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Are Supplements Dangerous?

Wow, that's a loaded question. And it's a terrible question because the types of supplements are so vast that it's almost impossible to answer unless we break this down into categories.

But before we go further: I'm not recommending or condoning any supplement use even if it's legal. What you chose to put in your body is your choice. My recommendation is to be as knowledgeable as possible about the chemicals, your own physiology and biology and speak to a healthcare professional.

That out of the way, let's talk about a few categories of supplements:

Protein Powders -- protein powders provide a way to increase (yes, supplement) your intake of protein. And as you'll read in my article on What Makes Muscle Grow, protein is essential. There are varied reports on whether protein powders are good or bad for you. Some reports state that excess protein can be rough on your kidneys, can cause dehydration, and so forth. Personally, I don't think I'd be able to eat enough protein without taking protein powders as supplements in a given day to achieve muscle hypertrophy.

Creatine -- aside from protein powder, creatine (usually taken as creatine monohydrate) is one of the most popular supplements on the market and has been for years. Creatine is a naturally occurring organic chemical that is stored in muscle cells and in the brain as phosphocreatine. Not only has it been proven as essential for muscle growth but also in the prevention of some neurological disorders. The nuts and bolts of creatine is this: creatine assists in the body's storage and use of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). And if you remember back to biology class, ATP is the structure used to provide energy to the body. You can imagine the benefits of additional energy in one's muscles and brain.

Nitrogen boosters -- the two main nitrogen boosters are nitric oxide (NO2) and citrulline malate. Citrulline malate is an amino acid bound to a salt molecule. Nitric oxide is an organic compound that, as you can tell from the name, directly boosts nitrogen intake. The benefits of increased nitrogen are numerous, to name a few: vasodilation (expansion/relaxation of blood vessels thereby increasing blood-flow throughout the body), increased production of insulin and various growth factors (two of the most anabolic hormones naturally found in the body), and coupled with creatine stimulation of muscle growth.

Thermogenics -- thermogenics are weight-loss compounds that increase one's body temperature through increased metabolic function. A word of caution: thermogenics are easily abused; they can deplete the body of crucial vitamins, minerals and electrolytes; they can cause dehydration; and because many have high levels of caffeine thermogenics can cause heart palpitations. They can be effective in weight loss, but one must take caution when using these, particularly during long, strenuous activities like participating in sports or High Intensity Impact Training (HIIT).

Amino Acids -- amino acids are the building-blocks of proteins and absolutely essential to muscle growth. With rare exception, amino acids are safe. Be sure to read my article on proteins and amino acids to learn more and understand what types of amino acids you should use.

Vitamins -- vitamins are essential micronutrients needed for normal cell function. There's a wide range of vitamins. Not all vitamins are safe to take in large doses, and some vitamins may actually interfere with medications. So even though you may have been popping the little Flintstone-shaped chewables since you had your baby-teeth, you should still check with your healthcare professional before taking too many (especially if you have conditions such as diabetes).

SARMS -- selective androgen receptor modulators are often viewed as steroids the way that Cinemax After-Dark is viewed as porn. Not quite, but it helps to get the job done. Some people liken these to the "prohormones" taken by professional baseball players as a way to boost the body's production of testosterone. SARMS, however, work slightly differently and while there were steroidal SARMS going as far back as the 1940s, the latest round of SARMS works by binding to the same cellular receptors as steroids and either sends signals that stimulate growth in a similar way that steroids do, or by assisting steroids in binding to said receptors. SARMS comprise quite a few different compounds, some safer than others. Because we're diving into the deep end of the pool on this, I'm not going to go into too much detail. You'll find quite a bit of info online, but I'd start by reading the info published by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

I'm scratching the surface of this subject, but rather than continuing with an article that could rival the length of Stephen King's The Stand, leave a comment or write to me at and let me know what you'd like me to feature next.

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