Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ranking the best cranberry pills of 2017

Many people are taking cranberry pills as a healthy whole food supplement for better skin and hair and other anti-aging benefits.

(It’s also widely used to prevent and treat bladder infections, ulcers and tumors)

You see, when you take a whole food and powder you bring in not just one ingredient like they do in other supplements. You bring in active components, cofactors, and other supportive nutrients that amplify absorption and the end result.

Plus there are thousands of phytonutrients, or plant-specific chemicals, you are ingesting that researchers haven’t even isolated and discovered yet.

A great example of this is with cranberry supplements found as juices, fresh and frozen fruit, tablets, and pills.  As you’ll see cranberry is one of the most versatile supplements out there showing that sometimes nature gets it right all by itself.

Our research team found the best cranberry supplements:

1. PureCo Cranberry Concentrate

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

If all you want is a cranberry extract with no added ingredients, PureCo Cranberry Concentrate is a winner. The dosage is high, at 500 mg of cranberry extract per serving, and there are zero extraneous ingredients, save for the bare minimum needed to keep the vegetarian capsules together.

2. Ellura

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Ellura is a cranberry extract made specifically for urinary tract health. It contains 36 mg of proanthocyanidins per pill, which are the active ingredient in cranberries that help urinary health.

It’s a strong, highly pure and refined form of cranberry extract that you might call “medical-grade,” even though it’s available over the counter.

3. Sunergetic Kidney Cleanse

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

This is a prime example of a targeted cranberry extract pill. The main ingredient is still cranberries, but it has a wide array of other ingredients that are targeted towards the same task; namely, a kidney cleanse. It’s a strong candidate for a kidney cleanse, but shouldn’t be used as a general purpose cranberry supplement.

4. Schiff Cranberry Extract

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Each serving of Schiff Cranberry Extract provides 500 mg of the raw cranberry extract, making it a good choice for general-purpose supplementation.

It may not have the purity of the highly refined forms, but those lack some of the other active ingredients that likely have ancillary health benefits.

5. Puritan’s Pride Natural Cranberry Fruit Concentrate

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Puritan’s Pride makes a great cranberry pill that provides 500 mg of a 50:1 cranberry concentrate with no additives or superfluous ingredients. The only drawback? The capsule is gelatin-based, so strict vegans will have to look elsewhere.

6. AZO Cranberry

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

With 500 mg of cranberry extract per serving, plus 120 mg of vitamin C, AZO Cranberry is a good cranberry supplement for general health and well-being. With the extra antioxidant power of vitamin C, the supplement will fight oxidative damage and inflammation even better.

The downside with an all-purpose supplement like this is that it doesn’t have the purity you may need for specific uses, like bladder or kidney cleansing.

7. Zhou Nutrition Cranberry Extra Strength

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Though Zhou Nutrition’s cranberry offering claims it is “extra strength,” it’s more like half strength compared to several of its competitors.

It does have some vitamin C and vitamin E, but doesn’t really distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.

8. Pure Healthland Cranberry Concentrate

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Whenever a new supplement makes a splash, lots of smaller companies try to cash in by creating their own version of the supplement.

That seems to be the case with Pure Healthland; there’s nothing particularly unique or different about their product, and it’s at half-strength compared to the better cranberry pills out there.

9. Nature’s Bounty Cranberry Fruit

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Nature’s Bounty appears to provide a very high dosage of cranberries, but the actual amount of extract is fairly low.

Each serving contains 168 mg of a standardized extract, and while this is equal to 8.4 grams of cranberries, other products offer far higher concentrations.

10. Nature Made Super Strength Cranberry Plus

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Unfortunately, this supplement is a case of a big company cutting some cash by offering a supplement with a low concentration.

Quality cranberry extracts use a 50:1 concentrate, while Nature Made only uses a 15:1 concentrate. That means you are getting a far lower dosage of the active ingredients in the cranberries.

Cranberry benefits and side effects

Prevents bladder infections. Bladder and urinary tract infections are cranberry’s biggest claims to fame.

Cranberry works by keeping bacteria from sticking to the walls of your bladder, turning a potential infection that a bacterial water slide because your urine will flush them all out (1).

Taking cranberry on a regular basis works to prevent bacteria from turning bad and sticking to your bladder as seen in one review of 77 patients taking cranberry juice to prevent bladd infections (2).

Cranberry treats bladder infections. If you haven’t been taking your cranberry on a regular basis and have come down with a bladder infection don’t worry, cranberry still has your back.

Researchers tested out how cranberry affects men and women with a bladder infection and saw that cranberry juice can treat bladder infections in addition to preventing them (3). 

Cranberry treats ulcers. Facts are that 1 out of 2 men and women are estimated to be housing H. pylori bacteria in their stomach.

This is not the good kind of bacteria. In fact, H. pylori leads to ulcers, gastric cancer, and other complications.  Just as cranberry keeps bacteria from sticking to the walls of your bladder and urinary tract, it also shakes H. pylori loose from your stomach walls in just one week (4).

Cranberry fights cavities. Due to cranberry’s ability to stop bacteria from planting their flag on the walls of your body, cranberry is also useful for fighting cavities.

Without a place for bacteria to attach too, you have a lower incidence of cavities (5).

Similarly, you have a lower incidence of gum disease when you regularly enjoy cranberry as illustrated in the research (6).

The one drawback for oral health with cranberry use is that cranberry is acidic.  If you consume cranberry before brushing your teeth you can weaken a brush off the enamel.

