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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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November 25 2008

Grok Didn’t Take Supplements So Why Should I?

By Mark Sisson
134 Comments

Grok with Fast Food

Disclaimer: I derive most of my income from selling supplements. We don’t talk too much about it here on MDA, but I get enough questions on this topic, that I felt it was time to explain exactly why I choose to manufacture and take certain supplements.

The main objective of following the Primal Blueprint is to extract the healthiest, happiest, longest and most productive life possible from our bodies – and to look and feel good in the process. Our 10,000-year-old Primal genes expect us to emulate the way our ancestors ate and moved; and the Primal Blueprint says we should do exactly as they expect. While there are many things we can do (or eat) today that very closely approximate what Grok did to trigger positive gene expression, there are also a number of obstacles that can thwart our attempts to be as Primal as possible. Artificial light prompts us to stay up too late and sleep too little. Electronic entertainment competes for our time when we should be out walking and basking in sunlight. We don’t always have access to ideal foods. We shower too much in water that’s too hot. We use medicines to mask our symptoms instead of allowing our bodies to deal directly with the problem. You get my point. It’s tough going full Primal today.

One of my tasks is to find the shortcuts – the easy ways to get the same genetic expression benefits Grok got – but by using 21st century technology or just plain old common sense. Working out in Vibram Fivefingers to simulate going barefoot is an example. Or learning how to spend time in the sun without sunscreen AND without burning. Getting more from a 20-minute full-body exercise routine than from a 3-hour cardio workout is yet another example. And given the lack of certain critical nutrients in even the healthiest diets, finding the best supplements is another.

I agree that the supplement industry does have its share of shady characters. Many – if not most – of the products you see on store shelves are probably harmless, and also probably useless. Thousands of these products have more smoke, mirrors and hype behind them than research to back them up. But there are a few categories of supplements (and manufacturers) that have shown great promise and that I wouldn’t be without in my own regimen. Here are a few of the best categories of supplements I can recommend to just about everyone:

1. Antioxidant Booster

I’ve done posts on free radicals and oxidative damage here before, so I don’t need to go into detail when I suggest that we want to do everything we can to reduce oxidative damage to our cells (and particularly inside our mitochondria). Eating right, avoiding stress and exercising appropriately (i.e. not too much high-end cardio) are always the first lines of defense. Of course, we also have our three main internal “onboard” antioxidant systems that take care of most of the normal oxidative damage when we are healthy, unstressed and eating well (catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione). But these systems can come up short when we are under stress (who isn’t), eating too many sugars and other carbs, trans and hydrogenated fats, or drinking alcohol, or when we are exercising inappropriately. Theoretically, that still ought to be no problem, because our bodies were designed to get additional antioxidant support from the foods we eat.

Grok handled this easily by avoiding the kinds of chronic “made-up” stress we have today and by consuming foods rich in antioxidants like carotenoids, catechins, flavones, and anthocyanidins. Our problem in the 21st century is two-fold. First, we layer far too much stress on ourselves with our workloads, our worrying, our medicines, our lack of sunshine, and our less-than-optimum diets.  This means that our stress “load” is far greater and puts a greater burden on all these natural systems. When these antioxidant systems fail us, we can get sick and even age faster. Secondly, many of our historically healthy sources of dietary antioxidants have all but disappeared or have been rendered impotent by today’s aggressive factory farming techniques. In the fruit industry, for example, obtaining the highest possible sugar content has replaced antioxidants as the focus.

The most popular measure of a food’s – or supplement’s – antioxidant power is the ORAC score (for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). The USDA recommends we get between 3,000 and 5,000 ORAC units per day, but I believe that number is way too low and that we should look to get at least double that. That’s one of the reasons that high ORAC fruits and vegetables are at the base of the Primal Pyramid even though it’s a low-carb program (that fact distinguishes it from Atkins perhaps more than anything else). But I believe that we also need a broad mix of different antioxidants on a daily basis, since different antioxidants work in different ways and in different parts of the cell. That means taking a supplement to obtain hard-to-get nutrients like full spectrum vitamin E (not just alpha tocopherol), mixed carotenoids (not just beta carotene), tocotrienols, NAC, alpha lipoic acid, curcumin, resveratrol, milk thistle, CoQ10 and quercetin to name a few.  In fact, too much of any one single antioxidant (in the absence of others) has been shown to have potentially negative effects, as a few recent “vitamin E-only” studies have demonstrated. Conversely, when you take a good broad-spectrum antioxidant formula, all these antioxidants can work synergistically to mitigate oxidative damage and then help each other recycle back to their potent antioxidant form after donating an electron to the antioxidant effort. For that reason, I take a high-potency multi-vitamin loaded with extra antioxidants every day.

2. Probiotics

Grok ate dirt. All day, every day. Hey, when you never wash your hands or your food (or anything for that matter) you pretty much can’t avoid it. But with all that soil came billions of soil-based organisms (mostly bacteria and yeast) that entered his mouth daily and populated his gut. Most were “friendly” bacteria that actually helped him better digest food and ward off infections. In fact, much of Grok’s (and our) immune system evolved to depend on these healthy “flora” living in us symbiotically. Grok also ate the occasional “unfriendly” organisms that had the potential to cause illness, but as long as the healthy flora well-outnumbered the bad guys, all was well. Several trillion bacteria live symbiotically in our gut today – some good and some bad. Much of your health depends on which of the two is winning the flora war.

