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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 05, 2011

Dear Mark: Calcium Supplements, Goitrogenic Foods, High-MUFA Seed Oils, and Jogging

By Mark Sisson
62 Comments

Today’s edition of “Dear Mark” covers a variety of topics. We’ve got calcium supplementation – does it make sense and is it safe? Then, I briefly discuss cruciferous vegetables, which are said to have negative effects on thyroid health. Some studies support this, but are they an issue for healthy people? I also look at seed oils high in monounsaturated fats (yes, they exist) and low in the much-maligned polyunsaturated fats, and I discuss their suitability in a Primal eating plan. And finally, a reader asks if jogging is ever okay and, if so, how to do it the right way.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the questions.

Hi Mark,

What do you think about calcium supplements for woman?

Sincerely,

Susan

Not a whole lot. I covered this a couple years ago, but I’ll expand today.

Most of the literature has found isolated calcium supplementation to be ineffective at its purported job (strengthening bones and increasing resistance to fractures) and way too good at others (increasing the risk of heart attacks, for example). They’ve also found that dietary calcium (the naturally occurring calcium that you might get from leafy greens or dairy) acts differently than supplementary calcium. In one study, supplementary calcium, but not dietary calcium, was strongly associated with an increased risk of kidney stone formation. You don’t supplement calcium for increased stone formation, do you? The latest review says it all: despite the potential role of calcium supplementation in maintaining bone health being “physiologically appealing,” the “latest data” indicate that calcium supplementation is associated with “an increased risk of myocardial infarction and, possibly, stroke,” a risk “that is not mitigated by co-administration of vitamin D.”

Eat your greens, dairy (if you do dairy), organs, and bones. Get some sun. Lift and carry heavy things. If you feel you’re missing some key dietary or lifestyle components, supplement with vitamin K2, vitamin D, and magnesium. Only supplement with calcium if you’re getting the aforementioned factors, too (a recent study reveals the crucial interplay between vitamin K2, vitamin D, and calcium in bone mineral density maintenance). Don’t just isolate a single nutrient. You need all of them.

Hey Mark,

I love your blog and book. I’ve been an active, athletic person for the last 10 years, going from Crossfit to Olympic Weightlifting to just being a gym junkie. I’ve been eating a primalish/paleo diet since around ’03 with the mentality to eat real foods.

I’ve been really enjoying your blog and book and it has gotten me thinking about other dimensions of what it means to be healthy ranging from sleep to sprinting to rest and play. Gone are my days of being a gym junkie, stressing about missed workouts and worrying about numerical goals but more of an emphasis on play, being outdoors and enjoying myself. Subsequently my gym workouts are less frequent, better and a lot more fun. I feel leaner, pound for pound stronger and generally happier.

Regardless, I’ve read a bit lately about goitrogenic foods and their effects on thyroid functions. Some goitrogenic foods include broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage. These cruciferous vegetables are of my favourite foods and are of my staple foods. As a healthy and active 30 year old male, is there a risk of thyroid problems related to overconsumption of my favorite foods or is this mainly a concern for those at risk of hypothyroidism?

Thanks Mark and keep up the awesome work!

Troy

Thanks for the kind words, Troy. Emails like yours really motivate me to keep going.

Goitrogenic foods don’t appear to be a huge issue for healthy people. While this article claims that hypothyroidism has been induced in animals by feeding goitrogenic foods, I followed the links and found nothing related. I imagine it’s true; I just couldn’t confirm. It’s definitely true that an 88-year old woman gave herself hypothyroidism and fell into a coma after several months of a daily one-kilo raw bok choy habit, but those are extreme conditions (Have you ever tried to eat over two pounds of raw bok choy? Don’t do it, especially not for several months straight.). More moderate consumption of cruciferous/goitrogenic foods, like, say, 150 grams of cooked Brussels sprouts every day for four weeks, is probably fine for thyroid function.

