Saturday, 1 October 2016

Post 26: My Supplement Review


Hi Guys,


One thing I get asked about quite often is which supplements I use, because the truth is, I use a lot. At this point, the number runs at at least seven a day: MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides), zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3. I say at least, because on some days where I need an extra boost to my protein intake, I’ll use protein powder as well.


But I thought you were healthy?


At this point, you may be thinking, here’s this guy who promotes himself as “Mr. Healthy”, and yet he’s ingesting synthetic additives daily? To these people I say: you’re absolutely right. I fully subscribe to a natural way of eating and living, but I also consider that if all the positives in your life come from natural sources, then all the negatives should be natural as well. However, we live in a world of pollution and environmental disadvantages. So it’s only fair that we fight against the “unnatural negatives” with “unnatural positives”.


This all features into the notion of “biohacking”, a kind of DIY biology, where you work out ways to become the best version of yourself and complete tasks/achieve an existence in the most efficient way possible. The champion of this movement would be Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof and author of the Bulletproof Diet. Starting with the recommendations in his book, I began to piece together my current repertoire of supplements.


It’s important to have a guide like this, so if you want to go beyond the information presented today, I recommend picking up his book and reading “Chapter 7: Weak Multivitamins and the Bulletproof Guide to Supplements”. What I did was start with one of the recommended supplements then try out a new one every week. The reason I recommend starting with a guide like Asprey’s is because there are tonnes of supplements and vitamins out there to try, and it’s worth knowing the ones worth having.


Who knew such a friendly looking store could actually be so daunting?


What should I expect from supplementation? I thought it just led to expensive pee?


Starting your journey with supplements will likely be very rewarding. Not only are you going to purposefully target your deficiencies, you’re also likely to feel terrific. Rather than just hitting the minimum required values, you can ingest vitamins (totally safely) to therapeutic levels, where you really start to feel the difference.


Remember that the poison is in the dose. Any supplement when taken in excess will lead to negative effects. Too much water and you’ll drown as well…


We don’t want to be wasting money and have “expensive pee”, but it is worth a little trial and error, slightly adjusting your intake up and down to find out the optimal amount.


Today we’ll look at an overview of three of my favourite supplements: vitamin C, MCT oil, and iodine. These were chosen by the beautiful people over at Paleo Castle’s 30 Day challenge (link here to the facebook page), where I am currently logging my weigh-in each day to keep my ketobulking efforts accountable. I strongly encourage you to join in, and use the support there as an impetus to initiate your own change.


So if you’re sitting there thinking “I’d rather have heard about another supplement”, then you have three options: 1) stew with your anger, 2) go to the facebook page and berate them, or 3) (the option I recommend), leave a comment or shoot me a message asking about a particular supplement you’re interested in. I’d happily dedicate another post to a certain supplement or group of supplement that you guys are interested in.


Ready to feel superhuman?


Why don’t you just eat an orange?


This question was posed to me by someone on Twitter, and was possibly the best example of dry wit I’ve ever come across... Two things spring to mind when I see this question: 1) you don’t know me well enough: think of the sugar, and 2) there just isn’t “enough” vitamin C in an orange for it to be efficient, let alone optimal.


Firstly there is more vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) in cruciferous vegetables than oranges (as an example), so I could avoid the sugar and stay ketogenic that way. Plus you’d have to eat a tedious quantity of oranges (or any food for that matter) to reach the therapeutic levels of vitamin C ingestion. As I alluded to earlier, there are two levels to consider when thinking about supplementation: the minimum, and the therapeutic level. In the case of Vitamin C, I believe there to be a third, in-between, level, as well.


The NHS recommends that you take at least 40 mg of vitamin C a day, so it’s likely that you’re already getting that. That’s the minimum and for reaching that puny level your reward is not to get scurvy. Congratulations, you’re now one-up on a medieval pirate.


The next level is the in-between one I mentioned. There are multiple benefits to supplementing with vitamin C: your body uses it to support the immune system, and uses it to produce glutathione (the body’s most important antioxidant). So if you want to prevent illness, and (much, much, more importantly) look younger and stay that way, then supplementing with C is for you.


I follow the BP Diet’s recommendation of 1-2 mg a day, but feel free to experiment and use more. But beware, excessive ingestion can lead to loose stool. This only occurs when you’re taking in way too much and your body can’t use it. So just be sensible, avoid an embarrassing incident, and go grab yourself some C.


I’ve used vitamin C daily for about six months now and have only been ill once, and of course look amazing...


I use Holland and Barrett’s Vitamin C powder (link), and recommend mixing your dose with a little hot water to dissolve it, then a little cold water to cool it down, and shot it. The flavour is incredibly tart; once you have some you’ll recognise the flavour base for all citrus fruit, so I prefer to have it as quickly as possible.


Next the therapeutic level, which is designed for when you are actually ill. In fact, I was recovering from a cold this week, and resorted to taking 1-2g every hour like clockwork and never hit bowel tolerance. This meant my body was using every drop, and after a day, the main symptoms had mostly faded. On the rare occurrences when you really do get ill, take C as I did until you hit bowel tolerance, then lessen the hourly dose or take it less regularly. It will work wonders for your illness.


Oh, and in case you were wondering, there has never been a clinically recorded case of kidney stones due to vitamin C consumption, ever. Megadosing is fine.


