In continuing with the theme of hormone replacement, I'd like to talk about supplements. If you're a Man With a Plan, you should have a well balanced diet. Therefore, you shouldn't need a lot of supplements. I have a kale smoothie in the morning (sounds and even looks bad but tastes great and is filled with great nutrients), I supplement my diet with protein powder with added branched chain amino acids and have generally healthy snacks throughout the day. (In the future we'll have many installments that deal with good male nutrition) That said, there are a few supplements that I strongly believe in because most men are deficient in these.
In my previous session, I mentioned DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). To get to the rest of the alphabet soup, there is also HCG (human chorionic gonadotopin), HGH ( human growth hormone), and Vitamin D3.
Although, there are many other supplements one can take, these are the few I often find deficient. So lets start deciphering the code.
DHEA has many functions on its own. I like to think of it as a back up and supporter of testosterone. I often find it low and always recommend replacement. In fact, it's one of the few supplements that I take myself.
HCG is also an important hormone for men. However, it needs to be given by injection, it tends to be pretty pricey, and truthfully, I think it's superfluous if you are going to be on testosterone replacement. A gonadotropin (as the name implies), is something that helps your gonads (your testicles) function. Let me digress for a moment. Approximately 95%of your testosterone is made by your testicles. About 5% is made by your adrenal glands which sit on top of your kidneys. My feeling is that if you are already bypassing the testicles by getting testosterone, then why be on an additional medication?
HGH, is the mother of all hormones! It's most often used for children that are deficient and would otherwise not achieve they're potential height, if it's not replaced. Studies show that in low doses (much lower than are used in children), it is excellent for adults. The down side...it's stupidly expensive! An average adult dose generally runs about $1,200 to $1,500 a month. Now for those of you that can afford to spend $15,000 to $20,000 a year...go for it! It's not in my budget either but don't despair, there are less expensive ways to achieve your goals.
Vitamin D3 seems to be low in almost everyone I see. Most now believe that Vitamin D3 acts more like a hormone than a vitamin. It is involved in millions of reactions in your body and seems to be all but depleted in the food we eat. We also get Vitamin D3 through our skin when we are in sunlight. When I am dealing with my patients, I try to optimize they're D3 levels. I find that many people are on some type of D3 supplement , and their levels are still low. That's because most store brands are simply garbage. There is a particular brand that I use in my office. When I check my patient's levels, I can always tell when they are buying the cheap brand; they're levels plummet.
Personally, I take Vitamin D3 and DHEA. I don't take anything haphazardly. I tested my levels and they were low! That's the way it should be done. Never assume anything, getting tested and treated by physician is extremely important! Don't take a friends supplements or medication. Don't try something at the gym! There is a lot of nasty stuff floating around gyms...stay away. Just because a guy is muscle bound doesn't mean he's healthy. In fact a lot of those guys that have been "juicing", will be very sick later on in their lives. I know, I end up seeing them in my office.
There are numerous other supplements, far to many to list. I tried to outline the few I thought noteworthy. Perhaps, at a later date, we can cover some of the other more popular supplements.