Everyone knows about the “big minerals.” These are the minerals that show up on nutrition labels or are added to refined grains and sweet cereal. They’re the ones you can buy in drug stores and pharmacies as supplements. But while magnesium, potassium, calcium, selenium, zinc, and iron are all very important for your health, they’re not the only minerals you need to obtain. There are many other minerals that are arguably just as important for health, even though we only need them in trace amounts.
One of the most important trace minerals you need to consider consuming is boron.
Creatine is an extremely popular supplement with thousands of studies attesting to its effectiveness in humans. It works well in athletes, older people, women, men, teens, vegans and vegetarians, and probably even children. It’s well-tested, safe in normal amounts, and there are very few downsides.
But because so many people use it, creatine also generates a lot of questions. Every time I do a post on creatine, I get more queries in my inbox.
Does it cause hair loss?
How much should you take every day?
Is there a good time to take it?
Will creatine make you gain weight?
And is creatine bad for the kidneys?
What about side effects—anything we should worry about?
Let’s dig right in and answer those questions.
For this week’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a question that came in response to my previous post on teens and creatine usage. Should women take creatine? Are there any differences in creatine metabolism between men and women? Does creatine work the same in women? And, the age-old question, will creatine make women bulky?
Let’s dig in.
For today’s Dear Mark, I’m answering a reader question about whether colostrum supplements are worth trying. Let’s get right into it.
A buddy of mine has been taking colostrum powder for a few months now. He swears it’s helping him bulk up in the gym. I’m training for a century ride this summer and he says I should start using colostrum for leg strength. Ever since he mentioned it I feel like I’m seeing more fitness types talking about it on social media too. I’d love to get your take before shelling out the money. Thanks Mark!
Ah yes, your phone heard you talking about colostrum. Now your social media feed is full of colostrum posts, and you want to know if it’s legit or just another empty promise.
Colostrum, as you might know, is the “first milk” that mammals produce in the two to three days after giving birth. Compared to regular milk, colostrum is particularly rich in antibodies, enzymes, growth factors, and other nutrients all designed to protect the newborn and kickstart their immune system and digestion. If you were breastfed at birth, you received colostrum from your mother. Colostrum that you buy as a supplement is almost always bovine (cow) colostrum, usually in powder or capsule form.
“You should take probiotics.” “I heard probiotics are good for you.” “Oh, probiotics are so, so important.” Yes, yes. These are all true statements. But they are broad. Which probiotics? Which strains for what purpose? Simply saying “probiotics” tells us very little about what we’re supposed to be taking. It’s like saying “You should eat food.” Technically accurate yet operationally useless. Today I’m going to rectify that. I’m going to describe the best probiotic strains for each desired purpose, because there is no single strain to rule them all. The probiotic strain that’s best for anxiety may not be the best probiotic strain for allergies, and so on. Of course, these aren’t the final word. What follows is the best available evidence as it exists today. That may change tomorrow. And it will certainly change based on your individual makeup. With all that in mind, let’s get right down to it. Instantly download your Guide to Gut Health Best Probiotic for Anxiety The existence of the gut-brain axis — that mysterious thoroughfare running from the gut to the brain and back again — and the presence and even production of neurotransmitters along the gut suggests that “gut feelings” describe real phenomena. Mental and gut health are strongly linked, and it’s most likely a bi-directional relationship where each affect the other. You know this already, though, don’t you? We’ve all felt fear or discomfort in our guts. We’ve all had instinctual responses to certain people that seemed to manifest in our stomachs (and later be proven). These are real. They aren’t figments of our imagination. For instance, we know that some strains of gut bacteria can produce GABA, the “chill-out” neurotransmitter responsible for sleep and relaxation. We know that feeding prebiotics (bacteria food) to people can lower their cortisol and induce them to focus on positive stimuli instead of negative stimuli. We know that the greater the intake of fermented food like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, or sauerkraut, the lower the incidence of social anxiety. The best candidate for anxiety is Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Although no human anxiety studies for this strain exist (yet), there are plenty of animal studies that support it. One notable paper found that dosing mice with L. rhamnosus increased cortical expression of GABA genes and reduced cortisol and anxiety-like behaviors. Best Probiotic for IBS Irritable bowel syndrome is, well, irritating. Even more irritating is the fact that it describes a confluence of symptoms rather than a specific disease; two people, each with “IBS,” can have disorders with completely different etiologies. This complicates the probiotic you choose. In one study, IBS patients who took a combo of Saccharomyces boulardii, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus plantarum saw a 73% improvement in symptoms—but only if they also had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). IBS patients without SIBO only had a 10% improvement. (Side note: since gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, usually presents with SIBO, there’s a good chance that this lineup of strains could also help there) Another paper, a meta-analysis from … Continue reading “What Are the Best Probiotic Strains?”
For many women, menopause can introduce new health challenges. In addition to the symptoms that perturb basic quality of life like hot flashes, headaches, night sweats, and irritability, menopause is also associated with higher risks for serious health concerns like osteoporosis, cognitive decline, and metabolic syndrome. This has made the standard treatment for menopause—hormone replacement therapy, or HRT—a multi-billion dollar business.
A few weeks ago, I explored the benefits and risks of HRT. It has its merits certainly, but it’s not for everyone. Today’s post is for those people who want to try something else. Say you’ve waded through the morass of HRT research and would prefer a different route. Or maybe you’ve actually tried conventional or bioidentical HRT and found it just didn’t work for you. Whatever the reason, you’re probably interested in using “natural” products if you can swing it and if it’ll actually help.