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So it’s FINALLY that time…we’ve come to the point when technological progression has become so advanced that we’re finally ready for the colonization of Mars!

It’s taken a long time to get to where we are now. A lot of manpower, time, and money has been spent to fund and support this astronomical pursuit.

via GIPHY

Now, before everyone boards their space vehicles that run off of pure hydrogen, vegetable oil, and/or electricity (I’m sure Elon Musk prefers the latter), it’s important to figure out how to optimize our health during this trip.

After all, while Mars’ atmosphere is most similar to Earth’s compared to any other planet in our solar system, it’s still much less human-friendly in contrast to our lovely home-planet Earth.

With that in mind, let’s talk about some dietary supplements one should have in their arsenal in order to best prepare for the space adventure ahead. In doing so, you’ll be able to contribute to a significant milestone in human history, while at the same time, keeping yourself happy and healthy in doing so!

10 Most Helpful Supplements for Astronauts on Mars!

Magnesium

Sources Of Magnesium

Magnesium is a very important mineral people’s diets. Many people in the United States are deficient in this vital mineral; with it ranking as the 2nd most common micronutrient deficiency just behind Vitamin D [1]. While it’s important to make sure to address this deficiency while on Earth, it would be an understatement to say this is even more important during our exploration of the Red Planet!

Why is that exactly? Well, think about it this way; the gravity on Mars is approximately 38% that of Earth’s [2]. Just imagine the detrimental effects this is going to have on your bones, muscles, and joints! They’re all going to get weaker over time…unless you do something about it.

Supplementation with magnesium has been shown to increase the amount of oxygen that your muscles can utilize [3]. So what does this mean for those precious muscles of yours? It means that the overall functionality and power of your muscles will improve substantially, most likely resulting in greater use of your muscles. This significantly lowers the chance of getting discouraged from the lower gravity environment resulting in muscular atrophy (in other words, muscle breakdown/shrinkage).

Magnesium can not only be used for your muscles, but also to improve your sleep! During this adjustment period to a different planet, you may find that you have trouble sleeping; similar to how people get jet lag and have trouble adjusting their sleep schedules here on Earth. Magnesium tends to be particularly effective during times of sleep deprivation (defined as getting about 80% of your normal sleep duration), as levels of magnesium within the body decrease around this level of sleep loss [4].

Would Be Useful For:

  • Adapting to the transition from our original home planet to the Red Planet
  • Preventing you from becoming discouraged as a result of muscle loss
  • Improves your overall sleep, which will translate to better functioning across other areas of your exploratory adventures

How Much to Take?

Between 200-400mg daily, preferably with food in order to avoid gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating and diarrhea.

Glycine

Sources Of Glycine

This amino acid/neurotransmitter is unique in the sense that it can act as both a stimulant and a depressant in the brain. Okay, that’s great and everything, but how does that help you, here, in what feels like a science fiction story?

Well glycine has been used in scientific studies to improve people’s sleep quality [5,6]. In turn, this improved the subjects’ cognition as well as reduced their fatigue throughout the day. You’ll certainly be thankful to have this supplement in your arsenal after you’ve been having trouble sleeping during this adjustment period to a whole new world (and I mean that quite literally here!).

Would Be Useful For:

  • Fighting off that pesky planetary-induced insomnia
  • Keeping you more alert throughout the day, which I hear are longer on this Martian land
  • Improving your problem-solving abilities; which is good because things are bound to go wrong even when you’re moving to a different city, never mind a new planet!

How Much to Take?

3-5 grams before bed.

Capsaicin

You might be thinking to yourself; how would a pepper be able to enhance this new life of yours on Mars? Well let’s remember that the temperature on Mars is a lot colder compared to here on Earth. And we’re not talking about winter time up North. We’re talking about temperatures that can dip as far down as −225 °F [7]. Now that’s cold! So we need to find any way to keep warm!

While it’s obvious to prepare the proper attire and to make sure your climate controls are in order in your Martian home and vehicle, it may not be so obvious is that you should try to increase your body temperature as well. Capsaicin is able to stimulate neurons in the brain to induce a heat-production-response, including a response in the body’s fat cells [8]. So this could potentially be a win-win scenario for you; with an increased amount of bodily heat as well as enhanced fat-burning capabilities!