I recommend either waiting at least an hour between consuming cranberry juice and brushing your teeth.

Cranberry shrinks tumors. On the Petri dish, cranberry is seen to crush cancer cells and spare healthy cells (7). 

Adding a bit more complexity, studies in rats show that cranberry juice can slow down human breast cancer cell growth (8).  Your best option is to consume cranberry before you know you have cancer to prevent it in the first place.  While cranberry juice may not kill cancer, it can prevent it from growing or slow down the growth giving you more time to fight the tumor and end up thriving.

Cranberry fights respiratory infections. Turns out that cranberry also inhibits bacteria from sticking to the walls of your respiratory system  (9).

There’s even evidence that cranberry can lower the chance of the flu virus invading your cells and getting you sick (10).  All these benefits and NO needles, sounds like a win to me.

Cranberry has potent anti-aging benefits. Along with anthocyanins, red cranberries also pack a super nutrient called resveratrol (11).  Resveratrol is so popular because it’s seen to pack in many benefits in terms of anti-aging, both in terms of making you look younger and improving your internal health to fight certain types of cancer (12).

Finally, although cranberry is good for your health, it does not prevent heart disease. Researchers back up this claim by giving two groups of women a drink for two weeks.  One group had cranberry juice while the other just had a placebo.  As a result, researchers found no significant differences.

While these antioxidants showed promise in the test tubes, it may be that they are less effective in the human body.

Going deeper, it may be that I source of cranberry may have been mixed with sugar or other ingredients to reduce the sour taste of cranberry juice and interfering with the effects.

The bottom line here is that more research is needed to claim that cranberry does or doesn’t prevent heart disease.

Cranberry is high in antioxidants. It turns out that many of the same benefits that blueberries (they’re cousins) have also carry over to cranberries.  Sure, blueberries and blue and cranberries are red BUT both have anthocyanin and high antioxidant levels (13).

Cranberry is a great for fat loss. Another great option is to simply drink unsweetened cranberry juice.  This by itself has many benefits for weight loss.  Part of what makes cranberry juice so sour are all the organic acids inside.  These acids actually help to increase metabolism and promote fat oxidation, in other words, they speed up fat burning (14).

Similarly, you can replace your soda habit with cranberry juice and carbonated water to add flavor to your drinks but avoid all the added sugar to dramatically boost your fat burning results.

Tip: When you combine them with other fruits, protein powders, or different ingredients you can hide the taste and still reap the benefits.

Cranberry works to strengthen skin. Cranberry is a big source of vitamin C.  In fact, it has many different yes of vitamin C, or ascorbic acids, which increases absorption into your body compared to your typical vitamin C supplement (15).

Vitamin C works to improve connective tissue, which translates to better skin health- and no scurvy!

With cranberry as a part of your daily diet you’ll notice that your skin becomes tighter, softer, and more youthful (16).

Cranberry can treat and prevent acne. Another great reason to use cranberry juice topically is because it fights acne.  Because cranberry tends to loosen bacterial binding it is seen to remove bacteria from pores and reduce the occurrence of acne (17).

You can dab cranberry juice on with a cotton ball to quickly and easily start seeing results.

Cranberry promotes healthy hair growth. Cranberry is a significant source of fat-soluble vitamins,  vitamins A and E.  Three vitamins are key for healthy hair growth (18). 

Cranberry fights dandruff. Due to the acidity and variety of vitamins and nutrients in cranberry, cranberry juice can also fight dandruff.

Dandruff is an issue with the pH of your scalp.  Basically, your skin is not putting out the right amount of oils and becomes dry, flaky, and can halt hair growth in its tracks.

Because cranberry is acidic it can rebalance the pH and promote your scalp to produce more oil naturally (19).  At the same time,  it is also nourishing and strengthening your hair with its abundance of vitamins A, E, and C.

Side effects

May amplify effects of blood thinners. Salicylic acid is a natural substance most popularly taken in the form of aspirin but is found in other natural foods. 

It turns out cranberry is one of those foods (20).  Now, this isn’t a big issue for most of the population, so might not have to worry.  In fact, it may even help lower blood pressure and improve heart health a bit.

On the other hand, there are some men and women out there who are sensitive to salicylic acid will have the same allergic reaction to therapeutic doses of cranberry (21).

Another caution against supplementing with cranberry is that the salicylic acid can amplify the effects of blood thinners like warfarin (22).  Drug interactions from whole foods are dangerous because they’re often underreported.  The average person is either unaware that everyday foods can interact with the drugs they take OR they don’t think it’s worth mentioning to their doctor.

Definitely ask a physician if any medications you take could react with common foods, herbal supplements, or other supplements you take on a regular basis.

Cranberry can cause kidney stones in tablet form. Cranberry tablets, by their nature, need to include binders and other additives.  Research shows that this can increase the strain on your kidneys and actually increase your risk of getting kidney stones (23).

Cranberry can trigger aspirin allergies. Another downside of cranberries is that the salicylic acid we talked about earlier.  Remember, salicylic acid is the main component of aspirin as well.

This means that those men and women suffering from aspirin allergies can also be allergic to cranberries (24).

Recommended dosage

For best results take twice a day. With these food based supplements, the effects are usually dose-dependent, meaning is the more you consume the more apparent the effects.

According to the top research studies out there, the ideal amount of cranberry you want a day is 300 mg – 400 mg twice a day (25).  If you’re favoring cranberry juice over the capsules then you’ll want 8-16 ounces a day split up into at least two cups (26).

