Archive for June, 2015

Protein Powder & Wheat Mini Pancakes

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Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 45.6
  • Total Fat: 0.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 6.9 mg
  • Sodium: 21.2 mg
  • Total Carbs: 5.3 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Protein: 5.0 g

Introduction

Awesome way to get some whole grains and protein into a fluffy pancake! Delicious with some sugar free syrup.

Minutes to Prepare: 5
Minutes to Cook: 15
Number of Servings: 8

Ingredients

      1/2 cup oats
      1/2 cup hot water
      1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
      1/4 cup egg substitute
      1/4 tsp cinnamon
      1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
      1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      2 tbsp whole wheat flour

Directions

1. Mix oats and hot water. Stir. Let sit until thick and fluffy.
2. Seperately, mix protein powder and egg substitute until not clumpy. Add to oats. Stir.
3. Stir in cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and flour.
4. Heat cooking spray in skillet. Add 2 tbsp for each pancake. Cook until golden brown, then flip.

Serving Size: Makes 8-9 mini pancakes

Number of Servings: 8

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How to Be A Successful Youth Sports Parent

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Escaping the Parent Trap

A Parent’s Greatest Strength And Weakness

It is no easy task to be a parent of a young athlete. Hard enough are the tasks of helping the child learn how to handle the ups and downs of competition. But perhaps most challenging are the demands on your own coping skills – learning how to manage emotions that are repeatedly tested under trying conditions.

As a parent, you experience a rush of positive emotions when your child triumphs, a deflating sense of emptiness when they lose. This emotional process can almost become addicting. Instead of focusing on the child’s goals, you can get caught up in seeking more experiences where you can feel that rush of positive emotions. You can begin to focus on your own fantasies for your child – fantasies of success, fame, and recognition.

A common problem is that your love of your child may lead you to behave in ways that ultimately hurt the child’s development, or hurt their relationship with you. The paradox of being a parent is that the good reasons we have for pushing our children to succeed can, at the same time, lead to behaviors that teach our children to be selfish and grasping instead. A parent’s greatest strength – their unwavering emotional support of their child and their willingness to make sacrifices for their child’s athletic advancement – is thus also their greatest weakness.

The Parent Trap

Unfortunately, parents get caught in this trap all the time. It shows itself in the following ways:

  • Over-identification. You naturally identify with your child, but over-identification may lead you to ignoring your child’s feelings and focusing instead on your own.

  • Selfish dreaming. It is normal, as a parent, to dream of your child’s future, but sometimes parents get so attached to their own dreams that they lose sight of what the child wants.

  • Confusing investment with sacrifice. As a parent, you love your children so much that you are willing to make tremendous sacrifices on their behalf, spending money to support the child’s sport and taking the time to be there for the child. But parents may come to see these sacrifices as investments and then expect that the investments will pay off and yield tangible benefits.

  • Competing with other parents. You want your child to excel but it easy to get caught up in competing with other parents, pushing your child to succeed and hoping that the other children will fail, giving your child a chance to shine.

The Positive Versus The Dark Side

Watching parents who do a great job of supporting their child’s development in sports, and watching those who fall into the trap of pushing their child beyond the limits, I have seen that the difference between them is whether they can put their own desires aside (Dark Side) and focus on what their child wants (Positive Side).

Here are some specific examples of ways in which parents can cross the line between positive and negative in supporting a child athlete:

Positive Side

Dark Side

Giving Encouragement

Becoming Over-Involved

  • Shouting out praise for a good play or in joy or excitement when a goal is scored or the child gets a base hit is a natural response for any parent.
  • Being a parent of a young athlete can require an enormous commitment in terms of time and energy. The majority of parents are strong supporters and encouragers of their children’s athletic participation.
  • The influence of parents on good athletes is well documented. In a survey of baseball players who made it to the professional minor leagues, most reported that, when they were young, their parents:
    • Provided money to buy equipment
    • Regularly attended their games
    • Provided money for team fees and clinic costs
    • Gave them an allowance during high school
    • Went with them to see major and minor league baseball games
    • Advised them to pursue professional baseball careers
    • Regularly practiced baseball with them.
  • While the vast majority feel loved and supported by having their parents present at competitions, in some families the presence of Mom and Dad on the sidelines causes tension in the family, even to the point of negatively impacting on the child’s athletic performance.
  • Parents who act in ways that upset the young athlete, or that upset the coaches or officials, can create tension not only for the family, but also for all the children on the field, and often for all the parents watching.
  • Even when a young athlete feels encouraged and supported by her own parents, the behavior of other parents can ruin the experience for them. “It wasn’t even my own parents,” said one nineteen year-old client , “it was the other parents screaming at the coach and the referee that made most games a misery.”

