a common culinary herb and sometimes a supplement, as an antibiotic, based on its action.

If Someone Eats a Healthy, Balanced Diet - Made Up Mostly of Whole Foods - Why Is It That Most of The Time They Still Need Supplements to Optimize?

A lot of problems come down to agriculture and modern farming techniques.

Around about 100 years ago it was discovered that they could make plants grow with just 3 minerals. Nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus (NPK).

With just those 3 minerals a plant will grow big, it’ll grow quickly, it’ll create a good yield to make the farmer money.

The problem is…

Plants need a hell of a lot more than just NPK in order to be healthy.

They also need calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and a lot of the nutrients that human beings need. Yet plants will grow without them. They'll survive and they'll produce a decent yield without all these nutrients.

To maximize yield from whatever space they have, they pump the plants full of NPK. They also use pesticides and chemicals to kill any organisms that might otherwise destroy the plants.

The trouble is, a plant needs many other micronutrients - including the ones I just mentioned - in order to not only survive and grow, but to be strong and healthy. And also to be strong enough to protect themselves from insects and mold and all the other things that kill a plant. But instead of giving them those nutrients that they need, they just give them NPK and then they give them fungicides, pesticides, herbicides and all the rest of it to kill off anything else.

So under modern non-organic agricultural practices these plants are kept alive and forced to grow a large yield quickly, in this extremely artificial environment where they're kept alive despite being malnourished and weak (because they’re only getting NPK and they're lacking all the other nutrients that they need).

Then these plants are either fed to you and me, or they’re fed to the animals that you and me eat (or consume the milk or eggs of).

Bottom line?

It’s modern agriculture that has led to the situation where:

Even if you eat what most people would consider a “healthy, balanced diet” - you will almost certainly still need supplements (perhaps not in order to merely survive today, but certainly to THRIVE and look, feel and perform at your best for decades to come).

Of course, there are other factors too...

Genetics being one. There used to be dozens of varieties of whatever plant you care to name: carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and so on. Yet now, 90% of it is all just one variety - the one that produces the most yield, but isn't necessarily the most flavorful, the most colorful or most nutrient dense.

The other part of it is that plants are often harvested before they're actually ready. For instance, in the case of fruits and vegetables they’re harvested way before they’re ripe, and then they’re stored for a long period of time, with gasses that keep them from rotting. Sounds okay in theory, but what it means is:

They're not in an optimal state when you or I, or our kids, eat them.

So even the stuff most people think is healthy - like fruit and veg - is often only okay. It’s not as healthy and nutrient dense as most people would like to believe. Some studies show that to get the same amount of nutrition you’d have gotten from a tomato 100 years ago, you’d need to eat 9 or 10 tomatoes today! In other words: the nutrients in the average tomato have DECREASED by 90% or so (and it’s not just tomatoes - it’s most of the fruit and veg we eat).

Of course, many people aren’t that well educated on nutrition, and they think that many processed foods - sold in packets, tins and cans - are healthy. Things like Potato Chips, frozen Pizzas, Chicken Drumsticks and God knows what else. These foods are not only low in many of the essential building blocks we’ve discussed, but they also add a further toxic burden to your system, because they’ve had a ton of artificial preservatives added to prevent them from rotting. And some of those preservatives actually DEGRADE what little nutrition the food actually had in it.

In fact, a lot of those nutrients, especially the water soluble vitamins - really degrade over time. Water and oxygen exposure only make things worse.

The Problem with What Most People Consider a “Healthy, Balanced Diet” (and Why Supplementation is Still Necessary)

The plants and the animals that we eventually eat are not getting the nutrients that they need. Therefore, nor are we.

Also, our nutritional needs have INCREASED. Because not only are the plants raised in these extremely artificial environments, but so are we. I don't wish to go back hundreds of years, to where we were all living without electricity, heating, air conditioning, cars and all the other modern technologies - I think all that stuff's great.

Yet the reality is all of that stuff is stressful and taxing for the body

  • The artificial lighting that’s bad for your eyes, and hurts your ability to sleep optimally, whether on your ceiling or the devices we stare at

  • The artificial heating that maybe dries you out

  • The chemicals in the air we breathe, especially traffic fumes or if you live in the city or near industry

  • The cleaning stuff - which of course has some benefits, but has some other detriments

  • The stuff they put in the water - or, if you don't drink tap water, the plastic that leaches into it from bottled water, or the chemicals they use to clean glass bottles

  • Lack of sunlight and healthy infrared light

Not all of the chemicals in the environment and that we put on our skin are bad. But they all increase our nutrition demands. And when demand goes up, then supply has to go up as well.