That said, hypothyroid patients (or those who suspect they suffer from it) should avoid raw cruciferous veggies altogether, instead choosing steamed or boiled (which greatly reduce goitrogenic potential) kale, broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. Since goitrogens increase the demand for iodine, they should also make sure iodine intake is adequate; a rat study where replacing 1/3 of the rats’ feed with raw cabbage induced alterations in thyroid status and increased thyroid weight after 60 days, even when the rats were given “moderate iodine.” But at “high iodine” intake, these effects were mitigated. They should also make sure not to replace 1/3 of their normal diet with raw cabbage.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been reading a lot of labels on so-called “health” foods that have high-oleic sunflower or safflower oil listed as one of the ingredients. Since oleic acid is the monounsaturated fat so highly touted in avocados, olive oil, and almonds, what is your take on these oils?

Kevin

They’re actually not terrible. If you stick with reputable companies that cold-press or expeller-press their oils without chemical solvents or high heat, high-oleic sunflower and safflower oils are good in a pinch. They don’t taste like much of anything, making them good for homemade mayonnaise, and they contain vitamin E (if they’re expeller-pressed), making them resistant to oxidation. Furthermore, high-oleic sunflower and safflower seeds aren’t products of genetic modification, if you’re trying to avoid GMOs.

For flavor, I stick with butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or red palm oil every single time, but the high-oleic versions of sunflower and safflower oil are far superior to other vegetable and seed oils. Don’t let this answer be a gateway to vegan “healthy junk food” consumption, though…

Mark,

Thank you so much for this website. It’s such a tremendous resource of information and inspiration!

I’m sorry, but I’m currently unable to place jogging in a correct context in the Primal Blueprint. Initially, I thought for sure it fell into the Chronic Cardio camp. But then, in The Primal Blueprint, you suggest it for low-intensity aerobic movement (if one is really fit). Does it come down to the heart rate and time spent?

Thanks a lot,

Sean

You can boil it down to heart rate and time spent, if you like objective measurements. Certain types of people dig the number porn (particularly the type of person that gravitates toward endurance running, in my extensive experience) and want objective feedback. That’s cool and it totally works, especially when you’re just starting. Ultimately, however, it’ll come down to enjoyment and aptitude. Do you love jogging (or whatever activity it is that you’re questioning)? If yes, then do it (but stop when it becomes a huge drag). Are you really good at it? If you are, then you can probably go harder than most without it becoming Chronic Cardio.

If I were you and I wanted to jog without it getting excessive, I would measure my heart rate and running duration for the first couple times until I began to understand what my targets felt like. So, hit your desired rate, note it, observe yourself, and ask questions. How’s the stamina level? Is this fun? How are your joints feeling? Is this a stressful experience? Am I enjoying myself? How is my overall health? Does my immune system seem to be functioning well? Eventually, you’ll be able to ditch the measurements and go on feeling alone.

I’ve got tons more questions in the pipeline, but I’m always looking for more. Send yours along and I’ll do my best to address them. In the meantime, hit up the comment section. Offer advice of your own, and thanks for reading!

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51 Comments on "Dear Mark: Calcium Supplements, Goitrogenic Foods, High-MUFA Seed Oils, and Jogging"

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Hal
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the running info. I just read through “Born To Run” for the first time and it’s good to hear that you don’t totally discount the Taramuhara’s way of life (running multiple marathon’s daily) :). But in addition to running all that way, McDougall states these people love running, and do it joyfully.

dave
dave
5 years 3 months ago

My wife and I take a plant-based (algae) calcium supplement that contains K2 from Natto, magnesium, D3 (all organic sources). It’s called Bone Strength Take Care from New Chapter.

Cajsa
Cajsa
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the jogging info, it was really helpful. I quite enjoy jogging once a week or so, and have been hoping that wouldnät count as chronic cardio 🙂

rob
rob
5 years 3 months ago

So if it did count as chronic cardio, would you give up jogging, which you quite enjoy?