The problem today is that we don’t eat dirt; we wash everything. Of course, given the crap that’s in and on the dirt around us, it’s probably best that we do wash it all. But in the process we never get a chance to ingest the healthy bacteria that our genes expect us to. In most healthy people this doesn’t usually present a problem. As long as there are some healthy gut bacteria present, as long as we don’t get too stressed out (stress hormones can kill off healthy flora), too sick (diarrhea and vomiting are ways the body purges bad bacteria – but it purges good bacteria with them), or take antibiotics (antibiotics tend to kill most bacteria – that’s their job), and as long as we are eating well, those healthy bacteria can flourish and keep us well. Unfortunately, we live in a time when stress is everywhere, where we do tend to get sick or take antibiotics, where certain processed foods support the growth of unhealthy bacteria and yeast forms while choking out the healthy flora. Many people whose diets include daily doses of yogurt or acidophilus are able to maintain healthy gut flora, but these sources aren’t always reliable (pasteurizing and added sugars can reduce their effectiveness), and not everyone can tolerate dairy that well. For that reason, I think it’s wise to take probiotic supplements on occasion. Not necessarily every day, since once these “seeds” have been planted in a healthy gut, they tend to multiply and flourish easily on their own. I’d certainly take extra probiotics under times of great stress or when you’ve been sick or are taking (or have just taken) a course of antibiotics. The reversal of fortune from a few days of taking probiotics can be dramatic. Better than eating dirt, I always say.

3. Fish Oil

In Grok’s day, virtually every animal he consumed was a decent source of vital Omega 3 fatty acids. The fish he caught had eaten algae to produce Omega 3 fatty acids rich in EPA and DHA (which helped build the larger human brain over a few hundred thousand years). The animals he hunted grazed on plants that generated high levels of Omega 3 in these meats. Even the vegetation Grok consumed provided higher levels Omega 3s than today’s vegetables. In Grok’s diet, the ratio of pro-inflammatory (bad) Omega 6 to anti-inflammatory (good and healthful) Omega 3 was close to 1:1. Unfortunately, most of us with a typical American diet today get way too much Omega 6 and way too little Omega 3, and that unhealthy ratio tends to keep many of us in a constant state of systemic inflammation. Since Omega 3 oils are found in fewer and fewer modern foods (fish being one of the few, but fresh fish also being impractical to eat regularly due to heavy-metal content) the single easiest way to overcome this serious deficit and rebalance your Omegas is to take highly purified Omega 3 fish oil supplements. The research on fish oils is extraordinary, showing benefits across the board from decreased risk for heart disease and cancer to lowering triglycerides, improving joint mobility, decreasing insulin resistance and improving brain function and mood. The drug companies are even starting to recognize the power of this “natural” medicine and have begun promoting prescription fish oil (at four times the normal price, of course!). As healthy as my own diet is, I never go a day without taking a few grams of an Omega 3 Fish Oil supplement.

4. Protein Powders

Eating low carb often means being at a loss as to what to have for a snack or a small meal. We are so used to reaching for the bagel, a few pieces of fruit or something sweet as a snack. On the other hand, there are also times when we just don’t feel like fixing a full meal or we are strapped for time. In those instances, I like to look to protein powders to take up the slack. Today’s protein powder/meal replacements can combine the best of 21st century technology with a true Primal intent: get me a fast, good-tasting source of protein without too many carbs or unhealthy fats. I generally look for products that have whey protein as the major source of protein, and that taste great when mixed only with water (so I don’t have to add sugary juices of milk just to choke them down). That way I can always throw in a piece of fruit (or not) for added calories or flavor. If I’m in a hurry and want a quick, high-protein start to my day, my morning protein shake takes less than a minute to make and covers the bases I need covered.

There are other supplements I might use if I had particular health “issues,” (e.g. phosphatidyl serine for memory loss) and I might go into those in detail sometime in the future.

I hope this post opens up the conversation to a topic I feel quite strongly about. If you have any questions or comments please drop me a line in the comment boards.

Further Reading:

Definitive Guides to:

The Primal Eating Plan

The Primal Blueprint

Grains

Fats

Cholesterol

Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes

Stress, Cortisol and the Adrenals

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134 thoughts on “Grok Didn’t Take Supplements So Why Should I?”

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  1. There are definitely a couple supplements I still take. Fish oils for one, calcium for another and a multivitamin (Cuurent is Damage Control Master Formula) to cover anything I might miss and boost antioxidants. Gone however are the days of taking 8 bajillion different pills of macro and micronutrients and bodybuilding supplements and fat burning pills and all that garbage. I generally try to do wihout protien supplements these days too, but I still have myself some whey isolate sometimes when I need to add protien to something or need a high protien snack.

    The SoG

    1. Fat-burning pills are nonsense. When people take them and they don’t work, they believe that nothing works – it gives nutrition for fat loss a bad name. Supplementation, on the other hand, is beneficial but ONLY if the supplements are high-quality and preferably derived from food sources (like fish oil, as you say). Otherwise you’re just getting expensive urine.