Of course, this is only up to a point where the side effects can negate all the positive results we’re looking for.  Cranberry juice can have blood thinning effects and those get amplified too with dosage, so you want to be careful about going too high as well.


Cranberry is a whole food supplement that may interact with some medications but is generally very safe. 

The biggest benefit to cranberries is that they seem to work all over the body in dislodging dangerous bacteria that can cause infections in your gut, urinary tract, lungs, and even cause acne.

Cranberry can easily be added to your diet, but spray-dried powder pills or cranberry juice are the two most convenient options for you to consume significant amounts of cranberry each and every day.

Ranking the best curcumin of 2017

Curcumin, the super ingredient inside turmeric, is a trendy herb that has powerful anti-inflamatory properties and helps cognitive function.

Why does this super ingredient have so much buzz? It helps the human condition in so many ways: From the appearance of your skin to fighting depression or cancer.

While the benefits of curcumin seem too good to be true, curcumin is still a recent discovery in the world of nutrition.

1. NatureWise Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

At 750 mg of curcumin per capsule, NatureWise has a high dosage, plus a few extras. There is ginger root extract, which is another powerful antioxidant, and the familiar black pepper extract for absorption and efficacy, but this supplement doesn’t get bogged down with excess ingredients either.

2. Solgar Full Spectrum Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Solgar takes a unique approach to their curcumin supplement. Instead of the standardized extracts used by other companies, Solgar has a special liquid extract they claim is 185x more effective.

As such, the dosage per capsule is far lower. Solgar has a good track record as a supplement company, so the odds are good that they are correct in their assertion.

3. Bio Schwartz Turmeric Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

BioSchwarts provides a solid dose of curcumin from a trusted brand. At 500 mg per vegetarian capsule, you can tailor your dosage to meet the right dosage for you. It also includes bioperine, a black pepper extract which helps boost the absorption and bioactivity of the curcumin.

4. Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

If all you want is a reasonable dose of curcumin without any added supplements, Jarrow Formulas should be your go-to option. It has 500 mg of curcumin per capsule, and aside from the necessary ingredients for the cellulose-based capsule, zero other ingredients.

5. Now Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Now Curcumin offers a bulk-buy no-nonsense curcumin supplement. With 665 mg of curcumin per capsule, the dosage is good, though it doesn’t have bioperine like some of the other curcumin supplements out there. Not interested in black pepper extract? Now Curcumin is a great choice.

6. Doctor’s Best Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Doctor’s Best provides a similar level of curcumin to other supplements on the market, and it also includes bioperine (black pepper extract) for better absorption. It doesn’t distinguish itself in any particular way, though, so it doesn’t land any further up in the rankings.

7. Health Plus Prime Turmeric Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Health Plus Prime has a pretty high dosage of curcumi per capsule at 600 mg, and like many of its competitors, it includes bioperine for better absorption. Its ingredients label doesn’t offer quite as detailed of a breakdown of the curcumin content, though.

8. Nature’s Nutrition Turmeric Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Nature’s Nutrition has 700 mg of cucumin per capsule, and the standard black pepper extract. The only curiosity is that Nature’s Nutrition used their own in-house black pepper extract instead of the commercialized BioPerine used by most other companies. 

9. Doctor Recommended Supplements Turmeric Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

While the label says each serving contains 750 mg, you’ve got to read the fine print. The active ingredients of this supplement are mixed into a “proprietary blend” which has several sources of curcumin with varying levels of purity, and also includes triphala powder. So you don’t really know how much curcumin is in each capsule.

10. Life Extension Super Bio-Curcumin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

At only 400 mg of curcumin per capsule, Life Extension seems like a pretty low dosage compared to some of its competitors, which offer up to 50% more. They claim their form of curcumin is absorbed seven times better, but don’t provide much in the way of evidence for this.

Curcumin benefits and side effects

Curminin, part of the ginger family, may sound so familiar because it’s the super ingredient from turmeric.  In fact, it’s believed that the main benefits of turmeric are drawn from curcumin (1). 

Many of the benefits of turmeric, including fighting inflammation, improving brain function, reduced risk of heart disease, fighting cancer, preventing Alzheimer’s disease, depression, arthritis, and aging may be in part due to curcumin.

The issue here is that curcumin alone may have different effects in the body because it is isolated in supplements.  Keep reading on to see how different curcumin works differently or better than turmeric.

This yellow miracle molecule is first and foremost a potent antioxidant.

The research goes forward to describe that curcumin “scavenges” oxidative stress and aggressively works to reverse it to repair the body (2).

The proactive nature of curcumin is likely what causes most of the positive health benefits seen through turmeric and curcumin use.

Curcumin protects your liver. Curcumin doesn’t just stop at increasing your general health, it seems to unlock greater health in your liver as well.

One review of the medical effects of curcumin looks at the liver-protecting effects curcumin can have on the body (3). 

In patients given carbon tetrachloride, a mild liver poison, patients saw their levels raising thiobarbituric acid and lipoperoxide levels (bad things) and their amounts of glutathione, vitamin C and vitamin E (good things) diminishing (4).  Once curcumin is given to the patient, the health markers of liver function seem to go back to normal as the toxin, carbon tetrachloride, is cleared away (5).

Curcumin prevents colon cancer. Curcumin is seen to fight cancer as well.  Researchers discovered that curcumin actually works to block COX-2 activity (6).