Providing Constructive Criticism

Becoming A Pushy Parent

  • Parents are in a good position to offer constructive criticism to their young athlete.
  • Many parents provide early coaching for their child. It is very common for a parent to teach a child new skills if the parent also played the game. Skill building of this kind can take place in an informal way, free of the structure of an organized sports program.
  • It is more challenging when a parent becomes a coach for a son or daughter’s sports team. You should remember that while you can easily make the distinction between being a parent and being a coach, your children can’t easily distinguish between criticism from “Dad, the coach” versus “Dad, the parent.”
  • Problems can arise when a parent’s natural tendency to be supportive and to offer advice clashes with the coaching process in youth sports.
  • The greater the skill level of the young athlete the more likely it is that the coach will perceive coaching by parents as intrusive.
  • Your child can be put in a no-win situation if you yell out some advice from the stands that differs from what he or she was told by the coach. Who does she obey? You or the coach?
  • Your child may view your offering critical advice negatively and unwelcome, especially as they get older. A father or mother who offers constant criticisms of their sports performance frustrates many thirteen- and fourteen-year olds I talk to.
  • You may see yourself as a great resource for your child, helping him to learn the nuances of the game, but your child may see you as a parent who cares not about him but about how well he plays.
  • The danger is that your child will see himself as an athlete and evaluate his entire self-worth on the basis of how well he plays.

Being A Role Model

Becoming Abusive

  • Children learn the skill of self-control by watching you display good self-control skills
  • Organized youth sports programs frequently offer parents good chances to model good behavior for children and effective ways to deal with conflict
  • Handling a dispute over a clash in game schedules, deciding on who plays what position, making a tough call in a close game – such situations abound in youth sports.
  • A parent or coach who remains calm and thoughtful in such situations provides the young athletes with an appropriate role model for handling emotional situations.
  • Remember: children learn far more from their own observations of adult behavior than they do from verbal instructions on how to behave.
  • Your child can become intimidated by your presence at her games if she hears you shouting at officials.
  • Actions speak louder than words. If you tell your child to display self-control and to respect authority but your child sees you losing your temper and yelling at an official at his game, all your efforts will be undermined.
  • The sort of fan behavior that may be tolerated at a professional sports contest (such as yelling at players and criticizing an official for what you perceive was a bad call) is not appropriate at a youth sports contest; as more and more youth sports mimic the intensity and competitiveness of professional contests, parents are more and more likely to act like fans.
  • Acting as fan at your child’s athletic competition can have serious repercussions. Said one of my patients, a quiet and thoughtful fourteen-year old girl, about her father, “It’s all a bunch of crap, what he says. He has no respect for authority, but he expects me to toe the line. And when I say something about it, he yells at me.”

The Way Out

All too often, parents feel justified in acting in ways that their child and others perceive as controlling, negative, or confrontational. It is indeed a paradox. The question is, is there any way out of it?

To begin with, I don’t believe that there is any way to avoid the emotional pressure that parents feel when they support their young athlete. As your child moves up the competitive ladder, this pressure naturally increases. You will always be tempted to step over the fine line between providing encouragement, constructive criticism and being a role model and becoming an over-involved, pushy and emotionally, and worse yet, physically abusive parent.

But I do believe that parents can learn to change their behavior, so that they do not give in to the emotional pressure they feel, but choose instead to act in a mature and responsible manner, to develop the skills to deal with the pressure and learn to pass those skills on to their child.

Over the course of more than a decade in youth sports, I have observed that some parents have broken the mold and managed to escape the clutches of the youth sports parent trap. These parents typically display the following behavior:

  • They talk with their child. What motivates parents to have their child participate in sports, and what motivates their child to participate, are sometimes very different. Parents need to examine which of the twenty-eight possible reasons they may have for encouraging their child to participate in a sports program, have their child complete a similar survey listing the reasons that children give for playing sports, and then sit down and compare their answers. Often there are some surprising differences, as well as some reassuring similarities. Once good communication has been established, it is easier to identify where potential problems might lie, and what to do about them.

  • They periodically look at themselves, and get feedback about their behavior from others. When parents are devoting a great deal of time and energy to their child, they periodically need to look at themselves in the mirror, be honest and ask themselves the tough questions: Am I over-identifying with my child? Am I placing her needs first? Am I really listening to her? Am I getting feedback from others that I am out of control, over-controlling, pushy or driving others crazy? Often, talking to a spouse or a good friend can help give perspective and feedback that is difficult to come by otherwise when you are intensely involved in your child’s athletic career.

  • They cheer for the other children. Parents who focus obsessively on their own child at athletic competitions clearly signal that they don’t really care about the team or the event – they just care about their son or daughter. Parents who shout and cheer for all the children on the team show that they have not fallen prey to the seductive self-centeredness of youth sports. All parents should try to be role models, not only for their children, but other parents, who are struggling with the same pressures and emotions they are experiences.

