Rankings: the best prenatal vitamins of 2018

Being pregnant drastically changes your body meaning you need to eat differently.

In addition to your body growing, you also have to fuel hormone changes, and support the baby growing in your belly.  Plus, there are hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy that can lead to anemia, morning sickness, and other unpleasant side effects.

Luckily, you can easily supplement and make minor changes to what you eat to deliver a healthy baby, keep your energy soaring, and avoid excess weight gain.

1. Folic acid is key for healthy baby growth.

Folate actually comes in two forms. The naturally occurring folate and the synthetic folic acid. Although, sometimes a teeny bit of folic acid can form in food naturally, for the most part it is synthetically produced and luckily folic acid is more stable than folate and absorbed 1.67 times as well (1).

Folate is essential for cell growth and working with B12 to make red blood cells. Red blood cells that deliver oxygen to you and your baby, making this necessary for both of your lives. Most notably, folate prevents neural tube defects, such as anencephaly and spina bifida, by 50-70% as well as reduces autism spectrum disorders developing in children (2,3).

Aside from a prenatal vitamin prescribed by your physician, folate is found in all enriched grains and cereal products, also legumes, leafy greens, broccoli, and asparagus (4).

2.  You’re likely to be deficient in Vitamin B12 leading to anemia and fatigue.

Having an abundance of folate can mask a B12 deficiency and lead to anemia making you feel tired, slow, and lousy (6).

Vitamin B12 is unique in a few ways.

First, it can only be absorbed with a cofactor in your stomach called intrinsic factor (5).

Second, it is stored in your liver.  Meaning, it is needed so badly for nervous system and red blood cell function that your body has adapted to hold on to it. Because of it’s unique absorption vegetarian and meat eaters alike are lacking in this vitamin. Fortunately, only 2.4 micrograms daily will set you right and the liver can store extra B12 for years (5).

3.  Iron is your key for energy.

The key function for iron in forming a healthy baby is actually to keep you healthy because iron forms the functional part of hemoglobin (7).

Too much science?

Then picture each blood cell as a taxi picking up and dropping businessmen and women- always in a rush- to your cells. Having no iron is like having no seats! There’s no place for Ms. Oxygen or Mr. Carbon to sit and travel to their destination.

The issue here is that you begin to produce another type of hemoglobin while your pregnant called fetal hemoglobin. It’s exactly like Uber. Much more convenient for Ms. Oxygen to ride in travel all the way to your growing baby.

Unfortunately, that means your taxi’s have competition!

Without enough iron in your diet you can become anemic because your body prioritizes your growing baby’s oxygen demands. Iron is found in many dark red foods such as red meat. But there are plenty plant based sources such as red kidney beans, beets, and dark leafy greens.

4.  Focus on dietary iron too.

One is known as heme iron and the other as nonheme iron. The former is absorbed easily into the body, and is found only in meat. But that’s not the whole story!

Approximately 40% of the iron in meat is heme iron. That means 60% of it is nonheme (8).   Adding vitamin C to your dishes will increase iron absorption as well to help you up your intake of nonheme iron (9).

5. Calcium, your key for hormone signalling cascades and a healthy skeleton.

Calcium has hundreds of roles in the human body. Actually, you can probably double that when you’re pregnant. Calcium plays a hand in bone growth, cell signalling, muscle contractions, and even blood clotting- just to name the main functions.

Having enough calcium for yourself can make sure you stay strong, prevent cramps, and keep your heart healthy.

In terms of your baby’s health, calcium works with phosphorus and vitamin D to build up the skeletal system.  As a fun fact, the first bone that forms in your growing baby is going to be their clavicle! The weight of your body is about 1.7% calcium. It’s the most abundant mineral in your body with 97% of that calcium stored safely in your bones (10).

6.  Mono-ortho-calcium phosphate keeps your body alkaline.

Despite its big fancy name, all it does is make sure your blood stays in the perfect spot between too acidic and too alkaline. When you metabolize the food you eat and it increases the acidity in your body, you end up having to make more of that mono-ortho-calcium phosphate stuff to keep in check (11).

Where do you think that extra calcium comes from? If you guessed your bones- you’re 100% correct!

So how do you know if food will turn acidic in the body?

Foods like citrus seem acidic on the outside, but can have alkalizing effects once you eat and metabolize them, so the answer isn’t easy enough to guess at. Researchers developed the Potential Renal Acid Load, or PRAL, score for occasions just like this. Essentially this number boils down to: PRAL = protein and phosphorus – magnesium, potassium, and calcium So if the PRAL is positive the food you’re eating is…

1) taking calcium out of your bones

2) reducing your lean muscle mass

3) slowing down your metabolism

4) doing the same for your baby (12)

Dairy and meats have positive PRAL scores as a group, with meats being around 10 and dairy around one (12). On the other hand, fruits and vegetables have negative average PRAL scores (12).  When you eat various foods assembled together in a dish, the PRAL scores are added up to create a total effect.

For example, If you have a plate of chicken and broccoli with rice, the PRAL score can be overall negative by having an ounce of chicken, half a plate of broccoli, and a cup of rice. On the other hand, having a small section of broccoli on the plate with an overwhelming majority of the dish covered in chicken is going to lead to a positive PRAL score.

Eating positive PRAL meals over time can lead you to have a chronically acidic cellular environment. While this isn’t life threatening enough for your doctor to pick up, it can lead to more serious health issues over time, notably osteoporosis.

It would be ideal to replace foods that leech nutrition from your body with foods that flood your body with nutrition, but you can form meals to keep your acid balance in check. No need to go crazy like other nutrition coaches recommend and keep your body super alkaline because that has its health risks as well. The key is to keep your body in balance.

7.  You may need zinc and copper too for optimal health.

With taking over 30 mg of iron a day, you may lose out on absorbing enough zinc and copper for all of the manual labor your cells are performing to build up your baby (13).

Your intestines are picky that way. Different combination of nutrients and factors change what passes into your body and what keeps going through.

With that much iron, it’s recommended to have 15 mg of zinc and 2 mg of copper (13). Naturally with any supplementation during pregnancy I highly recommend you talk with your doctor first as each pregnancy is slightly different.

8.  Boost your fiber intake to avoid excessive pregnancy weight gain.

Fiber does wonders for your body. First, fiber helps you avoid excess weight gain. Eating foods high in fiber slows down your digestion.

When you eat a high-fiber meal, your enzymes have trouble breaking down all your food with all those tough strands of uncuttable fiber in the way. The more time it takes to break down your food, the less of a rise you will have in your blood sugar and the longer you will feel full after eating.

It’s a win-win situation! You eat less because you stay fuller longer as well as keep your blood sugar steady to avoid excess weight gain. You may have noticed that animal products do not contain fiber. This means the more fiber you eat, the more vegetables you end up eating as well.

9.  A higher fiber intake guarantees a healthy baby.

Fiber intake is seen to increase the odds of your baby being born a health weight 4-5 fold compared to those who rarely eat fiber (14).  Is it a coincidence that fiber is only found in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes?  Be sure to eat these foods daily for even better baby health and development.

10.  Fiber feeds your “good” gut bacteria.

This bacteria can actually break down the fiber you eat and turn it into by-products that improve your weight and help prevent chronic disease (15). It’s a classic case of mutualism, biology’s favorite win-win situation. You pat their back and they break down your fiber into powerful nutrients to boost your health.