COX-2 plays an important role in starting cancer growth, especially colon cancers, which is why colon cleansers usually contain them. Luckily, curcumin muddles this process up on a genetic level to keep your cells safe and stop the process that can cause uncontrolled cell growth and tumor cell formation (7).

Curcumin is poorly absorbed and unstable. While curcumin is seen to have many benefits, when it is isolated it is missing a few components that help it be absorbed and used.

Looking to the research, it was seen that only 60% of the curcumin was absorbed in mice, it may be even less in humans who have larger and more complex digestive systems (9).

Curcumin treats indigestion. Curcumin is also soothing for the digestive tract and can help soothe indigestion.

One study looked deeper into this and researchers found that supplementing with curcumin helped about half of hospital patients with indigestion feel better (13). 

This was a double-blind study though, so looking more into the numbers and results, researchers found that there was, in fact, a significant difference between the placebo and the curcumin treated patients when it comes to indigestion.

So, the next time you have an upset stomach definitely take a curcumin pill.

Curcumin soothes ulcerative colitis. In addition to treating indigestion, curcumin can go further and treat ulcerative colitis (UC).

Ulcerative colitis is a nasty disorder where you have long-term inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract which can lead to a lot of pain.

Curcumin seems like a safe and effective solution to help bring UC patients into remission, or reduce symptoms.

First, researchers looked and saw that curcumin in combination with mesalamine, a typical UC drug, significantly shortened time to remission for UC patients (14).

Another study shows that supplementing with curcumin can support and maintain remission for UC patients as well to drastically reduce symptoms (15).  For these results, the studies used 1.5 grams of curcumin twice a day for results.

Curcumin may fight Rheumatoid Arthritis. One of curcumin’s biggest claim to fame is fighting inflammation and treating arthritis.

One group of researchers reviewed all the papers on curcumin and arthritis and found that there is a definite connection that shows curcumin can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (16).

Here, the studies used about 1 gram of curcumin per day to see results.  But they also noted that more research needs to be done to establish a stronger link and say that curcumin can treat arthritis because the number of studies they had limited the confidence they have in their findings (17).  Here, researchers used 500 mg of curcumin twice a day.

Curcumin reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis. Evidence backs this (18).

Not all arthritis is the same. Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease.  The body is attacking its own joints leading to arthritis symptoms of soreness, pain, and limited range of motion. 

On the other hand, osteoarthritis is due to overusing a joint to the point where you have actual wear and tear on the joint.  This leads to bone-on-bone situations leading to soreness, pain, and limited range of motion as well.

Luckily, whichever version of arthritis you have it seems that curcumin can effectively reduce your symptoms.  Here, researchers supplemented patients with about 1.5 grams per day of curcumin.

Curcumin helps post-workout soreness. Usually, after a training session where you incorporate new exercises or you push yourself harder to get more speed and explosiveness out of your movements, you feel that soreness the next day.

These scientists found that markers of inflammation and muscle damage in the curcumin group were lower than these same markers in the placebo group after both groups performed heavy eccentric exercises (19).

Here, the protocol was to take 500 mg of curcumin twice a day starting two days before exercise and continuing until the day after exercising.

Fight allergies with Curcumin. Researchers discovered that curcumin can actually work to improve breathing and reduce inflammation from the nose for those with allergies (20).

So, with a daily curcumin supplement, you may be saying goodbye to seasonal allergies for good with just 500 mg of curcumin a day.

Curcumin can prevent Type 2 Diabetes. If you’re a prediabetic curcumin might help push you back on track to being healthy.

Curcumin given to prediabetic patients over 9 months was seen to increase insulin sensitivity by improving the function of Beta cells, the ones that produce insulin (22).

Compared to the placebo group, which had about 16% of prediabetics turn into full-blown type 2 diabetics, the curcumin group had NO patients go from prediabetic to diabetic (23).

Here, researchers split 1.5 mg of curcumin into two doses per day.

Curcumin improves blood pressure. There are also a few heart healthy benefits to consuming curcumin regularly.

Especially as you age, the lining of your blood vessels seems to get worse at keeping your blood flowing.  One study looked at women to test the effects of curcumin on their circulation and blood pressure. 

These women were split up into the placebo group, the exercise group, and the curcumin group.  At the end of 8 weeks taking a curcumin pill daily showed the same results as performing aerobic exercise (24)!

Curcumin treats major depression. In the past, curcumin has been linked to fighting depression.  However, the studies testing this connection were too poor to find any real benefits.

Researchers gave subjects with major depression curcumin supplements over 12 weeks and tested their improvements with both the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology self-rated version (IDS-SR30) and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) tests (25).  They gave patients 500 mg of curcumin twice a day.

The results showed that curcumin had a significant effect on positively changing the recorded scores.

Curcumin boosts short-term memory. Curcumin has further brain benefits aside from destroying depression.  Research supports that curcumin can actually increase something called BDNF, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (26). 

Basically, curcumin can make your brain bigger and smarter (like a nootropic).

For four weeks of supplementation, these researchers saw an increase in memory, calmness, and stress resilience (27).  In the short term, researchers saw that curcumin significantly increased attention and memory compared with the placebo and they only gave patients 1 gram of curcumin a day (28).

Not only will curcumin dramatically lower inflammation and reduce your risk of disease, but also it seems to radically make you more focused and attentive to get more done.

Curcumin reduces cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s Disease. In the long term, curcumin may even work to fight dementia.

