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The Health Blog: Fitness

Fitness and Sports Nutrition

Here we'll try delve a bit deeper into the effects of different superfoods, supplements, and amino acids. We also cover common health issues and the natural- and prescription free supplements you may consider as a complement. We strive to cover both the benefits and side-effects of nutritional supplements.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)

BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) or BCAA is actually made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. Like other amino acids, they are the protein building blocks, and BCAA makes up about 35% of the muscle protein in your body. The amino acids are essential as your body is unable to make them alone and you need to get them from the food you eat.

BCAA also protects glycogen tissue, which is what drives the muscles during exercise and minimizes protein breakdown. Thus, athletes take them to reduce muscle breakdown during intense exercises and prevent tiredness, but also to increase performance, stimulate protein building in muscles, and improve concentration.

Benefits

  • Enhances Muscle Growth. One study published found that people who consumed a BCAA after resistance training experienced 22 percent more muscle protein synthesis than a control group.
  • Speeds Up Recovery Time. eight studies published in Nutrition concluded that BCAA supplementation is a more effective strategy to speed up recovery than rest following periods of intense exercise.
  • Promotes Liver Health. A review of 11 studies found that taking BCAAs was able to improve liver function in patients undergoing liver surgery, reducing the risk of complications, the duration of hospital stays.
  • Prevents Muscle Loss. BCAA was effective at reducing the breakdown of muscle in the body in humans, for example from side effect of chronic conditions like cancer or normal part of the aging process.
  • Improves Athletic Performance. may also enhance strength and performance as well. For example, one study conducted by Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K. showed that supplementing with leucine daily for 12 weeks during a resistance training program resulted in significant improvements in strength performance.
  • Increases Weight Loss. one study, taking a branched chain amino acid supplement was found to increase lean body mass and decrease body fat more effectively than whey protein when combined with resistance training in 36 men
  • Some evidence suggest BCAA may be effective in the treatment of other conditions, such as Anorexia, Liver Disease, and Mania.

Side-effects

Although BCAA is generally safe, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, there is inadequate reliable information about the safety of taking branched-chain amino acids. Children may be healthy when taken by mouth for a short period of time (up to 6 months). When used in patients with ALS, the use of branched-chain amino acids was related to lung failure and higher death rates. Dietary use of branched-chain amino acids has been linked with liver disease resulting in brain damage (hepatic encephalopathy) in alcoholics. BCAA can influence levels of blood sugar, which may interfere with the regulation of blood sugar during and after surgery. Other common side effects are tiredness, lack of coordination, and trouble with the stomach.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

Creatine

Creatine has become the most common among athletes of all substances that enhance performance. It is a material found naturally in all animals, where adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is easily recycled. ATP is the cell’s “energy money” and can be found mainly in muscle and brain tissue.

The body can make some of the creatine it needs, but it also comes from foods rich in protein, such as meat or fish. It is thought that creatine will improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover faster during exercise. This muscle boost can help athletes achieve speed and energy bursts, especially during short periods of high-intensity exercises like weight lifting or sprinting.

Benefits

  • Increased growth of lean muscle mass by helping to synthesize proteins. Additionally, due to water retention, weight gain. Some research found that about 0.9–2.2 kilograms (2.0–4.6 pounds) increased body mass for one week of taking creatine supplements.
  • Improved power efficiency and endurance. The muscles have minimal creatine storage capacity, but it increases as muscle mass increases. Supplementation has the potential during intense physical activity to restore ATP reserves faster, helping to maintain effort and reduce exhaustion..
  • Can help improve muscle recovery and exercise rehabilitation, such as optimizing strength training performance.
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) appears to help maximize performance. Studies have found that work performed during sets of total muscle tension contractions, single-effort sprint performance and repeated sprint performance improved.
  • Properties of neuroprotection (may help protect the brain).
  • Cognitive improvement, such as enhanced alertness, awareness and attention.
  • According to animal studies and small pilot studies in humans, may help reduce the severity of symptoms of depression.
  • Cardioprotective properties as it can help protect the heart and blood vessels. Improved stamina and anaerobic cardiovascular ability have also been shown to help.
  • Can possibly reduce fatigue and tiredness.
  • In combination with resistance training, it may help to improve bone density.

Side-effects

Although creatine is generally perceived as a healthy supplement, there is some caution. For people with kidney or liver disease, or diabetes, creatine is not recommended. Others who should avoid taking it are pregnant or nursing children under the age of 18 and women. Moreover, you need to drink enough water to prevent dehydration if you are taking creatine.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

L-Citrulline

L-citrulline is an amino acid that occurs naturally in certain foods, such as watermelons, but is also produced naturally in the body. It is considered non-essential like alanine, arginine and glycine, which means the body can produce it on its own.

The body converts L-citrulline into another amino acid called L-arginine, but also into a nitric oxide chemistry. Likewise, it serves as a vasodilator to relax the muscles in the blood vessels, boost blood flow and reduce blood pressure, along with nitric oxide supplements which raise levels of nitric oxide in the body.

It has been related to a number of possible health benefits because of its ability to promote proper blood flow. In fact, to improve exercise performance, it is thought to decrease blood pressure, prevent erectile dysfunction, and enhance oxygen uptake.