11.  Probiotics assist with constipation, food cravings, and provide more vitamin K in your system.

Along with your big baby, you’ve been carrying billions of microscopic babies inside of you you’re entire life!

Everyone has a bacterial flora- research shows the type of bacteria in your gut is as unique to you as your set of fingerprints. As I hinted at when talking about fiber, some of these bacteria love to chow down on fiber. There’s also the so called “bad” gut bacteria that feeds off of sugars and produces gas as a result (16). While gut bacteria can provide the body with vitamin K, vitamin B12, protein, and nutrients that fight cancer or reduce inflammation they play an interesting role with your cravings (15).

12.  It turns out that your gut bacteria can influence the food cravings you have.

If you have more of the sugar-loving bacteria you tend to crave more sugary foods (16).

On the other hand, with more fiber-loving bacteria you’re steered to eat more plant based foods (15).

There are probiotic supplements you can purchase, but by eating more fiber-filled foods you’ll naturally feed and grow the bacteria in your gut. For certain situations, like after taking antibiotics or with a history of dysbiosis (frequent yeast infections), it may make sense for you to call in the troops and invest in a probiotic supplement.

Again, your bacterial flora is unique to you, so picking a probiotic supplement that sorts out your health issues can be tricky.

Three excellent general recommendations for you to start are:

13. Look for a probiotic with the lactobacillus acidophilus strain.

Overall, people react positively to this strain the most (17).  This makes lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria an excellent supplement to start with to focus on improving your health, your baby’s health, and vitality.

14. Find probiotic blends for top-notch health.

One bacteria strain does not a microbiome make! Probiotics containing mixtures of strains seem to work synergistically (18).  This may take experimentation to find the combination of probiotics that work the BEST for you based on your individual biochemistry.

15. Find the highest probiotics count you can.

Over 30 billion at least per capsule (19).  I know, 5 billion sounds like a big number too. And you’d be right if the bacteria in the capsule didn’t degrade and die over time from temperature, time, and even though stomach acid.

16.  Vitamin A is toxic in high amounts especially for pregnant women.

That’s right, vitamin A helps turn that bundle of cells into a little person with arms, legs, a heart, eyes, and even ears.

The tricky part here is that vitamin A is fat soluble. This means that if you take in too much vitamin A it isn’t easily gotten rid of through urine, like the B vitamins. It is stored in the fat cells in your body and can lead to damage to the DNA (20).

17.  Essential fatty acids build healthy brains and nervous systems.

Essential fatty acids are not produced by the body, meaning it’s essential to eat them in our daily diet.  Makes sense, right?

What doesn’t make sense is that prenatal vitamins typically don’t include these essential fatty acids!

Especially since the two long-form fatty acids, DHA and EPA, are needed to build up your baby’s brains, eyes, and nervous system (21).  Now, you can find these fats in fish- but fish can also be contaminated with BPA and heavy metal.  In turn, you don;t want to be consuming too much fish during a pregnancy (21).

The best solution here is to consume a high quality fish oil to ensure you get all the essential fats you and your baby need.

18.  Supplement with ginger to alleviate morning sickness.

The best hypothesis out there is the hormonal changes from estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropic hormone leading to vomiting and nausea. In extreme cases, you may actually have hyperemesis gravidarum. This is as rare as it is dangerous where you have vomiting to the extent of weight loss and electrolyte balance.

Don’t worry, if you do have morning sickness you’re not alone. About 80% of pregnant women experience throughout nausea during the day mostly between the 6th and 12th week of pregnancy (22).

While you can’t reverse the hormone changes your pregnancy is causing, you can take steps to reduce the severity of morning sickness. The number one food to add to your routine to fight morning sickness is ginger.

In stores you can find ginger chews and other supplements, but I recommend the real deal.  A simple way to do this is to grate a tablespoon of ginger and pour a cup of boiling water over it in a mug. Cover the mug and let the ginger infuse for 10 minutes before enjoying.

19.  Vitamin D is necessary in the 3rd trimester for healthy bones.

Another important vitamin for expecting mothers is vitamin D.  Vitamin D has many roles in the human body, but to summarize it is best known for assisting to direct and build a healthy skeleton, especially in the third trimester for (23).

I know, I know, we talked earlier about calcium being used for skeletal health and now we need vitamin D too?

Yes we do!

While calcium is the material that builds up our skeleton vitamin D works to transport and guide calcium to our bones and throughout the body.  Otherwise, it’s the same as having your home hooked up to electricity but have no wiring to guide that electricity to your lights!

20.  An ideal prenatal supplement ONLY needs calcium, vitamin D, iron, and folic acid.

We’ve talked all about the different types of vitamins or supplements you can include or a healthy pregnancy- over 11 so far!

No, you don’t have to take 11 distinct pills to ensure your best pregnancy ever.  In fact keeping track and buying all those pills would be a waste of your time and money. 

Instead, you just need 3:

To start, you need a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin D, calcium, iron, and folic acid.

Calcium, iron, and folic acid are the three essential vitamins 99% of all women need for their pregnancy and vitamin D will support proper calcium metabolism (24).

Next, many prenatal vitamins lack the essential fatty acids you need for optimal brain and nervous system formation in your growing baby, so a quality omega 3 fatty acid supplement containing EFA and DHA is number two here (24).

Lastly, probiotics make the cut because during pregnancy you are likely to suffer from constipation and increased risk of infection.  Having probiotics in your system helps to strengthen your immune system and supports regular bowel movements (25).

Now, there are more types of prenatal supplement formulations that I have hairs on my head!

Depending on your price range, desires, and individual biological needs you can choose from more than this bare-bones recommendation.

However, this is the ideal place to start when searching for prenatal supplementation.

21.  When should I start to take a prenatal vitamin

At this point you’re all set to find the BEST prenatal vitamin out there to boost your energy, health, and have the best baby ever…

… but you might just have one more question.

When should I take this prenatal vitamin??

You can start taking a prenatal vitamin as early as 3 months before conception because the time for critical growth of your baby is a few weeks right after conception as you go from the 1st to the 2nd trimester (26).  If you start taking it after conception just know that it’s never too late to start improving your nutrition! 

Even after you have your baby it is still ideal to stay on your prenatal supplements to support healthy breastfeeding, which can burn hundreds of calories a day and drain you of as many nutrients as your third trimester (26).

Summary

Being pregnant places a big strain on your body, which makes sense because you’re supporting yourself AND your growing baby.  It’s essential to work with your OBGYN to determine the best supplements to support your health, your sanity, and your energy, however, increasing the amounts of vegetables, fruit, whole grain, and legumes support your metabolism while reducing the side effects of pregnancy.

Rankings: best zinc supplements of 2018

You’ve likely heard of the element zinc and know that it’s important for human health, but how much do you really know of how it affects your body?

After all it is a trace element found in small amounts in the body! 

The following 21 facts illustrate how important having the appropriate amount of zinc is for maintaining health and look at how plays an important role in our health from the time we are infants until our old age.

1. Zinc reduces your risk of upset stomach

Diarrhea and pneumonia are leading causes of death in developing countries. Though these complications can arise from a variety of different conditions, a study was conducted to test the hypothesis of whether or not zinc deficiency could make people—specifically children—more susceptible to acquiring these two conditions.

The study used randomized controlled trials to see if ingestion of zinc supplements had an effect at reducing the rate of diarrhea and pneumonia in children in developing countries (1). Fortunately, the study concluded that a zinc could significantly reduce the rate and morbidity of these conditions, establishing a new way for these patients to be treate

For you, it can be smart to supplement with zinc if you’re traveling to a new country just to keep your body protected against any new bacteria, foods, and other environmental factors.