  • They take time to compliment the officials. Many parents feel they have the absolute right – perhaps even obligation – to criticize the officials at their son or daughter’s sports contest. The officials don’t feel the same way. Many youth sports officials to whom I speak regard parent abuse as the most stressful and negative aspect of officiating. (A recent survey confirms my anecdotal findings). Parents who can somehow resist the urge to criticize a bad call, who can even compliment the officials for their hard work after a game (especially if their child’s team loses), are rewarded with the pleasure of seeing a surprised smile on the face of the referee or umpire.

  • They talk to parents of the other team. Several years ago I attended a state championship baseball playoff game for boys under eleven. The winner would play in the league’s state final. After seven innings the game was tied and moved into extra innings. The tension in the stands among the parents I was sitting with kept rising as each extra inning passed. Mothers would cover their eyes as their son came to the plate, or hold hands tightly with the parents next to them. Finally, after ten innings one team broke through and scored the winning run. There was more relief than jubilation from the parents of the winning team, but the parents of the losing team sat in silence. Then one of the parents of the winning side went over to the parents of the other team and began shaking their hands, telling them what an exceptional and competitive game their sons had played. I watched closely and noticed the smiles on the faces of these parents, saw their shoulders lift and their energy return at this simple gesture from a member of the “opposition.” It is actions such as these from parents that give me hope that we can learn ways to overcome the behavioral excesses associated with youth sports today.

  • They resist the urge to critique their child’s performance. The urge to critique a child’s performance is very natural for parents. You may think that spending the time in the car on the way back from a competition pointing out your child’s mistakes will help her improve, but it usually ends up backfiring. Most kids already know the mistakes they have made and don’t need you to point out the obvious. Mistaking their quiet stoicism in the face of a bad performance for a lack of caring when, in fact, your child cares a great deal and hates to do poorly, can lead to miscommunication and conflict. I have found that many of the successful athletes I work with remark on their parents’ lack of criticism of their sporting performance. “They just wanted me to play and have fun” is a typical comment from an Olympic basketball player. “Mom and Dad never had much say in how I played. They left that to the coach. But I knew they were always there for me, no matter how I did.

    Parents need to learn ways to express their support for their child without detailing their shortcomings. Change is sometimes very hard, especially for a parent who grew up in a family where pointing out the mistakes of others was a common approach. Remain silent if it is the only way you can overcome a tendency to criticize. Better yet, learn to leave your child’s performance completely behind and discuss the social aspects of the experience with your child. Chances are that these social experiences and friendships are what your child wants to talk about with you after a tough competition.

Instead of behaving in the expected way, the parents who exhibit these behaviors act in way unexpected and surprising. The results? More fun at games, more friendships among other parents, and respect from coaches and officials.

Source:  http://www.momsteam.com/team-of-experts/shane-murphy-phd/youth-sports-parenting/how-to-be-a-successful-youth-sports-parent?page=0%2C1#ixzz3eRJz7I2y

Banana Boat Recipe

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Oh, where to begin?!  This is simplicity at it’s best!!

Banana.  Peanut butter.  Cacao Nibs.  Goji Berries.  That’s it! 

Goji berries and Cacao nibs are considered “power foods” but I sometimes find it hard to include them into my diet (unless I’m snacking right out of the bag and you can only image where that can lead). I find the easiest way to enjoy them are sprinkled on top of things like my Banana Boat, cereal, oatmeal, or thrown into a smoothie.

So this is not exactly a recipe just a quick and simple snack/mini-meal idea that is packed with energy! It’s actually the perfect pre-workout snack (it would be a good post-workout snack too). I usually make this in the morning before I go to the gym, I eat half and my husband eats half. It’s the perfect little something to get me through my workout and it’s delicious!

YIELD: SERVES 2

Ingredients:

Directions:

Slice your banana in half lengthwise and spread a tbsp of peanut butter on each side.  Top with Gojis and Cacao Nibs… enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis

Calories: 176; Total Fat: 9.9; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 26mg; Carbohydrate: 17.5g; Dietary Fiber: 3.5g; Sugars: 8.4g; Protein 5.6g

Source: http://cleananddelicious.com/2008/04/04/banana_snack/

Goji Berry Nutritional Facts

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are the most nutritionally dense fruit on Earth.

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Unique among fruits because they contain all essential amino acids, goji berries also have the highest concentration of protein of any fruit. They are also loaded with vitamin C, contain more carotenoids than any other food, have twenty-one trace minerals, and are high in fiber. Boasting 15 times the amount of iron found in spinach, as well as calcium, zinc, selenium and many other important trace minerals, there is no doubt that the humble goji berry is a nutritional powerhouse.