Vitamin "C"...


But I want to know about rocket fuel!


Fair enough, I know you didn’t come here wanting to hear about something as inane as vitamin C, however effective and cheap it is… So here’s a showstopper which you will certainly want to add to your arsenal: MCT oil.


MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. MCT are short chain fatty acids that provide energy extremely quickly and cannot be converted into fat. You can get naturally occurring MCT from coconut oil, but not the right type to be classified as “rocket fuel”, and the levels found in coconut oil won’t help you into ketosis any more than fasting. Enter MCT oil, which will preferably be distilled to contain the correct carbon tails (C8 and C10). Upon consuming MCT oil the fat is quickly broken down and shuttled around the body, looking for places to be used as energy. What’s left over is sent to the liver to make ketones, and onwards to the brain.


Using MCT oil is a biohackers favourite, since it allows you to show blood ketone levels similar to those of someone who is in nutritional ketosis. But here’s the cherry on top: without having to limit dietary carbohydrates. While you won’t experience the same fat loss as you would have entering ketosis in the traditional way, not to mention the health disadvantages of excessive carbohydrate consumption, you can still enjoy the therapeutic benefits.  These include mental clarity and ease of recall.


There isn’t a “minimum daily requirement” for MCT oil, as there is for vitamin C. You’re not going to get a disease from not having it, but nonetheless it is worth having daily, especially at times when you want added mental acuity. I have 10-15 ml (roughly a dessert spoon) in my morning coffee and quite often the same amount poured on my dinner. You shouldn’t cook using MCT oil, because it oxidises at average cooking temperatures, This has a twofold effect: it allows me to  work creatively in the evening, giving me the energy to plow into my writing, and improves sleep because your brain has a readily available source of fuel.


Having too much MCT oil when your body isn’t ready for it is a problem, though, leading to the same issue as too much vitamin C. So again, the answer is a little experimentation, starting with as little as a teaspoon at a time. You might also notice a slight burn at the back of your throat when you start using MCT oil, which is down to the acidity. Don’t worry, just start with a very small dose and build up.


I personally use Bulletproof’s MCT oil (branded as XCT in the UK) (link) due to the assured quality. Once you’re ready, you can also take another step up and start using Brain Octane Oil (link), which espouses the C10 in favour of pure C8 MCT. This means it is broken down even faster and is available for use as energy extremely quickly. All in all, MCT oil and its variants, is like having a healthy energy drink.


If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch Limitless.


Now give me something out of left field


The next supplement up for review is iodine, which is linked to healthy thyroid function. Sounds dull? Well let me list for you what a healthy thyroid supports:
  1. Metabolism
  2. Protein synthesis
  3. Development in young people
  4. Mitochondrial activity
  5. Sexual function
  6. Sleep
  7. Thought patterns


Yep, even thought patterns, in particular creativity. Iodine provides the thyroid with the fuel to produce hormones which affect all seven of these factors. So a little supplementation could actually make you leaner, give you bigger muscles, help your growth, give you more energy, make you better in bed, sleep better (we know how important that is from this), and be more creative. Sounds like a pretty useful hack to me.


Iodine is particularly useful for those who want to lose weight because if you’re in a sustained deficit you will downregulate thyroid output. Hence, supplementing with iodine can negate this process to an extent and you can maintain your pace of fat loss. But don’t expect it to be a panacea; when I started using iodine I felt like it took 1.5-2 weeks for the effects to kick I use the Nature's Garden brand of sea kelp tablets (150 ug per tablet, link).


Again, the “official” (NHS) recommendation seems pitifully low: 0.14 mg, which you can definitely get from your diet. This is the level to take in if you want to avoid goiters (probably less fun to have than say...). But we want to feel great, not just average! I use 1 mg a day in the form of sea kelp tablets (technically it is 1050 ug since each tablet contains 150 ug), which is the recommendation I drew from the BP Diet.


Iodine toxicity can be reached but at unreasonable levels. Getting 1 mg a day is not going to do any damage to you.


The thyroid gland is a tiny (and oddly positioned) gland which controls so much


What can I take away from all of this?


This week I want you to go out and buy one of these supplements. If I had to recommend one to start with, it would be MCT oil because it will give you an immediate hit, and I want you to feel the benefits straight away. The other two are more like medium/slow burners: their effects are very beneficial, but work on the defensive, rather than offensive, side. So start with MCT oil, see how you feel (remember to start with just a teaspoon a day), and upgrade to Brain Octane Oil if you like the effects. Then do what I did, and pick a new one each week. Before long, you’ll have your own repertoire of supplements to make you start to feel superhuman.  


That’s the key thing to do, but here’s the good ol’ Cowlean takeaways for this week:
  1. Vitamin C: very important for immune support and antioxidant production; take if you want to live longer, and look better while you’re at it.
  2. MCT oil: raises ketones and gives you an energy high: take if you want to smash out particular tasks, or just feel like being smarter and more productive.
  3. Iodine: supports thyroid function leading to a host of benefits; take particularly if you want lose weight, but also great for overall functioning.


I hope you enjoyed this post; if you did, give it a thumbs up, heart, favourite, like, or whatever form of approval your chosen social media has deemed appropriate.


We were not designed to be merely average.


Happy supplementing, and stay superhuman,
Cowlean

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