Would Be Useful For:

  • Prevent you wasting energy (i.e. shivering like crazy) so that you can adjust to Martian life properly
  • Possibly getting you closer to that beach body during those Martian summers, which can surprisingly reach up to 95 °F [9]

How Much to Take?

While the established dose has not been set; anywhere between 3-10mg/day appears to be sufficient for seeing results.

Curcumin

Curcumin Extract

Most people have probably heard of turmeric at some point during their lifetime. Well curcumin is the most prominent active ingredient in turmeric and it has potent benefits when extracted from turmeric. While there have been a laundry list of proposed benefits, the ones with the most convincing evidence are:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Alleviating major depressive disorder symptoms

The benefit that will be of most use to us here is its anti-inflammatory properties. While inflammation is a normal bodily process that keeps everything in working order, too much of anything is bad, and this is no exception.

Curcumin has demonstrated a reduction in inflammation in a wide variety of populations and disease-states, so you could say it doesn’t discriminate against different types of inflammation for the most part [10].

Both your mind and body have absolutely no idea what to expect during something like a trip to another planet! Because of this, your body may get stressed and over-produce inflammation. So it’s good to have this handy supplement with you in order to combat the detrimental effects of chronic inflammation.

Curcumin has also shown to be significantly effective for differing types of anxiety. Many of those who had anxiety also had been diagnosed with depression (Major Depressive Disorder) [11]. But you certainly don’t need a clinical diagnosis of depression in order to receive these benefits, as this will prove to be of great value during the ups and downs that are sure to be associated with your exploration of the Red Planet.

Would Be Useful For:

  • Warding off a chronic inflammatory response that could potentially harm you in the long run
  • Keeping your head straight on your shoulders (figuratively of course) during times of crises (i.e. dust storms, trouble breathing, alien encounters)

How Much to Take?

Since curcumin is poorly absorbed on its own, it’s best to find a supplement that pairs curcumin with piperine, which is a black pepper extract. As far as how much to take, 500-1,500mg of pure curcumin daily, not counting the addition of the piperine. It’s best to take this supplement with food.

Omega-3 Fish Oil (EPA & DHA)

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Everyone’s heard at one point or another that they should be taking omega 3’s. They are absolutely great for maintaining good heart health [12], which is something you’ll certainly want to keep an eye on during this transition to a new planet.

But something perhaps even more notable about omega 3s; particularly in this astronomical scenario that we’re in now is its capability of being able to reduce anxiety [13]. Yep, that’s right, and this is in those who aren’t diagnosed with an anxiety or panic disorder! Along with this, omega 3s have been shown to improve mood as well [14]. How about that for a double whammy?

Would Be Useful For:

  • Keeping you from losing your mind as you get used to seeing this red, dusty planet every day in contrast to your old Earthling home
  • Allowing you to be happier and more present in the moment; helping you to be grateful for this new opportunity!

How Much to Take?

1 gram of total combined EPA & DHA daily.

L-Carnitine

Sources Of Carnitine

While you explore this new planet, you may be moving around more so than usual. While you might be thinking that your muscles are getting in a good workout with you constantly moving and bouncing around, in actuality, your muscles are atrophying by the day. So how can you solve this critical issue?

Take the amino acid L-carnitine! Studies have shown that taking L-carnitine before resistance exercise helps to reduce markers of muscle and oxidative damage compared to placebo [15]. While of course this has never been tested on Mars before, this data could be extrapolated to the fact that it could protect those hard-earned muscles of yours from withering away while you try to find that Martian gym membership that suits you best!

Would Be Useful For:

  • Preventing your muscles from withering away into nothingness while trying to find the nearest (or perhaps only) gym in the area.
  • Filling out that space suit in all the right places

How Much to Take?

Anywhere between 500-2,000 mg should be sufficient.

Garlic Extract

Garlic Extract

No matter how you feel about the taste of it, garlic has some amazing benefits. Let’s just hope that garlic breath isn’t as bad when it’s not in Earth’s atmosphere.