Specifically, researchers looked to see how curcumin would affect Alzheimer’s Disease (29).  While researchers are still not sure if curcumin worked by fighting oxidative stress, reducing inflammation, or working on the cell membranes of brain tissue affected the most by Alzheimer’s, there seems to be a lack of cognitive decline over 6 months (30).

For the future, curcumin can be formulated into a pill that may even improve and reverse Alzheimer’s Disease.

Hack: take curcumin with black pepper. Black pepper has an ingredient inside called piperine that protects curcumin inside the body (11).

In fact, more and more supplement companies are adding in special piperine blends to their curcumin supplements to drastically increase absorption.  On study showed that piperine can increase curcumin absorption in humans as much as 2000% (12).

Side effects

Curcumin may amplify effect of prescription drugs. One of the issues with curcumin is that it is so effective it may amplify the effects of other drugs you are taking.

For example, curcumin decreases inflammation and can reduce blood clotting, but if you’re already on a blood thinning medication it can amplify those effects (35). 

Another example is the curcumin decreases blood sugar and inflammation, so when you take a  drug that already does this, like talinol, you will have enhanced effects that can be unexpected and even dangerous (36).

Caution: Despite it being seen as a safe supplement, be sure you purchase curcumin for reputable buyers.

According to, about 7% of imported turmeric is contaminated with salmonella and 12% of imported turmeric has “filth” (or bug parts) coming with it (31).

Clearly, the majority of turmeric being imported is safe, but you just have to look out for the cheap brands that cut corners and bring dangerous products to the market.

Recommended dosage

500 mg, twice a day. Curcumin seems safe up to food-level dosages, about 15 grams, but you don’t need to take all that to see results.

Typically, if you have a specific goal you may need to take as much as 4 grams to fight colon cancer, or just 500 mg to prevent allergies.

So, if you’re taking curcumin for general health try starting off with 0.5 grams to 1 gram a day but if you want greater effects to fight a disease then increase your dosages (33).

Ideally, you’ll want to find curcumin that gives you 500 mg of curcumin for about 25 cents (32).

This unit price will make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, so that you’re not overpaying for overhyped supplements AND you’re not buying cheap curcumin that is contaminated or full of additives.


Curcumin is a powerful and effective supplement for a wide range of health conditions.  Basically, if you’re looking to lower your risk of chronic disease, increase your focus, and reduce soreness then look no further.

If you don’t have a health condition you’re looking to fix, you may be better with a turmeric supplement instead, otherwise quality curcumin supplements don’t have to break the bank to boost your health.

Ranking the best beta-alanine supplements of 2017

Beta alanine is an amino acid that you can take in supplement form to improve your workout performance, especially in short, high-intensity anaerobic efforts like HIIT training.

If you want to take your workout intensity and your overall athletic performance, (often mixed with a pre-workout), beta alanine is a good place to start.

Here are the top beta alanine supplements on the market.

1. Transparent Labs Beta Alanine

Click here for the lowest price

Transparent Labs gets the nod here for keeping it simple: pure beta alanine powder without any artificial coloring, no artificial coloring, and no preservatives.

Just mix one scoop (3,000 mg) 15-30 minutes before your workouts for optimal endurance and repetitions in your next workout.

2. BulkSupplements Pure Beta Alanine

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

When it comes to cheap and pure supplement ingredients, BulkSupplements is the undisputable king. Their half-kilo (500g) beta alanine supplement is about as minimalist as it can get–it’s tested for purity and quality, and comes in a plain white bag.

All the measuring and blending happens on your end, which is great from a customization perspective, but can be a pain if you don’t have a high-quality scale. For DIYers, there is no better choice, but if you want something simple, get a supplement that comes in a pill.

3. NOW Sports Beta Alanine

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

If all you want is a beta alanine supplement you can take before your workout, without having to hassle with scoops and scales and other ingredients, look no further than NOW Sports.

Each gelatin capsule (sorry, vegans) contains 750 mg of beta alanine and only a minimal amount of binders and stabilizing agents.

4. Optimum Nutrition Beta Alanine

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Optimum Nutrition provides a nice middle ground between the ultra-minimal beta alanine supplements that are nothing but pure powder in a bag and a hyper-processed pre-workout supplement.

Optimum Nutrition provides a tub full of beta alanine, mixed with a few micronutrients and L-histidine to help keep your workout performance at its prime.

5. Micro Ingredients Muscle Up Pure Beta Alanine

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

As another beta alanine supplement that comes in loose powder form, the obvious comparison is to BulkSupplements.

While they are pretty comparable in most respects, the scales tip towards BulkSupplements, simply because that company has a more established record of quality and purity in their supplements. Micro Ingredients is still a fine choice, though.

6. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Though there are a lot of ingredients in Optimum Nutrition’s pre-workout blend, beta alanine is the cornerstone ingredient.

Each scoop provides a hefty 1.5 grams of beta alanine, alongside B vitamins, caffeine, amino acids, and creatine. These work together to provide a robust performance-enhancing effect in your workout, especially if it involves short bursts of anaerobic activity.

7. Cellucor C4

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

This pre-workout blend features beta alanine in a central role, but it’s not the only active ingredient. It’s a great choice if you want beta alanine to work synergistically to boost your workout performance, because it contains an array of B vitamins, creatine nitrate, and caffeine.

Just watch when you use it; the caffeine and the other energy-boosting supplements will pump you up for a late night workout, but you might not be able to fall asleep later.


Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

This one’s another in the category of pre-workout blends that incorporate beta alanine’s performance-enhancing properties as a central part of the supplement’s benefits.

