25 Uncommon Benefits of Common Bodybuilding Supplements
Creatine helps build muscle.
Beta alanine enhances endurance and stamina.
And citrulline malate boosts nitric oxide...and delivers some pretty killer muscle pumps, too.
We’re all familiar with these ingredients and know what their “signature” benefits are...but what else can these staples of performance do? (if anything at all…)
Are they only useful for helping athletes to increase power, strength, performance, and physique or do they offer a little lagniappe for those times you’re not exercising?
And that brings us to the topic for today’s post -- 25 uncommon benefits of everyday supplements.
Auxiliary Benefits of Everyday Supplements
1. Creatine Improves Cognitive Function
The king of bodybuilding supplements may also be one of the most underrated brain-building supplements too.
Research has shown that the brain uses a tremendous amount of ATP (energy) when performing difficult tasks. Since creatine enhances phosphocreatine stores in the brain, it helps the brain generate more ATP. Furthermore, creatine may also improve cognitive function (short-term memory, intelligence, reasoning, etc.) by elevating levels of dopamine and mitochondrial function.[2,3,4]
2. Creatine May Improve Blood Sugar Regulation
In addition to its ability to enhance power, strength, and cognition, creatine may also help lower blood sugar levels.[5,6,7] Creatine’s blood glucose lowering properties may be due, in part, to its ability to enhance GLUT4 function.
Research has noted that when individuals consume creatine in addition to training, they have better blood glucose regulation compared to those combined with exercise,
A 12-week study noted that individuals supplementing with creatine in addition to exercise were better at controlling blood sugar levels following a high carb meal compared to those individuals who only exercised.
3. Rhodiola Improves Exercise Performance
Rhodiola has long been known for its ability to help improve the body’s response to stress, but recent research has noted it also shows promise for enhancing exercise performance, especially during endurance-based exercise.[7,8,9].
4. Ashwagandha May Help Combat Diabetes
Ashwagandha is an incredibly popular adaptogen, widely used in traditional medicine for managing stress. Additional human research into this stress-combating herb has noted that it can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy individuals as well as those with diabetes.[10,11,12,13]
5. Curcumin May Help Combat Depression
Curcumin has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, but additional research suggests that the principal curcuminoid of turmeric may also be useful for reducing stress and combatting symptoms of depression.
6. Curcumin Also Benefits Memory
In addition to its mood-elevating, stress-lowering qualities, curcumin also has been shown to benefit working memory and attention in healthy adults, according to preliminary research.
7. Grape Seed Extract Improves Cognitive Function
Grape seed extract has been explored for its pro-cardiovascular function qualities in recent years due to its ability to promote vasorelaxation and vasodilation. However, the benefits of grape seed extract extend beyond the heart and its intricate network of veins, arteries, and capillaries.
Gallic acid is a components of grape seed extract that has been shown to inhibit the formation of fibrils by beta-amyloid peptides in various lab trials.[16,17,18,19]]
8. Ashwagandha Improves Immune Function
Several studies in humans and animals have noted that ashwagandha improves immune system function by decreasing inflammation and upregulating the activity of natural “killer” cells.[17,18,19]
These “killer” cells are the ones that fight infection from viruses, bacteria, and other toxins in order to keep you free from illness and disease.
9. Coffee Promotes Liver Health
The liver is tasked with filtering the blood, cleansing it of any impurities, toxins, or other hazardous compounds that could infect the blood. It just so happens that your favorite morning pick me up (i.e. coffee) may help promote liver health and protect against cirrhosis. Research has noted that individuals consuming 4+ cups of coffee per day have an 80% lower risk of developing cirrhosis.[23,24]
10. Choline Supplementation Promotes Weight Loss
Choline is an essential nutrient found in eggs that is best known for its role in the production of acetylcholine, the “learning” neurotransmitter. As it turns out, this brain-boosting compound may also benefit those looking to drop unwanted body fat.
Research has noted that supplementing with choline leads to a reduction in body mass without a loss in static strength.
11. Betaine Helps Treat Depression
Betaine (trimethylglycine or TMG) is a staple of pre workout formulations due in large part for its ability to enhance power and strength. Additional research has noted that it may also be effective for combatting symptoms of depression.
Betaine increases levels of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which enhances the productions of feel good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine that can help treat depression. Additional research has shown that supplementing with SAMe and betaine improved symptoms of anxiety and worthlessness in people who previously had responded poorly to antidepressants.
12. Betaine + B12 Improves Cognitive Function
A double-blind, randomized controlled trial noted that supplementing with B12 (cobalamin) increased blood levels of betaine. This increase in betaine was associated with improvements in brain function and memory as well as faster reaction times.