A good example is Magnesium.

This is a generalization, but overall, the more stress we have, the more magnesium we need to deal with that stress.

When we have more stress than ever before as a species, but we have less magnesium than ever before because all our food is low in it, that explains why I believe magnesium is now the most popular mineral supplement in the world, recently overtaking calcium.

So when the purists ask me, "Well, why do we need that? Why can't we just get it from food?" … Less supply, more demand. That's the simple answer.

Next question:

With All This Additional Stress, How Can You Determine Whether or Not You Actually Need a Supplement?

It’s not always easy.

You have to think about it on a case by case basis.

On a simple level, you could say:

"I'll take a Multivitamin and Multimineral formula. I'll take an Omega 3 supplement if I don't like to eat fish on at least a semi-regular basis, with high levels of EPA and DHA, and I’ll take a Magnesium supplement, and I'll hope for the best."

In a lot of cases, that might be fine. It all depends where you're coming from.

Of course, it partly depends on what your standard is. Our mission at Feel Younger is that you're not just fine. You're not just getting by and doing okay. You're not just avoiding the doctor.

Instead, you're actually doing great, you’re thriving, not just surviving. Beyond that, you're feeling younger as the years go on, as has happened to me. I feel better now at 42 than I did when I was 25.

Sure, I've made many, many mistakes along the way, but ultimately what I've done has led me to feeling better than I did before. And that’s not what happens to the average person - they tend to feel worse over time, especially from around age 30 onwards (for reasons discussed earlier).

And when I say I feel better, it’s actually measurable

  • I have more energy

  • I sleep better

  • I have more strength

  • I have more muscle mass and less body fat

  • My brain works better (in terms of memory, clarity, focus, attention span and so on)

  • And probably most importantly, I feel a lot more happy and able to relax and enjoy life

Is this common? Is this normal? No.

It's not extremely rare either, I acknowledge that. But it's not normal. Normally, we decline after age 30 especially.

The reason it's not normal (to feel better as you get older) is because most people are maybe just doing enough to be okay, or to be fine, or to be okay for their age.

Obviously everything depends on your goals. Do you want to feel younger and younger as you get older? Well, then the pressure is on YOU to determine what to DO and NOT DO to make sure you keep feeling better as the years go by, and not worse.

Age Can Be a Huge Factor…

Generally, if you're younger, then you probably don't have as much money as older folks. But, on the positive side you might have more time to take care of yourself, and you might have more hope, focus, discipline, and less chance of giving up on life.

Lifestyle stuff might be a better choice than supplementation at that time. If you're 25, you want to keep yourself strong and healthy, but if you're broke or you've hardly got any money, maybe just get a multivitamin, maybe a couple of things you think are relevant for you with whatever issues you do already have, but otherwise work more on lifestyle stuff…as you probably have more time and energy.

But if for instance, you’re 55, and a bit more financially free, and you're getting a little bit older, you're a little bit more advanced in your profession, you're a little bit more financially secure then I would say supplements should be a key part of your lifestyle (if you’re really serious about optimizing your health, performance and quality of life).

However, at that kind of age you're also likely a little bit more set in your ways. So making a big lifestyle change, such as starting an exercise regime, can feel like more of a challenge than it would've done 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

Likewise, changing your sleeping habits might feel a little bit more of a challenge than it might have done 20, 30, 40 years ago.

In this case supplements can seem more of an appealing option. And I really, really believe in data, testing and facts.

Whether that's doing blood tests to see what important nutrients are there in your system in the right amounts, and which ones aren’t…

Or urine tests that show a lot of these metabolites that I talked about, or also some of these nutrients like amino acid, you can get a good idea of your deficiencies.

As far as testing goes, from my perspective, with the benefit of hindsight, I wish that I’d focused more on building blocks and I wish I'd focused more on testing earlier.

I've spent so much time, effort and money doing exercises, practices, seeing practitioners, therapists, doctors, medical people (and also buying supplements, but more of the biochemical instruction type that are often interesting and can be great).

However, if I'd have just worked out which building blocks I didn't have enough of and given myself enough of those, or even more than enough, I’d have felt much better, much sooner (note: you have to be careful with “more than enough”, because more than enough can be as bad as not enough, with certain nutrients).

How do you know how much is not enough… or too much?

Ideally you test.