However, N.O.-XPLODE has so many ingredients with so many different effects that it drifts towards “kitchen sink” territory. Plenty of people still swear by its results, but it’s not clear if all of the ingredients serve a cohesive purpose.

9. Primaforce Beta Alanine

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Primaforce offers a loose powder form of beta alanine, but it doesn’t rank as highly because you only get 200 grams per container.

The quality is good; beta alanine is literally the only ingredient and it’s manufactured in the United States, but if you are going to get bulk powder, in most cases you’d probably want to opt for a 500 gram option.

10. ProLab Beta Alanine Extreme

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

ProLab makes a capsule-based beta alanine supplement which looks pretty convenient, but it doesn’t live up to expectations. Each capsule only contains 400 mg of beta alanine, which is barely more than half what you can get from other brands.

It does include L-Histidine, which not all other pill based beta alanine supplements have, but all in all, there are better options out there on every front.

Beta alanine benefits and side effects

Beta-alanine, also known carnosine precursor, is a type of non-essential amino acid that gets converted into a molecule called carnosine. Carnosine then acts as a buffer acid into the muscles that helps increase stamina, muscle development and physical performance in the range of 60 to 240 seconds.

Carnosine is basically stored in the cells and it is released when the PH level drops in the body.  It acts to counter the rising acidity in your muscles during high intensity exercise, and as such you can improve your performance by boosting the concentration of beta alanine inside your muscle fibers.

Beta-alanine is not so easily consumed in the diet that we eat regularly like chicken, whey, fish or beef. Therefore, beta-alanine supplementation is required. As it improves physical performance, this supplement can be quite helpful for those for those who engage in endurance exercise and train for long hours in the gym.

This article will provide a detailed understanding of the many health benefits of aeta-alanine supplementation, the recommended dosage and possible side-effects.


The carnosine molecule that beta-alanine converts into buffer H+ ions help slow down the aging process. This effect is backed by various research studies and scientific works. According to studies, carnosine from beta-alanine acts like resveratrol.  This molecule is known to protect the heart and improve blood flow in the body. Also, it has been observed that muscle carnosine concentration drops up to 45 percent during the aging process ‎(1, ‎2) . This suggests that increasing carnosine stores in the body can slow down the aging process.

Other research studies conducted on beta-alanine suggest that carnosine lowers the cellular aging rate in cultured-fibroblasts. Thus, the anti-aging effect can be due to this molecule’s ability to lower telomere shortening in cultured-fibroblasts ‎(3).

Telomeres are strands of DNA that help prevent aging when your cells divide and multiply.  As they get shorter, your biological age increases, and you start to appear and feel older.  Decreasing the rate at which your telomeres shrink could have longevity-boosting effects, though this is yet to be confirmed in humans.

Carnosine made through beta-alanine has been found to have neurological antioxidant effects. Beta-alanine can moderate several neurological actions by taurine’s competitive inhibition. This is because both taurine and beta-alanine compete with each other for the same transporter to enter the brain. Just like taurine, beta-alanine acts via GABA receptors and glycine.

Besides this, when converted to carnosine, beta-alanine has shown to support antioxidant enzyme structures Cu/ZnSOD (Superoxide Dismutase). It reduces the aggregation of oxidized proteins in neural tissues, thereby supporting motor function in people suffering from mental disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (4).

Research studies on beta-alanine have shown that its supplementation can increase muscle carnosine concentrations in the body that ultimately boost the ability to perform high intensity or endurance exercise ‎(5).

Raised muscle carnosine levels help reduce fatigue and build the stamina required to perform activities like jumping, sprinting and weightlifting for long hours. Carnosine facilitates buffering capacity of hydrogen ions which accumulate during rigorous or intense exercise (6).

If you can delay the buildup of hydrogen ions, you delay the onset of acidosis, the “burning” feeling you get after a tough effort.  This means that beta alanine can help you run faster, lift more, and push harder in your next workout.

In addition to this, the improved endurance exercise advantage through beta-alanine supplementation can be attributed to the fact that the muscle carnosine concentration increase also delays the onset of blood-lactate accumulation. A study showed that beta-alanine supplementation over the course of 28 days improved running performance in athletes as it helped in slowing down the negative effects relate to blood-lactate building in the bodies of athletes (7).

Other scientific research studies conducted on beta-alanine have proved that the increase in carnosine concentration due to beta-alanine supplementation can increase muscle mass by 20 to 80 percent as compared to high intensity interval training alone (‎8).

Intake of beta-alanine supplements daily for at least 30 days can significantly increase strength. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Medicine showed that athletes who took beta-alanine supplement for a month completed 22% more squats at 70% of their one rep max primarily because they had greater mean power that resulted from loading up on amino acids.

Side Effects

Large doses of beta-alanine supplements can result in parasthesia. Parasthesia is a condition that is accompanied with uncomfortable tingling or prickling feeling on the skin that commonly people experience on the face, chest, and abdomen. Besides this, over dose of beta-alanine supplement can also lead to itching and burning feeling in the ears or on the scalp. Studies have shown that doses of beta-alanine greater than 800mg pre-workout can cause mild to acute parasthesia that may last for an hour or sometimes even 90 minutes.

To avoid this side effect, use the time release formulation or take smaller doses of beta-alanine around 0.8 to 1g in a day.  This will allow you to reach the optimal dosage levels without getting the negative side effects that can result from taking large doses at once.

