GREGG AVEDON’S SUPPLEMENT PICKS
My goal in this section is to convey what I do. There are countless possibilities to finding your own nutritional chemistry and I encourage you to find what works best for you. I hope the following information will help facilitate that process. My intention is honest and sincere; to convey my personal experiences with the many supplements I’ve tried and tell you what has worked for me.
I have read many books on health and nutrition and feel like I can never learn enough, especially with all the new findings and benefits that vitamins, minerals, and herbs have to offer us. It's amazing how much of these natural products and their benefits are becoming known by the average person today. It just shows how we as a collective society have shifted toward better health and awareness. Nowadays you can go into the most generic grocery store and find a multitude of all-natural products. Things like organic milk, yogurt, fruits and vegetables, cage-free eggs, soy milk, soy ice cream, soy burgers, grass fed beef, free range chicken, alternative cheeses, tofu, tempeh, and even bulk bins with unprocessed nuts, seeds, rice and grains. I'm thrilled at the pace in which people are learning about better health, and excited about what the future holds when it comes to wellness.
Supplements on the other hand, can be much more confusing for the average Joe because there aren’t any true guidelines or specifics about the proper protocol in which to take them. We hear about the importance of vitamin D due to the frequent use of sunblock today. We here that taking a multivitamin is important, and have seen the popularity skyrocket with fish oils and their high omega-3 value for heart health. But how do we decipher all of the information we read in books and magazines to formulate a plan? The best way is listening to a health professional, doing your own diligent research, being in tune with your body and then some trial and error.
The supplements I currently take are pretty simple. I believe the maintenance of a basic supplement regimen can add to the brick and mortar of proper nutrition to form the foundation for proper health. The most difficult part of nutritional supplementation is having patience to try one thing over a period of time, see how it effects you, then form an opinion as to whether it was beneficial to you or not. Combinations of supplements may also work synergistically together to help yield better absorption. For example, calcium is better absorbed with magnesium, which is why you often find them formulated together. And folic acid can help enhance the potency of vitamin B-12. All of this can get frustrating because just when you feel like you've found the perfect combination of supplementation your metabolism adjusts slightly, hormones shift, add in stress, pollutants, lack of sleep, allergies, etc. and that critical balance changes. You start to feel different, with less energy, you can’t seem to get as lean as you used to, and so on. There are many reasons as to why our body’s change - namely hormones - but you've got to keep adjusting to life and welcome each day as it approaches. Below are the main staples of my vitamin regimen.
*Note: The following is a list of the vitamins I currently take. My intent is not to prescribe any vitamins or supplementation to you, but simply to tell you what I take and why I take it.
THE VITAMINS I TAKE
The Main Players
The following supplements are those I consider essential
When we talk about supplements working synergistically together, a multivitamin is a great place to start. A good multivitamin will give you blanket coverage on all your basic vitamins and minerals so it becomes an important factor toward maintaining balance in your daily regimen. And it’s through this balance that ensures you're getting the most absorption from your vitamins. For example: B vitamins alone are not absorbed as well by the body without vitamin C, and vitamin D3 is absorbed better with magnesium while calcium is best absorbed with both D3 and magnesium.
Multivitamin’s come in one-a-day or more than one a day. This is personal preference. It’s always easier to take one tablet daily, but don’t sacrifice ease for effectiveness when choosing your multi. I'm not a fan of department store brands due to quality, storage control and freshness. These particular brands may also contain unnecessary fillers, binders, and colors. I prefer to choose from the larger well-known brands that you will find at a health food store. You can always ask any of the nutritionists working there what they might recommend. I prefer vitamins made from whole food sources and take those that require more than one-a-day because they tend to be more complete. Capsules hold less overall nutrient amounts than tablets so you may be required to take less in tablet form, but that is personal preference. Try a few different multivitamin’s and form your own opinion. Some may give you an upset stomach or cause you to belch them, so be sure to always take your multi after a meal. I find if they smell good and are derived from whole food sources they tend not to upset your stomach. If they smell like cow dung it’s probably not something I want to put into my body! A good multivitamin will give you blanket coverage of the most essential vitamins and minerals. Remember that you're also getting vitamins and minerals in the daily foods you eat.
Take as directed on bottle. Again, some require two, three, or even six a day for the amount shown on the label. Be sure to read the top of the label where it says: "Serving Size."
*Although it's a good idea to take a multivitamin, it should never replace eating a well balanced healthy diet that includes 3-servings of fruits and 3-servings of veggies daily.
EFA'S (Essential Fatty Acids)
Studies have shown that we need healthy fats to sustain a healthy body and a healthy life. Good fats are found in fish like salmon, sardines and tuna for example. There are also healthy plant based fats found in avocado, grape seeds, olives and flax seeds. To gain a complete understanding about fats I recommend books like The Omega Rx Zone by Dr. Barry Sears or Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill by Udo Erasmus. Udo Erasmus offers a complete line of plant based supplemental oils which are available in health food stores. Healthy omega-3 fats are found in deep water fish like those listed above and fish oil supplements, also flax oil and soybeans contain omega-3’s. Omega-6 fats are found in seeds like pumpkin and flax seeds, as well as nuts and legumes.