This amazing little superfruit also contains natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds. Their powerful antioxidant properties and polysaccharides help to boost the immune system. It’s no wonder then, that in traditional Chinese medicine they are renowned for increasing strength and longevity.

Gojis are most commonly available in dried form, and make a great snack eaten as is, added to trail mix, muesli or oatmeal. They can also be soaked for a couple of hours in enough water to cover them. Then the soak water can be drained off and makes a delicious drink, or both water and berries added to smoothies.

Please note that there can be adverse interactions if you consume goji berries while also taking medication for diabetes, or blood pressure, or take the blood thinner warfarin. So be sure to consult your health care provider if that is the case.

Goji Berry Nutritional Facts

Goji berries are now widely available in many health food and specialty food stores, although they used to be available only in Asian groceries. Used in Chinese medicine for over 6,000 years, goji berries are most commonly sold dried, although there are now goji berry juices and extracts. Touted for their antioxidant properties, goji berries supposedly boost your immune system, improve your brain function, increase your life expectancy and reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, although high-quality studies are lacking. Full of nutrients, goji berries are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and dietary fiber.

Calories, Protein and Dietary Fiber

A 1/4 cup serving of goji berries contains 90 calories and 4 grams of protein per serving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adult women consume 46 grams and adult men 56 grams of protein per day. It also contains 4 grams of dietary fiber, which provides between 10.5 and 19 percent of the dietary reference intake for dietary fiber for adult men and women. According to Colorado State University Extension, most adults do not receive enough dietary fiber each day. Dietary fiber is important as it helps preventing overeating by making you feel full and also helps your body pass waste through your system by adding bulk to your stools.

Antioxidant Vitamin A

A 1/4 cup serving of goji berries contains 180 percent of your daily value of vitamin A. A natural antioxidant, vitamin A protects your body from damage from free radicals, produced when your body breaks down food. Free radicals can speed up the aging process and can cause cell death and damage. Vitamin A is also necessary for keeping your mucous membranes healthy, as well as helping your cells reproduce. Vitamin A deficiency is often indicated by poor vision, as vitamin A is needed for good eyesight.

Collagen-Building Vitamin C

Also a natural antioxidant, vitamin C slows down the aging process and reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease by defending your body against free radicals. Vitamin C is also used in the production of collagen, which makes skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels healthy. It also aids in the healing of wounds and in the repair and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. A 1/4-cup serving of goji berries has 30 percent of the daily value of vitamin C.

Iron-Rich Goji

Iron can be found in every cell in your body and is an essential mineral as it is needed to make blood cells. It is used to produce hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that carry oxygen throughout your body. An iron deficiency will cause anemia, which can cause dizziness, weight loss, tiredness and shortness of breath. A 1/4-cup serving of goji berries provides you with 15 percent of the daily value of iron.

Grain-free Strawberry & Goji Muesli

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While you may think making a choice of breakfast cereal or muesli in the supermarket aisle is difficult, it’s even harder making the choice of ingredients for your own home blend. You could make a million different mixes depending on what’s in the pantry and it can be quite hard to constrain yourself to 5 or 6 add-ins at times.

My favourite off-the-shelf mueslis have always been filled with big chunky pieces of nuts and dried fruit. At home my own combos have become quite similar, great texture and taste with plenty of nuts, seeds and other wholefood ingredients. I make muesli depending on what I have on hand at the time, and now what I have growing in the garden. It’s much more inexpensive and flavourful compared to store-bought and breakfast is a bit more enticing when looking forward to your own personalised breakfast blend.

Sweet and fragrant, this grain-free muesli combines vibrant dried strawberries and goji with a whole host of flavourful add-ins. Strawberries would make my list of top five fruits (with golden kiwi, apples, bananas and rockmelon) and after weeks of only getting 3 or 4 a day from the garden I found 20 ripe ones yesterday. Dehydrating strawberries means that I can enjoy them long after the season has finished; my whole house also smells intoxicatingly like berries for 10ish hours while they dry (yum!). While I find it to be a fantastic tool, don’t be frightened that I’ve mentioned a dehydrator, you can also use an oven on a low or high temperature or incorporate other bought dried fruits into this easy mix.

Strawberry-Goji Muesli

You can see lots of goodies in this big jar – lots of nuts and seeds, dried fruit, coconut, flaxmeal and cinnamon. What you might also notice though is there are no oats, no rolled grains of any kind actually. Full of texture and taste there’s still an abundance of healthy carbs, fat and protein to rev you up in the morning. It needs to live in the fridge (because of the heat sensitive flaxmeal) and is perfect on top of steamy porridge or big dollops of yoghurt or kefir in the morning.