Recommended Dosage

As beta-alanine acts as a quick stimulant, consuming it pre-workout is a good idea. The benefits of aeta-alanine related to performance are largely based on the increased concentration of muscle carnosine over time. Hence the time of day doesn’t really matter as long as an athlete consistently consumes beta-alanine daily. The standard every dose of beta-alanine is approximately 3 to 5 g spread over 2 to 3 doses in a day for first 6 days.

However, as you move to the maintenance phase, 3g divided in 3 doses daily is enough. This is primarily because carnosine concentration in the body builds up with regular supplementation. However, it also drops by 2% in every 2 weeks in case the supplementation is stopped.


Also called b-alanine and carnosine precursor, beta-alanine is a supplement that can be best described as one of the types of non-essential amino acids. When this supplement is consumed, it gets converted into carnosine which is a molecule that quickly buffers acid into the muscles thereby increasing stamina, promoting muscle development, and improving physical performance. Other benefits include anti-aging properties and improved motor function in patients suffering from mental disorders.

The standard dosage of beta-alanine is 3 to 5g spread over two to three doses in a day. Large doses of beta-alanine have shown side effects resulting in an uncomfortable tingling feeling on the skin— a condition that is known as parasthesia.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ranking the best biotin supplements of 2017

Biotin is a B vitamin that plays a critical role in a wide range of bodily functions. It’s sometimes also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, and it appears to impact your body’s ability to synthesize proteins for skin, hair, and metabolic functions involving fat or glucose.

The research on biotin is still in its early stages, but people are hopeful that it can be used to improve hair thickness, fight brittle nails, and even improve metabolic health and control blood sugar.

Our research team looked into the best biotin supplements out there; here’s what we came up with.

1. Natrol Biotin Maximum Potency 

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Natrol makes a high-dosage biotin supplement with a little bit of calcium added (66 mg to be exact). It comes in a vegetable cellulose capsule and is free from most common allergens like dairy, soy, and nuts.

Its dosage is on the high end, at 10,000 micrograms. Natrol also makes lower dosage biotin supplements, but these aren’t as popular.

2. Sports Research High Potency Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Sports Research is known for high-quality supplements, and their biotin offering fits the bill.

With 10,000 micrograms of biotin and the United States Pharmacopeia mark guaranteeing extremely high purity and dosage accuracy, it is a very solid go-to biotin supplement. The compound is dissolved in coconut oil and beeswax, and comes in a vegan-friendly softgel.

3. Solgar Super High Potency Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Solgar makes a simple, straightforward, no-BS biotin supplement. It delivers 10,000 micrograms and nothing else, save for a vegetarian-friendly cellulose capsule and a few binders to hold the capsule together.

Given Solgar’s good reputation for purity, it’s a good buy for anyone who wants a minimalist high-dose biotin supplement.

4. Zhou Hairfluence

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Zhou Hairfluence is more of a total solution to hair thickness and fullness—yes, it’s got biotin, but it’s also got about a dozen other ingredients, including other B vitamins, pantothenic acid, MSM, collagen hydrolysate, and even pure keratin (the protein hair is made out of).

The theory here is to load up your body with all the ingredients it needs to pump out hair as fast and as thick as possible. As a biotin supplement, it functions pretty well, delivering 5,000 micrograms per dose (however, do note that a dose is two capsules, not one).

Zhou Hairfluence is well-reviewed, so if you want a multi-ingredient hair supplement, this is the one to go with. If all you want is biotin, there are better options.

5. NOW Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

NOW Biotin is a safe bet for a simple biotin supplement. NOW is a large and fairly well-regarded vitamin and supplement company, and their 10,000 microgram biotin supplement is pretty solid: no red-flag ingredients and no common allergens.

NOW also makes a 1,000 and 5,000 dose version of their biotin supplement, too.

6. Zenwise Health Extra Strength Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Zenwise’s biotin supplement doesn’t distinguish itself in any particular way. Its dosage is middle of the road, at 5000 micrograms, and it doesn’t have any real extraneous ingredients.

It has a vegetable capsule, which is good, and it’s free of most common allergens, which is also a plus.

7. OmegaBoost Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

OmegaBoost provides a 5000 microgram biotin supplement alongside 222 mg of calcium. This represents a substantial amount of calcium; 225 of your recommended daily intake to be exact.

While there’s no evidence that there is any synergy between biotin and calcium when it comes to hair, skin, or nail strength and health, some people do suspect that calcium (along with a host of other nutrients) play a role.

8. VitaFusion Extra Strength Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

VitaFusion’s biotin is the only gummy-based supplement on the market, so it’s one of your only options if you don’t want or don’t’ like pill based supplements.

You do have to be okay with the fact that these gummies are gelatin-based and include some artificial flavoring and coloring, though. At 5,000 micrograms per dose, they are middle of the road when it comes to dosage.

9. Nature’s Bounty Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

Nature’s Bounty offers a few different dosages of biotin, but the 10,000 microgram version is the most popular. While it’s pretty simple to make a biotin supplement, Nature’s Bounty seems to have cut a few corners here.

The biotin is dissolved in soybean oil, which won’t sit well with the anti-soy crowd, and the capsules are colored with titanium dioxide (for aesthetic purposes).

10. SBR Nutrition Biotin

Click here for the lowest price on Amazon

SBR Nutrition’s biotin supplement is unique in its form of delivery. It comes in a dropper bottle, which allows you to measure out arbitrary dosages of biotin.

