The following post was sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Koge Vitamins. I received the product reviewed at no cost to myself in exchange for writing a post about it, as well as some social media content. I was not asked to give a positive review, and all opinions and experiences are my own.
I'm one of those people who knows that they need certain nutrients to stay healthy, but also knows that he's not getting them from food alone. I take a multivitamin, but I'm always struggling to find the right one that fits my profile (active adult male) and doesn't give me heartburn. Add to the fact that I train for triathlons (i.e. juggling 3 endurance sports plus cross-training) and chase a toddler and preschooler around during my time off work, and both kids don't ever sleep through the night and you've got someone who could use a little extra energy to get through the day.
Koge Vitamins (a Canadian company) started with a two-fold purpose: find a better way to manufacture and distribute vitamins, as well as a better way to get nutrition to malnourished children. Last things first: a percentage of every Koge vitamin sale is donated to provide African children under the age of 5 with vitamins to help them fight malnutrition. I had a chance to try their Energy Pack.
The Energy Pack was developed to support increased mental and physical exertion across all activities. Each does is a little package with four pills in it:
That last one gave me pause, as I was a little wary of Taurine. Koge says:
- Korean Ginseng
- Ayur Indian Ginseng
- Coenzyme Q-10 with L-Taurine
"Taurine is known for lowering cholesterol and repairing the body against natural external damage. It also assists with heart health and infertility."
Still, I know Taurine is in energy drinks that have been getting a lot of bad press lately. Here's a quote from an article named: "The Dangers of Taurine in Sports Drinks".
"Taurine is a free form amino acid contained in foods and manufactured in the body from the amino acid cysteine. It was first discovered in the bile of bulls, and now produced synthetically by the truckload. Since taurine is created naturally in the human body, a good diet supplies all you need.
Studies have implicated synthetic taurine in illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to strokes and seizures to heart disease. For these reasons it’s been banned in some Scandinavian countries after being linked to the deaths of three consumers. Because taurine is utilized by the body during exercise and in times of stress, it’s become a popular ingredient in energy drinks. But taurine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system that’s very unnatural."
I figured I could simply throw the Taurine pill in the garbage if I could identify it; the website even has little pictures to show you each pill. If I could find this pill:
in this pack:
I'd be fine. It seemed hard at the time, but when I look at the photo I took, it seems to almost definitely be the one on the left side.
At the time though, I struggled with figuring it out. In the end, knowing (according to the same article) the recommended daily dose was between 100-500 mg, and what's in the Koge tablets represents 300 mg a day, I felt a little safer, in addition to the fact that the Taurine was more likely (given Koge's reputation and methods) natural rather than synthetic. Still, I would be getting Taurine from some of the foods I ate, without knowing how much, so at times I was hesitant to take both daily doses.
Summary of Experience
The tub has a clean elegant design, and the recommended dose is to take two 4-tablet packets daily. The packets have all the tablets in them for a half-dose; my only complaint is that I couldn't get them open without scissors.
I took the Koge Vitamin Energy Pack after an Overseas Family Trip to Germany, and I kept a daily journal of the experience. I was using the tablets to get over jet-lag, get back into triathlon training, get caught up at work after my absence, and just generally keep up with my kids.
If you want the short version of my experience with the Koge Vitamins Energy Pack, I can say that I definitely experienced heightened levels of energy and alertness, without it feeling unnatural or like a 'high' nor making me as edgy and irritable as caffeine does, and I say that with a deep abiding love for caffeine. Point in fact, I found myself drinking less coffee and seeking caffeine less altogether. I did not take the full dose every day, and more commonly a half day. I found physical tasks like workouts easier if I performed them within a few hours of taking the pills. When I forgot to take them, I did feel sluggish, even if I had a decent night's sleep (my sleep is interrupted by my kids, there was no effect on my sleeping patterns from the pills that I could notice).
Here is the blow-by-blow of my daily experience with the Koge Vitamins Energy Pack:
Recovering from Jetlag; kids up at 5:00AM. Take vitamins just before breakfast with coffee and my normal multi-vitamin.
I do feel a little more alert and seem to need coffee less. I’m able to stay a bit more focussed in a meeting and I manage to get a good indoor bike session done - I think I came further faster with less effort than I would have pictured for those numbers.
I skip the second dose, since I forgot to bring it to work
Lightning Kid woke up at 4AM and though we refused to indulge his instinct to get up and play, it cost us the rest of the morning (minus 30 minutes I managed to catnap from 7:30 to 8:00AM). I took my Koges with OJ and coffee and a breakfast of cous-cous, peanut butter and maple syrup (it was going to be a long day, comfort food needed!).
Today was a ‘lock-down’ where some members of my team worked exclusively on one project and basically blocked out other inquiries and requests via email or telephone. I had very complex work to do myself, and there were a few times I went cross-eyed. I did get an impressive amount done, and even managed to sort something out that had the whole team confused. I worked through lunch (ate at my desk and took my second dose after that), though I did take sporadic sanity breaks. I ended the day with less of the work done than I wanted, but the initial estimate of how complicated it would be was off anyway, so I’m proud of what I got done, and I’m thinking the Koge’s might be making a small difference.
Some dry mouth toward the end of the day.
Take my morning dose before breakfast. After lunch, I take a long bike ride that goes well: I'm happy with speed, cadence and technique. I should have taken my second dose beforehand, but I forgot. I skip it for the rest of the day.
DAY 4: Take my breakfast dose, but I'm tired the rest of the morning: did I not sleep well? Am I already desensitized? The afternoon (no second dose) goes OK, but I’m in bed by 9:45PM. During the night I sleep well at least.