      1. You don’t have to bash on the fat burning pills because they work as advertised most of the time if you use them correctly. Well the good ones at least. The problem comes from the high demand of the pills which results in a wide variety from good to useless ones. There are many people and articles online which tell you how the pills work so you know what to expect (like this one: http://www.blenderchief.com/fat-burning-supplements-truth/ ).

        Perhaps you’ve had some bad experience with the fat-burning pills/supplements in the past but me and thousands of other people online aren’t just feeling the placebo effects so give them another try.

      2. Abel,

        My husband and I are reading your book “The Wild Diet.” We’ve been using Isagenix for a year now and are content with our results, but aren’t interested in using it exclusively. (Many of the things you talk about in your book are also used in the Isagenix mindset– i.e. adaptagenic herbs, high protein, and no refined, GMO crap foods). I’d love to get your thoughts on Isagenix products to see if the two could be paired in a way that would promote health. Side notes: My husband is also a musician raised in the 80s (although, he plays classical piano), and I love butter in my Isagenix coffee. 🙂

        Thanks,

        Katie

    2. Gone are the days when a one-size-fits-all approach is acceptable. Obviously food is the best source, followed by targeted and invidualized supplementation, followed by general recommendations with trial/error, followed by shotgun approach.

      We’ve put together an assessment that will let anyone start getting that targeted and individualized supplementation. Still a work in progress. http://primalidlife.com

  2. Man, this one is like a best of rather than a why we should supplement! Great post Mark. You bring up some great points here like why we need probiotics (I still eat dirt, so I’m all good there) in our supplementing routine.

    Also, just because we’ve established that Grok had the best overall natural approach towards a healthy and fit life, that doesn’t mean that we can’t expand on it with great supplements like The Damage Control Formula!!

    Thanks for the post!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  3. I think that’s one of the great things about the Primal Blueprint – it capitalizes on how our bodies were made and how our genes function. However, that doesn’t mean we CAN’T or SHOULDN’T also capitalize on present day technology/medicine or the fact that we do live in the 21st Century. If we can eat the way Grok did, exercise the way Grok did (and thereby follow how our genes were made), while supplementing our diet with things that naturally make us even healthier, then we get to take full advantage of the evolution of the human. I’m there!

  4. Good stuff. The antioxidant booster is almost a no-brainer. For instance, why spend $5 on a fancy “Pom/Blu/Acai” juice loaded with sugar when you could get twice the amount of antioxidants in a simple supplement?

    1. Why spend money on something created in a lab when you can eat something created by nature? Just wondering… do foods get better as you remove things from them? Do they get better as you refine things out of them? Cook them? No.

      Just two cents of common sense for everyone.

      1. Of course eating the foods containing theses supplements in their “natural state” is the best way to get the nutrients… But to get the amount of nutrients you need to be optimally nourished, you would have to eat a hell of a lot of fruit and veggies nowadays, as the nutrient content has dramatically decreased compared to the time of Grok! And you are not refining a food to get a supplement, it’s not a valid point. In example on a pack of, for instance, vitamin C, it doesn’t say “pure refined oranges” Ha ha!

  5. Great post I never knew about probiotics. I take glucosamine I can feel a difference if I don’t take it for a couple of days. I also take a little creatine looking forward to others opinions on that. And of course antioxidants, protein, and fish oil. With our lives today I feel supplements are somewhat necessary.

  6. Phil, creatine is interesting. It’s a naturally occurring substance involved in ATP energy production. We do get some in our diet, especially in a diet that includes red meat. Creatine supplementation has been shown to increase the supply of ATP for short anaerobic bursts, which basically means that it doesn’t directly make you stronger, but you can do 12 reps of a weight you maybe used to do 10 of. This might translate into muscle gains insofaras the extra “work” performed may be sufficent to prompt genes to increase strength and possibly size. Also, creatine is a cell volumizer, which means it draws fluid from outside the muscle cell spaces into the cell, making it appear larger. Great for body builders, but not of any consequence to a PBer. This osmostic difference may also explain why some athletes get cramps easily when on creatine. They can basically become dehydrated.

    I have used creatine in the past for six weeks on and 8 weeks off (the cycling is so you don’t get “acclimated” to the effects). Ultimately, at 55 I’m probably not going to keep getting stronger as I get older, so I stopped using creatine years ago (and even then I only used it for about a year). It is probably quite safe when used in doses less than 5 grams a day.

  7. Supplementation in this day and age is a total no-brainer. You can be the type that wants to live totally naturally – organic, local, CSA foods; 8 hours of sleep every night; perfect workouts that you never skip; daily sunlight; minimal stress etc. etc. – and STILL know that you can benefit from high potency antioxidants. The fact is that even if you are living a perfectly healthy life (and I don’t think anyone can say that) you can still benefit from fish oils and other supplements. I haven’t tried your vitamins, Mark. I may go ahead and give your cheaper version a shot. (I’m sure Damage Control Master Formula is worth every penny, but I’m poor these days!!!)

    1. My solution to the cost is that I take 1/2 the recommended dosage. That way I am still getting some of the unique vitamins in the Damage Control mix. There is a lower cost version but it is missing some of the vitamins I still wanted to take. But, in the beginning, I took the full dose for about 6 months.