Michelle
Michelle
5 years 3 months ago

I wish I knew what type of calcium was used in these studies. The link between calcium carbonate (the most widely used form, as well as the main ingredient in Tums) and kidney stones has been known for a long time, but the cardiovascular studies concern me. I switched to calcium citrate after having kidney stones myself, but have had cardiovascular issues in the past few years (and I’m in my early 30’s). I’m leery of going off calcium supplements entirely though because I am missing part of my gut that would normally absorb calcium.

Bill
Bill
5 years 3 months ago

check with your Doc…but my estimated guess would be if you are missing the part of your gut that absorbs Ca, then is oral supplementation the way to go? Your doctor may be able to suggest another way to get calcium into your body?

David I
David I
5 years 3 months ago

I don’t supplement with calcium at all (though I eat a lot of dairy).

Taking it as a mineral rather than in food has always struck me as sketchy. If I had to pick a form for supplementing–and luckily I don’t–I’d probably go with calcium lactate (a form common in milk) or an amino-acid chelate.

On the other hand, some of the much-derided forms of magnesium (oxide, carbonate) are found in drinking water and are correlated with better cardiovascular health in areas where the water is naturally high in Mg.

So I’m inconsistent–I’ll happily down mineral Mg, but not mineral Ca.

Steven
5 years 3 months ago
RDI for calcium is 1000 mg, which is also the amount in supplements, but we only need to absorb something like 250 mg. The problem with calcium supplementation is that calcium absorption increases to very high levels and there isn’t sufficient K2 to direct all that calcium into skeletal tissue. The calcium can then become calcified plaque or kidney stones. So there are three factors: calcium intake, absorption and utilisation. In your case the absorption is low and to compensate the intake is high. If the net result is that your absorbing normal calcium then there’s probably no issue. Just… Read more »
Laura
5 years 3 months ago
It would be nice to know that. It’s hard to say what the relationship between calcium supplements and kidney stones are. I’ve had over 400 calcium oxalate stones since age 12 (I’m 26). When it first started, they told me I needed to cut back on the calicum. These days they doctors have change their tune and now tell me I need to increase my calium. As an RD, I really don’t know what to think. As a person who sufferes with chronic stones, I think the calcium stuff is a bunch of bs. Neither one of those suggestions has… Read more »
Laura
5 years 3 months ago

I forgot to mention that I also have osteoporosis… I suspected hyperparathyroidsim, but it doesn’t look as though that’s the case. So I really don’t have any idea what I should or shouldn’t be doing with Calcium.

Arty
Arty
5 years 3 months ago
Calcium Carbonate is the worst form of calcium you can take. It’s chalk. It’s being deposited in tissue like arteries, organs and joints. It causes calcification in joints and fusing of bone. Also, when a body is acidic and suffering from acidosis, calcium carbonate is formed inside the body as a result of positive charged calcium ions looking for acid, and not eliminated due to acidosis, the calcium carbonate is deposited around joints causing people to have joint pain/arthritis. As the body tries to neutralize acidosis (through calcium + phosphorus) we are losing important minerals causing Osteoporosis. Availability of fat… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 3 months ago

How about minimally pasteurized (low heat) milk, is it any better? I haven’t found a source for raw, but what I currently buy from a local dairy is minimally pasteurized and non-homogenized.