I take a fish based EFA mix in liquid capsule form and also keep a bottle of liquid lemon flavored EFA’s available in my fridge and add it to salads and certain foods. The label will usually direct you to take anywhere from one to three gel caps daily (approximately 3,000 mg’s of EFA’s). Since my body is relatively clean, and because I get adequate fat intake through food (eggs, flax, avocado, olive oil and nuts), I only take one to two capsules daily. The label on my EFA bottle recommends three a day.
*Fresh ground flax seeds are a great way to add both omega-3’s and fiber to your diet. I get pre-ground flax seeds at the health food store and sprinkle them over toast with jam.
Here’s another biggie in the antioxidant arsenal. The first time I took CoQ10 my energy levels were noticeably higher and I thought; what the heck did I do to get all this energy? This is one of those great antioxidants that play a critical role in energy production within every cell of your body. Benefits include heart health, immune support, lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing hypertension, and protection against free-radical damage.
Be sure to look for the newer bioactive version of CoQ10 called ubiquinol. (The regular one is called ubiquinone.) Studies are showing that the ubiquinol version is up to 8 times more powerful and effective than conventional CoQ10.
I always take a liquid gel-capsule of CoQ10 because I feel the absorption is better in the liquid form rather than the dry form (which is the form that I was feeling the energy difference from). I take 30 mg's a day, but have taken up to 100 mg's a day. It's not cheap, so you may want to opt for the lower milligram gel capsule as I do. More is not always better!
R-ALPHA LIPOIC ACID
This is one of my favorite vitamins because it's such a powerful antioxidant. First of all, it helps regulate your blood sugar levels, which may help those concerned about high carbohydrate diets. R-Alpha Lipoic Acid is also both fat and water soluble, making it a powerful free radical scavenger throughout all parts of the cells within your body. If that's not enough it also recycles itself using the cells metabolic energy system, plus it helps recycle vitamins C and E to aid in the free radical fight. R-Alpha Lipoic Acid is also good for the look of your skin in maintaining its youthful health, which is why you’ll see it added to face and body creams. From a sports performance angle, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid helps the effectiveness of creatine which is why it’s added to creatine products. There are even more benefits to taking this great vitamin like insulin sensitivity and as a free radical scavenger, so be sure to make it a part of your regimen.
I take 300 mg daily about 30 minutes to an hour after my morning meal. You can also take it in divided (100 mg) doses. Many vitamin formulas will contain the Alpha Lipoic Acid version versus the newer R-Alpha Lipoic Acid. The main difference is absorption, but don’t get too caught up in only looking for the R-Alpha Lipoic version until it fully catches on. The Alpha Lipoic Acid version is still a quality nutrient.
The Supporting Cast
The following supplements are those that I usually cycle bi-monthly
VITAMIN C with BIOFLAVONOIDS
Vitamin C is excellent for the health of every function in the body, plus the prevention of numerous diseases. And because the body cannot produce vitamin C on its own it’s a good idea to supplement it. The first source should be through foods like papaya, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, broccoli, kale and kiwi to name a few. And there are a number of different naturally occurring plant compounds that come along with eating these fresh and vibrant fruits and veggies called bioflavanoids. Bioflavanoids are found in the colorful pigments of plants. They are great antioxidants and work well with vitamin C by helping with absorption and to prevent C from oxidizing in the body. Bioflavanoids are excellent for capillary circulation, supplying blood to the extremities (hands and feet) as well as your eyes, skin, and brain. Although the best source for naturally occurring C and bioflavanoids is always food, higher doses can only be achieved through supplementation. I like to take a mix of C and bioflavonoids in one comprehensive supplement to help increase your coverage against free radical damage and aid in the healing of injuries, colds, and bruising.
Don't forget that your multivitamin is going to have some C already in it, but it's not going to be enough. Besides what is in my multivitamin, I like to take 500mg's of C and 500mg's of bioflavonoids in a combined formula.
In an acidic world greens can help keep us in a more alkaline and balanced state. Greens usually come in powder form, but you can also find capsules, tablets, and liquid. Greens help add an array of nutrients to my diet, and I try to take at least one serving daily. Some of the amazing ingredients include: lecithin powder, carrot powder alfalfa grass, barley grass, kamut powder, spirulina, wheat grass, wheat sprouts, apple pectin flaxseed meal, oat bran, red beet, broccoli, maitake mushroom, reishi mushroom, shiitake mushroom, milk thistle, ginkgo biloba and grape seed extract. There's even more healing and health supporting nutrients found in these greens drink powders and that’s why I enjoy the benefits of greens. Most greens products are 100% organic and are non GMO, but just be sure to read labels. Today’s greens come in a variety of flavors from berry to mint to orange and more.
The suggested serving size will vary depending on which product you take, so read the label. Powder forms of greens usually recommend 1 tablespoon mixed with 12-16 ounces of water or juice as a serving size and I do 1-2 servings a day.
Most multivitamins will offer an array of your B vitamins, but there is a good chance they won’t have an adequate amount of B's across the board. That's when I like to supplement with a B complex vitamin. B's help boost energy levels, help with fatigue and stress, and support the health and integrity of hair, nails and skin. The good news is that B’s work well taken together, so a B complex can really pack a solid punch!