  8. Mark,

    I too would be interested in a more in-depth look at creatine supplementation. I can totally see how it would not really fit in with the primal blueprint. However, if there is an added benefit to taking it then could a PBer consider supplementing with it? Would Primal Nutrition ever consider carying a creatine suplement and why or why not? I know that Mark McManus swears by it. Future post perhaps?

    The SoG

  9. oh, I don’t see magnesium on the list.
    I drink a lot of coffee and I thought it’d be a good idea to add Mg, do you think it’s needed or I just got persuaded by marketers to buy something unnecessary?

  10. SoG, I try to manufacture unique products that I believe everyone can benefit from. Creatine is a “commodity” product, available anywhere and you can usually fnd several brands competing on price alone. No company makes a product like Master Formula or Proloftin (mostly because the ingredients are so wickedly expensive).

    zbiggy, ironically if you remove grains and legumes from your diet, your requirement for calcium and magnesium go way down. The higher RDAs of these minerals reflect the little-known fact that phytates in grains and legumes bind with minerals and prevent their uptake. Get rid of the phytates and your absorb far more minerals from veggies and fruits.

    1. I read in a MONSTER cookbook ‘Nourishing Traditions’ that with the traditional thorough preparation of legumes, phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are neutralized. I’m writing this 1 1/2 years on from your comment so maybe you already know this. That would bring beans, lentils and chickpeas back on the menu. The author also speaks of soaking oats overnight; in fact of reverting to the _traditional_ practice of soaking/fermenting all grains. I have no idea about this stuff so would welcome your comments. (I’ve bought three copies of ‘primal’ — two for friends on the basis of reading the first few chapters!, plus one cookbook for me!)

  11. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for this article. I have been taking your Basic Assurance and Vital Omega supplements daily for nearly the last 3 months or so, and I have noticed that small signs of inflammation –like the occasional boil on my face– have totally disappeared. This was inspite of the fact that my food pyramid closely resembled the PB recommendation, and my produce and meat was primarily organic and fresh from my local farmers market.

    The fact that I used to observe small signs of inflammation even though I was on a PB plan (both diet and exercise), and that these signs have since disappeared since I started with an anti-oxidant and omega-3 supplement, certainly suggests that they make a difference. I think that this article is great in explaining why they make a difference.

    Thanks once more!
    Apurva

  12. I might buy your arguments if you can reconcile the need for supplements with the diets of the inland Inuit who never ate fish but lived on Caribou and didn’t have a whole lot of sunshine for 6 months of the year, the plains Indians who as I understand it pretty much ate buffalo meat and nothing else, the fur traders who lived for long stretches on nothing but pemmican (dried muscle meat and rendered fat), and Stefannson who ate nothing but meat and fat during his year long Bellevue experiment and survived quite nicely when all the doctors gave him three weeks before he would croak. Taubes in Good Calories Bad Calories points out that meat alone is sufficient.

    1. Actually, Mr. Taubes poses this example of Vilhjalmur Stefansson as one of many examples of the phenomenon of meat-only/high fat diets being perfectly salubrious to some people.

      He nowhere says that “meat alone is sufficient,” for everyone, everywhere, at all times. It is irresponsible of you to assert this. The oversimplification damages Mr. Taubes’s efforts to question the Empire of Carbs and spur new and better dietary research.

      For starters, don’t you think that Mr. Stefansson’s robust physique and Icelandic genome might have had SOMETHING to do with the foods on which he might thrive, and your Aunt Emma might not?

      1. Original articles written by Vilhjalmur Stefansson are available on the Web and describe in details that is must be not just a muscle meat, how he went through it and returned to it in his late years, and the long medical study of influence of meat-only diet on a health, with two subjects: V. Stefansson himself and another, common man.

        Ans remember that it was before the age of pollution, toxic fish, depleted soils and industrial agriculture. Now eating something free run or grass fed (not in Los Angeles with Whole Foods 🙂 ) and nuts is unaffordable luxury for most. Well, cheer up! Do what still is possible.

    2. Plains Indians and Inuit had a steady diet of organ meat, especially liver, which provides the nutrients we need to take supplements for. Same with Stefansson.

    3. The Innuit,deprived of carbs,had to eat
      raw animal organs to get their Vitamin C
      & devoured plant foods when found due to a hunger for carbs.Try living a whole month on meat then come back & report your findings.Just meat alone for a month,see what happens

  13. MAC, agree that under certain circumstances no one “needs” supplements. I’m a good driver and I don’t need to wear my seatbelt. I might never need it, but I choose to have it as an added layer of protection.

    Meat alone might be sufficient to survive, but not to thrive. All the references you make are legit. I would argue that 1) almost all ate every part of the animal (fat, organs, even bone) and derived vits/mins/antiox/O3s – we don’t 2) All those people ate of animals that were NOT grain fed, but grassfed. 3) We have multiples of the “made-up” stressors they had, and stress is a major depleter. 4) Sure, I could live without supplements, but I prefer to use this technology to enhance my already-pretty-good-but-not-quite-perfect diet. The fish oil, for example, makes it so much easier for me to spend a little less time and money sourcing grassfed meat for every meal.