However, if you really can't afford to test, then I would break it down into what's safe…

In the case of some of the vitamins, they have pretty much no upper limit…

For instance, pretty much everyone can take a B Complex. I find a lot of the time what people are missing is one or more of the B vitamins. It's very cheap to get a good quality one. They usually have way more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

Usually that's plenty, and it is usually safe because - with a couple of exceptions - with the B vitamins you can take at least 10 or even sometimes 1000 times the recommended daily balance, and it may be a waste of money, it may be a little bit of a stress for your body to have to then excrete it, but it's not going to do any harm.

As far as any doctor's going to be concerned, it's nothing. It's completely safe, completely harmless. That's the case with B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. .

With Vitamin C the RDA is around 50 milligrams. It's very unusual that 1,000 milligrams a day is ever going to cause any problem for anyone, but if you take this much then you're going to get more than enough.

The fat soluble vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, E and K. Those are a little bit trickier because they are fat soluble and not water soluble. Water soluble basically means even if you take 1,000 times as much vitamin B12 as recommended (so 1000mcg), by the next day the excess is gone (because it's water soluble, your body just flushes out any that it doesn't need).

With fat soluble Vitamins, the potential danger is that they can build up to excessive levels over time. With Vitamins A, D, E, and K it can build up, and so that can be tricky if you have too much, so then you have to have a moderate amount. I'm not going to give all the recommendations. It does depend a lot on the individual, their genetics, their diet, their lifestyle, their health issues and so on. Certainly our Multivitamin has levels that are safe for even very long term use, for this reason. It’s always best to test yourself regularly if you take large amounts, especially of Vitamins D and A.

In the case of the minerals, I find that magnesium is often lacking. I find that zinc is often lacking in men and vegetarians. I find that iron is often lacking in women and vegetarians. I find that copper is often lacking in both men and women…and carnivores, unless they eat liver. I find that iodine is often lacking, especially in women. I find that magnesium is often lacking in everyone, but really especially people who struggle with stress or with sleep, which is MOST people.

How about Amino Acids?

I often find people who lack energy, clarity, drive and motivation could do with some L-Tyrosine, for instance.

People who find it hard to relax or be happy could often do well with at least a little bit more of L-Trytophan.

All these things can be found in food, so if you don't want to take supplements, you can just look for which foods have higher amounts of these things.

In the case of people who really struggle to put on any muscle, the Branch Chain Amino Acids and/or Creatine can be good.

For people with immune systems that are struggling, especially with some viral infections L-lysine can be good.

For people who have issues of high blood pressure and poor circulation, L-Arginine can be good.

All the amino acids do a LOT more than what I'm sharing here, these are all just examples.

I hope at some point we can find a way to make it easier, but it's tricky if you're not able to spend any money on testing. And if that’s the case, then you've got to do the research and actually look into these various nutrients to see if you may benefit from them or not.

On the other hand, if you're able to spend a few hundred dollars on testing periodically - whether it's every three months, six months, a year, whatever - doing that will minimize a lot of the work of having to research and guess what you may benefit from.

What Should I Look For When Buying Supplements?

A lot of it comes down to reputation.

I would certainly say that if you haven't heard of the company before then you need to do a little bit more research. Of course, even the biggest supplement companies have sometimes been found to not be doing what they're supposed to do.

It depends on what level you're looking at. Let me break it down a little bit…

An obvious thing to consider is the PURITY of the supplements you’re considering taking. You don’t want to consume anything that has anything toxic - and detrimental to your health - in it. Yet, unfortunately, many supplements do.

Generally, if you're dealing with a real company - by which I mean not just finding a supplement on Amazon or something like that - almost everyone manufactures to GMP standards (meaning that they're unlikely to have high levels of toxicity in them).

As someone who owns supplement companies, you might think I'd love to scare you into believing every company out there is producing supplements that are going to kill you…except me. But that's just not true. Most of us follow GMP Standards.

It's safe or safe enough. Safe in this context meaning:

Not containing heavy metals, bacteria, molds etc or anything else that’s harmful to the human organism.

But there's another consideration…

You can look at how many fillers and excipients they have in there. Generally, the less, the better.

Sometimes however, the unfortunate truth is that there’s a tradeoff to be made. Sometimes a filler or excipient is necessary, in order to get a certain nutrient. So having fillers or excipients in a supplement is by no means a guaranteed sign of a bad company. It could just be a sign that there's no other choice with that particular nutrient.

One thing to definitely look out for is whether or not the company has good quality versions of the particular nutrients you’re looking at.

For instance:

We’ve already mentioned Vitamin B12 a few times. Many people - especially vegans and vegetarians - tend to benefit from supplementing with it.