The problem with this is that the dropper delivery method is not very precise, so you are going to get wildly different doses from day to day. It is flavored with natural vanilla and stevia to make the taste palatable, but unless you really dislike pills or have a good reason for wanting a liquid source of biotin, you should probably just opt for a capsule-based supplement.

Biotin benefits and side effects

The B vitamins are a versatile and critically important group of nutrients, and biotin is no exception. Vitamin B7, as it’s sometimes known, helps grow your hair, strengthen your nails, and process fats and sugar in your diet.

Despite this, it’s still a fairly new nutrient in the world of nutrition, so the full breadth of its utility isn’t yet known. Many people swear by biotin’s ability to help you grow thicker hair, stronger nails, and even control your weight and blood sugar.


Biotin initially arose interest from the supplementation when people started taking note of the effects of biotin deficiency. A small percentage of people are born with a genetic defect that prevents their body from effectively metabolizing biotin.

A case study published in The Lancet in 1979 describes how biotin deficiency can cause marked hair thinning and a biological imbalance of enzymes in the blood (1). Upon administration of a biotin supplement, all of these symptoms reversed rapidly.

Other work, such as a review by D.M. Mock, has found that a lack of biotin can cause dry, scaling skin, as well as the proliferation of yeast infections in the skin and an impairment of immune system function (2).

All this raises an obvious question: can supplemental biotin cause the inverse of these effect? In at least some cases, the answer appears to be yes.

A scientific study published in 1993 in a journal on skin and nail conditions looked at patients who reported to a dermatology clinic with brittle nails (3).

The study evaluated the patients and prescribed them a biotin supplement to take for a period of several weeks.

Of the patients who took the biotin supplement, 63 percent showed a substantial improvement in their nail condition. Though the other 37 percent saw no improvement, we need to keep in mind that many conditions can cause nail brittleness.

If fully two-thirds of people with brittle nails respond to a biotin supplement, this suggests that biotin deficiency is more widespread than previously thought, at least among people with brittle, thin nails.

The primary effect of the biotin supplementation in these patients who responded to the therapy was an increase in nail thickness. Other research found similar results, and biotin has even been used in cattle and cows to increase the thickness of their hooves.  

This might not seem particularly relevant for hair thickness, but consider this: despite their vastly different appearance, fingernails and hair (as well as cattle hooves and horse hooves) are actually made of the same thing.

The protein keratin is the primary thing that makes up both your nails and your hair, and that’s exactly the protein whose synthesis appears to be increased by biotin in the people who took the biotin supplement for brittle nails.

So, from this, it follows that people with thin or brittle hair might respond in the same way to a biotin supplement.

If the response rate was similar, a large proportion of people could see substantial changes in their hair thickness–up to 25%, if the gains in nail plate thickness from biotin supplementation mirror those of hair follicle thickness.

Experiments testing this hypothesis directly are lacking, but that hasn’t stopped people from exploring its use as a method to increase hair thickness and strength. Reviews are mixed, but some people do find that biotin supplements help them achieve stronger and fuller hair.

Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that biotin is for preventing hair loss–unlike other supplements that are supposed to prevent hairs from falling out, there is no evidence yet that biotin does that.

What it might be able to do is make the shafts of hair you do have grow thicker and stronger–again, this is based off research on nail plate growth, extrapolating from the fact that hair and nails are made from the exact same protein.

Interestingly, biotin also seems to help control blood sugar. Research published in 2008 in the scientific journal Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews tested the effects of a biotin and chromium picolinate supplement on blood sugar levels in overweight and obese people who had type 2 diabetes (4).

In a placebo-controlled trial, the supplement was able to lower their blood sugar levels substantially, leading the researchers to recommend it as a secondary treatment for type two diabetes.

Obviously, you’d want to talk to your doctor about this if this is relevant to you, but it’s an interesting direction for future research.

The role that biotin plays in your body is not limited to hair, skin, and nails, as this study shows. Biotin plays a key role in a wide range of cellular interactions inside your body, so the full extent of its health benefits have likely not been fully researched.

Side Effects

As a B vitamin that occurs in a host of food products, it’s hard to get too much biotin. There is no well-characterized side effect profile. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are no known side effects of biotin supplementation, even up to 10 mg per day–this is on the high end of what’s available as an over-the-counter supplement (5).

Recommended Dosage

The recommended daily intake for biotin is pretty small compared to what’s available in a supplement. Data published by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements outlines a minimum intake of 30 micrograms of biotin per day for healthy adults (6).

However, this dosage is just to maintain normal, healthy levels of the vitamin. As for strengthening nails or increasing hair volume and thickness, doses may need to be higher, though how much higher is not clear.

Because biotin has an excellent safety profile, the good news is that you can experiment with a wide range of doses to see if biotin is effective for you. Try a few different dosage levels to see what works for you; there isn’t enough research yet to properly characterize how much biotin you need to get the benefits.

It’s probably best not to stray beyond 10 mg per day (equivalent to 10,000 micrograms) per day, since the safety of biotin hasn’t been evaluated beyond this level.

That is already a couple hundred times your normally-required daily intake, so if there was an effect of biotin, you’d expect to see it by that point.


Biotin is a very safe B vitamin supplement that might help you grow thicker hair, repair brittle and thin nails, and even control your blood sugar.

It’s safe in doses at least up to 10 mg per day, and though the research on its uses is in its early stages, there are promising signs that it could be effective at improving the health of your skin, nails, hair, and blood sugar control.