Arty
Arty
5 years 3 months ago
Minimally pasteurized means it’s been squeezed through pieces of metal that heat the milk to 161F within seconds. Usually the process only takes about 15 seconds. SOME enzymes survive. But lactase, the enzyme to carry lactose through a different path in the body is destroyed and can cause allergic reactions in those who don’t produce this enzyme. Also, the dead bacteria (friendly ones) mimic a virus and can cause an allergic reaction in the throat, lunges and sinus, causing chronic sinus infections, mucus, bronchitis without fevers. The good part about minimally pasteurized milk is that K2 is relatively heat stable… Read more »
correcty fairy
correcty fairy
5 years 3 months ago
“But lactase, the enzyme to carry lactose through a different path in the body is destroyed and can cause allergic reactions in those who don’t produce this enzyme.” You’re so far off the mark here you’ve nearly made it into not even wrong territory. Lactose intolerance is NOT an allergy and is NOT mediated by the immune system. It is simply the lack of (or lack of sufficient) lactase production. Since there are commensual bacteria which do digest lactose, the lactose-intolerant person experiences bacterial overgrowth and the resultant symptoms after ingesting high quantities of lactose. Raw milk contains negligible amounts… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 3 months ago

The farm I get my milk from only heats to 140, not sure if that’s any better. I just found a goat dairy that sells raw milk, thanks for the idea. I’m lactose intolerant but manage it with probiotics and lactase enzyme, and have always wanted to try goat milk.

Monte
Monte
5 years 3 months ago
Calcium lactate is the best as its made through natural fermentation process. It isn’t that expensive but the calcium content per weight is low so you’ve got to take a lot of pills to get to 1000mg (10!) All that said, a good diet can average 600~700mg of calcium per day, with or without dairy. This amount has been shown to be more than enough for most of us. Add 2 or 3 calcium lactate caps on low calcium days if your paranoid. I also think it would be prudent to add a K2 supplement. Life Extension makes the best… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 3 months ago

Excellent info, thank you. I saw the Life Extension K2 supplement in a health food store just the other day.

Graham
Graham
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve also heard from one of my radiation-obsessed friends that goitrogenic foods can harm the ability of your thyroid to deal with radiation damage. He includes bananas in this as well. Thoughts?

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 years 3 months ago

Does anyone know how fermentation changes the hypothyroid effect of cruciferous vegetables? I am currently healthy but hypothyroidism runs in my family. I love kimchi and sauerkraut and eat about a cup of one or the other most days.

Krista
5 years 3 months ago

It’s my understanding that fermentation mitigates the goitrogens

Emily C
5 years 3 months ago

“They should also make sure not to replace 1/3 of their normal diet with raw cabbage.”
I almost spit out my tea, this was so funny! I’ve always had a problem relying on studies that manufacture such unrealistic scenarios.

dragan
dragan
5 years 3 months ago

I’ll occasionally use crushed eggshells for calcium supplementation. Boil an egg, eat the inside, dry and crush the shell, sprinkle with some lemon and eat a teaspoon. Seems reasonable.

Reiko
Reiko
5 years 3 months ago

I was wondering about this, but according to some other comments, calcium carbonate is the worst…and that’s pretty much eggshells :\

dragan
dragan
5 years 3 months ago

That’s true. I’m not particularly worried, however, since even when I’m making a big omelet I might accidentally consume a few eggshell pieces. If would be unusual if nature didn’t equip us with the ability to handle (and ideally utilize) that much eggshell.

That said, consuming crushed eggshells is something I’ll only do once in a while, as with all supplementation.

Dirk
Dirk
5 years 3 months ago

Crushed eggshells seem reasonable but can you digest them? I can’t.

Cassandra
5 years 3 months ago

I love jogging. I’m not a distance runner, but a couple of miles in the morning always helps me feel like I have a clearer mind.

Animanarchy
5 years 3 months ago

I just recemtly took up longboarding again after about a two-year hiatus. My longboards stopped working and I couldn’t afford another. My parents recently kicked me out so I lived in a tarp for almost a week and then two of my friends just got a place so I moved in and have been borrowing one’s board. It’s good, fun cardio that isn’t too excruciating and it’s easy on the joints, excluding the tumbles and scrapes that happen sometimes.
I still love to bike and occasionally jog. Biking is my main mode of transportation.

