Dear Mark: CoQ10, Gelatin, Fruit, and Eggs and LDL

Happy Halloween, folks. On its face, Halloween seems pretty un-Primal, what with all the reverence for cheap candy that surrounds it, but getting dressed up is undeniably fun. I guess that’s a subset of “play,” yeah? I’ve heard about the post-AHS shenanigans. You guys aren’t ascetics. Anyway, today I cover CoQ10 dosages and forms, whether gelatin is worth eating, how much fruit is too much (hint: it’s about context), and whether a young guy with mildly elevated LDL should stop eating eggs.

Let’s go.

My question is regarding coQ10. I am going to turn 40… am in good health… exercise regularly and have been primal for about 2 years.

Here are my two questions…

How much coQ10 do I require?

What is the deal with all the coQ10 supplements using seed and or soybean oil as the vehicle? I cannot find one using say olive oil. Any advice on this? Or does it not matter?

Your thoughts?


Hell, Joe.

If you were on a statin, I’d say take up to 200 mg per day. Since you’re healthy, you exercise, and you’ve been Primal for awhile and you feel like supplementing might give you an edge, I’d shoot for between 30 and 100 mg per day. Use the ubiquinol form of CoQ10, as research indicates that our ability to convert the ubiquinone form into the active ubiquinol diminishes as we age, with forty years being about when it starts to drop off. The caveat with that is that you’re reading this blog and following this lifestyle and thus are most likely not an average (soon to be) forty year old guy, but still. It can’t hurt and it’s good insurance for your mitochondria. Ubiquinone’s cheaper by a bit, but ubiquinol is getting priced more reasonably.

I wouldn’t worry about the oil used. You’re taking such miniscule amounts that a bit of soybean oil as the vehicle won’t have a measurable effect.

Hi Mark,

My question is whether or not animal derived gelatin is a good source of bioavailable protein? I’ve read a fair bit of contradictory information about it and I’m curious. Thanks!


Well, it depends on what you mean by “bioavailable.” If you’re asking whether gelatin converts to amino acids that promote muscular hypertrophy and recovery from exercise, no, not really. But if you’re asking if gelatin is well-absorbed or if its constituent parts perform important physiological functions, the answer is yes to both.

Of course, you can’t survive on gelatin as your sole source of protein. It provides very few essential amino acids (amino acids that your body can’t synthesize on its own) and it’s mostly glycine and proline. But there’s nothing wrong with gelatin. Quite the contrary, actually. Some possibly interesting effects of eating gelatin:

  • Gelatin was found to reduce joint pain in athletes. Eyebrows might rise at the fact that Nabisco, which makes gelatin desserts, funded the study, but lifters have been swearing by daily gelatin supplementation for joint health for decades.
  • Improvement of sleep quality when taken before bed. A “bolus ingestion of glycine” produced “subjective and objective” measurements of sleep quality in people. I’ve been having a cup of bone broth (high in gelatin, which is high in glycine) before bed lately, and I can corroborate the study’s findings.
  • If you ask someone like Chris Masterjohn, regularly consuming a source of glycine (as found in gelatin derived from animal skin, bones, and hooves) is crucial for someone who also eats a lot of muscle meat (which most Primal eaters do). He’s a sharp dude, so heed his words.

I’d say it’s worth incorporating, preferably in the form of bone broth or as purified granular gelatin (if you’re not making broth). Added bonus of the purified gelatin: you can play around with fun gelatinized Primal desserts and other dishes.

Dear Mark,

Please help! 🙂 I’ve been Paleo for about a year now, with the odd bit of hummus here and there. My only real bad non-Paleo habit was eating copious amounts of fruit, honey and medjool dates. This has resulted in a bit of weight gain, so I’ve finally kicked the honey and dates to the curb.

But I can’t seem to give up fruit! I probably eat about 5 – 8 servings a day. They’re all pretty low carb (berries, papaya, the odd apple).

My question is – is this really unhealthy? Do I need to give up fruits as well? Any tips for those of us who are copious fruit eaters?

Thanks in advance. No-one else seems to take my issue seriously.


Fruit is not a problem, unless you’re actively gaining weight or failing to lose the weight that you want to lose. It’s also not required for great health. I call it optional, basically.