  14. Thanks for the detailed response regarding creatine Mark.

    One other dilemma I’ve been having lately is whey vs hemp protein. Recently I’ve become very “holistic/naturopathic”, and I’m curious about your opinion on hemp protein. I normally take whey but I’m thinking about switching after I finish my one month juice fast.

  15. I agree with all your rec’s…from low stress/cortisol exercise to probiotics and everything in between. Good post!

  16. Phil, nothing wrong with hemp. I just prefer whey for its higher biological value and the fact that it mixes easily and absorbs quickly. Go for it on the hemp deal.

  17. Thanks for the great post. I have recently been following the ways of Grok. For some reason I have been cramping up. Different places different times. My side, feet, hands, upper arm and upper thigh. Any tips for getting ride of them?
    Thanks

    1. ribose gets rid of cramps. It is part of all DNA, of your protein making machinery and your cellular energy molecule ATP.

      Muscles need ATP to relax, and this sugar is the rate-limiting molecule in making ATP. (It is not used as sugar, but as a building block).

      Ribose is available as a pure substance from several manufacturers at any health food store. I am never without it.

  18. Grok didn’t take supplements, live in a house with a programed heating system & water on demand, wear clothes made from spun cotton, nylon, and polyester, eat food flown in from all parts of the world year-round, be custom fitted with plastic and/or glass lens to help him see better, fill his teeth with hi-tech material to prevent further rotting, rebuild damaged knees, read books, or spend time in cyberspace, etc. See where this is going?

    Yes, you can argue that supplements are as un-primal as any of the above; however, just because these weren’t available for Grok, doesn’t mean that we should avoid things that enhance and optimize our lives–as in health, fitness, and spirituality. Most grocery store food, including most produce, is lacking in nutrients, either b/c of how it was grown, picked unripe for transportation, or picked so long ago that many of the nutrients have already oxidized (e.g. next time you cut an apple in half, notice that there is a relationship between how soon it turns brown and already oxidized vitamin C levels.)

    Let’s face it: we’re all most likely visiting Mark’s great blog because of an interest in health and fitness. The key question to ask is not if something was an absolute in Grok’s life, (i.e., supplements), but whether something can enhance your Primal Blueprint (read: genes) and then consider how it fits into the Primal Lifestyle. In other words: optimize & maximize your Primal Blueprint so that you can live to you maximum given health & fitness potential.

    As for myself, I try to be orgainic and local when possible, but living in Alaska this is difficult, especially in the winter with most of my food shipped here from all all areas of the globe. This is exactly why I believe that supplementation is a must. As just one example, because I can’t make any vitamin D from solar energy from October through April I need to supplement with that life-giving nutrient–I would be crazy not too considering all it’s implications with health.

    Your’s optimizing health & fitness,

    Calvin

    1. Having said all that, supplanting real world engagement with online activity, flying food in from all over the world and wearing nylon are expensive consumerist desires/whims, not necessities for thriving.

      Your observation in no way speaks to whether supplements are NECESSARY. All you say is that within your realm of consumer choices, you find them desirable.

    2. You bring up a good point Calvin. Just because a caveman didn’t do it doesn’t mean that we need to adhere to that lifestyle. Especially when there are things we can do that can benefit our bodies via supplements.

      I think the whole dirt thing is a little off too. I will concede and say that our gut flora is no where near where it should be but I would say it’s a great thing we don’t eat dirt and in fact DO wash our hands. Despite all that is out there medically, it’s still the number one way to avoid infection. Having our hands free of dirt is also a good way to avoid botulism and tetanus as well as any other parasites as well.

      I’ll take my chances with a probiotic supplement or yogurt any day.

  19. Very well put Calvin! The fact is that Mark provides his knowledge and creative point of view on health and fitness EVERYDAY… for free for God’s sake!! Whether or not it all makes sense 100% of the time is in my mind irrelevant. You’d be hard press to prove (with scientific, meaningful studies to back it up) that his advice does anything but help people lead a healthier life.

    Mark, thanks for educating us every day!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  20. Hi Mark.
    Love this site. I’ve been living PB for a couple months now and feel great! My husband is to, and so is he. Have you come across any research in regards to CLA and if it is effective or just hype? Thanks for all the great work!

  21. MAC–You bring up some good points; I think you would enjoy reading Weston Price’s “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”. The results of his landmark studies show that people eating a traditional diet, regardless of latitude, or proximity to the ocean all exhibit excellent health. His research found that the common denominator in all these diets, besides healthy food the way nature intended (read: not devitalized processed foods) was abundant vitamin and mineral content. Moreover, he found that the fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K,(he called it activator X), are especially important for robust health. Just like Mark’s reply, Price’s research found that eating meat (muscle tissue) without healthy doses of fat, organ meat, and marrow is not enough to thrive–it’s the whole enchilada. You might toss in some bugs and grubs too–but I think I’d rather take a few supplements.

    Also, I too would argue that you might be able to get the all the nutrition that you need from diet alone, but in this day-and-age, that is getting to be exceedingly difficult (grain-feed/finished versus grass-fed, distance transported, organic versus non-organic, anyhow, modern food in most forms is not Primal–read: breeding, genetically modified, etc.).