Dmitri
Dmitri
5 years 3 months ago

In reguards jogging read this story from a few weeks from Primal Nick.Helps alot with running & being primal.
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/just-shy-of-50-years-old-and-ive-never-felt-or-looked-better/

aggie
aggie
5 years 3 months ago

Re calcium, in addition to greens, don’t forget about infusions made from calcium-rich herbs. Susun Weed has some good recommendations and notes on calcium intake:

http://www.menopause-metamorphosis.com/An_Excerpt-103-better_bones.htm

Alessandra
Alessandra
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks Mark for the information on the veggies. I do have a hypothyroid problem and I’m trying to learn what to avoid. I’ve been slowly but surely integrating Primal in my life and it’s been helping quite a bit!

Josh Frey
5 years 3 months ago

Regarding calcium supplementation, I read that it can actually work assuming you’re also supplementing the other nutrients necessary for its absorption.

I’m not sure, but I think it’s zinc, magnesium and vitamin D in particular that are needed for calcium supplementation to have the desired effects.

Not that I’d supplement calcium anyway, but still…

Alex "Dude Where's My Muscle" Siddy

Some great answers Mark, especially concerning Calcium supplementation. I have known for a long time that isolated supplementation isn’t the best.

Absorption rates are usually very low and in the case of Calcium, even deadly. More research is needed to be undertaken by anyone who wants to supplement.

Sure it takes time and effort but it’s the smart thing to do.

Anna, Fair Flavors
5 years 3 months ago

I generally try to avoid plant oils, and cook with coconut oil, ghee, butter and tallow. I use EV olive oil for salads. So usually, I have no problems avoiding most bad oils.

My downfall is mayonnaise. I eat it about 2-3 times a week, about 1-2 table spoons. I’ve tried making it with EV olive oil, and I think that has too much flavor for making mayonnaise. Do I understand it correctly, that if I make mayonnaise myself with a high oleic sunflower oil, it won’t be a big deal?

Primal Nicky
Primal Nicky
5 years 3 months ago
Running (and jogging) is the ultimate primal exercise and evolutionary zenith of the human body in motion, both as a survival mechanism and as a cultural component of our social intercourse as human animals! Running is a means of terrestrial locomotion allowing humans and other animals to move rapidly on foot. It is simply defined in athletics terms as a gait in which at regular points during the running cycle both feet are off the ground. This is in contrast to walking, where one foot is always in contact with the ground, the legs are kept mostly straight and the… Read more »
nikki
nikki
5 years 3 months ago
On the crucifers… a wonderful nutritionist in my town has been studying raw vs. cooked vegetables for quite awhile now. He is also an ex-vegan athlete and so also has integrated sentiments against grains and sugar. His perspective focuses not on insulin but on Vitamin B1, or thiamine, which is an important vitamin for many things, including the production of energy in the mitochondria of our cells. John Ogle is the name of the nutritionist and he is adamant that all raw vegetable must be boiled for prime nutrition (the broth consumed of course). The examples he used in his… Read more »
deb
5 years 3 months ago
I would guess, based on my own experiences and self-research (I have Hashimoto’s so I’m working my way thru the literature and research) that fermenting crucifers is probably as good as cooking them, if not better. In fact, I can’t eat many of them cooked, either lightly or hard, without awful digestive upset, and while I love the taste of broccoli and cauliflower, I haven’t been able to eat them painlessly for years, excepting when I was pregnant or nursing, after which I again lost the ability to enjoy them. And cooked cabbage? Nope. Pain and gas. But I can… Read more »
nikki
nikki
5 years 3 months ago

I think that fermenting crucifers would indeed de-nature the harmful enzymes at play…. That’s my inconclusive vote at least! and it seems as though cultures who eat crucifers as a large part of their diet might agree!

cTo
cTo
5 years 3 months ago

Bok choy and brussel sprouts are my favoritest veggies ever at the moment, thanks for discussing them!