Are you still dealing with the weight gain? That wasn’t clear from the question. If giving up the honey and dates hasn’t been enough to lose the weight, I’d definitely make the move to 1-2 servings of fruit a day. Your choices are pretty good – berries, particularly, are high in nutrition and polyphenols and relatively low in sugar – but the quantity is a little much for someone trying to lose weight.

That said, if you are successfully losing weight with that level of fruit intake, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. If fruit has become your “candy,” however, watch out. It’s all in how the fruit is affecting you. If it’s promoting incessant gorging and packing on the pounds or preventing pounds that should be leaving from leaving, it could be a problem. If you’re still losing weight or keeping weight off, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

Hey Mark,

Just got my cholesterol checked. I’m 21 and my LDL’s at 131. Should I be worried/cut back on the 4 whole eggs daily?



If it were me, I wouldn’t worry. What’s your HDL? Trigylcerides? You need all that information, and you need to repeat the tests multiple times to make sense of your situation. A one-time snapshot of a single number doesn’t tell us much.

Recent studies vindicate eggs on the blood lipid front. Most show that eggs have little to no effect on cholesterol, while others show that in some people, egg consumption raises both HDL and LDL (but mostly HDL and switches the LDL to the fluffy and buoyant variety). Just really try to aim for pastured eggs if you can, because eating commercial eggs that come from chickens fed high omega-6 grains, like soy and corn, actually can increase the oxidation of one’s LDL (this is unequivocally bad for heart health, whereas a one-time number like “131” doesn’t tell us much). Check local farmer’s markets, search on Craigslist, raise your own. Just get some pastured eggs. This is one of those areas in which the source of the food truly does matter and the one or two dollar price difference should not deter you.

Okay, enjoy the day/night. Just lay off that candy. And if you get trick-or-treaters, be smart about what you dole out. Realize that no one but that one kid going as a gnoll or the little girl going as Art De Vany will appreciate the shade grown, free trade, grass-fed 89% cacao dark chocolate squares – so save your money and give the kids what they want. You may love eggs, but not plastered across the exterior of your house. Besides, studies show that egged houses have tons of oxidized cholesterol. Bad all around.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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65 thoughts on “Dear Mark: CoQ10, Gelatin, Fruit, and Eggs and LDL”

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  1. Happy Halloween! Good thing chocolate is primal, because I prefer eggs in my belly, not splattered across my front door. 🙂

  2. I eat more fruit than others but have never had a problem with my weight. Some will say I should watch out but I know what I am doing and if I do start to gain fat then I’ll just eat less fruit and see what happens! Like Mark said, it depends on the context.

    With that being said, I’ll say that NO ONE should base their diet around 30 bananas a day…

    Loved this line: “Besides, studies show that egged houses have tons of oxidized cholesterol. Bad all around.”

    1. Oh, and even though we may get 1 group of people, probably 0… half of the “candy” is little dark chocolate almond pieces! I’ve been eating just a few…

  3. Yea I shed a tear for all the eggs I saw this morning 🙁 that could have been and amazing omelete

  4. Big bowl of Oberto Beef jerky , Big bowl of full size chocolate bars and a baseball bat just in case… oh Costco you fulfill all my halloween needs.

  5. The standard lipid panel does not distinguish between bad LDL (oxidized and dense) and benign LDL (fluffy). Indeed, total LDL is not directly measured, only calculated using an equation that may be inaccurate for those with low triglycerides (most primal dieters).

    You could get a VAP test which measures LDL directly, but if your HDL is high, like 60 mg/dL or more, this is probably unnecessary.

  6. “Egged houses have tons of oxidized cholesterol.”

    ROFLMAO. Funniest thing I’ve read related to Halloween all morning.

  7. If 89% is too much, what about 60% or 72%. It will help ween people upwards from the 42% Hershey’s, but not enough to get your house egged.

    1. I think any sort of chocolate would be better than the gummy starburst like candies. Someone gave one to my daughter, and I figured it was no good, but was actually shocked at reading the label. It started with HFCS and deteriorated to things like partially hydrogenated cotton seed oil :/ My 3 year old does like 88% dark chocolate.

    2. 72% is perfect I think. 90% is good but even too much cacao can be harmful. By weight, chocolate has more phytic acid then any other food that us primal folks eat. 1-2 blocks is great, but anything more may be pushing it!

  8. Ah you’ve convinced me to start buying expensive eggs, I knew the day would come. That’s the one thing I’ve been admittedly neglectful of.