But, not all B12 is created equal.

The cheapest form of that is called cyanocobalamin. It’s ok, but there's really no reason to take cyanocobalamin other than that it's the cheapest type.

Better forms of vitamin B12 are methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin, all which have their own specific benefit.

Methylcobalamin gives you a methyl group that supports your body’s methylation systems. It's the active form of B12.

Hydroxycobalamin can be better for people who struggle with taking methyl groups… It does happen occasionally.

Adenocobalamin is better for specifically the energy production element of Vitamin B12.

Again, it comes down to doing a bit of research, and learning what are the good forms of the various nutrients. Sure, this takes time. But it’s like many things in life - you get out what you put in.

Are There Some Forms of Nutrients that Our Bodies Can’t Readily Absorb?

Yes.

And it’s not always easy to know what these forms of nutrients are - but one thing is for sure - you don’t want to take them (because, at best, it’s a waste of money. At worst, they can be difficult for your body to process and get rid of).

Honestly, It's not always easy to figure out what forms of nutrients are NOT easily absorbed - it’s taken me A TON of research to figure it out.

The good news is: we’ve done that research so you don’t have to. We’ll share it, right here on the Feel Younger site. There’ll be a comprehensive guide, provided free of charge, coming sometime in the future.

Right now, Google is probably your best bet.

If you’re thinking of taking a nutrient, go to Google and search: Best Form of INSERT NUTRIENT NAME

You’ll get a lot of information this way.

The only downside is that these days Google favors mainstream corporate websites over anything “natural or alternative” - so the information you get can be incomplete and/or biased.

So you might also like to try the same search on a different search engine. DuckDuckGo would be my choice - because you’ll get to see what non-corporate websites are saying.

Ultimately though, here’s the truth of it:

With most nutrients and supplements there is a lot of debate about what the best version is, but there aren’t many debates about what the rubbish forms are. So avoiding taking the worst forms of a given nutrient/supplement isn’t that difficult - just a bit of research (maybe just one Google Search, and the top result within that search) should give you the answers.

It Goes without Saying that Good Companies Should Produce Good Supplements - but How Do You Find The Very Best Companies Out There? (Not Just The Good Ones - The GREAT Ones)...

Over the years I’ve spent probably more money on supplements than 99% of people out there (maybe 99.99%).

I’ve tested literally many 100s of supplement companies over the years - some good, some great, some poor, some terrible.

As a result, I’ve kind of developed an “inner radar” that lets me figure out the quality of a company, and really find the very BEST ones. Of course, it’s taken me 20 years to do this!

Here’s what I like to do:

I look to see what the owners and what the heads of the company have to say. And sadly, for the vast majority of companies, that's absolutely nothing at all.

I've been in this business for almost 15 years now, and as a results have met many, many supplement business owners, and I can tell you the vast majority of companies out there are run by people who do not care at all about the customers. Not all of them, but most.

They do not care about supplements! Usually they don't take them themselves…not only do they not take their own supplements, they don’t take any at all. Most of them are very unhealthy and do very little for their health. They know nothing about supplements…or health. It’s just a business to them. They'll hire someone to formulate it who is at best an ‘expert’, but more likely they're going to formulate it based on what's cheap or what they think is going to appeal to people based on whatever's trendy and in fashion at the moment.

I personally have no desire to be on a public platform like this. I did it at the beginning of my career and then I stopped. I don't particularly have a desire to have attention. I'm perfectly content being behind the scenes, as I was for the last 7 years in business before founding Feel Younger, Genetic Insights and the Rejuvenate Podcast.

However, one of the reasons I’m doing podcasts and articles and providing content for our customers is that I’d feel like a hypocrite if I didn't, because this is how I judge other companies! (Of course it’s also as I want to bring something to the world that I know will help, that I don’t see anyone else doing.)

Anyway: first thing I’d evaluate is: What’s the owner saying? What are the heads of the company saying?

If the answer is NOTHING - it’s usually a bad sign.

If you’re considering buying supplements from a company, just ask yourself this question:

Do the people running the company and formulating the products actually know what they're talking about?

Obviously you can judge me as you’re reading this. But, hopefully, it comes across that I genuinely care about:

  • Our Supplements
  • Our Customers

    And that:

  • I know what I’m talking about

With the vast majority of companies, NONE of the above is true!

