In a recent video, I described the three supplements I would use if I were limited to using only three supplements. The three supplements that I chose were, in no particular order, creatine, a vitamin-mineral supplement, and fish oil. My rationale for these choices was as follows. Creatine is the most effective sports supplement, with studies showing that it works for 80% of those who use it in conjunction with a weight-training program. Although creatine is available in a number of foods, with herring and red meat being the best natural sources, you would have to ingest a lot of these foods to consume enough creatine to provide noticeable ergogenic effects. But just 5 grams of supplemental creatine, about a teaspoon, provides the same amount of creatine that exists in over two pounds of meat. Since the video was directed at those engaged in resistance exercise, such as weight training, I included creatine because I think it would work well for most people who exercise with weights. For the average person who is sedentary, however, supplemental creatine serves no purpose, since the body can synthesize it from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine at a rate of about one gram a day. I chose a vitamin-mineral supplement as "nutritional insurance," since some of the nutrients typically contained in vitamin-mineral supplements are lacking in those who do not consume balanced diets. A "balanced diet" is characterized as consuming a large variety of foods from several food groups, such as protein foods, dairy foods, fruits and vegetables, and so on. Most people, however, tend to skimp on many of these foods and as such will not be ingesting certain essential nutrients that will adversely affect health if deficient in the diet.
The third supplement that I suggested, fish oil, is perhaps the most controversial of the three. Fish oil provides preformed omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). There is some confusion here since what's usually recommended as a source of omega-3 fatty acids is another fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In truth, however, ALA is a precursor for the far more biologically active EPA and DHA. The reason why ALA is suggested rather than EPA and DHA is that ALA is found in a far larger variety of foods compared to EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA exist largely in fatty fish, and if you don't consume fatty fish, such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring, halibut, and others, you won't be ingesting any of the so-called "pre-formed" omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Depending on ALA is problematic because only a small percentage of ALA is capable of being converted into EPA and DHA through the action of certain enzymes. Women can convert 10% of ALA in DHA, while men can only convert 3% into . . .