By Moodi Dennaoui, personal trainer and expert for Body Science
Supps are no shortcut to health. They’re there to supplement deficiencies or when the body needs nutritional support. Before you choose a supp it’s best to seek the advice of your GP. In the meantime, here are some facts you might not know.
Your body relies on co-factors which may be proteins or enzymes that are used to catabolise nutrients to their active form. One particular co-factor is glutamine. L-glutamine has a unique role in cellular metabolism. It acts as an intermediate in a reaction to produce instant metabolic energy. Its role is to transfer nitrogen via transamination to form amino acids that make up the basis of nucleic acids, which are essential for cellular division. Glutamine can only facilitate synthesis of new amino acids if the appropriate building blocks are present, which is achieved with a diet made up of essential and non-essential amino acids from sources of protein.
Alcohol has an inflammatory affect within the body and it inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Alcohol competes with other nutrients for absorption and will always be prioritised. The body naturally wants to expel toxins and will draw on nutrients in the body to help with excretion. Should the body be in a state of continuous nutrient depletion a deficiency can occur, and may lead to bigger problems. Alcohol should be consumed in moderate amounts to help reduce the chance of nutrient depletion.
Vegetarians, vegans or coeliacs have to be careful with supplement choices. Some vitamin capsules use gelatin, which is not vegetarian. Vitamin D often uses lanolin which is a fatty substance found in sheep’s wool, and thus is not vegan.
Protein is made up of amino acids which the body doesn’t store and thus needs an adequate supply to carry out its functions. Protein plays a vital role in the making of new proteins for growth and development, energy production and also serves as a co-factor for the making of neurotransmitters.
While all amino acids are beneficial, some are more essential than others. If I had to take one supp for the rest of my life I would probably choose BCAAs. Branched chain amino acids consist of leucine, isoleucine and valine. These proteins provide the carbon skeletons for synthesis of important metabolic intermediates which supply energy in a highly specialised way. They are also the primary building blocks for the synthesis of components of nucleic acids and lipids which are needed for cell division.
Not made equal
Australia has very strict rules and regulations surrounding the production of supplements. All supps that claim a therapeutic status within Australia must be submitted to the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA). The TGA ensures that all claims made by a company are supported and thus meet the requirements for their intended use. Opting for a reputable Australian brand is recommended as many international brands have been found to dilute their supplements, mislead with incorrect information or contain illegal substances. Do your research to find a high-quality brand that you know you can trust.