Over the years I’ve had my share of health challenges, probably beginning as soon as I was born. Part of the reason for this is Genetics: my mother died of Cancer at 57 and my Dad had Chronic Fatigue most his adult life - so I don’t have the strongest genetics, and understanding my genetics has been a huge key to feeling better in my 40s than I ever have…which is why I also founded Genetic Insights.

But what’s helped me the most, supplement wise, is using supplements from companies where:

The owner, or heads of the company, seem to really care about science, testing, different nutrients, synergy of nutrients, mechanisms of action, quality, making their own formulations and so on.

Also - great customer service is usually a good sign too. The best companies tend to have it (though not always). The bad companies never do.

Say you’ve found a company you’re happy to buy from - because they seem like they produce top notch supplements, at a price you’re happy with - let’s now talk a little bit about…

When’s the Best Time to Take Supplements?

Fat soluble nutrients - including Omega 3s and Vitamins A, D3, E and K - are best taken and absorbed with food, specifically a food or meal that contains some fat.

most nutrients are technically best absorbed if taken away from food, because they’re not then competing for absorption with the many other nutrients in food.

That said, I actually take most of my supplements with food. Here’s why…

I personally take supplements with food unless it is definitely going to absorb and work better taken away from food. The reason why I do that is because one of the objections that's made towards supplements is true… which is that if you take an isolated nutrient - like Copper or Magnesium or Vitamin A or whatever - away from all the other things that nutrient would naturally come with in a plant or animal food, your body is going to have a harder time working out WHAT it is, and HOW to absorb it.

My thinking is:

If I take it with food, sure, there is the chance that it's going to be less well absorbed because it's mixed in with everything else, but it's definitely going to be less of a strain on the body that’s it’s not confused by this unnaturally isolated nutrient, and, in my experience, it actually is absorbed better that way.

There are definitely some supplements, however, that are better taken away from food. Generally, anything that is modifying how you feel. Basically any of the Amino Acids are better off taken away from food. They'll definitely be absorbed better that way.

Anything that you're taking for detoxification purposes is usually going to be more effectively taken away from food because you don't want it binding up your nutrients. You want it binding up the toxins. Or, if it’s not a binder, you don’t want the excretion of toxins to interfere with the digestion of food, usually.

Then of course there's some things you might want to take first thing in the morning. I personally don't eat as soon as I wake up. I wait an hour or so at least. So I have that hour to take certain supplements (before I eat breakfast).

Then anything you want to take at night to help you sleep or to relax, again, you're going to take that away from food. This is just from a practical point of view, because you shouldn't be eating just before you fall asleep (at least not in most cases anyway).

Of course, this is not clear cut. It’s not 100% black and white.

It’d be easier if it were - but I want to share the truth with you, and it’s not.

For instance:

If you eat a big meal late at night for some reason, and you want to take your sleep supplement with it, is that okay? I would say that’s fine. Is it okay to take an amino acid that's a precursor to a neurotransmitter, like Tyrosine or Tryptophan with food? Yeah. It's okay. It just won't be absorbed as well.

In general I'd say take a supplement with food unless you know a good reason not to.

Shouldn’t We Just Be Getting All The Nutrients We need from Whole Foods, Instead of Isolated Nutrients in Supplemental Form?

Yes, it would be best, if we could get enough nutrients to maintain optimal health and minimize the aging process, from whole foods.

Maybe you are if you have an excellent diet, excellent digestion, your stress levels are low, you sleep really well, and your overall demand for nutrients is relatively conservative.

If that is YOU, then go for it. You might be able to get all you need from diet alone.

If you're questioning: “well. how would I know?” I’d say: great question!

Ideally test. You generally do a test for all the basics, the red blood cell count, the white blood cell count, the main hormones, cholesterol, CRP (inflammation), liver function, kidney function, thyroid function, blood sugar, Iron, B12 and folate, and ideally Vitamin D3 and some other nutrients too. All the usual suspects.

You can get that done often privately for $100-200, something like that. It doesn't necessarily need to be expensive. And at least if you do that, you can then see if there's anything out of range that may indicate that you're lacking some kind of nutrient.

Is my cortisol too high?

Have I got anemia of some kind or another?

Do I need maybe iron B12, folate?

Are my thyroid hormones in Optimal ranges?

Do I have systemic inflammation?

Are my liver or kidneys struggling?

Has my blood sugar been too high in the last few months? (HbA1c)

You can do some of that even with the most simple test, but more testing, to some degree, is better. Of course, none of these issues are necessarily cause by a nutrient deficiency…but they could be. And none of them will necessarily be helped by other kinds of supplements either, what I call the Biochemical Instructions, like herbs…but they might be.