The ten minutes I’ve stated in the prep time is really the time it takes to open up food packets, measure out what you need, mix in a bowl and spoon into a jar/s. It’s untoasted which means you’re one step closer to spooning it onto your morning breakfast and is lower in sugar, being sweetened with coconut flakes and warming cinnamon instead of honey like granola. This grain-free muesli is so easy to mess around with, just replace an ingredient with the same amount of one you like better, e.g. 1/3 cup sultanas instead of goji, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds instead of pepitas. I’d love to hear about any variations you’ve tried!
Home-made Strawberry-Goji Muesli
Prep time
10 mins
Total time
10 mins

A monster muesli packed with nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Use a dehydrator or even your oven for delicious dried summer strawberries.
Author: Alison Murray @ Om Nom Ally
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, vegan. Raw if dehydrating strawberries.
Ingredients
1 cup dried strawberries (bought or see instructions below)
⅓ cup dried goji berries
¼ cup raw buckwheat
¼ cup halved macadamia nuts
⅓ cup flaked almonds
¼ cup flaked coconut
¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
¼ cup ground flax meal
¼ cup chia seeds
3 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
Use dehydrator to dry strawberries: Hull and cut fresh strawberries in half. Lay on dehydrator sheets, cut side up. Dehydrate for 8 – 10 hours on 52C/125F OR 12 hours on 46C/115F – A great option for a raw muesli blend!
Use oven to dry strawberries: Hull and cut fresh strawberries in half. Lay on parchment lined baking trays, cut side up. Bake on lowest setting for 10 – 12 hours, checking every 2 hours from 8 hours on OR bake at 210C/410F for 3 hours OR bake at 140C (or the lowest temperature your oven goes) for 8 hours, checking often.
Combine dried strawberries and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into a large jar or resealable container and refrigerate.

Source: http://omnomally.com/2012/11/05/grain-free-strawberry-muesli/

PEACH FROZEN YOGURT

Simple homemade peach frozen yogurt you can make without an ice cream maker. Creamy and peachy but still healthy.

Yesterday at the Jersey shore watching plenty of stick thin girls in bikinis walk around with surf boards on their shoulder, I reached an epiphany. If looking like that means forgoing toasted coconut ice cream cones from the boardwalk on summer weekends, it’s not worth it to me.

I’d much rather happily attack a rapidly melting ice cream cone when it’s 98 degrees outside than worry about what it’s doing (or not doing) for my hip, thigh and stomach area. They make cover ups for a reason.

Peach frozen yogurt

I’m over it. Some things are just worth it and toasted coconut ice cream sugar cones are one of them.

Peach frozen yogurt

This is not ice cream. This is homemade frozen yogurt with fresh peaches. A weekday attempt at a treat when you’re sans ice cream maker, beach and boardwalk.

It’s takes almost no effort to put together, just some patience.

And the best part about it? It’s packed with protein and completely guiltless. So you can enjoy it after a workout to refuel or just as an afternoon treat in between the “real” stuff on the weekends.

Peach frozen yogurt

No cover ups needed.

HOMEMADE PEACH FROZEN YOGURT

PREP TIME
4 hours 30 mins
TOTAL TIME
4 hours 30 mins
Simple homemade peach frozen yogurt you can make without an ice cream maker. Creamy and peachy but still healthy.
Author: Gina Matsoukas
Serves: 3-4
INGREDIENTS
  • 1½ cup plain greek yogurt (I used Chobani 0%)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla whey protein powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sliced fresh or frozen peaches that have been thawed
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine yogurt, protein powder if using and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.
  2. Freeze for 2 hours.
  3. Remove from freezer and let sit 15-20 minutes.
  4. Transfer frozen yogurt to a food processor and add peach slices.
  5. Pulse a few times until peaches are broken but still chunky and incorporated with the yogurt mixture.
  6. Transfer back to medium bowl and refreeze for another 1-2 hours depending how hard or soft you want it.
  7. Enjoy an easy frozen treat guilt free!

Source: http://www.runningtothekitchen.com/peach-frozen-yogurt/

Men’s Health Supplement Guide Overwhelmed by the vitamin aisle?

Here’s what your body needs—and what it doesn’t

Men's Health Supplement Guide

VITAMIN A

What it does: Vitamin A is an antioxidant, and it’s also essential to maintaining low light and color vision, mucus membranes (which help to protect your body from disease), and skin cells.

Why you might need it: People with higher levels of vitamin A report a lower risk of lung cancer, though the benefits didn’t extend to supplements—only to those who made foods with vitamin A an integral part of their diet.

Where to get it: Kale, carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes are great sources of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Most multivitamins also contain vitamin A, or you can take it on its own. Too much can be toxic, and guidelines by the Institute of Medicine say not to supplement with more than 10,000 IU per day.