Benefits

  • Improves performance of exercise. It may be helpful to take L-citrulline by mouth to enhance some forms of exercise performance. L-citrulline can help some athletes work harder, lift weights longer, and go on an exercise bike faster. Some research suggests that this amino acid can help improve the use of oxygen in the muscles, which can be of great benefit to your workout routine.For example, a study in Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine found that taking a citrulline supplement improved cyclists ‘ physical performance and even improved feelings of exhaustion and concentration immediately after exercise. The study showed that by increasing oxygen uptake, it was successful in improving endurance and high-intensity exercise efficiency.
  • Heart Failure. L-citrulline may help people who are already being treated with generic medicines with heart failure. Getting L-citrulline by mouth in these patients tends to lower blood pressure in the lungs. This makes the heart work better, making it possible for people with heart disease to walk faster.
  • Muscle Growth. When it comes to muscle growth, amino acids such as this are absolutely essential. Studies show that this essential compound promotes the synthesis of muscle proteins and plays a key role in maintaining homeostasis of proteins. One trial in Mallorca, Spain, also showed that taking L-citrulline malate could enhance the use of branched-chain amino acids during exercise and increase human growth hormone levels, a form of protein hormone thought to boost physical capacity and muscle strength.
  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Getting L-citrulline by mouth in some people with erectile dysfunction (ED) seems to enhance sexual function. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection that can be caused by medical problems such as high blood pressure and mental and emotional issues such as stress. Due to its ability to increase blood flow and decrease blood pressure levels, citrulline is one of the most common natural alternatives to prescription drugs. A 2011 study conducted by University of Foggia in Italy found that although this amino acid was not as active as other ED prescription drugs such as Sildenafil, it was able to improve some erectile dysfunction symptoms after just one month. So how long does it take to work for ED with L-citrulline? Although individual results may vary, in the first few weeks of starting supplementation, most people experience symptom improvements.
  • High blood pressure (pulmonary hypertension) in the vessels brings blood from the heart to the lungs. Taking L-citrulline by mouth reduces blood pressure in the lungs and helps walk more people with pulmonary hypertension. There has been a close connection between L-citrulline and blood pressure rates in several positive studies. It has been shown to help improve the function of the blood vessel-line cells and serve as a normal booster of nitric oxide. One research from Japan found that taking a citrulline supplement enhanced endothelial dysfunction and decreased lipoprotein oxidation that may lead to atherosclerosis or fatty plaque in the arteries. Another study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that taking this amino acid decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 6% and 14%.
  • Sickle cell disease. Among people with sickle cell disease, taking L-citrulline by mouth can improve some symptoms.

Side-effects

Although side effects are rare, some people have reported stomach upset, heartburn, cough, changes in urination, and swelling when taking L-citrulline by mouth. There is not enough reliable scientific information to know if L-citrulline is safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)

Acidic amino acids are commonly considered as the building blocks of proteins. Aspartic acid is one of the non-necessary amino acids. The human body develops L-aspartic acid, which like other amino acids, acts as a protein building block.

However, the mirrored equivalent D-Aspartic acid – also known as DAA – plays a role in the production of hormones and nervous system activity.

While several studies have investigated whether D-aspartic acid enhances exercise response, there is still not conclusively evidence if D-aspartic acid supplementation results in any increase in testosterone, endurance, or muscle mass.

Benefits

May Increase Testosterone. Some studies show that D-aspartic acid can increase the levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in two ways.  It can release a hormone in the brain that ultimately leads to the production of testosterone, but also plays a role in increasing the production and release of testosterone in the testes.

A small study in healthy young men investigated the effects of taking D-aspartic acid supplements for 12 days and found that at the end of the study, 20 out of 23 men taking D-aspartic acid had higher levels of testosterone (average 42 percent increase). Another study of overweight and obese men taking D-aspartic acid showed rises (over 20 percent) in those with lower testosterone at the start of the study. A third study investigated the effects of taking such supplements over a month for men aged 27–43 who took D-aspartic acid for 90 days showed an increase in testosterone of 30–60 percent.

May Increase Male Fertility. The number of pregnancies among their partners has also increased. One research in 60 men with fertility problems found that taking D-aspartic acid supplements substantially increased the number of sperm they produced for three months. Moreover, their sperm motility, or ability to move, was improved. These sperm quantity and quality improvements seem to have paid off. During the study, the level of pregnancies in the men’s partners taking D-aspartic acid increased. Researchers found that using D-aspartate during a span of 90 days increased their partner’s pregnancy rate with 27% during the test.

May Elevate Hormone Levels. D-aspartic acid amino acid plays an important role in the synthesis and release of hormones. It facilitates the control of different activities of the body, including blood pressures, sleep patterns, ATP energy production, reproduction, digestion, and changes to appetite and the metabolism. You can try to balance your hormones naturally by eating foods high in aspartic acid. By accumulating in the pituitary gland and the testes, DAA may help increase hormone production.

Side-effects

In one study, researchers failed to find any adverse effects in an in-depth blood testing study examining the effect of taking 2.6 grams of D-aspartic acid per day for 90 days.

On the other hand, another small study found that irritability, headaches and nervousness were reported by two of 10 men that took D-aspartic acid.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

L-Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that plays an important role in the production of neurotransmitters epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine and dopamine, and the thyroid hormone. Moreover, L-Tyrosine supports healthy glandular function and stress response.

L-Tyrosine is commonly used to improve learning, memory, and alertness during stressful situations. The body uses tyrosine to make chemical messengers that are involved in conditions involving the brain such as mental alertness. Overall, L-tyrosine benefits may include fighting fatigue, depression, poor cognitive function and potentially weight gain.