Ideally, you’d also get one of the more comprehensive nutritional evaluations, as we talked about earlier in this article. That way you’d have a much better idea if you were getting all the nutrients you need from foods.

To me, the best of both worlds is this: if you have the supplements you do take with your meal, as I do, then you're also having it with all the stuff that comes with real food.

I feel like that's not as good as getting it all from the food you eat, but, if it’s necessary or optimal to add supplements, then it’s the next best thing.

Some People Say Supplements Do Nothing More Than Make Their Expensive Urine - Is There Any Truth to This?

Well, if you take a B Complex, it does often turn your urine bright yellow. That is certainly true. That’s the Riboflavin that does that…Vitamin B2. By the way, the fact this happens shows that you are at least digesting and absorbing that supplement…otherwise it would turn your feces yellow, not your urine. For it to make your urine yellow, that shows it was absorbed in the small intestine, transported to the liver for processing, and the excess was excreted by your kidneys and bladder…i.e. It was digested and absorbed. What you’re seeing in the urine is just the excess.

If someone thinks that’s ALL that’s happening when you take supplements, that it’s just going straight out, I jokingly say ‘try taking 1,000 milligrams of Niacin to see what happens.’

Actually, DON’T do that by the way - but what will happen to most people (tolerance varies widely) is MASSIVE Vasodilation - meaning: you’ll go red and itchy and your blood pressure will go right down temporarily. Obviously not a good thing in terms of how it makes you feel. Though it is good in some ways - some people do it to detoxify.

It's even recommended by some medical doctors and practitioners because it can reduce cholesterol, it opens up the capillaries, it can reduce high blood pressure, and so on.

I just gave it as an example because you can obviously really feel it, actually way too much, in an uncomfortable way.

Another example: melatonin. Take 10 milligrams of melatonin, say a sublingual or even a normal one, and then tell me you don't feel at least a bit sleepy 30 minutes later. You almost certainly will (and that’s why melatonin is such a common nutrient in supplement formulas for sleep).

There are loads of examples. Supplements are obviously absorbed if they’re needed. With a few exceptions, your body is very capable of taking what it needs and excreting the excess…just as it does with the foods you eat.

The problem is most people can't feel them, especially if you're not very sensitive to things going on inside your body, but with a few of them you can, so take the ones that you can really feel.

Even caffeine is a good example. Again, I wouldn't recommend this either, but take 200 milligrams of caffeine in a capsule, see if you feel it or not. If you feel it, it’s because it’s absorbed.

Of course, this brings us back to the great thing about blood tests…

If your blood tests commonly show that you're lacking iron or B12 or some other nutrient, take the supplement. Simple.

In the case of iron, sometimes it is hard for your body to absorb in supplement form. It's actually one of the hardest to absorb. I know some people who've taken large amounts of iron or large amounts of vitamin D and they do a blood test a month or two later, and their levels are no different. These are the people who are really struggling to absorb those nutrients, and sometimes they need to try a different form, and sometimes they need to look to the cofactors that will help them better absorb those nutrients

If You Take a Nutrient that Your Body Makes Naturally - Like Melatonin - is There a Danger of Downregulation?

This is a tricky question, but the general answer is that YES, if you take a nutrient or biochemical that your body makes on its own, your body can start producing less of that nutrient naturally.

Insulin is a good example…

If you take insulin, will your Pancreas likely produce LESS on its own? Almost certainly. But you need insulin, so if your body isn’t producing enough or any of it, you may have to take it to get your levels up.(not medical advice, just stating a hopefully obvious fact…if you need insulin, you need it…you can’t afford to be a purist while your blood sugar is rocketing up to dangerous levels!)

Melatonin is another example…

In a perfect world, you’d produce enough Melatonin yourself, and you’d sleep like a baby every night. But, many people are deficient in melatonin, and it hurts their sleep quality - so they have a lot to gain by taking melatonin in supplement form. But could this lead to downregulation issues? Yes, absolutely.

This is why I'm more of a fan of building blocks than giving your body whole hormones…at least initially, in many cases. If you give your body L-tryptophan - which you can get in food, but you can also supplement - that's one of the eight essential amino acids that your body needs. Your body turns L-tryptophan into 5-HTP… it turns it from 5-HTP into serotonin… from serotonin into melatonin… and melatonin can even turn it into DMT (which is, in theory at least, the thing that makes you dream while you sleep).