ACETYL L-CARNITINE

What it does: Acetyl L-carnitine is a form of the amino acid L-carnitine, which moves fatty acids into the mitochondria of your cells—particularly muscle cells—to be burned for energy, and then moves the waste generated by that reaction back out to be discarded.

Why you might need it: It heals your brain and improves metabolism. An Italian study found that taking acetyl L-carnitine reduced depressive symptoms in alcoholics, and a study at the University of Massachusetts found that it improved memory and cognitive performance in older adults. Acetyl L-carnitine may also protect you from heart attacks, according to a separate study from Italy. Moreover, taking L-carnitine has been shown to improve the health of your sperm and even reduce insulin sensitivity.

Where to get it: The L-carnitine from red meat is the easiest form for your body to digest and use—between 54 and 86 percent is made available to your body, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. In fact, one 8-ounce steak contains between 100 and 320 milligrams. On the other hand, you only absorb about 15 to 18 percent of the L-carnitine from oral supplements. To boost your body’s levels, you can take 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg per day. More than 3,000 mg daily may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

BETA-CAROTENE

What it does: Beta-carotene gives carrots and other red and orange vegetables their color. It functions as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals throughout the body. It’s also converted into vitamin A. Fun fact: It also has this bizarre (and beneficial) affect on your skin.

Why you might need it: While vitamin A, as a product of beta-carotene, is an essential nutrient, supplementing with high doses has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer and prostate cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Where to get it: Carrots and sweet potatoes, along with kale, spinach, collard greens, and other leafy vegetables. Because of safety concerns, and since there are so many natural sources of beta-carotene, it’s usually not recommended as a supplement, says Stephen Dahmer, M.D., a physician at the Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

BORON

What it does: Boron is not well-studied, but it seems to help the body process other minerals and nutrients. It’s also believed to maintain healthy bones.

Why you might need it: One study found that taking 10 mg of boron increased testosterone and decreased estradiol, a form of estrogen, within just a few hours, along with increasing levels of vitamin D in the blood. But there’s little evidence to support the notion that boron supplementation can help with chronic conditions.

Where to get it: Boron is found in almonds and other nuts, kidney beans, avocado, and raisins.

BUTTERBUR

What it does: This herb contains compounds that block leukotrines, which are signaling molecules that cause contractions in your throat during an allergic reaction. By blocking the leukotrines, butterbur helps relieve those allergic symptoms.

Why you might need it: In a Swiss study, taking butterbur was just as effective as cetrizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec, for quelling allergy symptoms. The catch? Patients had to take four butterbur tablets a day versus one cetrizine pill. Other studies have found that taking 150 mg of butterbur daily reduced the frequency of migraines.

Where to get it: If you’re allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies, taking Butterbur may trigger a reaction. Otherwise, follow the directions on the label.

VITAMIN C

What it does: Vitamin C is an immune system booster, preventing illness and infections in wounds. It also converts inactive folic acid into the active form and plays a role in the formation of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells.

Why you might need it: Studies show that taking vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold by almost two days. It can also reduce the frequency of exercise-induced asthma, and prevent upper respiratory infections in people who are training for marathons and other endurance races. A new study also shows that vitamin C can have beneficial brain effects.

Where to get it: Vitamin C should be in your multivitamin, in which case you’ll want at least 200 mg daily. “If you get a cold, up your dosage to between 1,000 and 2,000 a day, but only for as long as you’re sick,” says Stephen Dahmer, M.D., a physician at the Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

CALCIUM

What it does: Calcium is a very important mineral in the body, maintaining bone strength and allowing the nervous system to relay messages. It also plays a part in releasing hormones and enzymes that provide a wide array of biological functions.

Why you might need it: A Canadian study found that people who took 1,200 mg of calcium supplements over a 15-week weight-loss program lost 14 more pounds than those who didn’t take enough calcium. “Unless you have problems digesting dairy, most men don’t need to supplement with calcium,” says Stephen Dahmer, M.D., a physician at the Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

Where to get it: Dairy products are how most people get calcium—three servings of milk or yogurt a day is enough to get what your body needs. It’s also found in spinach and other leafy greens. If you do take calcium supplements, 2,500 mg per day is the upper safe limit for adults, according to the National Institutes of Health.

CHROMIUM PICOLINATE

What it does: Chromium is known to be a necessary element in the human body, but scientists are still analyzing its precise functions. It’s thought to play a role in how your body metabolizes protein, carbs, and fat.

Why you might need it: Chromium picolinate was thought to help with insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and preventing diabetes, but a six-month randomized controlled trial at Yale University didn’t find any benefits. In a separate study, those same researchers found that chromium picolinate supplementation also didn’t help with weight loss. However, some research has indicated that chromium picolinate could help Alzheimer’s patients improve memory and cognitive function.

