Melatonin

Melatonin. The “magic” sleep aid. A majority of Americans think that melatonin only benefits sleep. That is wrong. Very wrong. Melatonin has a wide array of positive benefits for your health besides promoting sleep; including neuroprotective agents, cancer-fighting agents, and others. The most widely-studied are its’ neuroprotective and cancer-fighting abilities, which are the two components that I focus on today. So, how does melatonin provide these benefits and why are they not more widely-known?

First and foremost, melatonin, although widely advertised as a sleeping aid in pharmacies and online stores, is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (for the record, many current supplements available today are not FDA-approved as the rigorous approval process cannot keep up with the amount of supplements appearing on the market today). The non-approval from the FDA has resulted in lack of resources and lack of opportunities for public research on the supplement, which has hindered further study of other benefits. Do not fear though, melatonin has no observable side-effects (except sleepiness so only take it at night!).

Neuroprotective agents: Melatonin converts to a powerful antioxidant once ingested in the body. Unlike many antioxidants on the market today, all cells in the body easily accept melatonin, and the blood-brain barrier is easily crossed. Antioxidants as a whole protect proteins and lipids (mainly important fats), and melatonin is widely considered one the best for overall protection in the brain and body.

What is interesting, and something that I have yet to experience due to youth, is that melatonin levels naturally dip as humans age. Many of the neurological diseases associated with old age; Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, etc.; are highly correlated with individuals with low antioxidant levels. It is crucial for aging individuals to start supplementing with melatonin to garner antioxidant protection. The normalized sleep patterns and balanced hormones offered by melatonin also protect against one the main factors in strokes: high blood pressure. Check out this study for men and this study for women for details, but in essence the melatonin treatment group’s blood pressure was significantly better than the placebo group.

Cancer-fighting agents: This is one of the most exciting avenues for future research at the moment. Little was known about the effects on cancerous cells until the mid-1990’s when academic research was begun. From different research institutes, a basic two-fold consensus has been established: melatonin reduces probability of death while also counteracting the adverse effects of chemotherapy treatment.

A meta-analysis of 10+ studies found that melatonin supplementation reduced risk of death by 34% at one year after a cancer diagnosis with no adverse effects reported. While chemotherapy attacks many bodily functions, melatonin supplementation is statistically significant in protecting platelet health, damage from neurotoxins, heart health, and fatigue (one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy).

Dosage: Melatonin comes from in capsule form from 100 micrograms to 10 milligrams (100 times the amount of 100 micrograms) per capsule. Caution is needed here as the upper-end of dosing from 5-10 milligrams has shown to cause grogginess the next day. I usually take 300 micrograms as needed at night. This dosage is the level that current research shows as the “sweet spot”.

Life Extension Melatonin Time Released Vegetarian Tablets, 300 mcg

It ultimately is up to you, as what works for you might be different than someone else. As an example, a close friend of mine used 1 mg capsules (Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets, Strawberry flavor, 1mg) and recommends them highly, as that is the correct dose for him. Ultimately though, what works for you, i.e. your own “sweet spot”, is a dosage that provides a sufficient night sleep but does not leave you feeling groggy the next morning.

Ginkgo Biloba extract/nootropic/ability to boost executive function/anti-anxiety agent

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba extract/nootropic/ability to boost executive function/anti-anxiety agent
Ginkgo Biloba extract powder

Ginkgo Biloba is a tree species that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses and diseases. From blood disorders to memory issues to vein health, this plant and its many variants have been a staple of medicinal programs for many cultures and civilizations. Although many parts of the tree can be beneficial for humans, current day research revolves around the extract of the gingko biloba tree. The extract is a heavily concentrated derivative that has shown its efficacy in treating a multitude of health problems in clinical trials.

What is ginkgo biloba extract? The extract is made from dried green leaves. Scientifically, two of the components within the extract, flavonoids and terpeniods, are the drivers behind the benefits of this product. Flavonoids protect certain parts of the body, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels, from damage. Terpenoids have a two-fold mechanism to stimulate blood flow by reducing the adhesiveness of blood platelets and widening blood vessels.