Most of those steps are complicated chemical processes that require enzymatic reactions every step of the way, and usually certain co-factors. It's all very complicated, but this is the advantage of giving your body the correct building blocks, in theory, it can then make as much as it wants of each of the downstream metabolites.

If you take the essential building block, it's not going to start producing less of the downstream metabolite (in this case melatonin) because you have more building blocks (in this case, tryptophan). That's why that's always the safer approach.

But some people - for whatever reason - are not able to convert that tryptophan into melatonin (and they sleep badly as a result). So still for them taking melatonin may be a benefit overall. In fact, if they go from horrible, broken sleep - and feeling tired and exhausted all the time - to deep, uninterrupted sleep, and feeling energized throughout the day, then it can totally transform their lives.

I would say ‘downregulation is not ideal, this is true, but chronic sleep deprivation can be a waking nightmare…in this case we have to take the lesser of two evils.’

And anyway, in the case of melatonin, there is no consensus, I’ve seen studies that say that even large amounts taken over long periods do not reduce endogenous production, although, intuitively, I would expect that it would.

Another example:

If you have low testosterone and you start injecting it, that can transform your life.

If you're really low on progesterone, and you start putting the cream on, that can transform your life.

If you’re low in thyroxine, and you start taking this in capsules, your whole world can change.

Does it set up a situation where you may be dependent on it for the rest of your life?

In the case of testosterone injections, yeah. That's really the objection to them and why I didn’t do it, even a few years ago when my testosterone was low and it was negatively impacting my life. Well, I’ve tested, and my testosterone has now more than recovered, in fact in my last test it was just above the reference range! So this is why I would think very carefully about doing TRT in the future, even if I did have low testosterone, because I don't like the idea of being dependent on something for the rest of my life. But sometimes you can be a bit of a purist and it can be a bad decision.

Ultimately you have to make informed choices…

Low Testosterone can make you feel terrible. Same goes for low melatonin.

So you might have to ask yourself if you want to: feel TERRIBLE for the rest of your life, or take something that you become dependent on, but then actually feel good? It’s not a great position to be in, but sometimes you have to make these decisions.

A better option is to stimulate that nutrient/hormone with all the right techniques and strategies.

For instance, in the case of melatonin:

  • I'll keep my bedroom much cooler

  • I'll keep it dark

  • I'll keep it well ventilated

  • I'll get bright light in the morning

  • I'll exercise during the day

  • I'll wear those UVEX red light glasses at night

  • I'll do all the other stuff to try and make melatonin stimulate naturally

And often this stuff works. Then you don’t need to deal with downregulation and dependency issues. But it varies from nutrient to nutrient, and person to person.

Are Their Any Issues with Taking Supplements if You’re Already on Pharmaceutical Medications?

The simple answer here is that if you’re on medications for a particular illness or disease, you should always check with your Doctor before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle…and that definitely includes taking supplements.

If your Doctor isn’t sure how a supplement may or may not interact with a drug, you need to do your own research. If you go to something like examine.com you may be able to find studies that show how particular supplements and nutrients interact with specific drugs, both positively and negatively.

It’s not easy research to do, but it’s better to do it before taking something, then finding out it’s not a good combination and ending up in the Emergency Room. At Feel Younger, we do our best to inform you on this, but we do not have a medical doctor on staff, so always run this past a medical doctor. Don’t assume our warnings are comprehensive…there’s thousands of medications and diseases and it’s very hard to know every single thing that may be a problem..in my experience, even most doctors don’t know it all.

What Are The Most Beneficial Supplements for Most People to Take on a Daily Basis?

  • A good Multivitamin and Multimineral Formula
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (with high levels of EPA and DHA)
  • Magnesium (malate is good for relaxing muscles, oxide is good for keeping you regular, threonate is the only kind that gets into your brain and can be calming and relaxing, glycinate is considered the mostly easily absorbed type of magnesium and gets into every cell in your body, Epsom Salts are also a good option if you need sulfur. We sell Magnesium Glycinate as it’s the most well absorbed and most people also benefit from the additional Glycine it contains.)
  • The vast majority of people also benefit from a B Complex taken early in the day, if they are stressed or fatigued on a regular basis, as many of us are.

Should You Ever Take a Break from Certain Supplements?

It depends on the person, and the supplement, and even the expert you’re listening to.

There's definitely a case to be made for taking time off supplements - not taking the same ones day in day out - even with some of the essential nutrients (especially the fat soluble vitamins).