DAY5: Another ‘lock-down’ day at the office and I’m there by 7:30AM. I notice myself powering through the day without needing any extra coffee beyond my first. I’m a little bit high-strung, but not as irritable as with caffeine, I think. The extra energy is a bit of a shame since I don’t have time for a workout and the weather is too nasty to simply take a walk for my break times. I’m having trouble controlling my appetite but that may be from a lack of non-work outlets available.
DAY 6: Single dose before breakfast; trying to precede my coffee a little to improve absorption (tip from the #KogeVitamins Twitter Chat). I do a *Matrix* workout at lunch and get a new record on the *Rope Machine* (635 Meters) and a new high in a pushups exhaustion test (45 reps). I didn't take my second dose, but I did get a good swim workout (1500m) in after dinner and was still able to get to sleep at night.
DAY 7: I didn't take a dose before breakfast and tried to pack two doses in my lunch bag to take throughout the day. When I got a chance at work, I could only find one dose in there. While the pills do seem to reduce my need for caffeine, I miss taking actual coffee breaks and drinking coffee (I have a French press at my desk and good, caffeinated coffee). I went for a slow, recovery run to test out my calf which I hurt falling down the stairs last week. In spite of a slow pace and low mileage I felt sluggish. Withdrawal? I took a dose after lunch and got through the afternoon feeling OK.
DAY 8: Took my dose at the office, hours after breakfast and coffee. Stuck to single dose all day and tried to do a 100 Pushups workout. I didn’t complete my second set, and then just waited for the Pilates class to start. Stuck to the single dose.
DAY 9: Took a dose after breakfast, well after coffee. I couldn’t feel much in terms of effect, but I did complete a brick (60 indoor cycling, 4km run) feeling strong. No second dose today.
DAY 10: Single dose at midday. We drove up to the cottage this morning, and I didn’t want to feel too energized for sitting in a car. While my weekend training plan was to swim on this day, and ride the next, the weather forecast made riding seem unlikely and I didn’t want to ride on legs that had been trashed from the previous day’s brick workout. I planned to do the swim within the predicted ‘showers’
DAY 11: The ‘showers’ that were predicted turned into a torrential downpour that made me wish I’d built an ark. We ended up taking the kids into downtown Huntsville to run around the mall and stopped for ice cream too. By noon, things were on their way to clearing up with some intense sunshine. I took the days’ half-dose before lunch (macaroni and cheese) and when the kids were asleep for a midday nap, I did my open water swim training. Though it was a little too soon after eating and I struggled a little, I did have a good pace and I was quite pleased with what I accomplished.
After stopping for a special Father’s Day dinner on the way home from the cottage, we began what should have been a 2 hour drive. The Lightning Kid had seemed feverish (though the thermometer had said no earlier) and screamed non-stop in the car. We stopped about 3 times (every 10 minutes or so) to see if he could be comforted (he seemed fine when we’d get out of the car), and ultimately gave him infant Tylenol. We drove for another half-hour and the screaming wouldn’t stop - long enough for the Tylenol to kick in. I pulled off the highway to find a hospital, but when we pulled up to the Emergency and saw how full it was (and everyone was wearing masks), I thought of all the other Emergency Room visits that didn’t yield anything in cases like this and said I wanted to keep driving and see if he would fall asleep. I took side streets and a slower route South and he fell asleep. Then the storm clouds moved in. The continuous lightning strikes wreaked havoc with my night vision and the torrential downpour made hydroplaning a constant threat. There was even hail in the mix. Keeping the car on a road that I couldn’t see for all the water and pelting raindrops was one of the most harrowing, white-knuckle experience of my life; and I’ve been electrocuted twice, nearly drowned my first time in the Pacific surf and faced malignant melanoma. My mental alertness could be at least partially attributed to fear, but I’d like to think the taurine, ginseng, etc. played a role too. We didn’t get home till midnight and we still had to put the kids to bed, take out the garbage and unpack the car.
DAY 12: Missed my dose. Extra coffee needed.
DAY 13: Many wake-ups from both kids overnight. I took my morning dose with water and my regular multivitamin. I did a core workout at lunch (30 min of exercise). I didn’t take the second dose, but I was craving a boost by mid-afternoon.
DAY 14: Skipped my dose, I forgot, though I started to wonder if subconsciously I didn’t want to feel energetic today. Lots of time on the road/in the field. No workouts. Had too much caffeine (coffee and pop) and feel crappy by evening.
DAY 15: Fairly busy day. No workouts, but there was enough concentration-based work and going from place to place (including coming home for lunch) to merit both doses plus some coffee in the morning. Felt pretty good, but needed to get to bed early. Good night’s sleep
DAY 16: Last chance to exercise before the Muskoka 5150 triathlon. I take my morning dose, and run (slowly and gently) to work.
DAY 17: I took a single dose that morning to prep for the 3 hour drive north (with a pre-schooler and toddler in the back). I felt pretty clear and alert for the drive, and OK most of the day, but tired and ready for an early bed-time before the next day’s race.
DAY 18: I woke up at 5:30 to get ready and go to the Muskoka 5150 Triathlon. I didn’t take any pills with them to the cottage, so I’m without them when I might need them the most. In addition to an exhausting race, I had an afternoon of playing with the kids on the beach, on the deck, in the cottage to wear me out. I found a spare dose in my toiletries bag that I could have taken the next day.
That's pretty much my crazy life on Koge Vitamins Energy Pack. I've been taking them similary erratically since. It remains an option to get me through the more hectic times, though I think I don't like needing them. Koge Vitamins also has a Daily Essentials pack that I'm curious about - and I wouldn't mind helping provide vitamins to kids in Africa either.
Labels: nutrition, review, sponsored