Cognitive and physical effects in humans: Ginkgo biloba is extremely effective at executing many functions, but the most popular and widely-studied effects are increased cognitive function and reduced anxiety.

First, the increased blood circulation throughout the body takes greater effect within the brain, as the increased blood flow improves executive function. Executive function ranges from improved thinking to improved memory. This study here (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) shows that even in patients with cognitive disease, supplementation of gingko biloba increases both cognitive function and social function.

Second, both animal and human studies have shown that dosing gingko biloba 120 milligrams twice a day shows basic anxiolytic effects for both healthy individuals and those suffering from cognitive disease. Anxiety-reducing effects were observed using symptom reduction by charting stress antibodies in the blood. The range of symptomatic anxiety reduction varied from 7.8 to 14.3 points. Alternatively, corticosterone levels, a precursor and predictor of stress response, in the blood were reduced in trials with proper ginkgo biloba dosing. A lower level of corticosterone has observable effects in humans that result in more stable levels of blood pressure and cortisol.

Cautions: Due to its effectiveness at increasing blood flow and the smoothing action of platelets, the body’s ability to form blood clots is decreased. This is mainly applicable for persons about to undergo surgery or that struggle with stopping wound bleeding. If either of these apply to you, always consult a doctor before and during supplementation.

Dosage and products: Ginkgo biloba extract is a product where specific dosing guidelines are not set due to its dosing efficacy being highly dose-dependent on individual biology. Some users dose 100 milligrams day (in one or two doses), and some users dose 600 milligrams a day (again, in one or two doses). My conclusion, and the advice that I followed, is that if you think that ginkgo biloba is a supplement you want to pursue, start with 50 milligrams twice a day and go up from there if needed.

 Nature’s Bounty Ginkgo Biloba Extract 120 mg

L-Theanine

l-theanine as a physical and mental health supplement

Nootropic tendencies. Stimulating psychoactive properties. Enhanced brain cognition. 100% legal. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? That is because it is. L-theanine is one of the basic foundational pieces of my supplemental routine. Let me preface this article by stressing that L-theanine is not a miracle supplement. However L-theanine gives me a relaxed but focused outlook to my day.

So how does L-theanine work? The mechanism of action is relatively simple which is why theanine is widely regarded as a safe supplement. L-theanine directly acts on the brain’s alpha waves instantaneously after crossing the brain barrier. More on that later. On a more molecular level, by blocking excess production of “excitatory” neurotransmitters (i.e. dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) and stimulating “inhibitory” neurotransmitter production (i.e. serotonin and GABA), L-theanine helps the brain achieve a more desirable medium between the two. Serotonin and GABA help to balance mood and assist the mind to more easily deal with stress. Blocking excess levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine prevents the brain from experiencing overexcitement which actually makes you less focused.

So, what does L-theanine do for me? The initial onset occurs within the hour and methodically increases to the peak four to six hours after dosing. The onset will be subtle, almost like a placebo effect at first. As time elapses after the initial dosage, I experience a clearer mental psyche, both more awake and relaxed. Studies like this have scientifically proved its efficacy doing so. This is largely the reason that L-theanine is regarded as one of nature’s most efficient stress managers and nature’s very own anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent). Like the methodical accumulation to the peak, the elimination of the compound is equally methodical with traceable amounts present in the brain up to 24 hours after ingesting the supplement. Comedowns are typically equally as subtle as the initial onset, so I do not worry about crashing. Due to the day-long half-life, studies have shown that continued L-theanine supplementation will keep the body in a continual relaxed state until supplementation stops.