Benefits

Possibly Affects Mental Performance and Focus. Research shows that taking tyrosine improves mental performance under stressful conditions These include cold-induced stress or noise-induced stress.

May Improve Memory. Research shows that taking tyrosine improves memory during stressful conditions. These include cold-induced stress or multi-tasking. One study found that tyrosine significantly enhanced accuracy and decreased frequency of list retrieval on the working memory task during the multiple task battery.

Improve Alertness Following Loss of Sleep. Taking tyrosine helps people who have lost a night’s sleep stay alert for about 3 hours longer than they otherwise would. Also, early research shows that tyrosine improves memory and reasoning in people who are sleep-deprived.There’s some evidence that having higher levels of tyrosine can help improve your mood and increase alertness, the ability to cope with stress and general cognitive functioning. On study finds it useful during times of physical stressors, including those of interest to the military, such as when soldiers are exposed to cold stress, high-altitude stress or extended wakefulness.

May Help for Depression. Tyrosine influences levels of dopamine, which regulates your reward and pleasure centers, and adrenaline, which is responsible for your “fight-or-flight response” when you’re under stress. Stressful situations increase the release of catecholamines, which can result in the depletion of their levels. L-Tyrosine can help bring levels back up. Consuming more of this amino acid may be helpful for people under a lot of stress or who suffer from depression because when levels of dopamine and norepinephrine drop, symptoms like irritability, fatigue and moodiness tend to increase.

May Support Weight Loss. According to University of Michigan Medicine, “There are no studies specifically showing that L-tyrosine helps to promote weight loss.” However, when used in combination with other natural fat-burning substances, such as cayenne, green tea and caffeine, there’s some evidence that it may help with fat loss in overweight adults, although only slightly. A 2007 study found a very modest reduction in weight of about 0.9 kg when tyrosine was taken by overweight adults along with capsaicin, catechins and caffeine.

May Help for Withdrawal Symptoms. Studies have found that “dopamine ups and downs” can leave people more vulnerable to addictions. Deficient levels contribute to difficulty initiating or completing tasks, depression, poor concentration, low energy, and lack of motivation. Addictive behaviors such as alcohol, drug use, cigarettes, gambling, and overeating may also occur. Ongoing research suggests that tyrosine may be useful for managing symptoms of heroin withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal, along with decreasing alcohol consumption when used along with the drug naltrexone. Taking a combination of tyrosine, 5-hydroxytryptophan (HTP), phosphatidylcholine and L-glutamine seems to have the most effects on improving moods and the ability to sleep in adults addicted to heroin and alcohol, likely because it helps balance levels of catecholamines.

Side-effects

Tyrosine is probably safe when by adults as a medicine, short-term, or when applied to the skin. Tyrosine seems to be safe when taken by mouth (in doses up to 150 mg/kg per day for up to 3 months). Some people experience side effects such as nausea, headache, fatigue, and heartburn. There isn’t enough information available to know if tyrosine is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Taking extra tyrosine might increase thyroxine levels too much, making hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease worse.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

L-Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid found naturally in humans. While L-glutamine is used to make proteins and perform other functions, D-glutamine appears to be relatively unimportant in living organisms. It is also an important molecule for the immune system and intestinal health.

L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the blood and other body fluids. However, there are times when the glutamine needs of your body are greater than its ability to produce it. Therefore, it’s considered a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that it must be obtained from the diet under certain conditions, such as injury or illness.

Benefits

Healthy Gut Function. L-glutamine might help gut function, the immune system, and other essential processes in the body, especially in times of stress. It is also important for providing “fuel” (nitrogen and carbon) to many different cells in the body. Glutamine is needed to make other chemicals in the body such as other amino acids and glucose (sugar).

Recovery from Surgery. L- glutamine was given to help people recover from surgery, injuries, burns, bone marrow transplant. After surgery or traumatic injury, nitrogen is necessary to repair the wounds and keep the vital organs functioning. About one third of this nitrogen comes from glutamine.

Replenish Levels During HIV/AIDS. If the body uses more glutamine than the muscles can make (i.e., during times of stress), muscle wasting can occur. This can occur in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking glutamine supplements might keep the glutamine stores up.

Replenish Levels During Chemotherapy. Some types of chemotherapy can reduce the levels of glutamine in the body. Glutamine treatment is thought to help prevent chemotherapy-related damage by maintaining the life of the affected tissues.

Side-effects

L-glutamine is likely safe for most adults when taken by mouth in doses up to 40 grams daily. Side effects are generally mild and may include dizziness, heartburn, and stomach pain. However, glutamine could make cirrhosis worse, the liver disease hepatic encephalopathy, mania, while people sensitive to MSG should avoid L-glutamine.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine)

L-Carnitine is a non-essential amino acid. The body convert L-carnitine to Acetyl-L-Carnitine, but also vice versa. Acetyl-L-carnitine assists the body in a number of functions, from producing energy, muscle movement, and many other body processes, such the heart and brain function. Acetyl-L-carnitine is thought to benefit brain health and memory and has been processed so that it’s able to easily pass the blood-brain barrier.