A good number to shoot for in a B complex is between 50 and 100 mg's. Look for formulations that have a comprehensive listing that looks something like this: B-1 (thiamin), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6, B-12, biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, and PABA. I’m currently taking a liquid B formula, but tablets and capsules are very popular and well tolerated.
*Keep in mind that the folic acid, B12, and biotin will usually be listed as "micrograms" instead of "milligrams."
Vitamin E is found in lots of the foods we should be eating just about every day, such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as whole grains. I still feel that it's important for me to supplement with E sometimes since we don't always get the beneficial doses our body needs through foods alone. Usually a good multivitamin will give you close to the coverage you need. If not, additional E supplements are easy to find and inexpensive. Vitamin E is great for the skin and hair. It's also among those in the antioxidant family that help with circulation, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
*Note: Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that vitamin E can kill you. Dr. Edgar Miller, who conducted the study, has been challenged for his findings after they were based mostly on elderly people who were dealing with chronic illnesses as well as also taking prescription meds. John Hathcock, a member of The Council for Responsible Nutrition stated, "This is an unfortunate misdirection of science in an attempt to make something out of nothing for the sake of headlines." I currently take only the vitamin E that is in my multivitamin/mineral.
The recommended dosage is 400 iu’s daily, so check your multivitamin to see what it contains and go from there.
I may take the following to help increase my nutrient intake as I feel necessary.
Simply put, this is the gold that comes from grapes (or grape skins and/or seeds to be exact), but resveratrol is also found in most berries. If you've ever heard of the French paradox; this is something that had scientists scratching their heads as to why French people have a very low incidence of coronary heart disease even though they eat a diet relatively high in saturated fats. They discovered resveratrol, a super-antioxidant found in red wine responsible for these increased health benefits.
Life Extension magazine states that resveratrol can extend the life span of certain cells by as much as 70%. They go on to say that it also helps with insulin sensitivity, helps lower blood sugar, is good for energy production, and improved motor function. But the added benefit when supplementing with this powerful antioxidant, aside from living longer and helping ensure your cholesterol levels are in check, it also helps with vasodilation and blood flow. This is a great plus for those of us looking to get the most out of the supplements we’re taking. Better blood flow means more nutrient uptake and delivery to muscle cells. It also means more efficient lactic acid flushing and increased circulation for more vascularity and faster recovery.
You'll find several different resveratrol supplements on health store shelves to choose from, like capsules, tablets, liquid form and powders. The average dosage range is between 100-200 mg's once or twice daily with meals.
RED PANAX GINSENG
Ginseng has been used for thousands of years and its health benefits have been known forever! My personal preference is the liquid extract over capsules. It’s easy to find at health food stores and isn't expensive. They come in small vials and you insert the little straw at the top that they come with and sip. I like to slowly sip the extract and hold it under my tongue for a few seconds before swallowing it.
The benefits of ginseng are amazing. Known for its stimulating properties, it cleanses the mind, helps center your body, rejuvenates, enhances sexual function, while boosting your endurance, helps improve memory, and can even help balance your metabolism.
When I take red panax ginseng I do what the box recommends, which is between 1 and 2 vials daily. Their easy to bring to work for when you're feeling a bit stressed or need an energy boost, pop the straw in and sip away.
Also known as garcinia cambogia rind extract, citrimax is extracted from the rind of this fruit. Studies have shown that citrimax slows the conversion of carbohydrates to fats, thus causing a positive effect on the metabolism. It's completely natural and therefore doesn't concern me in the least to supplement as part of my pre-cutting routine to get lean and shredded (unlike many of the fat burning products on the market today which contain stimulants).
I cycle it into my supplement regimen when I am nearing a photo shoot, or when I've got to look extra lean. Usually I start taking citrimax 3-4 weeks out from my target date, using one a day for the first week, then two a day for the next 2-3 weeks. Then I'll get off of it until I need another "leaning out" boost. Some of the citrimax formulas contain other ingredients to promote burning fat. Mine contains 200 mcg's of chromium picolinate, which also helps burn body fat, speeds up the metabolism and helps increase your lean body mass.
GLUCOSAMINE, CHONDROITIN, & MSM
After all the years of wear and tear on my body from heavy lifting and numerous reps, taking a joint support formula may be a good idea.
Glucosamine has been proven effective for rebuilding joint cartilage. It is also good for tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues throughout the body. My chiropractor has successfully treated numerous patients over the years, and speaks very highly of this supplement, so who am I to argue. The formula I use also contains chondroitin, which helps boost the bioavailability of glucosamine. I also look for added MSM in whichever joint support formula I might choose. MSM is excellent for healing injuries, for inflammation, muscle soreness, and it's also great for hair, skin, and nails. In the past I've taken MSM on its own in powder form, but for convenience sake, finding a formula with all three substances is the easiest and most convenient way to go.
A good joint support formula will have between 1,000 to 1,500 mg's of both glucosamine and chondroitin, plus 300 to 500 mg's of MSM.