2. Lower your sick days with zinc

Medical studies have indicated that Zinc deficiencies are associated with an increased risk of infectious diseases (2). This means that having the adequate amount of zinc in our systems is an integral part of maintaining a healthy immune system.

However, for many people in underdeveloped countries, getting the proper amount of zinc in their daily diet is challenging. This leads many, including millions of children, to having zinc deficiency.

This increases the risk of infection for those living in third-world and developing nations, placing the general population at greater risks of morbidity from infections. So, that lagging cold you have may be easily squashed with some more zinc.

3. Zinc improves your baby’s health

Because zinc has been identified as a key nutrient in helping our immune systems fight off infections, a study was conducted examining the effects of the intake of zinc had on babies between the ages of one and nine months.

The study was conducted in India and sought to examine if zinc had any benefits for infants of this age. The study concluded that there was a significant reduction in infant mortality rates (2). In fact, the study reported a reduction of 68% mortality in low-income infants in India. This suggests that zinc supplements can play an important role in the reduction of infant mortality in underdeveloped and developing countries.

4. Zinc boosts your thyroid health

Zinc plays an important role in the healthy and normal function of the thyroid (3). The amount of zinc we intake has a direct effect on the thyroid, making zinc an important nutrient to monitor in patients with thyroid problems.

However, a recent study conducted on Iranian schoolchildren showed no statistical significance between low zinc levels and the prevalence of goiters in children (3).

This suggests that other factors should be used to explain the rate of goiters in children and that the effects of zinc on the thyroid are still not fully clear.  However, your thyroid is the furnace of your body. 

When it’s in good health, your metabolism is going full speed ahead, when your thyroid isn’t healthy you can stop fat loss in its tracks. Having zinc may not reverse conditions like Hashimoto’s or goiters, but it seems that zinc plays a role in optimal thyroid health.

5. Zinc levels can determine the health in the body

Zinc is one of the three-most abundant elements found in the human body (4). This is because zinc plays an important role in many of the body’s functions.

These roles include having an effect on the immune system, reproduction, growth, and the body’s defense mechanisms against free radicals. Because of this, it’s important that the body have the correct balance of zinc at all times.

Having zinc deficiencies can lead to various health problems that are seen in underdeveloped parts of the world. Additionally, zinc plays important roles as an ion in the body, furthering its importance in the body’s processes. 

Not only does zinc work to improve the speed of many processes critical to basic health, but it also works as a signal to keep you vital, fit, and focused.

Talk about the next fit and focused drug.

6. Zinc deficiency is common

Though you may not have heard much about it before, zinc deficiency is pretty common. In fact, this vital element is found in inadequate amounts in nearly two billion people around the world (4).

This makes zinc deficiency an important health concern for all countries, as countries with better production and standards of living typically have lower levels of zinc deficiency.

Because of the devastating effects zinc deficiency can have on one’s health, one should maintain a healthy balance of zinc in the body. Studies have indicated that even those living in Western countries could be at risk of minor zinc deficiencies.

This means that no one should consider themselves safe from this nutrient complication and should take active measures to make sure that they have adequate amounts of zinc in the body to perform important bodily functions.

7. Zinc boosts testosterone, naturally

With the average men’s testosterone levels worse than ever before, testosterone boosting supplements have become a massive market. No one wants to have a limp noodle down there.

That being said, where there is a ton of money, there are many lies. However zinc isn’t one of them.

Studies have indicated that zinc plays an important role in the proper functioning of the testicles and in testosterone production (4). This is because zinc has been linked to a condition known as hypogonadism, a condition in which the testes in males do not function as they should.

Young boys are particularly at risk of acquiring hypogonadism from zinc deficiency, as it interrupts the normal stage of puberty, leaving boys with decreased testosterone levels and sperm output. This can lead to life-changing and serious consequences of boys who are infected. This makes having enough zinc in the diet especially important for young and pubescent boys to ensure that they grow normally.

8. Too much Zinc can be toxic

Though the article has so far stressed the importance of having enough zinc in the diet in terms of zinc deficiency, it’s also possible to have too much zinc in the diet. This can happen from the overconsumption of certain products, such as medication.

A case study done on a patient, a twenty-seven-year-old male, reveals some of the complications of having too much zinc (5). These complications arose from taking too much acne medication that had an abundance of zinc. This led the man to being extremely fatigued and having dyspnea for four weeks.

In addition, he had a systolic ejection murmur and changes in his pulse, compounded severe cases of anemia and neutropenia. This illustrates the importance having a healthy balance of zinc in the body, showing the various health complications that having too much zinc can cause.

If you are taking or will take any medication for extended periods of time, especially acne medication, it imperative you ask your doctor if it could affect your zinc levels in a negative way.

9. If you’re low in zinc you may need more iron

Iron and zinc deficiencies, like peanut butter and jelly, often go hand-in-hand (6).

Studies have indicated that the same populations who suffer from zinc deficiency also suffer from iron deficiency. The standard treatment for both is having additional nutritional supplementation to help offset the effects of malnutrition.

Though iron supplementation has been linked to negative side effects even in those who are malnourished, zinc supplementation presents no serious side effects for those who are already suffering from a zinc deficiency.

This makes zinc supplementation a safe and effective method of counteracting a zinc deficiency. When taken together, zinc and iron supplements do not appear to have interfering effects with one another, meaning they may be taken at the same time (7).

10. Protect yourself from malaria with zinc

The effectiveness of zinc as a preventative measure against malaria in children in developing countries seems to be age-dependent (6). This means that the age of the child affected the utility of using zinc as a protective measure against acquiring malaria.

Additionally, as the study focused on zinc and iron supplementation together, they found that those who took both zinc and iron supplementation had a better chance of reducing the risk of contracting malaria as opposed to those who just took zinc supplementation, though both control groups saw a reduction in the risk of contracting malaria.

Children less than five years of age seemed to benefit most from zinc supplementation in regard to malaria, with the biggest reduction in risk coming from a combination of zinc and iron supplementation, followed by supplementation of zinc alone.

Iron supplementation had no statistical effect at reducing the rate of malaria when not used in combination of zinc.

11. Don’t use zinc for acute diarrhea

We have seen how zinc can help prevent the onset and severity of diarrhea in developing countries, but other studies have indicated that zinc has no statistical significance when used as a treatment for acute diarrhea (8).

This does not mean that zinc is not effective against diarrhea as a whole, rather that it should not be used as a treatment when children suffer from acute diarrhea. This study was conducted on Turkish children and monitored the amount of zinc in their blood plasma over a fourteen-day period.

Even though they had a significant rise of the amount of zinc in their plasma, they saw no significant benefit in using zinc supplementation against cases of acute diarrhea.

12. Zinc helps deter aging

Much of the literature concerning the benefits of zinc supplementation involves children and the immune system. Because of this, one study set out to see if zinc could help the age-related deterioration of the immune system (9).

The study noted that the immune system loses functionality as we age, and it sought to know if zinc could alleviate these problems.

The results were two-fold. Though it found that zinc supplementation at moderate levels could help maintain a healthy immune system, increased levels of zinc supplementation could worsen these age-related problems.

This indicates that further research needs to be done to better understand how zinc supplementation affects the elderly, and that elderly patients should closely monitor their zinc levels for optimum health.