    1. Good luck trying to find them. All the top price eggs in my area supermakets boast and brag about their vegetarian hens. The farmer’s markets don’t sell eggs, so my only alternative is to up the intake of omega 3’s and hope for the best. It’s a shame that we’ve reached this point…sigh.

      1. I searched craigslist and found a good local source for pastured eggs. You might give that a try …

    2. I have been getting 2 doz/week from my CSA provider. No, I can’t eat 2 doz a week! So I’ve been freezing the surplus so I can have pasture eggs until nxt summer (to freeze: crack open & beat. pour into ice cube trays & freeze. Pop out & package, repeat)

        1. @peggy — wow. I’ll have to remember this for next year. Too late in the off-laying-season to do me any good now.

  9. Very useful information. Since I am old (68) and still take Metformin (but hopefully not for long), I take 100 mg ubiquinone daily.

    Drinking some bone broth and adding Knox to whatever I can has helped my nails and hair. Hopefully, it is helping inside too.

    Finally, thanks for the Masterjohn link. I do eat (traditionally prepared) beans, spinach, pastured eggs and pork rinds.

  10. Time to dig out the Aspic recipes. They are gelatin meat broth and vegies in a mold. You pick up stuff like that when your ex-husband is a chef(don’t worry after 10 years we are on good terms). I recommended to him a book called, ‘From Nose to Tail, Using the Whole Animal’ and he absolutely loved it.

  11. I love fruit too. But I am generally good about what I eat. Berries are easy if they are in season. I love an apple or banana with almond butter for lunch. Yum!

  12. Our farmer’s market has like 4 booths with eggs. It is great! Otherwise keep an eye out for hobby farms in the country, we have a few places near us with signs out advertising eggs for sale. I’d trust their eggs instead of the supermarkets anyday. Now if only I knew more hunters…..

    1. LOL….I questioned that myself, how can cacao be grass-fed…a comment I’d like to make around eggs is that they’re part of a chicken’s menstrual cycle, from the uterus…eggs humans eat are unfertilized (no contact with the rooster, lol)…it’s just one of those ‘Yuck’ moments for me when I think about what humans choose to have for food for themselves…the egg yolk has cholesterol and the human body can produce enough cholesterol for it’s own needs, it doesn’t need it through diet (egg yolk, fatty cuts of meat, organ meats, high fat dairy, shrimp/lobster)…getting too much through diet is why some people’s cholesterol is through the roof…also, I’m sure many doctors place too much emphasis on the ‘total cholesterol number’ versus the actual ratio of HDL (good) to LDL (bad)…the total number is not overly important, it’s the ratio, you want to have more HDL as HDL shunts the LDL back to the liver for processing…you don’t want LDL sitting around too long in the blood as it can get oxidized by free radicals.

  13. ok it took me a while to figure out a “gnoll” from that link, but I did find out some other marvelous information from that site!! I am intrigued by the gravlax recipe…
    (I also lmao at the egged house oxidized-cholesterol comment)

    1. ok read through the gravlax recipe & had to laugh – it has the Monty Python intermission!
      Is it just me or do primal/paleo people seem to have a better sense of humour?

      1. I’m pretty sure we do as we all have a diet if not a lifestyle that’s politically incorrect, and usually anything not mainstream is considered irreverent and is therefore funny by default.

        J. has some really in depth information on his site that’s definitely worth the read, and his book is a pretty amazing story too.

  14. For anyone interested bone broth/gelatin issue check out They have some great articles on bone broth, how to make it and all the great benefits from it. currently it is how I get most of my minerals. And Chris Masterjohn’s article lends even more importance to it. Makes sense, though, and highlights the interconnectedness of all the different components in primal living. Makes sense that HG wouldn’t just eat meat and not make use of the bones too!

  15. If you don’t have access to a local farmer for pastured eggs you can get them from Whole Foods. The company is Vital Farms and they have a really good reputation. The Cornucopia Institute did a study on organic egg quality and the rank very high in the ratings. You can read the report/study here.

    Cornucopia Institute Report:

    Vital Farms score card:

  16. I’ve also been wondering about the soy vehicle in various softgel supplements, including CoQ10, so timely post/answer. I know it’s a small amount, but I just don’t see why it’s as difficult as it is to find a softgel vareity that isn’t encased/swimming in soy.