    Furthermore, I would argue that it is almost impossible to have optimal health and genetic expression without supplementation in post-modernity–read: current lifestyles/living conditions. For example, chemical pollution (not even counting modern stressors) are ubiquitous. From this perspective alone, we all need more antioxidants and detoxifiers to achieve optimal health.

    Is supplementation necessary to just get by, absolutely not, but for the optimum expression of our genes, so that we can live the fullest, healthiest lives that we can—absolutely.

    Andrew–Greetings from Alaska (I eat lots of traditional foods from the land & sea, but I still supplement) and thanks for you complement. BTW, I like your blog . . .

    In health & fitness to all,

    Calvin

    1. The problem with all that biodynamic-cult stuff is that what the Westonites call “traditional” diet is in fact a very recent high-tech food system.

      That is when you consider that the agronomic breeding of crops is an extremely recent phenomenon in human evolution, and involves tinkering with plants and animals to meet our desires, rather than our needs.

      If people were robust prior to the SAD, it was no doubt due to the fact that disease culled those with any flaws in their genome. To put it another way, natural selection is a far harsher eugenicist than anything humans ever came up with.

      What you and Mark call “optimum expression of your genes” and “living full healthy lives” is on YOUR terms, not nature’s. Nature doesn’t care one way or another whether we live full healthy lives. In fact, population ecology seems to indicate that the best thing that sick organisms can do is sigh back into the soil to provide raw materials for other organisms. This conflicts profoundly with The Human Drama as we construct and reify it.

      Life is simply an encoded tendency for the material to recycle itself autonomously in certain patterns. Anything else is culture. I’m all over trying to live smarter, but let’s not corrupt science into some anthropocentric Promethean pursuit of ubermenschly consumerism.

  22. Hi All,

    I also take L-Glutamine which seems to give me more energy (and I’ve heard it’s good for weightlifting).
    As well as fish oils with high EPA and DHA.

    Anyone have opinions of L-Glutamine? I am also trying to stop binge drinking, and this seems to help with this too. Binge drinking – not very primeval!

    Thanks

    Dean

    1. On the contrary, the seasonal consumption of alcohol is likely one of the most primeval behaviors of mammals. Cervids and birds in all biomes have been observed pursuing rotted tree fruit in order to get drunk off their asses, and caribou in northern Finland are regularly observed pawing at the snow to unearth Amanita muscaria, which they ingest, then lie under trees, staring. I personally am not big on the recreational consumption of intoxicants…but I would never claim that these behaviors are “not very primeval.”

  23. I too use the Lglutamine, espec after an intense lifting session or workout! Helps with recovery I find.

  24. Hi Mark,
    What are your thoughts on glutathione supplemenation?

    I feel like I’ve got the bases covered with a good diet, Damage Control MF, Omega 3 (Krill or Fish) and D3 boosters in the winter. I may start some K2 as well.

  25. CLA does have some good research, but not enough to convince me to spend money on it when other supplements are cheaper and better. l-glutamine is a common amino acid that might have “recovery” benefits (but in the PB, we don’t work out that hard to require extra)and a therapeuitc dose is like 7-15 GRAMS. Glutathione supplementing is a good idea, but no company has yet proved that glutathione makes it intact past the gut and into the bloodstream. I didn’t even mention my single favorite nutrient Phosphatidyl Serine, one we all need, we all lose as we age and which we don’t get much of in our diet.

    Lots of great questions. Guess I may have to do another supplement piece some day! In the meantime, my intent was simply to suggest that SOME amount of supplementation makes sense in the context of the Primal Blueprint.

    1. Mark

      You lost crdibility with me when you included a brochure for supplements with my copt of the Primal Blueprintand now I am receiving emails pushing pills and supplements. I am not impressed and your whole approach to primal nutrition is undone to me due to your interest in supplements.

      I almost sent the book back but the psotage from Australia makes that impractical so I think that it will gather dust in my bookshelf.

      Of course if you were to reverse the credit card payment I wouldn’t complain.

      1. Comley, presumable you bought the book because you wanted the information in it. Thousands of people have read it already and many have said it exceeded their expectations. I think you’ll find the same.

        The fact that you got a brochure for supplements with your book doesn’t alter the contents of the book. The emails you are receiving happen to cover an aspect of health regarding nutrients. Some will cover exercise, etc. I would hardly say anyone is “pushing pills and supplements” on you. You can always ignore that. But many PB’ers do supplement (which was the reason for the above post)

        The MDA site is fully subsidized by my supplement company at great expense. The information on it is free to all. I would hope you didn’t hold against me the fact that I advertise one of my products instead of another company’s or Google’s adwords.

        1. I think you’re doing a great job. You do offer your products, but I have never felt like you’ve included them as a requirement in your prescription for health – something you could easily do. You’ve always said that following the basic principles of not eating crap and having sensible life practices will lead to a much better and happier life and it’s still true. I think you’re deserving of your success! Thanks for all that you’ve shared so openly.

  26. Mark, what is your opinion of Soy protein? The more I read, then more I hear about Soy being the death of all of us because of the phytoestrogens and processing to make it palatable, with the exception of fermented soy products. As a result, I avoid like the plague anything with the word “soy” in it. Comments?

