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Posts Tagged ‘Supplement’

Review: Activate Nutrition ZMA (Zinc-Magnesium Aspartate)

Friday, July 19th, 2013


Over the last few weeks I have been using Activate Nutrition‘s ZMA (Zinc-Magnesium Aspartate) supplement  after being sent it last month to review.  Before I start to look at the product itself I thought I would re-cap on the reasons that ZMA is used as an anabolic and recovery supplement.

ZMA or Zinc-Magnesium Aspartate to give it, it’s full name is a combination of  zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium, and aspartate.  The ZMA formula itself is claimed to boost testosterone levels within the body, which will have an anabolic effect.  ZMA is also commonly associated with a boost post exercise recovery, strength and muscular mass.

Additionally to the above there is a strong link to the use of zinc to improve cell growth, cell production and testosterone production.  Magnesium has the effect of reducing the levels of cortisol a catabolic hormone (muscle breakdown).

Zinc-Magnesium Aspartate is a supplement commonly promoted as an aid to recovery with an anabolic (muscle building effect).

The Activate Nutrition  ZMA tablets came in standard, well put together packaging in 120 capsule jars.  This is approximately 60-90 days supplies depending on the quantity taken.  I took 2 capsules about 30 minutes before bed, each night for a month.  The capsules themselves were easy to swallow and had no side effects.

I found taking Zinc-Magnesium Aspartate had an anabolic effect, and greatly helped me recover especially after those heavy lifting days.  I also found that the supplement helped improve the quality of my sleep, I wake up in the morning feeling more refreshed, and woke up well before my alarm went off on most days.  Improved sleep quality is a much disputed effect of ZMA but I found it very useful in improving the depth and overall quality of my sleep.

At less than £10 for a months supply of ZMA and the high quality of the product supplied by Activate Nutrition I would highly recommend this product.

Please feel free to leave your feedback, questions please leave it in the comments box.


What is 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

What is 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)?

Over the last few months I have been looking into the use of 5-HTP or to give it, its full name 5-hydroxytryptophan.  This is a chemical made within the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and ultimately become serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to relay signals within the brain, and is closely linked to regulation of mood and reduction of anxiety.  There is also some discussion that 5-HTP may also act as a sleep aid, these properties have made it an increasingly popular supplement in the modern stress filled environment.

Over the years there has been some controversy over the use of 5-HTP supplementation, in the late 1980’s a contaminant was found in tryptophan supplements that lead to a number of health issues.  This at the time lead to the removal of tryptophan supplements from the market.  However research suggests that 5-HTP is a safer alternative over direct tryptophan supplementation as the contaminant, known as PeakX is not found in sufficiently large quantities within 5-HTP blends.  Some more modern blends are also marketed as PeakX free, massively reducing the risk.

One of the key reasons that supplementation of 5-HTP is increasingly popular is that it is not found directly in the foods that we eat, and has to be produced from the amino acid tryptophan.  However research suggests that eating foods containing tryptophan may not have a massive effect on increasing levels of 5-HTP readily available within the body.  This has led to many people using a supplement to gain the benefits of 5-HTP.

As stated above we can not gain 5-HTP directly rom the foods we eat, but the precursor tryptophan can be found in the following food stuffs:-

  • turkey
  • chicken
  • milk
  • pumpkin
  • sunflower seeds
  • seaweed

 What can 5-HTP help with?

Over the years 5-HTP has been used to help/treat people suffering with a range of illnesses, mostly conditions linked with low serotonin levels.  Some of these are discussed below:-

Depression – there has been a limited amount of research into the use of 5-HTP as an antidepressant, used on people with low to moderate depression.  5-HTP works in a similar way to  selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which are more commonly known as  SSRIs.  Some studies (based on very small populations) suggest that 5-HTP has a similar effect to prescription medications but with fewer of the side effects.

Insomnia – some studies suggest that taking 5-HTP prior to sleeping help people sleep more deeply when taking the supplement.  However it was noted that a period of about 6-12 weeks of taking the supplement may be needed in order for it to be effective.

Weight Management – there has been some limited research to suggest that people who take 5-HTP tend to eat fewer calories, rresearchers believed that the supplement led people to feel more full after eating. 

How do I use 5-HTP?

It is recommended that 50mg of 5-HTP is taken 1-3 times per day.  However it is important that you do not exceed this dosage as in high levels this supplement can become toxic.  If you are taking antidepressants you should avoid this supplement.


Do I need a vitamin D supplement?

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Recently there has been much talk about if we need to supplement our vitamin D intake.  In the UK there is to say the least a shortage of bright sunny days (especially for those of us who live in Manchester).  The big problem in the UK is the limited number of sunlight hours, and this can then effect how much Vitamin D that we produce.

When we go out in sunlight the body stats to produce vitamin D from the UV rays from the sun.  This stock of vitamin D can then be stored within the body to be used as and when needed.  In winter time this vital source of vitamin D may be severely lacking, this has led to a move towards supplementation particularly in winter months.

The following groups of people may be at an increased risk of deficiency:-

  • People who spend little time in the sun or those who regularly cover up when outdoors;
  • People living in nursing homes or other institutions or who are homebound;
  • People with certain medical conditions such as Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease;
  • People taking medicines that affect vitamin D levels such as certain anti-seizure medicines;
  • People with very dark skin;
  • Obese or very overweight people; and
  • Older adults with certain risk factors

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is responsable for the effective absorption of calcium that helps maintain strong bones and teeth and also acts to support a strong immune system.  The current recommendations are that individuals under the age of 50 take approximately 10 micrograms per day.  The maximum recommended dose is 50 micrograms per day.

For the average person it is possible to get all the vitamin D needed from a healthy diet and some moderate sun exposure.  However an increasing number of people are supplementing this vital vitamin, due to poorer dietary habits and limited sun exposure.

It is possible to get vitamin D from the foods that we eat, the following foods contain small amounts of vitamin D:-

  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • eggs
  • fortified fat spreads
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • powdered milk

If you are unsure if you need a vitamin D supplement or if you have any questions please feel free to post them below!