During your exploration of the Red Planet, you may come across some things; some good, some bad. Ingesting some garlic extract (it comes in pill form so you don’t have to taste/smell that pungent aroma) has been illustrated to reduce both length and occurrence of the common cold by as much as 70%! [16]. In addition, it has also demonstrated evidence in reducing upper respiratory infections [17].

While we may not know exactly what to expect during our journey, we know that we are protected by the awesome (and often smelly) properties of garlic extract!

Would Be Useful For:

  • Using your garlic breath as a weapon against unwelcome visitors/aliens
  • Fighting off Martian-derived illnesses so that you can continue on your adventure without interruption

How Much to Take?

600-1,200 mg daily

Cissus Quadrangularis

Cissus Quadrangularis Extract

This sounds more like a geometric shape than it does a dietary supplement, doesn’t it? Well this isn’t something you will have heard about in your middle school math classes, but you’ll be glad you heard about it (or read about it) today!

Cissus has been shown to increase the neurotransmitter serotonin [18]. So what does this mean for you on Mars? Well, serotonin is a key regulator of mood, which is sure to fluctuate in such a volatile time as this. You never know what could happen; dust storms, alien visitors, running out of martian dollars, you name it. Therefore, it’s nice to know that you’ll be grounded and keep good composure with cissus by your side.

But perhaps what cissus is more well-known for is its joint-supportive properties. It appears to support those who suffer from joint pain in particular [19]. This may prove to be especially useful for those who may have joint issues but still have the desire to explore and bounce around the Red Planet.

Would Be Useful For:

  • Keeping mood elevated so that you can concentrate your efforts on the more important aspects of Martian living
  • Reducing joint pain so that you can join your fellow human comrades in the exploration of your new home.

How Much to Take?

~3,000mg daily for joint pain

Vitamin K

Sources Of Vitamin K

This essential vitamin is most well-known for its role in blood coagulation. But the property of Vitamin K that’s going to come in handy for you the most here is its effects on bone mineral density. Vitamin K has been shown in numerous populations to improve bone mineral density, which is sure to take a huge hit while you’re walking, running, bouncing, and hopping around in this relatively low-gravity atmosphere [20].

Would Be Useful For:

  • Letting you keep that Earth-like bone density while on Mars
  • Preventing bone fractures and other bone injuries, which would prove to be quite useful right now, given the amount of Martian hospitals around you are sparse to say the least.

How Much to Take?

At least 50mcg, but not more than 1,000mcg.

Creatine

Creatine Supplements

Where do we even begin with this amazing supplement? I definitely believe that we saved the best for last here with creatine and its plethora of benefits.

Let’s start with its effects on muscle. Creatine causes muscles to hold more water within them, and because muscles are made up primarily of water, it allows them to function at a fuller capacity. In turn, this has the potential to increase lean muscle mass [21]. Again, remember that your muscles are at a disadvantage in this low-gravity environment. Therefore, it’s imperative that you do whatever is necessary to keep muscle atrophy (muscle breakdown) at bay. It also is effective at keeping bone loss at bay too [22].

Creatine has also been shown to reduce physical fatigue, particularly after exercise, which is probably something you’ll be doing a lot of during your journey [23]. Interestingly enough, creatine is also good for reducing mental fatigue [24]. You know, the kind of brain fog you get after you do some math problems? Well, just in case you have to solve any sort of arithmetic involving the inner workings of your space vehicle, creatine is here to make sure you can accomplish just that.

This supplement also appears to be useful in improving your VO2 max, which is the maximal amount of oxygen your body can utilize at one time, and is a measure of one’s aerobic fitness [25]. This appears to be the same (if not at least similar) mechanism by how creatine is able to help with mental fatigue; by providing the brain with more oxygen. Well, that certainly appears to be useful in a place where that won’t be nearly as much oxygen, if I say so myself.

Would Be Useful For:

  • Pretty much everything an earth-dweller needs to survive on Mars, including:
    • Muscle and bone maintenance
    • Cognitive improvements
    • Improved oxygen utilization

How Much to Take?

5 grams per day seems to be the standard dose in order to witness this wide array of benefits.

Keep Reading: 10 Best Supplements for Surviving the Apocalypse

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