13. Betaine Improves Endogenous Creatine Production
One of the prominent roles betaine serves in the body is as a methyl donor. In case you weren’t aware, methyl groups play a vital role in a number of physiological processes, including DNA methylation, phosphatidylcholine synthesis, and protein synthesis.
Betaine donates a methyl group to homocysteine, transforming it into methionine, one of the three amino acids used by the body to generate creatine.
14. B Vitamins Boost Mood
The B Vitamin family is pretty well known for its role in helping the body produce energy, yet that’s not all these essential nutrients are good for. As it turns out, they also benefit mood and cognition, too.
Studies have shown that when individuals take high doses of B-vitamins, they experience less stress and mental fatigue along with better performance in cognitive tests.[29,30]
15. Berberine Supports Heart Health
Berberine is a compound that is traditionally supplemented for its blood sugar-regulating properties. Yet, this nutrient also supports cardiovascular health, thanks to its ability to reduce blood pressure and dilate blood vessels.
Studies have shown that berberine inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and releases nitric oxide and cGMP into blood vessels. These two actions, along with berberine’s ability to block alpha-adrenoreceptors lead to greater blood vessel dilation.[31,32]
16. Berberine May Enhance Focus and Learning
Derivatives of berberine have been shown to inhibit acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that degrades the “learning” neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Inhibiting this enzyme, leads to greater levels and action of acetylcholine, which benefits memory, learning, and cognition.
17. Biotin Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Biotin (Vitamin B7) is essential to proper fat metabolism in the body. When taken in combination with chromium, biotin has been shown to lower risk factors of cardiovascular disease, including lowering LDL (“bad” cholesterol and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.[34,35]
Additionally, high doses of biotin (~1500 mcg per day) have been documented to reduce blood triglycerides in those with elevated levels.
18. Biotin Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Biotin stimulates insulin production, which enhances glucose uptake into skeletal muscle cells. Additionally, biotin also activates glucokinase, a liver enzyme promotes glycogen synthesis.[36,37,38]
Studies have shown that daily supplementation of biotin reduce fasting blood sugar levels by an average of 45% as well as diabetic neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes.[39,40]
19. Fish Oil Alleviates Muscle Fatigue
Commonly supplemented for heart and brain health, fish oil may also benefit muscle recovery following intense training. Research notes that EPA and HDA enhance muscle contractile recovery and reduces muscle oxygen consumption, which supports resistance to muscle fatigue.
20. Ginger Improves Blood Sugar Regulation
Ginger is a spice commonly used in Asian and Indian cooking for the pungent “bite” it adds to culinary fare. It also benefits those with blood sugar issues too. Research has shown that ginger supplementation can reduce fasting blood glucose and HbA1c (an important long-term diabetic marker) in humans.
21. Ginger Also Benefits Heart Health
A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis noted that ginger supplementation improved markers of c-reactive protein as well as cholesterol and triglyceride profiles in humans.
Ginger can also help lower blood pressure by stimulating muscarinic receptors and blocking calcium channels.
22. Bacopa Helps Combat Inflammation
Bacopa monnieri is an age-old herb commonly used for brain health, longevity, and relaxation. Modern research has found that it may also be an effective anti-inflammatory agent as well. More specifically, bacopa inhibits COX (Cyclooxygenase) and LOX (Lipoxygenase). It also reduces TNF-α (Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha).
As a result, bacopa is being more extensively explored as a possible treatment for arthritis.
23. Theobromine Enhances Blood Flow
Theobromine is a relative of caffeine found alongside it in chocolate and coffee. While typically known for its smooth, long-lasting energy, theobromine also supports cardiovascular health, exercise performance, and brain function due to its ability to increase blood flow via vasodilation.
24. Magnesium Combats Migraines
Deficiency of magnesium can result in brain artery spasm and the increased release of pain substances in the body. High doses of supplemental magnesium (~600mg) has been shown to significantly reduce headache frequency, severity, and duration.
25. Capsaicin Improves Strength
Capsaicin is the pungent alkaloid that gives chili peppers their distinctive, tongue-numbing “bite”. It’s also commonly included in weight loss supplements and fat burners for its ability to boost metabolism and suppress hunger.
Now, new research has shown that the fiery compound may improve exercise performance too. n ingredient found in chili peppers that contributes to the hot and spicy flavor of the chili pepper. When men were given 12 mg of capsaicin, 45 minutes prior to a session of squats, their total mass lifted increased along with a decrease in rate of perceived exertion (RPE).
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