    1. when i first went Primal…& started reading label…soy was even more entrenched in the food chain than forms of sugar…got to remember SAD thinks soy is good 4 you

  17. I make bone broth, but for some reason it never smells good when cooking, and doens’t really taste good either unless I use it in something. By itself it’s not that great. I use bones from grassfed beef, and add vinigar to help extract the minerals . Maybe too much vinigar at 1 cup per gallon or so of water. Hints?

    1. I add onions, celery, and carrots to my bone broths for added flavor. Sometimes garlic, if I think of it, and a bay leaf and/or other herbs, and if I get really fancy I’ll add some white wine. Delicious!
      A cup of vinegar might be too much? I add two to three tablespoons and let it sit at room temperature for a half hour or so before turning on the heat. Read that somewhere…don’t know if it’s important.

      1. That’s the method outlined in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. It’s like my bible!

    2. I’m sorry but that sounds inedible! I typically use about two tbsps. of vinegar for that amount of water.

    3. I only add a couple tablespoons of vinegar per gallon. Skimming the goop off the top increases flavor. Some people roast their bones first and swear by it. I don’t. Adding a good sea salt when you serve it markedly increases flavor. I also like to add nutritional yeast flakes (not while cooking but when I serve it.) I eat broth at least 4x a week and usually add stir-fried veggies.

      How long do you cook it? I cook mine about 24 hours. I first bring to a light boil then turn low to simmer.

      I seem to recall Fallon recommending removing the meat, marrow and cartalege (but I don’t think she explained why.) I reasoned that all the nutrition is in the broth. I strain the broth, remove the bones and give the dog the meat and gunk.

    4. Roast your bones in a 350 degree oven until nice and brown 30 to 60 min depending on how many you have. Place in large pot, to every 1 gallon of water add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. cover bones with about 6 inches of water. bring to boil then simmer on low fire for 24 hours adding water as necessary. If you don’t want to leave it on over night cover and begin timing in the morning. you will have nice brown broth. remove bones and further reduce to concentrate to freeze. salt to taste. I had a hard time finding bones. I fixed this many times after my husband had heart surgery to repair a valve and replace 5 inches of his Arota. Just giving him what he needed to repair his sternum after they cut it in half to do the surgery. He loved the french onion soup I made with it. By simmering the stock for 24 hours you remove pretty much all the good stuff from the bones…you can mash them with the spoon when your finished they are empty!

  18. One of today’s questions infers some guilt about hummus. Are chick peas considered a grain? I thought they were veggies, and I love hummus.
    Please clarify!
    Lori V.

    1. It’s a legume. I eat hummus once in a while, too, because I love it, but I think of it as an 80/20 thing.

  19. This is so timely because I have been finding myself cringe at the thought of eating muscle meats, but not craving carbs either. So basically, I have been stuck wanting to eat veggies, which isn’t cutting it caloricly. The only two things that have sounded good are pho (for the broth) and chicken wings (for the skin, I guess). Very interesting! Thanks!

  20. Can you recommend a good brand of “purified granular gelatin” and how you would eat it?

  21. Here is a link for all those who want or need to find farmers where they live.
    I have found it quite helpful in locating farmers that might sell particular items you will not find at the regular stores in some states.

  22. I have arthritis in my foot but both of them are fairing badly. Will eating gelatin help with that. I would love to start running again.

  23. We dw and self raise our own hens for meat and eggs and on average i eat about 20 eggs a week. Reading about beef broth we will have a go at making some in our slow cooker

  24. Just back from a group trip where I keep hearing: low-fat for all that most of the group ate; but me, of course. Little did they know that my Stir Fry Shrimp was primal.

  25. Is powdered gelatin really just as beneficial as bone broth? Aside from the extra minerals from the bones, are the two types of gelatin similarly good for you?

  26. I have been primal for a little over 8 weeks. I wanted to lose some weight and see if maybe I can resolve my hypothyroidism and get off the medicine. As of this morning, I am down almost eight pounds, but my energy levels have not been as good as they were. My diet is pretty heavy in meat and I have cut my egg and chicken consumption, trying to uncover a food sensitivity (I’m pretty sure about the eggs, I’ll be adding the chicken back soon and see if there are symptoms — I find that I can easily become intolerant of a food if I eat it in excess over a period of time).