People take acetyl-L-carnitine by mouth for a wide variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, age-related memory loss, depression, thinking problems related to alcoholism, thinking problems related to Lyme disease, and thinking problems related to very poor liver function (hepatic encephalopathy). It is also used for withdrawal from alcohol, Down syndrome, bipolar disorder, poor circulation in the brain after a stroke, cataracts, nerve pain due to diabetes, nerve pain due to drugs used in the treatment of AIDS or cancer, nerve pain caused by sciatica, fibromyalgia, and facial paralysis.

Benefits

Increases Endurance. Because L-carnitine plays a central role in energy production, many use it for bodybuilding and athletic performance as a way to enhance endurance and boost energy levels. In one study out of Turkey published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, giving professional soccer players three to four grams of L-carnitine before exercise was found to prolong the time it took to reach exhaustion. Similarly, an animal study out of India published in the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine showed that giving rats L-carnitine improved exercise endurance. For this reason, supplementing with this amino acid may especially benefit endurance athletes, such as long-distance runners, swimmers or cyclists.

Enhances Weight Loss. Many people look to L-carnitine as a way to help shed unwanted pounds and lose weight fast. When combined with diet and exercise, some studies have found that supplementing with it can, in fact, be an effective way to enhance weight loss. One analysis of research out of Iran looked at the results of nine studies and found that supplementing with carnitine led to a significantly greater amount of weight loss as well as a larger drop in body mass index compared to a control group. However, L-carnitine weight loss results may vary, and other studies have turned up mixed results. In a study out of Australia published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, for instance, 36 obese women took either L-carnitine or a placebo and completed eight weeks of aerobic training. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that L-carnitine had no impact on either total body mass or fat mass. While L-carnitine may work for some people, it shouldn’t be considered a quick fix. Pair it with regular exercise and a healthy diet to see maximum results.

Prevents Muscle Damage. Besides increasing endurance and ramping up weight loss, this amino acid also makes a useful supplement for athletes looking to prevent and protect against muscle damage. In one 2014 study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 21 male athletes were given either L-carnitine or a placebo daily for two weeks prior to an athletic test. Compared to the control group, those who took L-carnitine were found to have lower levels of certain markers that indicate muscle damage.

Amplifying Fat-Burning. Besides increasing weight loss, this amino acid also helps kick up fat-burning as well. In one study conducted in Germany, overweight participants received a regular diet, either with or without the addition of L-carnitine. After 10 days, L-carnitine was found to significantly increase the breakdown of fat. Another study published in the Journal of Physiology showed that increasing the amount of carnitine in the muscles helped prevent fat gain by increasing fat burning and energy expenditure during physical activity.

Boosts Brain Function. L-carnitine isn’t just good for your body, but it’s good for your mind as well. In fact, promising research has found that it may positively impact brain function and cognition. One study conducted by the University of Catania in Italy and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of daily L-carnitine supplementation on mental and physical fatigue in elderly participants over 100 years old. Not only was it found to reduce total fat mass and increase muscle mass, but it also helped decrease fatigue and improve cognitive function. Other studies have even found that acetyl-L-carnitine, another form of L-carnitine, could help reverse cognitive decline and improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Regulates Blood Sugar. Some promising research has shown that carnitine supplementation could aid in maintaining normal blood sugar levels and fighting insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream to the cells where it can be used as fuel. Too much insulin can lead to insulin resistance, decreasing its effectiveness and resulting in high blood sugar. A study out of Rome published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that infusing people with diabetes with L-carnitine improved insulin sensitivity and increased the uptake of sugar from the bloodstream. Another small study in 2010 conducted at Sapienza University’s Department of Clinical Medicine in Rome found that combining L-carnitine with caloric restriction helped reduce insulin resistance and increase sensitivity

Male Infertility. Taking acetyl-L-carnitine by mouth, along with L-carnitine, seems to increase sperm motion and may increase the rate of pregnancy in infertile men. Also, taking acetyl-L-carnitine and L carnitine after treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seems to improve sperm count and sperm movement in men with infertility caused by a swelling of the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and epididymis. In addition, taking a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine, L-carnitine, L-arginine, and Panax ginseng seems to increase sperm movement in men with infertility due to reduced sperm movement. It might also increase sperm movement and sperm count in men with infertility due to prostate swelling caused by Chlamydia infection.

Problem Due to Aging (Memory, Tiredness). Taking acetyl-L-carnitine seems to improve memory and mental function in older people with some memory loss. Taking acetyl-L-carnitine improves feelings of mental and physical tiredness in older people. It also appears to reduce feelings of tiredness after exercise. Taking acetyl-L-carnitine by mouth along with propionyl-L-carnitine seems to help symptoms related to declining male hormone levels. This combination taken for 6 months seems to improve sexual dysfunction, depression, and fatigue in much the same way the male hormone testosterone does.

Alzheimer’s Disease. Acetyl-L-carnitine might slow the rate of disease progression, improve memory, and improve some measures of mental function and behavior in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It is more likely to help those with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease who are less than 66 years of age and have a faster rate of disease progression and mental decline.

Alcohol Withdrawal. When given intravenously (by IV) for 10 days then taken by mouth for 80 days, acetyl-L-carnitine helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and increase the amount of time before another alcoholic drink is consumed. However, most of the symptom improvement occurs during the first week. Therefore, it’s not clear if taking acetyl-L-carnitine by mouth offers further benefit following IV treatment.