Where to get it: The National Institutes of Health recommends taking 200 micrograms a day for therapeutic purposes.

COENZYME Q10 (CO Q10)

What it does: Coenzyme Q10 has several functions in the body, including helping the mitochondria within your cells produce energy and neutralizing free radicals as an antioxidant.

Why you might need it: To improve your interval workouts. A Japanese study found that cyclists who supplemented with 300 mg of Co Q10 for eight days increased their maximum speed during 10-second sprints, and felt less fatigue afterward. Supplementing with Co Q10 has also been shown to reduce inflammation and free radicals created by bouts of heavy exercise. It’s also sometimes prescribed to recent heart attack victims to prevent a second cardiac event, and it may reduce low-density lipoprotein levels.

Where to get it: Take 300 mg daily, with food. Co Q10 may lower blood sugar and decrease blood pressure, so talk to your doctor before you start taking it if you’re diabetic or on blood pressure medication.

COLEUS FORSKOHLII

What it does: Coleus forskohlii is produced from the roots of a tropical plant. In the body, it activates an enzyme called cyclic adenosine monophosphate, which increases your metabolism and the utilization of body fat.

Why you might need it: Research is fairly limited on coleus forskohlii. One study at the University of Kansas found that taking it for 12 weeks increased free testosterone and lean body mass, while decreasing body fat in men.

Where to get it: You’ll usually see coleus forskohlii, or its derivative forskolin, combined with other compounds believed to help cut fat in thermogenics and weight-loss supplements. Shoot for 250 mg twice a day.

CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID

What it does: Conjugated linoleic acids are a family of similar fatty acids. CLA was discovered thanks to its anti-cancer properties; it also functions as a powerful antioxidant.

Why you might need it: To lose body fat. CLA seems to enhance the fat-burning effects of exercise, along with increasing your resting metabolic rate, and preventing your body from storing fat. Supplementing with CLA has been shown to reduce body fat and maintain lean mass, and appears to be particularly effective if it’s taken as part of an exercise regimen. A Japanese study found that CLA helped people reduce fat specifically around their waist and hips.

Where to get it: CLA is found naturally in meat and dairy products. You can take between 1 and 3 grams per day.

CREATINE

What it does: Creatine helps reload your muscles after they break down adenosine triphosphate into adenosine diphosphate for energy. The end result from taking a creatine supplement is improved endurance in workouts, allowing you to hang in for more reps and sets.

Why you might need it: In just 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise, you use up as much as 80 percent of the creatine phosphate stored in your muscles. One study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Researchfound that men who supplemented with creatine as part of a weight-lifting regimen for six weeks improved their leg-press strength by 62 percent.

Where to get it: There are many forms of creatine on the market, but it’s best to stick with the most-studied version: creatine monohydrate. Load your muscles by taking either 5 grams a day for 5 days, or 3 grams a day for 28 days. Then you can maintain creatine levels by taking 1 gram after each workout.

VITAMIN D

What it does: The main role of vitamin D is to aid the body with absorbing calcium, and helping you to both build stronger bones and prevent bone loss.

Why you might need it: A study at Boston University estimated that 36 percent of otherwise healthy adults—and 57 percent of people who go to the doctor for one reason or another—are deficient in vitamin D. Why is that bad? Some studies have indicated that a lack of vitamin D may be connected to weight gain and depression. (Click here to read the latest research on vitamin D and depression.) Vitamin D may also help prevent cancer and high-blood pressure, and men with higher levels of vitamin D also produce stronger sperm.

Where to get it: As little as 10 minutes of bright sunlight—specifically, UVB radiation from the sun—prompts your skin to produce vitamin D. But since you probably spend more time basking in your office’s florescent lights, it’s a good idea to supplement with 2,000 IU a day, says Stephen Dahmer, M.D., a physician at the Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

VITAMIN E

What it does: Vitamin E’s main role is as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals in the body and reducing inflammation.

Why you might need it: People over the age of 55 who took a combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and zinc daily reduced their chances of developing macular degeneration, which leads to blindness, by 35 percent. What’s more, in a Finnish study, smokers that took vitamin E were 32 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer, even though taking vitamin E doesn’t seem to help nonsmokers prevent prostate cancer.

Where to get it: Take 200 mg daily, in the form of d-alpha tocopheryl.

ECHINACEA

What it does: Echinacea is a flower that has traditionally been used as a cold remedy by native Americans, and one study found it is used by as many as 20 percent of herbal medicine adherents.

Why you might need it: Some studies have found that taking echinacea was effective in helping to treat upper-respiratory infections. But when 713 people in a University of Wisconsin study took echinacea during a cold, they only cut the duration of their cold by an average of a half a day  as compared to a placebo—not enough for scientists to conclude that the echinacea was working.