    Anyway, I read Free the Animal’s site on problems that can occur on the diet, and one of them was hypothyroidism which had me a little concerned. Today, I followed your link, and then followed the link on that site about how excess muscle meat consumption can damage your thyroid. Well, I don’t need more of that! It sounded to me that in order to protect/save your thyroid, you need to, holistically, make as much use of the animal as possible. It does make sense to me that if you are out in the wilderness and you expend all that energy, time and risking life and limb to hunt down a beast, it would be more efficient to eat everything but the oink, moo, baa, and cluck. Eat the fat, meat, organs (ALL of them), and boil the rest for stock. This ensures that you get all the amino acids you need and creates no imbalances that can damage the thyroid and who knows what else.

  27. For the life of me, I can not figure out what the photo that accompanies this article is.

    Can someone help?

  28. Never mind. I just put my cursor on it and it is a hoof. Ha! I just could not see it.

  29. Question: Should I take the COq10 at bedtime, with the darned statin, or in the morning, with breakfast? I drank excessively in my youth, have had elevated cholesterol since my early 30’s,probably from the alcohol abuse, and take a minimum dose of one statin. I’m new to primal so I expect things to improve as I cut the carbs down.

  30. Was glad I had read this post this morning as I had been thinking about supplementing with CoQ10 and the information in the article got me to make the decision. When I was in the health food store in my town I found NOW Foods Ubiquinol that uses MCT oil instead of soy oil. A little pricey buy the one bottle should last two months, so not too bad.
    Thanks for the ongoing great information.

  31. I saw that pig foot and thought ah gelatin. If no bone broth, I take gelatin with every meat meal. As I understand it, we shouldn’t eat muscle meat at all without some gelatin present. Maybe this point should be a little more emphasized in the Paleo community since muscle meat is so heavily consumed.

    1. Thank you for this information, Peggy! I haven’t consumed any gelatine or broth to my meals yet but just found some recipes with broth that I’m really looking forward to cook soon.

      Do you know how much gelatine to take each day when eating muscle meat?

  32. Mark, I have seen that Ball state Study, and I think there is a conflict of interest going on with that particular study. I think its supported by Knox Gelatin or something. That being said, a Tomato aspic or a organ meat based one is a great primal dish, and a pretty good Swedish one too, as I have found out from my wife. Keep Up the good work…

  33. Mark,

    My sister turned me on to MDA about eight weeks ago this coming thursday. She just started the primal lifestyle and has had great results. Her migranes have vanished after years of suffering and her exema is diminished considerably in a very short time. Wow!

    I am a healthy non smoker and at 46 people generally tell me I look 10 years younger than I am. I decided to go primal after reading the “Primal Blueprint” completely understanding you key concepts about the lifestyle. I really only wanted to loose about ten pounds, just belly fat. Well in 8 short weeks I have gone from 178 to 165 again Wow! I have been following all your suggustions, buying all your books including “21 Day Total Transformation.
    Great timing.
    Last week I went in for an annual physical with my Doctor and told her about the diet. She seemed skeptical but saw I was loosing weight and actually told me not to loose anymore.
    I told her my goal weight was 165 which she recorded today. Last friday she called me and asked me to make an appointment with her concerning my results from my bloodwork. I have never had high cholesterol or hypertension in my life. In fact my blood pressure is ever so slightly low. Her concern was my cholesterol is now 301. HDL 57. Tri’s 224. LDL’s at 199. She now wants me on a statin. Also my liver enzymes seem to be out of whack. AST at 81. ALT 151. Everything else is perfect. She asked me what I was eating and she was horrified. I told her we should not jump to any conclusions since I really liked the diet and that maybe my body is adjusting to the no carb higher fat intake along with eggs, butter, coconut oils and macadamia nuts etc. along with several intermitent fastings. This lifestyle change has me very excited but I am curious what your take on this could possibly be?



  34. I’ve made bone broth numerous times before but this is my first time making it with a cow hoof and horns!

    This should turn out exceptionally gelly 🙂

  35. Interesting post! I never really realized how fruit can affect weight gain. I’m guilty of eating copious amounts of it, but haven’t noticed much of a difference probably because I tend to stick to berries and water-based fruit like melons.

    I am definitely a fan of taking coenzyme q10 dietary supplement. I take the full 100mg. I like that they give me a lot more energy and they don’t taste bad. The fact that they melt pretty quickly also helps.

  36. I was looking for a grass-fed gelatin and found these guys – Vital Proteins, I’ve been using gelatin for a while with many benefits.