Side-effects

Acetyl-L-carnitine is likely safe for most adults when taken by mouth. Side effects include stomach upset, nausea, might worsen symptoms in people with bipolar disorder who are currently in remission. It may also worsen symptoms in some people with nerve pain caused by a class of chemotherapy drugs known as taxanes. There is some concern that acetyl-L-carnitine might interfere with thyroid hormone. An increase in the number or seriousness of seizures has been reported in people with a history of seizures who have used L-carnitine, which is related to acetyl-L-carnitine.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

L-Arginine

Even if L-arginine is a non-essential amino acid, it is conditionally essential, since it is important to several functions and usually present in lower quantities. One of the key advantages of arginine is its potential to boost breathing and blood flow. It is converted into nitric oxide in the body, which causes a widening of blood vessels.

L-arginine has many benefits, such as enhancing immune function, infertility, reducing high blood pressure, detoxification, and brain power. Moreover, It stimulates the development of certain hormones, especially growth hormones and insulin, which contribute to the incorporation of glucose into cells for growth and energy output. It is one of the reasons why physical capacity, stamina and power are assumed to be improved.

To further dive into L-arginine’s capabilities, it helps to understand how nitric oxide (NO) works in the body. Nitric oxide is a type of reactive natural gas produced by plants and animals. It is formed using the L-arginine amino acid and the synthase of nitric oxide (making L-arginine its precursor) and is in a type of by-product arising from many different chemical reactions. The endothelial cells (those lining the inside of all blood vessels) allow L-arginine to produce adequate nitric oxide to keep blood flowing freely.

Nitric oxide improves circulation by dialing blood vessels, so the risk of heart disease is higher when people don’t have enough in their arteries. Research suggests that the ability to produce NO in the artery linings decreases as someone grows older, which can be remedied with additional arginine.

Benefits

Improves Heart Health. Research shows that L-arginine is effective for reducing inflammation and improving the protection of blood vessels and the cardiovascular system, which is why oral arginine is one of the most common supplements recommended by cardiologists. L-arginine supplements can be an effective measure to prevent a heart attack or stroke for people with high risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Some of the ways L-arginine enhances cardiovascular health include avoiding high blood pressure, increasing blood flow in people with clogged arteries (coronary artery disease), lowering high cholesterol, helping to alleviate congestive heart failure, enhancing stamina, and the symptoms associated with cut-off blood flow from the heart to the limbs (called claudication).

Lowers Inflammation and Fights the Effects of Aging. In addition to cardiac health, one of L-arginine’s primary benefits is the battle against disease-causing inflammation and improved immune function. Due to its effects on the enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD), but also through other antioxidant mechanisms, L-arginine has been found to have substantial free radical-scavenging capabilities. It is commonly used in combination with antioxidants such as supplements for vitamin C and omega-3 fish oil, helping to slow the process of aging and prevent many chronic diseases.

Arginine may even decrease the presence of ammonia in the blood, which is why ammonia is sometimes used to treat people with metabolic problems and urethra damage where ammonia is excreted from the body. Ammonia is a body-based product that breaks down proteins, and a cause of tissue necrosis that can lead to cell destruction and inflammation.

Boosts Exercise Performance. L-arginine is known to enhance blood flow efficiently, thereby helping to bring nutrients and oxygen to the muscle and joint tissues. That means more of the exercise’s many advantages, but with less discomfort. In some cases, broken joints or cold hands and feet are even used to improve heat and circulation, especially for people with complications from other health conditions such as reduced blood flow, arthritis or diabetes.

The body also uses arginine to increase human growth hormone, prolactin, and several amino acids — including creatine, L-proline, and L-glutamate. It even improves insulin sensitivity by allowing more glucose to enter cells, similar to how exercise does. The role of arginines in metabolic health is important to build strong muscle tissue, fight inflammation that causes bone and joint pain, repair injuries, and overall functions of the nervous system. There is also evidence that supplementation with L-arginine increases insulin from plasma and helps build stronger muscles even when you rest due to its effects on the capillaries of the body.

Improves Immunity and Speeds Up Healing from Inflammation. In some patients with diseases, trauma and cancer, low-circulating L-arginine was found. Some immune suppressor cells (MSCs) are believed to cause arginine deficiency or low blood circulation levels.

L-arginine is used with omega-3 fish oils and other supplements to reduce infection risk (especially respiratory infections or lung problems), improve wound healing, and shorten recovery after cancer, illness, or surgery. It is also used in helping to heal burns to improve protein function and may even help fight cavities and decay of the teeth. While more research is still needed due to the immune-enhancing effects of L-arginine, it is commonly given to people undergoing chemotherapy or healing from surgeries, viruses and infections (e.g. HIV).

Treating Erectile Dysfunction and Infertility. A number of studies have shown that L-arginine is involved in the proper cell replication process-in addition to increasing blood circulation-so it can help improve sperm production as well as motility. People who are struggling with cardiovascular problems linked to low NO levels in the blood are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and fertility problems as an erection involves smooth muscle relaxation caused by nitric oxide. A significant percentage of cases of male infertility-one study suggests 92%-may be treated with L-arginine in combination with other dilators, antioxidants, or anti-inflammatory drugs (such as pine bark).

Some research suggests that high stress levels in the sperm development system can reduce the concentration of L-arginine, so excessively stressed men can benefit from supplementation in particular. A combination of L-arginine, L-glutamate, and yohimbine hydrochloride is commonly used in the treatment of ED and appears to work better than L-arginine.