13. Zinc improves co-ordination

A study measured the effects of zinc supplementation on Jamaican children to see if zinc supplementation had any effect on coordination (10). The results were clear: zinc supplementation helps children in underdeveloped countries and other children who may be malnourished and experiencing zinc deficiencies.

The study noted that zinc and stimulation together produced the greatest effects on a child’s coordination, and that zinc supplementation had significant effects in reducing the rate of diarrhea in children, but that it was not significant in helping improve growth.

This connects with a body of literature of the effects of zinc supplementation in children, providing further evidence that zinc supplementation should be enacted and encouraged in underdeveloped nations.

14. Zinc is still a mysterious element

Despite all the research about zinc that has already been conducted, one study issued the need for further studies to be conducted in regard to zinc and the human body (11). This means that the effects of zinc on the human body are not yet well-known or fully understood. The paper calls for a better understanding of how zinc affects our bodies and how it can be used to help prevent and treat diseases in underdeveloped nations.

Furthermore, it notes that we need to further research and understand the effects zinc has on the body even in cases that have been well-documented. This increased focus on zinc and its effects bears exciting possibilities in the field of nutrition and in helping developing nations.

15. Zinc is extremely affordable

We’ve seen how important zinc is to the human body, and we’ve noted several times that zinc deficiency is a serious health concern for billions across the globe, mainly in developing countries. Because of this, a study sought to see how much it would cost in order for India to have a program where food was fortified with zinc in order to help reduce rates of zinc deficiency (12). The study concluded that large-scale programs to reduce zinc deficiency through bio fortification are a cost-effective way to significantly reduce rates of zinc deficiency.

Even if you’re looking to buy a supplement, they won’t cost an arm or a leg. In fact, according to consumerlab.com, you can get zinc for under 5 cents a day (15).

16. Zinc is best used as a preventative measure

We have noted that zinc plays an important role in our immune function. Because of this, a study was conducted to see how effective zinc is at preventing disease in infants (13).

The study’s conclusion that zinc could help reduce the rates of certain diseases may come as no surprise, but some important information was revealed. The study found that zinc can significantly reduce rates of infection in infants with lower birth rates. This establishes a correlation between zinc and birthweight.

17. Zinc supports healthy digestion.

Zinc has the ability to promote ion absorption and reduce rates of ion secretion (14). In other words, zinc helps promote the absorption of necessary nutrients and ions that help our bodies function. 

This helps you avoid bloating and keeps your body functioning the best it can.

18.  Zinc doesn’t help your sleep

One commonly sold zinc supplement is a ZMA complex.  This is a combination of zinc, magnesium, and aspartate.  Mainly, it is taken at night to help you achieve deeper and more restful sleep to recover faster from a tough day of training. 

However, there is little scientific proof that the zinc works to improve your sleep quality (17).  In fact, the FDA loosely regulates marketing claims on supplements so Its recommended you look to third-party independent research, as presented here, to know if a supplement works and will help your health.

19.  Copper is zinc’s rival in the body

Your intestines are one smart organ.  Only a millimeter separates your blood stream from the outside world, but your body has figured out how to get in the nutrients you need and keep out the rest (for the most part).

In your intestines, zinc and copper compete for absorption because they’re similar.  If you take high doses of zinc that can actually put you at risk for copper deficiency because you’ll be absorbing more zinc and letting the copper pass right by (18). 

This works in the blood stream as well.  If you have excess copper building up in your body, from Wilson’s disease or something similar, supplementing with zinc will help reduce copper stores in your cells and joints (19).

20. Zinc slows down the progression of blindness

Zinc, in combination with antioxidants- or just in high doses- is seen to reduce the progression of degenerative eye disorders such as Age-Related Macular degeneration (16). 

As the leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration is something you should be working to prevent to keep your health in top shape, especially as you age.

Summary

Zinc plays a crucial role in several important bodily functions, and has a direct influence on our health.  However, unless you’re already deficient in zinc supplementing may be going too far.

By maintaining a healthy amount of zinc in your body through eating a variety of nuts, seeds, and healthy meats through your day you can help support your immune system and promote your general health overall.

Rankings: best vitamin d supplements of 2018

If you live in the northern hemisphere, this is probably your reality: You don’t get enough vitamin D. This is because both Vitamin D supplements and the sun aren’t as popular north of the equator.

And while you might simply brush this vitamin off as another fad, there are many scientifically validated, health benefits linked to adequate vitamin D intake; many of which you’ll find out below. There are also many lies surrounding vitamin D.

Thus, it’s kinda, sorta, VERY important that you are able to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to vitamin D… Your health does lie in the balance.

Thankfully you have this masterpiece.  This perfectly written article (by yours truly) is designed for one purpose: to give you a PhD in Vitamin D. After you are done, you’ll easily be able to separate fact from fiction and friend from foe.

1.  Vitamin D has been linked to internal cancer prevention

Studies have shown that those with adequate amounts of sun exposure (usually five to ten minutes a day for at least three days a week) are less likely to develop any type of internal cancers (1). This is because the vitamin D that we obtain from sunlight works in our bodies to help regulate calcium flow and build us up from the inside out.

So no, you don’t have to chug that gallon of kale, garlic, and tomato juice down to lower your risk of cancer.

On the flip side, too much sun exposure can have an adverse effect—namely the development of external cancers (such as skin cancer). Because of this, it is important to maintain a proper level of sun exposure (and maybe put on some sunscreen guys).

2.  Vitamin D boosts bone health in post menopausal women

It has been shown that vitamin D plays an extensive role in strengthening the bones of postmenopausal women. Studies by major women’s health organizations have provided a link between vitamin D and a reduction in the hip fractures of senior women (2).

This means that vitamin D should play a bigger role in the diet and lifestyle of women who are advancing in age (mom, that means you)—and the earlier one starts, the better.

3.  Vitamin D can reduce risk of multiple sclerosis

There are now links between adequate vitamin D sufficiency and a reduction in the likelihood of contracting autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, or MS (3). This is because vitamin D works as a strengthening agent inside our bodies, and helps to maintain our bodies from the cellular level.

This is important for all types of bone health, including when it comes to autoimmune disorders, which can leave individuals paralyzed.

Consider this your doctor’s note to skip work to soak in the sun instead.

4.  Vitamin D supplementation can mean less type I AND type II diabetes

Furthermore, there is now evidence to suggest that vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of type one diabetes (4). Diabetes is a growing and serious problem in the United States, especially among individuals with weight issues. Receiving a sufficient amount of vitamin D intake can help you reduce the risk of obtaining type one diabetes.

However, it should not be taken as a cure-all, as the links between vitamin D and diabetes are still not wholly proven. Furthermore, it is too much of a simplification to suggest that adequate levels of vitamin D are all that are required to prevent diabetes. Instead, a whole list of measures should be taken in order to maintain proper health.

5.  Vitamin D can prevent a heart attack!

Recent studies are tying vitamin D levels with a reduced likelihood of obtaining cardiovascular disease (5). This means that vitamin D potentially has more health benefits than previously thought. Instead of a one trick pony we have a Swiss Army knife of health!

With these types of studies, however, the extent to which vitamin D plays in the overall protection of our health seems to be growing. Those who wish to prevent future heart disease should—among other things—make sure they take the appropriate steps to receive adequate levels of vitamin D intake.

6.  Vitamin D may cure the common cold.

As if all of these major health benefits to adequate vitamin D intake were not enough, studies suggest that there are increasingly more and varied health benefits to vitamin D. One of these is the prevention of viral and bacterial infections that can make us sick and prove seriously damaging to our health, such as coming down with a cold (6).