  27. I have a question about commercial multivitamen supplements. Is there anything in them that might cause a Celiac discomfort that you are aware of? I ask because I have troubles with some brands but I can’t identify any ingredient that should be a problem.

  28. I teach my client to look at supplementation as just that – supplementary to real food. In a perfect world we’d all eat seasonal organic produce of the highest quality and finest macro/micro-nutrient balance. But it’s not a perfect world!

    While it’s important not to get caught up in the fear of ‘missing out’ and thus popping ridiculous amounts of pills n potions, good quality supplements are an important part of each of our diet’s.

    Personally I believe that if you had to choose just one or two then a great mercury free fish oil is crucial, and some sort of super-food such as spirulina. I’ve been using the Isagenix system with great success – it’s the first grass-fed organic protein I’ve come across in Aus, and is perfect for those in-between meals as well as a breaky on the run. Sure beats a coffee and a croissant!

    Keep up the great writing Mark – don’t know how you manage to produce so much content each week!

  29. Mark – thanks for this post – this really helps me answer the question I put to you a while back about whether our increased access to fruit and veg offsets the more stressful life and toxin exposure. It seems like the point about modern plants being robbed of their former nutritional glory would justify the need for supplementation.

    So on balance I am convinced. One thing that does worry me, though, is the idea of taking what you describe as a ‘high-potency multi-vitamin’ – with so many different vitamins in some of these supplments and so much also coming from food sources, and so many complex interactions at play, I worry whether somewhere along the road there will be one vitamin or mineral whose balance I get wrong (i.e. too much) by taking such supplements – do you consider this when selecting your multi-vit supplements?

  30. Methuselah, as you know, I take the vitamins I designed. (I made them for me and a few thousand friends) I choose the various ingredients and I account for differences in requirements, how rapidly they are depleted and how well or not they absorb. B12, for instance, absorbs so poorly, that we give you 10,000 % the DV, knowing you’ll only really get 3-4% of it (and pee out the rest). There are complex interactions as you say, but many of these are positive synergistic interactions as when C and E recycle each other or when different antioxidants work in different parts of the cell metabolism.

  31. Thanks Mark – you may be surprised to know that in spite of being a regular visitor and contributor to the comments of this blog, I had never actually been to your Primal Nutrition site (until today). So although, as you mentioned at the start of this post, I knew you sold supplements, I guess I never really put 2 and 2 together and realised you made the supplements yourself. Since until now I have been of the opinion that I could get everything from food, I have never taken much interest – I suspect I will now be paying more attention to that side of things…!

  32. Dave: the average lifespan drops dramatically because of deaths in childbirth, trauma, infections, etc. R.G. Cutler, et al have estimated Grok’s maximum lifespan (if all went well) at 94 years.

  33. I love the probiotic chocolate bars in the grocery store. They are pretty low in carbs and calories but high in probiotics which since I am lactose intolerant and can’t eat much yogurt these are great. I don’t know the maker but they are found around the yogurt area of the store in the fridge.

  34. I must admit that the arguments here are plausible. However, I have a number of concerns when it comes to supplementation:

    1) Supplements are human engineered and are therefore susceptible to flaws when it comes to formulating the concentration of nutrients in these pills. Consumers could be susceptible to toxicities of these MICROnutrients.

    2) Pure concentrated nutrients do interfere with the absorption of other vitamins and minerals -such as those you naturally acquire from food!. Again, vitamins and minerals are supposed to be consumed in trace amounts!

    Most importantly…

    3) Natural nutrient sources provide complementary cofactors that allow for the optimal absorption of consumed foods (so that you just don’t pee out most of the nutrients you’ve ingested). Most of these cofactors (like those that help lycopene absorption from tomatoes) are undiscovered and are therefore NOT in supplements.

    4) Supplements are called “supplements” for a reason. You take them if you do not have a well-balanced diet or if you have special needs (i.e. pregnant). Otherwise, you’ll just be making waste of your hard-earned living (literally!)

  35. New to the site and have a question about fish oil supplements: I’ve seen those that have Omega 3 as well as those that have Omega 3 AND Omega 6. From what I’ve briefly read online, our modern diets as a society have plenty of Omega 6 already. Should I then be avoiding the combo 3 and 6 fish oils and get one with just Omega 3?

    Thanks!

      1. Mark, how many grams of fish oil do you use or recommend daily. I’ve read that 4g is optimal for lowering triglycerides. How much omega 3 can the body absorb at one time, so as not to waste expensive omega 3’s by taking too much at one time.

  36. Hi Mark,
    I’m a skinny guy trying to add on weight using your weight gain method. It’s true that I don’t eat a lot. I’m an actor waiting tables on NYC, so there you go. I joined crossfit and it is kicking my ass. Something thing I came across the times. I’m not trying to debunk you but there is just so much conflicting reports that it just leaves me confused. Here is a link to the article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/health/17well.html?emc=eta1

    Do you have any more advice to gain weight? muscle not lard.
    Thanks and really appreciate your commitment to positive gene expression.