Even women can experience better reproductive help with L-arginine — doctors sometimes prescribe topical creams that contain this amino acid to help heal sexual problems and treat infertility naturally in both sexes as it improves the circulation of genital tissue. However, some research suggests that combined treatment with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and L-arginine may help regulate hormones naturally and restore normal sexual function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome and estrogen imbalances. Many studies suggest that L-arginine used with herbs such as chasteberry, green tea extract and supplements with antioxidants increase pregnancy rates in women trying to conceive.

Side-effects

Even if L-arginine is generally safe, consideration should be given to some potential side effects. If you have a history of heart disease, low blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems or an infectious infection (such as herpes or shingles), supplementing with L-arginine is not recommended until you first talk to a doctor.

In general, it is still possible to develop short-term side effects, such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, gout, developing allergies or asthma and low blood pressure if you are usually healthy and take the dose around 1 gram daily. L-arginine can cause allergic reactions or increased swelling in the pulmonary and respiratory system to cautiously take L-arginine by people with existing allergies or asthma. Lastly, L-arginine seems safe for pregnant women and even children, although there is not much research on the effects in these populations, so it is best to stick to a low dose or ask your doctor first.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

Glutathione

Glutathione is an antioxidant produced in the human body in cells, although it is also found in many fruits, vegetables, and meats. It is largely comprised of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. Glutathione  is involved in many processes in the body, including tissue building and repair, making chemicals and proteins needed in the body, and for the immune system. The levels of this antioxidant may decline due to a number of factors, such as poor nutrition, environmental toxins, stress, and aging.

People take glutathione for a broad range of conditions, including cataracts and glaucoma, aging, alcoholism, asthma, cancer, heart disease (atherosclerosis and high cholesterol), hepatitis, liver disease, diseases that weaken the body’s defense system (AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome), memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and male infertility. Foremost, glutathione is used for to maintain the body’s immune system and to treat metal and drug poisoning.

Benefits

Reduced Oxidative Stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to fight them off. Too-high levels of oxidative stress may be a precursor to multiple diseases. These include diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Glutathione helps stave off the impact of oxidative stress, which may, in turn, reduce disease. One study indicated that glutathione deficiency leads to increased levels of oxidative stress, which might lead to cancer. It also stated that elevated glutathione levels raised antioxidant levels and resistance to oxidative stress in cancer cells.

Reduced Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system and is defined by symptoms such as tremors. There is currently no cure for it. An older study documented the positive effects of intravenous glutathione on symptoms such as tremors and rigidity. While more research is needed, it suggests that glutathione may help reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life in people with Parkinson’s.

May Support Defence Against Autoimmune Diseases. The chronic inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases can increase oxidative stress. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus. One study found that glutathione helped reduce oxidative stress by either stimulating or reducing the body’s immunological response. Autoimmune diseases attack the mitochondria in specific cells. Glutathione works to protect cell mitochondria by eliminating free radicals.

May Reduce Oxidative Damage in Children with Autism. Several studies indicate that children with autism have higher levels of oxidative damage and lower levels of glutathione in their brain. This increase susceptibility to neurological damage in children with autism from substances, such as mercury. an eight-week clinical trial on children aged 3 – 13 used oral or transdermal applications of glutathione. Autistic symptom changes were not evaluated as part of the study, but children in both groups showed improvement in cysteine, plasma sulfate, and whole-blood glutathione levels.

Increased Mobility in Peripheral Artery Disease. Peripheral artery disease occurs when the peripheral arteries become clogged by plaque, which mostly happens in the legs. One study found that glutathione improved circulation and increased the ability of subjects to walk pain-free for longer distances. Participants receiving glutathione, instead of a saline placebo, were given intravenous infusions twice daily for five days.

Improved Insulin Resistance in Older People. As people age, they produce less glutathione. In one study the role of glutathione was examined for weight management and insulin resistance in older individuals. Findings indicated that low glutathione levels were associated with less fat burning and higher rates of fat storing in the body. Subjects then had cysteine and glycine added to their diets to increase glutathione levels, which spiked within two weeks and improved insulin resistance and fat burning.

May Improve Psoriasis. A small study indicated that whey protein, when given orally, improved psoriasis without additional treatment. Whey protein had previously been demonstrated to increase glutathione levels. The study participants were given 20 grams as an oral supplement daily for three months. Researchers stated that more study is needed.

May Reduce Impact of Uncontrolled Diabetes. Long-term high blood sugar is associated with reduced amounts of glutathione. This can lead to oxidative stress and tissue damage.

One study found glutathione levels improved by dietary supplementation with cysteine and glycine. Despite high levels of sugar, it also reduced oxidative stress and harm in people with uncontrolled diabetes. Subjects have been put for two weeks on 0.81 mmol per kilogram of cysteine and 1.33 mmol / kg of glycine per day.

Reduced Cell Damage from to Fatty Liver Disease. Cell death in the liver may be exacerbated by a deficiency in antioxidants, including glutathione. This can lead to fatty liver disease in both those who misuse alcohol and those who don’t. Glutathione has been shown to improve protein, enzyme, and bilirubin levels in the blood of individuals with alcoholic and nonalcoholic chronic fatty liver study disease. One study reported that glutathione was most effective when given to people with fatty liver disease intravenously, in high doses. Participants in the study also showed reductions in malondialdehyde, a marker of cell damage in the liver.

May Reduce Respiratory Disease Symptoms. N-acetylcysteine is a substance used to treat conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. As an inhalant, it helps to thin mucus and make it less paste-like. It also reduces inflammation. N-acetylcysteine in turn is byproduct of glutathione.