By working in our bodies on a cellular level, studies suggest, vitamin D helps our immune systems stay strong against external threats. This means that vitamin D should possibly play a larger role in the way we go about preventing common illnesses.

7.  Vitamin D crushes cases of bone disease

There has long been an established link between the intake of vitamin D and a reduction of bone disease (7). This is because vitamin D manages the calcium in our bodies that strengthen our bones and allow us to maintain mobility. One of the major benefits to this is the prevention of such painful bone diseases as osteoporosis and osteomalacia. 

This information has proven useful in the care and medical treatment of those suffering from bone disease and other aches and pains associated with bone and joint movement. Furthermore, it is now considered that patients suffering from such problems receive adequate vitamin D supplements to improve their overall bone health.

8.  Vitamin D improves joint health by reducing Rheumatoid Arthritis too

While on the subject of bone health, it is important to discuss the links between vitamin D and rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating joint disease. Studies have linked an adequate intake of vitamin D with the prevention and reduction of rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in women (8).

This means that vitamin D does more than just strengthen bones. It allows for the prevention of common bone aches that plague millions of Americans. Because of this, more and more people- like me- are turning to vitamin D supplements in order to ensure their future bone health and the prevention of painful bone diseases later in life- especially after spending all day tying!

9. Vitamin D is most extremely important if you’re over 55

Multiple studies have shown that elderly people are much more likely to suffer from bone disease than younger people (9). This is because older people generally do not receive the same amount of sunlight exposure that younger people do and also because the vitamin D requirement goes up as we age.

Because of this, older people are more susceptible to hip fractures, arthritis, and diseases such as osteoporosis. That is why it is recommended that the elderly always receive their proper allotment of vitamin D, as vitamin D deficiency in the elderly can have much more damaging effects that vitamin D deficiency in younger individuals.

The good news is that increasing vitamin D levels is such a simple lifestyle change that ANYONE can do it and feel the benefits no matter if you’re old or young.

10. Vitamin D can boost brain health to prevent dementia

Vitamin D has also been linked to a reduction in the likelihood of obtaining mental illnesses, such as dementia (10). Though the verdict is still out on whether this link is substantial, it does have a bit of credence.

As a result, proper amounts of vitamin D intake should not just be considered a physical necessity. Rather, we should see it as the strengthening of both our bodies and our minds. This could end up paying great dividends for our mental health. And though the link is not completely proven (yet), it is better to be safe than sorry.

11. Vitamin D may boost fertility in women.

As part of the campaign to test the effectiveness of vitamin D in just about every medical area, studies were conducted to see the importance of vitamin D in relation to pregnancy. These studies found there may be a link between vitamin D levels and the likelihood of infertility (11).

This link is potentially ground-breaking, as it is far removed from the traditional realm of what we expect from vitamin D. If there is indeed a true link between a reduction in infertility rates and vitamin D, then we can expect the importance of vitamin D to grow in the coming years.

12. Skin pigmentation can lower vitamin D levels

As mentioned, there are certain demographics that suffer more from vitamin D deficiency. It is important to mention that vitamin D requirements and levels differ by race, and many of those who end up suffering from vitamin D deficiencies are African-American (or elderly) (12). Because of this, it is important to recognize the level of vitamin D you should be taking in. As the intake varies per individual, you may want to check with your doctor and get a professional opinion.

This is especially true if you are suffering from any type of bone disease or other bone-related aches and pains. The importance of awareness in maintaining proper bone health cannot be understated.

13. There are many false health claims surrounding vitamin D

Any article on vitamin D-related health benefits that does not include a disclaimer should be taken with a grain of salt. That is why we wish to tell you that many of the health benefits associated with vitamin D are not yet proven (13).

While many of them are strong suggestions and may truly increase your overall health, it is not set in stone that any of these theories are proven. Because of this, you should not rely on vitamin D to be a cure for all of your bone health issues, and you certainly should not consider it to be a cure for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or infertility.

Vitamin D is a supplement, and so you should use it to supplement your health.  Otherwise, if you rely solely on vitamin D to improve your health without improving the way you live you’re essentially applying a fresh coat of paint on a broken down car.  Whatever your health goals may be, it would be wise to consult with your physician to see how vitamin D might be helpful for you.

14. Vitamin D keeps your blood pressure low and heart heathy

Keeping the previous information in mind, you may be interested to note that adequate levels of vitamin D intake have been linked to the reduction of blood pressure levels (14). This could have major benefits for those with high blood pressure or the potential to develop high blood pressure. According to the study, the benefits of vitamin D on blood pressure were more felt in women.

This echoes a common trend from many of the facts here that women seem to benefit more from vitamin D intake than men (at least in certain areas).

15. Vitamin D is found outside, NOT on your plate

Most of the vitamin D we intake comes from sunlight. In fact, we barely get even a percentage of our vitamin D from our diets (15). This means that the foods we eat have little impact on the amount of vitamin D were are putting into our bodies.

As a result, we should look into receiving vitamin D supplements if we are lacking in vitamin D, or we should consider increasing our sun exposure (within a reasonable limit, of course).

16. Too much Vitamin D can be lethal (watch out!)

As with many areas of nutritional science, the exact amount of vitamin D we should intake is not yet fully agreed upon. Of course, the true amount of vitamin D we should receive may vary by individual, but as of yet there is no consensus standard that we should follow when it comes to vitamin D intake.

In fact, many of the studies we use to guide our vitamin intake are actually quite dated (16). This is because nutritional science is constantly being updated and revised. Because of this, we should look less to scientific studies and more to our doctors when it comes to our specific vitamin D dosage requirements.

17. Vitamin D is essential for healthy living

According to studies, vitamin D deficiency is actually quite a bit more common than we would like to admit (17). Many of us, especially the elderly, do not get the required amount of sunlight that fosters a healthy vitamin D intake into the body.

As a result of all of this, we suffer from damaging bone diseases or routine aches and pains that leave us in discomfort. This is why every individual is urged to meet with his or her physician and check on their vitamin D levels. This could lead to significant health benefits for those who do.

18. Skyrocket Vitamin D absorption with a glass of fat

Vitamin D is one of 4 fat soluble vitamins, meaning it dissolves in fats (18).  Basically, if you put vitamin D in a glass of water, it would all sink to the bottom and not mix in well.  On the other hand, if you mixed vitamin D with a glass of olive oil it would easily break down and blend it. 

Guess what?  This means you want to eat vitamin D during your largest, or fattiest, meal of the day to improve the absorption of vitamin D into your body.  Honestly, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much vitamin D you take or how much it can benefit your health if none of it passes into your blood stream!

19.  The Goldilocks Effect of Vitamin D on muscle mass…

The good news is that vitamin D is seen to increase BOTH muscle mass and strength more than a placebo in 12 weeks of exercise for women over 45 (19).  So, if you’re low in vitamin D (which is below 20 ng/dL of vitamin D in your blood) you should definitely supplement. 

The reversal is that vitamin D has a U-shaped curve.  While having too little vitamin D leaves you at risk for all sorts of health issues, which we’ve covered above, having too much vitamin D can lead to issues as well!

For example, another study looked at strength training in women over 45 and save that strength decreased significantly compared to the placebo group (20).  Overall, it is essential to know what level your vitamin D is at and understand if you need to supplement or hold back. 