Now, let us go back to alpha wave production. Alpha waves are responsible for beloved human feelings such as relaxation, focus, creativity, and content. Have you ever been doing something and been super productive but relaxed at the same time? Well, those feeling came from your brain’s production of alpha waves. Those feelings you experience are simply the discernable outcome from that production. L-theanine was once thought to be the driver behind increased attention span and increased mental processes, but instead it stimulates production of these alpha waves which then give users those desired effects. This was recently proved in research by neuronal scientists here.

Now for more health conscious folks, L-theanine also is shown to molecularly protect neurons in the brain and slow down, and even reverse!, tumor growth in bones. If interested, click here for more a more in depth breakdown of those mechanisms.

For those who are not interested in the details and simply want to know how exactly L-theanine will impact their lives, below is a summary of its main benefits:
1. Anti-anxiety agent
2. Clearer, more focused mental state
3. More relaxed, creative outlook on life
4. Added protection to neurotransmitters in the brain

One of my favorite L-theanine products is Suntheanine L-Theanine. The product itself has sixty capsules (i.e. two months worth) with 200 mg of high quality product in each capsule. You can find out more below!

Suntheanine® L-Theanine 200mg (Double-Strength) in Cold-Pressed Organic Coconut Oil; Non-GMO & Gluten Free – 60 Liquid Softgel, Made in USA

Bonus Tip:
Sometimes I want to pursue an extra kick, and I add in caffeine to my diet around the same time I dose L-theanine. Caffeine and L-theanine are synergistic to one another, as both enhance the effects of the other. The result is a more heightened, clear state of mind that is both relaxed and alert. Synergistic dosing is entirely up to subjective debate, but I usually take 100 mg’s of caffeine (~1 cup of coffee) and 200 mg’s of L-theanine and adjust from there.

If I do not take L-theanine with a cup of coffee, my go-to supplement is below.

L-Theanine 200mg, Caffeine 100mg – 90 Count | Taken for Better Focus, Energy, Mood & Wakefulness | Nootropic Stack

Next week I have an article coming out about another exciting biohacking supplement that will permanently raise your cognitive baseline levels. Stay tuned for the release!

fish oil supplements can help physical, heart, and mental health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)

fish oil supplements can help physical, heart, and mental health

Fish Oil is an essential part of a diet that is centered around physical fitness and heart health. Both physical fitness and heart health are geared around building up the muscle in your body while keeping your heart healthy. Doing so leads to a much greater personal body composition that allows you to be more athletic, aesthetic, and feel healthier.

Fish oil has two components that allow it to work so efficiently. These components are are EPA and DHA. Fish oils come in many different brands, and the higher quality brands have a large concentration of both EPA and DHA in their nutrient profile. Each of these are the main drivers behind the positive benefits that come from supplementing your life with fish oil. Omega-3 products that do not have significant dosages of EPA and DHA or are “blends” are not worth the money. Simple as that.

Two of the main body composition advantages that these products offer is that it allows the body to turn on fat burning genes, known as lipolytic genes, and turn off fat storing genes, known as lipogenic genes. The physical benefits from turning off lipogenic genes and on lipolytic genes are numerous and contribute to a body with better composition. Also, Omega-3 oils increase the use of fat storage from adipocytes for energy use, which in turn decreases the amount of fat stored in your body.

Fish oils also have an incredible effect on your internal organs and helping the user’s body run more efficiently by reducing inflammation. Inflammation damages blood vessels which can lead to future strokes and heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglycerides which can lower blood pressure by reducing blood clotting. The overall benefit from this is a reduced risk of heart failure and a reduced risk of an irregular heartbeat. One of my favorite studies about health and omega-3 acids can be found here.

Speaking of favorites, this product from Amazon is one of my favorite go-to’s. It provides an excellent source of high quality EPA and DHA while providing 90 days of dosing. The soft-gel caps are easy to swallow and fit right in with my morning routine.

Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength, Burpless, Non-GMO, NSF-Certified, 180 Counts

The prime dosage for fish oil is 2,500 mg’s a day, and it is even more effective when you take it with food or after a meal. Fish oil can be a game changer for you, internally and physically.