Side-effects

Side effects of glutathione supplements are usually mild, but taking it  may not be suitable for all people. You should talk to your health care provider to determine if it’s right for you. Side effects may include abdominal cramp, bloating, trouble breathing (bronchial constriction), and allergic reactions (rash).

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

AAKG (Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate)

L-Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (AAKG) is a dietary supplement consisting of arginine, an amino acid, and alpha-ketoglutarate, a compound that breaks down sugars and amino acids. It is formed as a salt from the combination of two parts arginine and one-part alpha-ketoglutarate.

AAKG may benefit muscle growth and performance and also produces nitric oxide, a molecule essential to healthy circulation and cell communication. Alpha-ketoglutarate is used for kidney disease, intestinal and stomach disorders, and many other conditions of which there is yet no good scientific evidence. Healthcare providers sometimes give alpha-ketoglutarate intravenously to prevent injury to the heart caused during heart surgery and to prevent muscle breakdown trauma.

Benefits

May Improve Anaerobic Exercise. AAKG may boost athletic performance, but evidence from large studies is still lacking. Two small double-blind studies in 2006 showed positive results for healthy men aged 30 to 50. Researchers found that supplementing with AAKG increased arginine levels and beneficially influenced peak power output on wingate and bench press tests. Both of these are anaerobic exercises, which refers to short-duration, high-intensity movements common in non-endurance sports, such as bodybuilding and sprinting.

Lowering Blood Pressure. Some people take AAKG because arginine increases nitric oxide, a signaling molecule your body produces that causes blood vessels to expand. This property may offer benefits for patients with high blood pressure. A small study found that taking arginine temporarily lowered blood pressure in people with Type 2 diabetes and mild hypertension. The authors suggest the effect is due to arginine increasing the amount of nitric oxide in the blood vessels.

Potential Anti-Cancerogenic Effect. In one study in 2012 researchers evaluated the anti-cancer properties of alpha-ketoglutarate. Previous studies had shown that alpha-ketoglutarate prevented tumor growth in cells that have been deprived of oxygen (hypoxia). Researchers found that alpha-ketoglutarate successfully prevented colon cancer from spreading to cells also under normal oxygen conditions. However, this study was done in a lab using cultured cancer cells and more research is needed.

Side-effects

AAKG is generally well-tolerated and reported no serious side effects or abnormalities. Arginine supplements may be need to be avoided by people prone to cold sores or genital herpes, as the virus uses arginine to replicate. AAKG is probably safe for most adults when taken by mouth for up to 3 years.

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

SAM-e (S-Adenosylmethionine)

SAM-e (SAMe, S-adenosylmethionine) is a compound that’s made naturally within the body and that plays an important role in regulating key functions in living cells. In the body SAMe is made from methionine, which is an essential amino acid that’s found e.g. in egg whites, wild-caught fish, oats, and sesame seeds. SAMe was discovered in Italy already in 1952, but as a dietary supplement in US it has been available for 20-30 years. It is now also gaining interest more broadly in Europe and Asia.

SAMe has a role in the development of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) as a fuel source in the cells of our cells. It is also involved in a vital process called methylation, which supports a number of biochemical reactions that take place in the human body. This involves the repair of chromosomes, DNA, cellular membrane fluidity maintenance, the synthesis of proteins, neurotransmitters and fat and mineral metabolization. SAMe increases serotonin sales and can increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in neurotransmitters. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic findings have been shown and are widely used to alleviate pain, while improving physical function. In addition, SAMe can be used to treat anxiety, hepatitis disease, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Benefits

Antidepressant Effects. Many placebo-controlled studies have shown the antidepressant properties of SAMe but there is still no conclusive evidence. Research shows that levels of SAMe tend to be lower in depressed individuals compared to individuals who don’t report signs of depression, so it’s believed that it does have beneficial effects, but most of the trials have only lasted a few weeks and a small number of participants. A meta-study in 2016 found that numerous studies show SAMe being effective in major depressive disorders. Researchers also indicated that recent findings demonstrate SAMe’s efficacy in patients that are non-responsive to SSRI and SSNRI (selective serotonin/-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) medications.

Relieving Osteoarthritis. Researchers are still studying if SAMe is an effective dietary supplement for the treatment of osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Research in animals show that SAMe encourages cartilage development that is essential for the reversal of the disease process. It can also help to relieve pain and rigidity, because it can increase the level of glutathione and its anti-inflammatory properties. A 2002 study found that SAMe appears to be as effective as NSAIDs in reducing pain and improving functional limitation in patients with osteoarthritis. By contrast with patients with NSAIDs for osteoarthritis, those taking SAMe were also least likely to report adverse events.

Improving Symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is chronic and widespread muscle and connective tissue pain. People with this condition often suffer from long-term pain, fatigue, depression, and mood disorders. Some evidence shows that SAMe has some beneficial effects on fibromyalgia symptoms, including one double-blind study running for six weeks. Patients with fibromyalgia orally given 800 mg, reported an increase in operation of clinical condition, less pain, weakness, reduced morning stiffness and improved mood compared with placebo patients.

Supporting Liver Function. Research suggests that SAMe biosynthesis is depressed in patients with chronic liver disease, which may exacerbate liver injury. SAMe appears particularly useful in helping improve liver function and can be used as part of a medication regimen for liver health. However, more research is needed regarding the basic treatment of liver disease with SAMe before concrete recommendations can be made.