The tricky part is that everyone is a bit different and an ideal level for you may be higher than the ideal level for your neighbor.  Especially if you exercise, have optimal levels of calcium, vitamin K, and magnesium (all factors that support vitamin D). 

Instead of simply relying on a number from a test and going from there, I recommend using the numbers to know where to begin AND using your increasing or decreasing strength levels in the gym to let you know if you need more or less vitamin D as a supplement.

20.  Feeling blue? Vitamin D may reduce depression.

Low levels of vitamin D are correlated to depression (21).  This is a tricky relationship to tease out because the majority of vitamin D comes from sunshine, so it may be that being exposed to less sunshine leads to depression and vitamin D levels are a side effect. 

If you have discovered online that vitamin D is a treatment for depression just know that IS NOT true.  It can be dangerous to take too much vitamin D.  However, exercise is fantastic for combating depression and I highly recommend a daily dose of that.

21.  If you have eczema I have good news

Eczema, psoriasis, or dry itchy skin is the worst.  It is seen that sunshine can reduce the severity of eczema in children (22).  Again, as with depression, there is a link between eczema and low levels of vitamin D. 

While the link isn’t firm, it does seem promising.  For the moment vitamin D therapy for eczema isn’t established, but getting good ole sun exposure will help dry itchy skin, cool down and feel better. Furthermore it will your skin moisturized to avoid further damage.

In Sum…

While its free to get vitamin D form the sun, more than likely if you live in a place north of the hemisphere, you are deficient (at least for part of the year). Thus its worth your money to invest in a solid vitamin D supplement.

That being said, there are many proposed health benefits to vitamin D intake, but these should not be taken as magical cures for a wide array of health problems. Instead, individuals should be aware of their health and the steps they may be able to take to prevent future health-related issues.  Remember: a supplement is supposed to support your health efforts NOT do all the work for you.

Rankings: best pre-workout supplements of 2018

Pre-workouts are one of the most common supplements men and women pick up when they first start hitting the gym; aside from protein powder. It makes sense though.

Everyone wants that slight edge and to squeeze the most out of their workouts. By having something you can consume before you train to boost your fat loss and prime you for faster muscle growth, pre workout concoctions are the easiest solution. 

That being said, do pre-workout supplements live up to all hype? Let’s examine 23 facts about the ingredients in pre-workout supplements and discover if pre-workout supplements are a fit for you.

Spoiler alert: they probably aren’t…jk, or am I?

1. Hidden caffeine in pre-workouts can send you to the ER.

Nearly all pre-workout supplements contain caffeine. Caffeine isn’t necessarily bad for your health. However, too much can send you to the emergency room, fast. 

In fact, caffeine boosts workout focus and intensity so well that with too much caffeine you run the risk of a dangerously high heart rate, over exertion, and even injury (1). 

The issue is that most pre-workout formulates concentrate caffeine, packing in around 435 milligrams on average (1).  This varies from product to product so be sure to scope out the caffeine content if you do decide to take a pre-workout. 

You want to be mindful of this especially if you are older, overweight, or have any other signs and symptoms of cardiovascular issues because caffeine consumption increases cardiac output AND blood pressure (1).

2. Creatine- draws fluids and boost energy production

Another common ingredient in many pre-workout formulations is creatine.  Creatine is the most researched supplement. Luckily it is safe, effective, and inexpensive to use- if used correctly (2).  I bet you’re already using creatine!

If so, excellent job.

First off, creatine works because your body uses creatine to create energy. This creatine-phosphate pathway provides extreme levels of energy for only a second or two though, giving you enough juice for an extra rep or enough of a start to reach a new personal record in your lift (2) or to look extra strong for that hottie checking you out (I know, you know what I’m talking about).

3. Increase your power with creatine.

Because the creatine energy pathway is so rapid, creatine is most useful for short explosive activities, the kind of activities that are great for muscle and strength development, such as max lifts, plyometrics, and lifts under at most 10 repetitions (3).

Power exercises draw the most energy as you’re applying your strength with greater speed, having the significant advantage from creatine can actually help you get that edge in your training for even faster recovery, progress, and performance.

This way you don’t have to be “that guy” grunting and twisting up your face as you lift to squeeze out an extra rep.  You can be the shredded guy, effortlessly pumping out one rep after another.

4. Creatine ONLY works if you take it regularly.

Unlike caffeine, which you can drink and feel the effects immediately, creatine needs to be stored and accumulated in the body.  Remember creatine increases fluid retention in the muscle, so you need time to build up these creatine and fluid stores so that your muscles will have access to creatine when you’re in the gym. 

Typically, each creatine supplement has instructions on how to start supplementation, I recommend going for a longer initial period instead of taking megadoses of creatine from the start for more effective and safe results (4).  Preworkouts aren’t supposed to feel like you’re doing the cinnamon challenge!

5. Guarana works similarly to coffee.

Guarana is actually a plant from the Amazon that finds its way into many different preworkout formulas.  Aside from being exotic, it doesn’t have any other special attributes when compared to coffee (5). 

While guarana is commonly used for weight loss, it seems to work by stimulating your body, with caffeine, to improve your focus and speed up your metabolism.

6. Pre workout Improves your workout state for better results.

Many pre-workout supplements may work simply as a placebo! 

By taking a dose before you workout, you might be psychologically warming up to put yourself in the best mental frame for exercise; kind of like having Tony Robbins in a can, to pump you up before you lift. 

It’s an idea referred to as anchoring a conditioned response. 

The most famous example of this is how one researcher trained his dogs to salivate on command.  Dr. Pavlov wanted to see if he could make his dogs salivate at the ring of a bell.  Naturally, the dogs salivated around food only.  So, Pavlov rang a bell just before he would give the dogs a piece of meat.  Before long, Pavlov would ring a bell and make the dogs salivate WITHOUT giving them any food at all (6).

Similarly, if you take a pre-workout before every training session you have, it may be psyching you up and getting you ready for another great training session simply because you naturally push yourself and have excellent training sessions.  This can be useful, but there are many free ways to get the same exact effect.

7. Increase focus in the gym for more intensity and faster results.

Exercise is more than physical, there’s a huge mental component on how much you feel you can lift and how far you can keep going.  Research reports that pre-workout supplements in general can increase your focus during a training session so that you’re better in touch with your mind and body as your train giving you faster results down the road (7).

That being said, it doesn’t matter if you’re spending $50 on a preworkout or $5 on a cup of coffee, the mental effects will still be the same.

8. Pre workout Increases heart rate to pump you up.

Some pre-workouts don’t work at all (8).  They end up pumping you up with different stimulants that raise your heart rate and make you feel ready for exercise, but can actually lead to dangerously high blood pressure and cardiovascular system strain (8).  Keep an eye out for excessive caffeine and any amphetamine-like substances on the label!

9. Beta-alanine: non essential, but helpful

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that your body can actually create, meaning you don’t need to consume it regularly in your everyday diet.  However, beta-alanine is converted into other compounds that do support and enhance lean muscle tissues, sounds good right?

In elderly populations it’s been seen to help preserve muscle mass, however there needs to be more research done in younger populations (who are the ones more likely to consume this ingredient) to see if it’s worth your money (9).

10. WARNING: Watch out for amphetamine-like substances and steroids

Most men and women out there love that first sip of a pre-workout supplement.  You feel the energy roaring through you and you know it’s time to go hard.  However, there are some pre-workout supplements that go overboard.