Where to get it: Echinacea is prepared several different ways: either as a tea, a concentrated extract, or as a juice. Most studies have examined dosages between 600 and 625 mg. It may set off an allergic reaction if you’re also allergic to ragweed, marigolds, and daisies, according to the National Institutes of Health.

ELDERBERRY EXTRACT

What it does: Treats cold and flu symptoms with antiviral properties by increasing the production of proteins called cytokines that respond to infection and inhibit the spread of viruses.

Why you might need it: To calm a raging cold or flu. One preliminary study found 28 percent of patients experiencing flu-like symptoms that took an elderberry lozenge were symptom-free after 48 hours; 60 percent got relief from some symptoms (in contrast, the placebo group’s symptoms didn’t change or worsen). Other research indicates elderberry is effective in killing bacterial infections that can lead to strep throat and skin infections. Animal studies also show that elderberry could reduce high blood cholesterol levels because it’s rich in heart-protective antioxidants called anthocyanins. Elderberry is also being studied for its potential to fight prostate cancer and gallbladder cancer.

Where to get it: Nature’s Answer Sambucus Black Elder Berry Extract

FEVERFEW

What it does: The herb may be effective in treating inflammatory conditions like headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, and asthma.

Why you might need it: To snuff the pain from a head-pounder. A German study found that patients taking feverfew for 16 weeks reported the frequency of headaches decreased by 2 migraines per month in the feverfew group compared to 1.3 in the placebo group. New research suggests taking a combination of feverfew and ginger extracts relieved a headache in two hours for 63 percent of subjects—compared to 39 percent taking a placebo. Additionally, outdoor athletes can seek sun relief from feverfew: applying products that contain the herb can protect skin from UV damage, according to a study commissioned by Johnson & Johnson.

Where to get it: GNC Herbal Plus Standardized Feverfew

FIBER

What it does: Dietary fiber adds bulk to your meal to help you feel full. There are two types: soluble and insoluble fiber. The former slows digestion and can help lower cholesterol, the latter “sweeps” your digestive system to keep things moving comfortably along.

Why you might need it: “Fiber is important for healthy digestion and proper absorption of nutrients,” says Susan Dopart, RD, author of A Recipe for Life by the Doctor’s Dietitian. New research in the journal PLoS One found that high fiber intakes were associated with lower incidence of stroke in men. People who consume lower intakes of fiber over their lifetimes also have a higher rate of arterial stiffness (a risk factor for heart disease) than those who consumed more. Results from a recent study even suggest that fiber may boost longevity—men eating the most fiber had a 23 percent reduced risk of dying. Aim for 30 grams a day. Whole food sources are best, and ground flaxseed can help you bulk up a diet that’s lacking; two tablespoons contain 3 grams.

Where to get it: Spectrum Naturals Essential Flaxseed Ground Organic

FOLATE & B12

What it does: Both B vitamins, folate and B12 are involved in the production of red blood cells; folate is also a key player in building DNA, while vitamin B12 is vital in nerve cell development.

Why you might need it: To avoid a heart attack. Inadequate intake of both folate and B12 have been linked to elevated levels in the bloodstream of the amino acid homocysteine, which is believed to increase heart disease risk. And while the two nutrients work together, they also provide unique benefits. Case in point: A higher folate intake from your diet (folate is found naturally in foods like spinach and citrus fruits) may reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to a 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Meanwhile, B12 keeps you sharp: A recent study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that people deficient in vitamin B12 were more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment, possibly because homocysteine also damages the brain. However, men should get folate from their diet rather than a supplement (see “folic acid” for more information), says Susan Dopart, RD, a Los Angeles-based dietician.

Where to get it: Find B12 in: Nature Made Vitamin B12 Tablets

FOLIC ACID

What it does: Folic acid is a water-soluble b-complex vitamin, which the body uses to make energy-supplying red blood cells in the body. The natural form of this B vitamin, called folate, is found in food. Folic acid is a synthetic supplement.

Why you might need it: You might not. First, the good news: a 2012 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that young men and women with the highest folic acid intake experienced a 52 percent reduced risk of high blood pressure 20 years later compared to those consuming lower levels. However, while getting enough folic acid is good, taking too much may have a downside. In a recent review by Norwegian researchers, folic acid supplements were linked to a 24 percent increase in prostate cancer risk for men. Some research suggests there may be a benefit to removing folic acid from supplements designed for men. Because folic acid is already abundant in fortified cereals and breads, men are likely getting ample amounts anyway, and taking an additional supplement can be risky. Most multivitamin supplements contain 400 mcg of folic acid, which men don’t need. If yours does, pop the multi only four times per week, says Susan Dopert, RD, a Los Angeles-based dietician.

Where to get it: Check with your doc first

Source: http://www.menshealth.com/health/mens-health-supplement-guide