May Improve Brain FunctionSAMe plays a role in methylation, a vital process that supports a number of biochemical reactions in the body, including the brain. Because the ability to methylate declines with age, the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, increases. Evidence indicates that SAMe levels are lower in patients with Alzheimer’s, which may compromise their metabolism and brain function. In addition, SAMe is involved in glutathione production, a powerful antioxidant that works within cells. Studies suggest that decreased glutathione may play a role in the Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. One animal model meta-analysis evaluated the effect of SAMe on cognitive ability as measured by maze performance in mice. Researchers suggested that SAMe supplementation improved cognitive performance.

Works as Natural Pain Reliever. The SAMe supplements have received interest for their pain relief effects, as these are taken for lower back pain relief, joint pain, PMS symptoms, and abdominal pain. Researchers are still collecting evidence on the analgesic properties of SAMe, but there are some promising studies. A small study in 2013 found that oral SAMe was able to reduce stomach pain among children, where the median dose was 1,400 milligram daily for a two-month period. Researchers reported an improvement in the reported pain of patients after a SAMe treatment period.

May Improve Asthma Symptoms. A 2016 animal study found that SAMe had a suppressive effect on airway inflammation and fibrosis in mice with chronic asthma. Researchers concluded that SAMe may have potential as a novel therapeutic agent for patients with chronic asthma symptoms, but human studies will be needed to test the ability to reduce oxidative stress and positively impact airway inflammation.

Side-effects

SAMe seems to be a relatively safe drug. High doses of oral SAMe can cause symptoms such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, insomnia, headache, dizziness, anxiety, and skin rashes. SAMe might not be safe for people with conditions such as bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes. Because SAMe can affect the blood vessels, stop using SAMe two weeks before  surgery. It is not known if it’s safe to use SAMe during pregnancy or when breastfeeding

FITNESS & SPORTS NUTRITION

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10, Ubiquinone)

Coenzyme Q10 is a substance found throughout the body in cells, but especially in the liver, pancreas, heart, and the kidneys. It can be found in small amounts in meats and fish, although as supplement it is made in by fermentation. CoQ10 is necessary for the functioning of multiple chemical reactions and the organs in the body.

CoQ10 is an essential antioxidant-like nutrient that is found in the human body within the cell mitochondria. The function of mitochondria is particularly concerned with producing the energy our body need, which is generally known as the ATP-synthesis. In order for the cell machinery to be able to produce energy from lipids and carbohydrates, CoQ10 is crucial. Moreover, CoQ10 can also increase the absorption of other essential nutrients by recycling vitamins C and E.

It is commonly used for various conditions, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, blood infections, gum disease, chest pain (angina), migraine headaches, muscle weakness (mitochondrial myopathies), diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, coenzyme Q10 declines as we age and levels may become deficient.

Benefits

Sustains Natural Cellular Energy. CoQ10 is vital in the production of cellular energy, which often known as the ATP-synthesis. There is some scientific evidence CoQ10 can provide relief from the fatigue following exercise.

Mitigating Damage Caused by Free Radicals. Oxidative damage of cell structures plays an important role in the functional declines that accompany aging and cause disease. When we age our cells are under heavy stress from oxidative damage caused by by free radicals. CoQ10 functions as a first line of defense in for the oxidative damage that is partially a cause for the heart disease, diabetes, neurological diseases, and some forms of cancer.

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease. Another interesting effect of CoQ10 is in preventing heart disease. One of the effects of statins is not only in lowering cholesterol levels in the liver, but also the CoQ10 produced by the liver. There is some scientific evidence on how restoring CoQ10 levels can be beneficial for patients on statin drugs on coronary artery disease and blood pressure.

Decelerating the Aging Process. It is well-known that CoQ10 levels decline as we grow older. The reduced levels of CoQ10 are not merely seen in skin tissue, but also in inner organs such as the liver, heart, and muscles. The potential beneficial effect of CoQ10 is within topical creams and serum, to maintain a healthy metabolism in the liver, and in protecting the heart from the degenerative effects of free radicals.

Sustaining Your pH Levels. Several diseases, such as cancers, appears to develop faster in environments where optimal pH levels are not sustained in the cells. There are also some promising results on the speed of recovery when supplementing cancer treatment drugs with CoQ10.

Preventing Cognitive Decline. Studies have found that people with age-related cognitive decline have lower levels of CoQ10. For instance, in patients with Parkinson’s disease, a particular area in the brain called Substantia Nigra is particularly strongly affected as the disease progresses. CoQ10 is thought to counterbalance the effects of the oxidative stress in this brain area.

Remedy for Male Infertility. There is some scientific evidence that supplementing with CoQ10 could improve the fertility in men. Particularly the effects has been observed in the sperm counts, in the movement of sperms, and in egg fertilisation rates.

Treatment for Fibromyalgia. It appears that CoQ10 has several beneficial effects on fibromyalgia, as seen from self-reported symptoms of fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, but also improvements in cholesterol levels.

Side-effects

Coenzyme Q10 is generally tolerated well, but it can cause mild side effects, such as stomach upset, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, and skin rashes. It may also lower blood pressure, so check your blood pressure. Dividing the total daily dose by taking smaller amounts 2-3 times daily may help reduce side effects.

Not enough is known today about the use of CoQ10 during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so it is better to refrain from during these conditions.

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