You know there’s a problem when your pre-workout can cause you to fail a drug test! 

The issue is typically found in the proprietary blend on the label.  Now, proprietary blend may seems like a fancy deeply researched blend of scientific compounds….

…Unfortunately, it typically is a way for supplement companies to hide ingredients into products to sneak past FDA approval and can contain pre-hormones, amphetamines, and other chemicals (10).  Make sure the preworkout you consume has transparency to let you know what you’re consuming.

11. Coffee is helpful, but you do develop a tolerance.

One excellent stimulant is coffee.  With a modest 100 mg on average per cup, you can increase your focus just a notch without overdoing it and dealing with stress on your heart, body, and even brain (11). 

The one drawback is that you develop a tolerance for caffeine, making it less effective over time unless you up the dose (11).  If you end up carrying a gallon container of coffee to the gym, you know you’ve gone way too far.

I recommend keeping caffeine around 200 mg, or less, and cycling your coffee.  Coffee is dehydrating, so on cardio days or recovery days stick with water, but if you’re lifting heavy go with the java.  This will help you lower your weekly caffeine intake and keep your body sensitive to caffeine so you get the biggest jolt of energy on the workouts that you need it.

12. Niacin to quadruple your energy.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to turn into the Hulk?

Have too much niacin and you’ll find out.  Niacin is used for energy metabolism in the body, amongst other functions.  If you have a little it can increase carbohydrate mobilization into the bloodstream, giving you a boost of energy to burn more fat and energy in a workout (12).  If you mega dose niacin, you’ll actually end up mobilizing more fats and can “hit the wall” in your workouts (13).  The bottom line is that a bit of niacin is excellent for a pre-workout, however take too much and you can put your body out of balance and bottom out your energy levels.

13. Citrulline boosts blood flow for enhanced performance

Citrulline is a phytonutrient, or a plant-specific compound that has effects in the body. 

Specifically, citrulline is seen to work as a vasodilator and can increase time to exhaustion during exercise (14).  This means that your blood vessels are opened up to allow for more blood flow, making you feel ready to train harder.  Definitely a helpful ingredient in any pre-workout blend and easy to find in citrus fruits.

14. Never ever believe anything you read on a label- ever

The federal drug administration (FDA) does not closely regulate pre-workout supplement claims. This means that many products can be misleading or even outright dangerous.

This is why it is essential to buy from a trusted and reputable supplement company instead of settling for the best claims or prices. What you may be putting your money towards is a bloated marketing budget instead of a product that increases your health AND gets you the best results in the gym.

15. Dangers and damages of pre workout supplements are real

Some marketing claims are more than false- they’re deadly.  For instance, the Food and Drug Administration recently filed criminal charges against USP Labs, the makers of the pre-workout supplements Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, which have been linked to acute liver damage and multiple deaths (15). 

Once again, be sure to buy supplements only from trusted safe sources.

16. How’s YOUR workout?

We’ve spent a lot of time looking at all the ingredients and implications of a pre-workout supplement here, but what about the main course?  If your workout isn’t effective then pre-workout supplements won’t be helping you at all!

If you don’t train with any kind of intensity you won’t be stimulating muscle growth (16).  You definitely don’t need a preworkout for a Zumba class or to sit on the floor foam rolling all day before you do one set of squatting.

  Make sure your goals match up with your use of a pre-workout supplement- otherwise use your money for something better.

17. BCAAs help preserve lean muscle mass.

Adding in BCAAs to the mix is a big help- especially if you train fasted (17).  Branched chained amino acids are easily broken down and used to provide energy to spare your muscle tissues during fasted, long lasting, or intense sessions (17).

The best way to take this is by having 10 grams before the workout and then 10 grams after you finish training (17). Honestly, you can still lose fat and gain muscle without BCAAs, but they are effective in speeding up results and safe to consume.

18. Pre-workout meals are the key to mass building.

Interestingly enough, research illustrates that pre-workout meals are more effective than post-workout meals in terms of your results and recovery.  The pre-workout meal should be 2-3 hours before your activity, where it is digested and freshly absorbed into your bloodstream.  This way, the food you’ve eaten is right where it needs to be to fuel your exercise (18)!

One tweak to your routine would be to play with different foods before exercise to see how they naturally affect your energy and focus because at the end of the day adding a cup of broccoli to a pre-workout meal a few hours before you lift is much less expensive than a clump of pre-workout powder.

19. Vitamin C speeds up workout recovery

Speaking of broccoli, and other vegetables, these foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals most folks don’t pay much attention to.  That’s their loss, luckily we know better!

Micronutrients are the small hinges that swing BIG doors in the body to allow for greater immune function, better skin, improved performance, and even faster weight loss (19).  Particularly, Vitamin C is seen to boost immune system and fight oxidative stress during exercise and is a great ingredient to find in your pre-workout mix (19).

20. Tart cherry mirrors NSAIDs effects – without the damage.

Not sure what an NSAID is?

I have you covered. A NSAID is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.  While these drugs can reduce swelling and signs of overtraining, they can lead to deeper issues.  In fact, NSAID use can cover up underlying nerve or muscular disorders that lead to further damage and even opioid use. 

I recommend sticking with the tart cherry juice if you’re an Iron Addict to avoid becoming a heroin addict.

If that’s not enough NSAID use can also irritate your stomach according to several studies.

Fortunately, tart cherry juice, or tart cherries, have been seen to reduce inflammation and boost recovery in marathon runners (20).

21. Save the protein for after for greater muscle growth

You don’t need to have a ton of protein in your pre-workout formula because you typically have enough proteins floating around to recruit during your workout- if you need any. 

If anything, you need BCAAs.  These will spare your muscle tissue during the workout if need be and help you stay leaner and lose weight faster otherwise muscle growth typically occurs after the workout when you’re resting and recovering.  That’s why it’s so important to have time to activate recovery time, eat well, and rest between workouts.

Plus you’ll have more time to soak up more fantastic action steps to get even faster results with time.

22. Fats are not necessary and can kill your workouts.

Fats tend to damage endothelial tissues, the lining of your blood vessels, and restrict blood flow during your exercise (21).  Don’t worry, those effects only last a few hours!

The issue is that pre-workouts typically aim to increase blood flow because with less blood flowing it is difficult to get the most out of your workout. 

If you have a high dose of fat before you start to train you may end up being more sluggish and “hit the wall” during your workout.  On the other hand, there are (elite) athletes that train and adapt themselves to be more efficient at burning fat by switching their diet to one mostly based around fats. 

For the average person, it’s best to avoid large quantities of fat in your pre workout.

23. Carbohydrates can make or break your results.

Carbohydrates can make or break pre-workout formula.  Typically, carbohydrates are the preferred fuel in the body.  Ideally, you would want to have carbohydrates in a pre-workout meal because you can eat it with more fiber, fat, and protein to slow the absorption of sugar into the body. 

Otherwise, you’d be consuming sugar in a pre-workout mix and that would cause a sharp increase in your blood sugar leading to a rapid decline (22).  Along with falling blood sugar you’d lose focus his energy and not get too much anything out of your workout. 

Although, in the past they have in athletes who have got their mouth with sugar water to trick your body into thinking that they’re consuming more calories from sugar to prime the body to actually burn more energy during exercise.  However, that’s anecdotal and not the best source to go on so I would stick with a sugar-free pre-workout

In summary

The quality of your pre-workout varies from company to company and from ingredient to ingredient.  If you’re looking to get the most out of your strength training session, your competition, or your big endurance-style session it may pay to invest in a pre-workout supplement.

