Monday, October 4, 2010

Everest: Nutritional Supplements

I wrote this article because there is so little information in the way of high-altitude mountaineering and nutritional supplements.  I did some research and I hope others will find this information useful.  Here's what I'll be fortifying my diet with when I take on the world's highest mountain next Spring. 

Nutritional supplements have become a way of life in our modern world.  At this time, the argument isn't so much WHETHER you should supplement, but WHAT you should supplement your diet with.

Climbing Mt. Everest has it's own challenges nutritionally.  I'll be on the Everest expedition for about 2 months next Spring, and training hard for about 6 months til then, and I've determined that to keep myself healthy, I've got to supplement my diet with some nutrients.

I repack my supplements into small one-a-day ziplock bags, and take 1/2 in the morning with breakfast and the rest with dinner.  Here's what's in them:

Morning* 
1 AOR Ortho Core Multivitamin
1 Controlled Labs Orange Triad Multi
1 Now Vitamin C 1000mg, Buffered, Time Released, with Bioflavanoids
1 AOR Mito Charger
1 Beverly International Ultra 40 Liver Tablet

Evening*
1 AOR Ortho Core Multivitamin
1 Controlled Labs Orange Triad Multi
1 Now Vitamin C 1000mg, Buffered, Time Released, with Bioflavanoids
1 AOR Ortho Bone Calcium Supplement
1 Controlled Labs Oximega Fish Oil Capsule

* Amazon links are provided for your information.  I have not checked out the prices.  Personally, I buy my stuff from bodybuilding.com and iHerb.com (use referral code KOH756 and get $5 off your order from iHerb.com) or TSW.com.sg.
In addition, there are certain 'high altitude' supplements I take when I climb, and I start taking these about 2 weeks prior to when I start a high altitude climb:

Morning
1 GNC Ginkgo Biloba Plus Siberian Ginseng
2 First Endurance Optygen HP Capsules

Evening
1 GNC Triple Garlic
1 Digestive Enzyme


Why I take what I take:
The AOR Ortho Core and Controlled Labs Orange Triad are both very good multivitamin supplements.  Each has something that the other one doesn't. Orange Triad has joint aids like Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and Hyaluric Acid; Ortho Core has N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), a precursor to Glutathione, which in addition to being a very powerful antioxidant, may also help clear the lungs of excess mucous.  I hedge my bets and take a little of each.  A standard dose is 6 per day, but at my bodyweight of only 63.5kg (140lbs), I figure 4 per day will do*.  

*Update Feb 2011
Ok, this isn't working out for me.  Since changing over to the new multis, I haven't been feeling as vital.  I think I need to switch back to using a multi at full dose, but I might do something else, like NOW Adam.


I take my fish oil supplement in the evening to prevent 'fish' burps in the day, but also because I believe the slower burning fat in the oil helps keep me warm at night.  Multivitamin supplements, together with a Fish Oil supplement, are what I recommend everyone take, regardless of whether you are climbing Mt. Everest or not!

Vitamin C and Calcium are usually never in large enough quantities in a multi.  I've chosen to add 2000mg of vitamin C a day.  Some are going to say it is too much.  It's a personal decision.  I've tried reducing the amount, but each time I do, my old asthma creeps back in.  Through trial and error, I've found out that the minimum I need to keep my asthma (and other allergies) at bay is 2000mg daily.


The Ortho Bone Calcium supplement is very interesting.  Although there is only 100mg of elemental calcium per capsule in this supplement, it comes in the only form of calcium shown to regrow bone (MCHC, or the Hydroxyapatite form which comes from bovine bone tissue).  The other forms (such as citrate, carbonate, etc) have only been shown to slow down bone loss.

The liver tablet is an 'old school' bodybuilding standby.  Among other things, they are known to increase endurance.  I take one a day to help my body build blood (each tablet provides about 2mg of heme iron), as to well as add in a few BCAA amino acids.

AOR Mito Charger is a new player on the market and brings together 3 useful micronutrients for keeping the mitochondria, or the body's energy production systems, healthy: Coenzyme Q10, R+ Alpha Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine.  Currently, I'm taking these in 3 separate pills.  This one product brings it together for me in one pill, and at less cost. 


Gingko Biloba, Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero), Garlic and the ingredients in Optygen HP (Rhodiola and Cordyceps) are known to help acclimatize and perform in high altitude.  I only take these supplements just prior to and during a climb, and they are not part of my daily supplement pack.
 
One of the challenges of high altitude climbing is trying to swallow pills, especially if you are nauseous.  I try to limit the number and size of the pills I have to swallow.   And because altitude can also mess around with your ability to digest food, I take a digestive enzyme with dinner, which is usually my largest meal for the day.

3 comments:

My Dream Home said...

hello kenneth,

You know any supplements for preventing dry skin problems in high altitude or very dry conditions.

thanks,
Ian

Ken said...

Hi Ian,

Good question. Dry skin is certainly a problem at high altitude that affects just about everyone. Fish oil supplements do help, and you may wish to take more than the one-a-day that I take.

Hope that helps,
Ken

Virtamins Canada said...

Nice blog. I think I have to agree with you that supplements has been a way of life for us. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts.