Supplements That Actually Work (Without The Hype)

Article written by Josh Mac

I used to frequent my local chain big box supplement store a lot during my up and comings.  I was a bright eyed teen with the natural test levels of an equine and a clean slate upon which to build some pretty impressive cleavage.  Throwing the glass door wide to the sound of the electronic doorbell, I’d race past the aisles of herbs and oils right to the good stuff, the technicolor neon glittering packaging of $70 dollar protein jugs. 


The loud colors had drawn me in closer, now I could see the dudes on the labels.  I mean, just look at some of these monsters!  That guy on the Twinlab Ripped Fuel was just… well, ripped!  And Twinlab… that’s like TWO labs!

Gakic?  I have no idea what that means but Jason Cutler is wearing a lab coat with lat cut outs pointing to a clip board and wearing glasses.  This stuff is studied and then verified by the big man himself?  Take my money already lady!

But in my haste to round the bases before I even swung a bat, I had raced past the most important aisle.  The supplements that were far less likely to kill me didn’t have the awesome skull and crossbones warnings on them or hulking assholes making growly faces.  Rather, they had plants on them, yeah, flowers and crap.  These were the bottles that people’s grandma’s had in their purses next to the metamucil.



For as little as $6.99, you can buy a bottle of the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, and that’s not a bad deal especially when you consider just how necessary it is to your gut.  As the name suggests, this bacteria regulates the acidity of different parts of the body for the purposes of keeping harmful bacteria at bay.  Found in the intestines and, uh… a ladies… uh, you know, her uhhh.  It’s found in the intestines and a lady’s reproductive…errrr.  It’s in her va-jay-jay OK?! (see image below, j/k.)

Now that THAT’S out of the way, let’s lay down some benefits thought to be attributed to supplementing with this naturally occuring bacteria.  It’s often used to treat things ranging from yeast infections, diarrhea and urinary tract infections.  It’s also used as a probiotic, helping aid in lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome by restoring the natural balance of acidity of your tummy. Of course, manufactures of this product can’t claim to treat any of these conditions because: Government, but that doesn’t stop some preworkouts from claiming a 47% increase on the leg press and double the pumps.  Obviously, consult a physician anytime you’re about to ingest anything that doesn’t have a glowing 6 pack on the label.


Long before Jamie Lee Curtis opened the flood gates (literally) on national television commercials about dropping regular deuces, Bifidus Regularis had been supplemented by folks who just had it up to their necks with their butts.  I personally took the Activia challenge once, and I lost.  Bifidus is just one of 32 species of Bifidobacteria and like acidophilus, it’s said to aid in digestion of sugars and lactose.


A 2006 study conducted by the University of Belgium (Go flying badgers!) showed the benefit of Bifidobacteria. In the gut, bifidobacteria make metabolytes from the breakdown of sugars, making the environment more acidic and hostile to pathogens that otherwise prefer a lower pH, much like acidophilus.  That’s one fact that those assholes pushing alkaline water gloss over while they’re shoving their jug in your face.  For $2.49, if you’re having trouble making a normal poo after all of those protein shakes, it’s not a bad buy.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

No, Louie Simmons didn’t create his own acid. CLA is an essential fatty acid that we don’t get enough of in our diets.  It’s thought to benefit my people (the obese) by purportedly reducing body fat and making us feel fuller after we inhale a sheet cake for breakfast.  Although CLA is found naturally in milk, cheese, meat like beef and sunflower and safflower oil, it isn’t found abundantly.  Basically, to get enough CLA from food, you’d need to eat a Rosie O’Donnell amount of cheese on a daily basis.  Who has the arteries for that?  CLA is also a powerful antioxidant and believed to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and breast cancer in the ladies. It also lowers both good and bad cholesterol levels and makes you more attractive*  Holy crap, this stuff must cost a million dol… oh wait, no it’s only like twelve bucks.

(*Only in my case.)



(Not this Dee)

Ok, so vitamin D helps with a ton of stuff.  Let’s forget cancer, let’s skip blood pressure regulation, let’s totally forget its benefits of bone health.  Vitamin D can increase HORMONE LEVELS and strengthen skeletal muscle.  Now I know what you’re saying, Josh… there are “other” supplements that alter hormone levels and increase strength a lot better, and yes that’s true.  But Vitamin D is a powerhouse, it even protects against low levels of nuclear friggen radiation!  That and I can buy it in front of a cop.  Let’s break it down:

D2 (ergocalciferol made from ergosterol)

Absorption of calcium from the stomach. -Available from food (plants.) -First produced in the 1920’s by exposing foods to ultraviolet light, this method is still used by pharmaceutical companies. -Veggies and vegans may prefer this version as it is plant derived.

D3 (cholecalciferol)

-D3 is converted by the liver and kidneys to 1,25-dihydroxy Vitamin D3 (Calcitriol).  Calcitriol controls bone, calcium, and phosphorous metabolism. -We produce D3 from UVB sun rays naturally, but now that we’ve largely evolved into a bunch of indoor coffee shop hipsters and slather ourselves with sunscreen all of the time, many people aren’t getting the full benefit. -D3 has been used for depression, back pain, bone health and cognitive enhancement. -D3 can also be derived from Cod liver oil which is a common supplementation form. -Researchers recommend 2000-4000 IU per day to stay on top of your health game.  That sounds like a lot to me but wtf do I know?  I barely screeched through kindergarten.

Interesting fact:  Vitamin D was added to milk in the 1930’s in Europe and the United States to combat and essentially eliminate rickets, a defect in bone growth in infants and children.  You want the “D.”

For further reading on Vitamin D, enroll in college.

Coenzyme Q10

Found in every cell in your body and much of the food you eat, CoQ10 is used by cells as energy for cell growth and maintenance.  Although it’s produced naturally in the body, it reduces drastically with age (peaking in our early 20’s.)  As an antioxidant, it protects the body from harmful molecules. Coenzymes aid enzymes in the digestion of food as well as the preservation of muscle gains.


As a supplement to increase energy, CoQ10 plays a role in the production of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which transports chemical energy within cells. Organ meat, peanuts and sardines have among the highest natural food concentrations, or you could just cough up $20 for the supplement. The better you can digest the 4 hour buffet marathon, the more usable nutrients are available for gainz.

These simple supplements won’t break the bank and might just make you feel better inside and outside of the gym.  They may not have the hype of pre workouts like “Murder Rage” and “Gorilla Hate 2.0,” but they may give you a better baseline of overall health so that you can better survive taking all of that crap.  Who doesn’t want to wake up more refreshed and produce larger solid expulsions? Ask your doctors if vitamins are right for you.

References: Roel Van der Meulen, Tom Adriany, Kristof Verbrugghe, and Luc De Vuyst. “Kinetic Analysis of Bifidobacterial Metabolism Reveals a Minor Role for Succinic Acid in the Regeneration of NAD+ through Its Growth-Associated Production.” 2006. Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO), Department of Applied Biological Sciences and Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.

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