But, there are many risks when you aren’t sure what you’re getting in a pre-workout supplement so you definitely want to do your research first to figure out if it’s worth the money your health and if it will give you the results that you are looking for.

For the average gym-goer I’d highly recommend ditching the pre-workout supplement for plain coffee and putting a bigger focus on what you eat during your meals.

The 25 Best MLM Companies Ranked

Welcome to our MLM list for 2017.

Here are the best MLM (multi-level marketing) opportunities of 2017. All based off of our reviews, market trends, and the ability to make money for their distributors.

Number 25: Kannaway

This company makes it on the list due to it’s “first to market” style. With cannabis popularity on the rise in various products, Kannaway wants to be a professional in the phytocannabinoids industry. It barely makes the list, but it could be a great opportunity since it is something everyone is talking about and they are the only MLM in the arena right now.

Number 24: Arbonne

One of the many in the botanical products niche. That said, Arbonne has style and everything they sell looks good. There is also a good range of items that will help you do direct sales as well as get your network built out quickly. The average income in the comp plan is also promising with a decent amount of reps making it to the second and third levels (when compared to other MLMs). Continue reading

Nature’s Care Review — Is it a scam?

Nature’s Care is an Australian-based MLM in a few different categories including; supplements, baby products, and skin care.

The company was started in 1990 by a person the site simply calls, Jina. Jina read about the incredible benefits of garlic and decided to make her own mix and sell it via the network marketing business model. It’s grown from there.

Products seems to be growing, but they are all “green” and health focused. The categories seem a bit more varied than other MLMS in that they have supplements (a common offer from these companies) and baby-specific products (as far as we can tell, Nature’s Care is the only company with this specific category.

But, are the a viable business model.

Products

There are three broad categories with Nature’s Care, each with one or more lines of product. We’ll go over the three as well as some of the products in each.

First up, there is the supplement line (a bit like Stemtech).

Those who are familiar with MLM businesses will be comfortable here. It’s here that the company focuses and there are five supplement lines in the category. Two of the lines are Australia specific and may not benefit you unless you live down under.

The “Royal” line is a premium supplement brand that’s made from all organic materials including something called “Royal Propolis”.

According to the Nature’s Care site:

Royal propolis is a pure, organic substance that is collected by bees from the leaf buds and trees.

There is also a line called “NC Pro Series”. This supplement is kind of a one-size-fits-all adults brand that can be marketed to just about anyone.

Next up in the category list are the baby products.

Other companies may sell a product that can be used on babies, or even a specific baby product or two. That said, Nature’s Care is the only MLM that we’ve reviewed that has an entire category devoted to infants.

Three of the products are skin related. Essentially, they’re a set of vitamin-infused lotions that help baby and his/her skin (like Nu Skin for babies).

Surprisingly, there is also a formula to feed babies. There are a few versions of the Mei Mei Gold Plus + formula. Versions include several infant formulas as well as a toddler version. According to Nature’s care the formula is:

a premium infant formula that is nutritionally complete to ensure healthy growth and development. Omega-3 (DHA, ARA), to support brain and eye development. Lutein to help support infants’ sensitive eyes. Nucleotides and β-carotene to help support immunity and a healthy digestive system.

Baby products are interesting and could set this MLM apart from others, especially from young mothers—which seem to be a target market for a lot of network marketing companies nowadays.

This particular line could be an easy sell to a crowd that seems to gravitate toward one another anyway.

While it’s not their main line of products, it is the most unique and could bring a high level of success to the right consultant; provided the quality is good enough for a mom and dad to give to their children.

Last up in the categories are the skin care product lines. There are six in total including; Leimei, Fairy, Paw Paw, Super Life, NC 24, and Nature’s Care Organic.

Nature’s Care Organic uses a bit of the company’s Australian edge and is made specifically from organic fruit extracts that are found in the country itself. Honestly, this may only be a novelty, but it could proved useful to some.

There is also a skin whitening line (NC 24), a youth skincare lotion, and a therapeutic line (Paw Paw) that is said to help calm nerves along with keeping skin in good condition.

Compensation Plan

Unfortunately, there isn’t a compensation plan to be found on the entire world wide web (we checked).

It seems as though, the company is still focusing on growth in the Australian market. However, you can purchase Nature’s Care products in other areas of the world. It just seems as though they are not interested in signing up contractors from abroad at this particular point in their business venture.

Whether or not this will change in the future is unclear. If you are in Australia and can find a distributor to join up under, they will likely have information on the payouts and commission levels. Right now, that’s not something we can provide.

The website does ask those interested in joining to email the company, but it really doesn’t even allude to anything.

One of the most vital things in the MLM industry is to convey how network marketers can build their networks and make money on their investment. Nature’s Care doesn’t even show how much of an investment it will be to get started.

Not exactly reassuring, even if you are in the same country that they seem to be allowing marketers to join.

Recap

For better or worse, this one is cut and dry. It’s a no. Not because of shady business or a poor structure, but simply because there is no data.

If you are not in Australia, it’s an easy decision. You can’t join (yet). If you are, you’ll still want to do some research and see how you can get paid and whether or not it’s worth the venture.

That said, without any sort of information on sign up fees, product commissions, or the structure at which you can grow your network; even starting out in the Great Down Under may not be an option for many.

DoTerra Review — Is it a scam?

DoTerra is a wildly popular essential oil MLM that earns the number one spot on our top 25 MLMs.

Many MLM companies seem to be started as merely a means to make money, but DoTerra was started by a small selection of healthcare professionals with the ultimate intention of embracing the natural healing effects of essential oils.

The name comes from Latin meaning, “Gift of the Earth,” and is the focus on the company. The high quality essential oils are sold by independent sellers that build a team beneath them and profit is made from the monthly subscription of the sellers along with their team. Continue reading

Mary Kay Review — Is it a scam?

Mary Kay is a cosmetic MLM company that most people have heard of.

It is much like Avon, but is marketed toward younger customers. They have a large line of beauty and makeup products and are known to give pink cars to their most successful sales representatives.

Getting into selling Mary Kay is relatively easy and the products are generally marketed by parties in which the representative gives discounts and even makeovers to the guests.

Mary Kay products are among the most sought-after products on the market today as they have been proven to work and offer a range of different products.

Prices for these products range from a few dollars all the way into the hundreds, so no matter the price range your perspective customer is in, they are likely to be able to find something to purchase from the extensive Mary Kay collection. Continue reading

Avon Review — Is it a scam?

Avon is a cosmetic MLM company that has been around for many years and sells many different products.

Its original founding was in 1886 in New York, but the popularity of the products they sell reached a landmark year in 2013 with sales at over $10 billion.

The popularity of the brand is not just about the name, but the products themselves. Avon works to offer the best products possible all while making accessibility easy with representatives throughout the world. Avon parties are a staple in America and everyone seems to know someone who actively sells the products. Continue reading

Pure Haven Essentials Review — Is it a scam?

Pure Haven Essentials is a home goods MLM that sells green cleaning and health products.

Some MLM companies are all about products that nourish the body, but they fail to see the fact that many of the products throughout the world that are meant to help actually have many harmful ingredients that do more damage than good.

The founders of Pure Haven Essentials desired to bring products to the world that did not have harmful chemicals that caused damage to the body.

Their goal is to provide safe, effective, and trustworthy products to families throughout the United States and ultimately, the world. Continue reading

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