A lot of people are taking vitamin D3 these days (which is a good thing) but there's a case to be made to cycle off it sometimes, so you don't accidentally overwhelm your body…

I would say that strategy is okay, but it's far better to test regularly to see how much your body has. A lot of people I’ve met do cycle off some supplements, like vitamin D, just to make sure they're not overdoing it. But how do they know, for sure, if they don’t test?

Zinc is another one.

Iron's another one.

Copper's another one. These minerals can all build up to toxic levels if you take a high enough dose for too long…technically, this is true for every nutrient, but it’s not uncommon with the ones I mentioned specifically.

In reality, there are many nutrients that can build up to toxic levels in your body. So even though they’re essential, you don’t want to overdo them.

Testing periodically is always best, rather than cycling on and off them.

That's in terms of the building blocks category.

In the biochemical instructions category, I'd say there's a better argument for cycling on and off, but I'd still take it on a case by case basis.

The category of supplements where I would say there's much stronger evidence that it is a good idea to cycle on and off would be anything that impacts the hormones. If you're taking something to increase your testosterone or to increase your progesterone or to increase growth hormone, then I would definitely say there's much more of an argument for doing something like five days on, two day off.

Or four days on, four days off.

Some people do more the classic bodybuilder athlete thing of doing a month or two or three on, and then a month or two or three off. But again, it's on a case by case basis.

How about supplements that stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin?

For example, if you’re taking L-Tyrosine it’s probably because you want more energy, more motivation, more clarity and so on. It does this primarily by being a precursor for Dopamine. In this case there's an argument to be made for cycling off it from time to time.

How do you know it's necessary to cycle off it? Because you’ll feel overstimulated if you have too much dopamine (too energised, too motivated - you’ll have problems chilling out, relaxing, maybe even sleeping).

In contrast, how would you know it's time to cycle off L-Tryptophan? If you get to sleep at night, but then you wake up the next morning and you're still sleepy or you're still a little bit groggy or you struggle to have that energy and focus and drive and so on.

If you want to feel relaxed and chilled out and sleep better - but it’s got to the point where you can’t “switch on” and focus and feel motivated - then it’s time to cycle off. Just remember if the symptoms come back, then it’s time to get back on it.

Well, if you’re trying to modulate something that makes you feel different, then you just have to be careful that you make sure you don’t take so much that you end up going too far the other way.

For instance:

  • If you take Dopamine to feel more energised, fired up, motivated and so on - that’s fine. But make sure you don’t take it too far (to the point where you can’t relax, sleep and so forth)
  • Same goes for Serotonin - if you take it to feel more relaxed, calm and confident - that’s great. But don’t take so much you can’t go the other way and feel “fired up”, driven, motivated and so on

Then there's supplements that modify and affect genetic expression, like resveratrol. Resveratrol is an anti-aging supplement, there’s antioxidants, anthocyanins, turmeric, and more.

If you’re taking any of these for general health purposes, there a lot of evidence to suggest that cycling is the way to go. Something like, 1 month “on” 1 month “off”.

However, if you’re taking something like Turmeric to help ease PAIN, then you may want to take it daily, without coming off it.

Every case is different.

To Sum Up:

  • In a perfect world you would meet all of your nutritional needs - for optimal health and performance - through diet alone (eating wild and organic whole foods)
  • In reality, virtually everyone in the Western World could benefit from intelligent supplementation if they’re interested in health optimization
  • Due to modern farming and agricultural practices, today’s food supply is high in calories but low in nutrients (for instance: an average tomato today has only 10% of the nutrients a tomato had 100 year ago) making it extremely difficult to get all the nutrients you need from diet alone
  • Other factors - including genetics, environmental pollution, poor sleep quality, chronic stress, longer lifespans and more - mean many people today have a bigger need for nutrients than the people who came before us (and for most people, supplements are the only way to meet these nutritional needs)
  • You may be able to survive for years, or decades without supplements - but can you thrive? If you want to feel - and look and perform - at your best (and enjoy the longest Healthspan, and quality of life possible) then supplements are a must
  • Supplements can be categorised in 3 ways: Building Blocks, Biochemical Instructions and Hormones/Neurotransmitters
  • At a minimum, most people would benefit from taking a quality Multivitamin, a quality Multimineral, pharmaceutical grade Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and Magnesium
  • To avoid “Downregulation” of certain nutrients, you can cycle on and off different supplements from time to time (that said, the best way to figure out exactly WHAT you need, and WHEN you need it, is to take Tests. Testing these days is cheap, easy and a usually a lot more accurate than trying to work out what you need purely through analysing symptoms or goals. It takes the guesswork out of supplementation)