Also thanks for the note on sunflower oil. I have a small jar of very expensive truffle oil, which is actually truffle essence in sunflower oil, and ive been wondering if its ok or not. I dont know if its expeller-pressed or not, I dont think it says (cause the label touts all the aspects of the truffle and not the oil its actually in) but now that I know what to look for I can research it more and find out.

Deanna
Deanna
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the running clarification. I’m hit-and-miss with it. Sometimes, the sun is shining and the temperature is perfect, so I have this huge hankering to go outside and run. So I do. Other days, the thought of running makes me bemoan working out, so I do something else instead.

And all this talk of cruciferous veggies is making me want some bright green broccoli.

Devin
Devin
5 years 3 months ago

Considering the above why does primal calm have calcium as one of it’s main ingredients?

Dave
Dave
5 years 3 months ago

Now I know why I don’t do well with raw veggies. I can juice or eat cooked, but raw leaves me feeling a little jacked up. Thanks.

Tony
Tony
5 years 3 months ago

Mark, great point about the chronic cardio: stop when it becomes a drag. That point is different for everyone.

buy discount vitamins
5 years 3 months ago

Hi Mark,

I am newcomers to your blog, and i am glad that I’ve found your site. This article very interesting not only for me, but i’m sure many of your reader’s also loves it. Proper exercise and eating right foods are very helpful in a healthy lifestyle.

Captain Obvious
Captain Obvious
5 years 3 months ago

Nice nicname….

Shelly
5 years 3 months ago
I’ve been dealing with hypothyroidism for about 9.5 years and none of my doctors have ever suggested a change in diet to help solve the problem. They just gave me pills and sent me on my way. I go for my first blood test tomorrow since going primal. I’m really hoping for good news. I’m cutting out nightshades and dairy as the next step. It’s frustrating that I never got any of this kind of information from my endocrinologist. If anyone has any more info on foods to avoid when having thyroid issues, please let me know. I’d love to… Read more »
walnut
walnut
5 years 3 months ago
i strongly disagree with your remarks about calcium. As a pregnant woman who cannot tolerate dairy i will continue to use calcium supplements. Some forms of calcium are more bioavailable than others. Frankly i feel that it is inadequate to rely on green leafies (antinutrients like oxalates and phytates block the action of calcium), bones (i dont eat enough to get anywhere near the rdi for calcium) or bone broths (again i dont eat enough of them and how much calcium is in there anyways). If you looked more closely at the studies you are citing i think you would… Read more »
Rebecca Magliozzi
Rebecca Magliozzi
5 years 23 days ago
Regarding thyroid issues and goitrogenic foods, you want to eat these less frequently if you have thyroid disease, hypothyroidism or Hashimotos. If you have Hashimotos DO NOT supplement with iodine or high iodine products like seaweed/kelp. Your thyroid will go hyper and then plunge way low, and your antibodies will shoot way up. In the end, you will be sicker. I tried this out this summer and found out the hard way. Since avoiding iodine in multivitamins and any seaweed and gluten, I feel awesome. I have Hashimotos. Dr. Datis Khazzarian specializes in Hashimotos disease and preaches these things regularly.… Read more »
meizitang
4 years 9 months ago

Mark, great point about the chronic cardio: stop when it becomes a drag. That point is different for everyone.

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/calcium-supplements-goitrogenic-foods-high-mufa-seed-oils-and-jogging/#ixzz1obEcvEcY

creativebioscience.com
4 years 1 month ago

Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth and for healthy gums. It is also needed to maintain a normal heartbeat, for the transmission of nerve impulses and for the proper functioning of muscles. Thanks.

www.WeightLossPunch.com
4 years 1 month ago

Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives. Thanks.

Seed Oils
3 years 9 months ago

Yes, the pressing method is extremely importrant when it comes to seed oils like sunflower and safflower. Although their Omega 6 content relative to Omega 3 is higher, they can still be very beneficial oils. Just be aware of the fat profile before you consume too much.

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