    1. Nirmal, for every study that debunks multi-vitamin use, I can show you one that supports it. Ultimately, most of these studies are set up to fail, since vitamin intake is but one variable in a complex human life. From everything I research, I am more and more convinced that appropriate supplementation is of greater benefit than not doing so.

      As for gaining muscle, we have written a few pieces here. This would be the place to start. https://www.marksdailyapple.com/gain-weight-build-muscle/

      1. If you mix your whey protein with coconut milk and a little water it is really good. I got the idea from Robb Wolf. I mix about 1/3 can of coconut milk with a few ounces of water and a scoop or two of peanut butter and chocolate flavored protein powder that is sweetened with splenda. It is thick and very tasty, low carb too.

        P.S. I use the full fat stuff from Thailand.

        1. Hey I drink the same smoothy (and I lived in Thailand for 3 years) ..
          Be careful which peanut butter you use and try Stevia rather then Splenda……What a great drink for peanut butter lovers around the world.

  37. Regarding vitamin supplementation, even specialists in human biology and biochemistry do not fully understand how the body works because there are so many nutrients, proteins, and enzymes involved that often have multiple uses and interact in extremely complicated ways (ever look at those biochemistry flow charts? …and those are just measuring short-term effects).

    Therefore, all attempts to determine optimal levels of nutrients in supplements are highly suspect — the best we can do is note that certain gross deficiencies cause disease and guess the optimal levels using prior beliefs. The most compelling scientific guess for the optimal levels of nutrients to consume is to use the levels obtained by primal humans. This is a good guess because it’s reasonable to assume that humans adapted to this diet/lifestyle. This is what is so compelling about the primal blueprint in general. Of course, the conclusion to draw from this is that if you have a primal lifestyle, supplementation is at least as likely to be harmful (to both health and wallet) as helpful.

    I believe it’s prudent to wait for overwhelming scientific evidence that particular supplements promote health before using them. There are two types of situations when supplementation would be called for.

    First, if a placebo-controlled study involving only participants with a healthy diet and lifestyle were to show that altering our nutrient intakes from the primal blueprint lead to less disease, this would indicate that supplementation is prudent. Mark, are you aware of any such studies?

    Second, if there is reason to believe a particular individual has a specific deficiency, then supplementation may be called for. For this reason, vitamin D may be a prudent supplement for many people to take since it is obtained primarily from the sun (though getting it from the sun is probably preferable). Also, if a doctor diagnoses a deficiency of a particular nutrient, that would also obviously motivate supplementation. There may be a case to be made that seniors should supplement because their digestive systems may not be functioning close to optimally anymore, but this should still probably be done under the guidance of a doctor.

    I personally think that a basic (100% RDA) multivitamin may be prudent, but only to prevent a fluke deficiency disease, not to try to optimize health. It’s my understanding that the benefits of even a basic multivitamin are controversial, but at least it’s probably harmless because the levels of the nutrients are not megadoses.

  38. As a pharmacist and specialist in supplementation and alternative medications I can tell you that when properly implemented – supplementation can be very beneficial.

    I’ve seen this not only in my own life but also others. The trick is though, to weave through the minefield of information and claims out there.

    Mark is right. Antioxidants are important.

    One problem I see though, is that too many people (not on this blog) substitute supplementation in place of sound nutrition.

    1. Do you know of any large double-blind placebo-controlled trials on people with healthy lifestyles that show a statistically significant effect on mortality or disease occurrence? It’s my understanding that all such trials have had disappointing results.

      I think it’s inadvisable to supplement based on anecdotal evidence from benefits that are just as likely to have been the result of the placebo effect as anything else.

  39. I just wrote an article about supplements on my blog. I can’t agree more. I try to get my nutrients from good natural food but they just aren’t nutritiously dense like they should be, so I supplement. Great read!

  40. Any advise on getting started with probiotics? You mention only a need to take them occasionally. I guess I was thinking one a day for a week or two and then scaling back to once a week except when sick or stressed. Also, outside of higher sales can you comment on why most probiotics recommend daily use?

    The probiotic I chose to start with is Garden of Eden – Primal Defense Ultra.

    Great article, thanks for all the work.

  41. Awesome post Mark. I would take Fish Oils every now and then btu now i take a few of those per day along with eating more fish (wild caught of course). I am thinking about adding protein powder to my diet to help make up for any protein I’m not able to get in due to my hectic schedule. I know the stress isn’t ideal but what about if you thrive under stressful situations?

  42. Mark this site has tons of great information. Thank you for all your hard work. However I have to disagree with this post. For one the vitamins in supplements are artificially produced (artificial vitamins have been shown to be several times more toxic beyond certain concentrations than their natural counterparts – that should tell us something). Also supplements lack the ratios and trace elements that exist in nature to ensure our bodies absorb them the way we are ‘genetically designed to do’.

    Nutrients in nature exist as part of extremely complex bio systems and our bodies, complex bio systems themselves, are designed to interact with these complex systems as they exist in nature – not as they exist in the mind of a chemist.

    There are many micro nutrients and trace elements that exist along with the major nutrients in extremely precise ratios that affect how bio available, toxic and ‘healthy’ they are. Until very recently we could only detect those nutrients and elements that we already knew existed and therefore at best our knowledge of nutrients and macro-nutrients is very very basic. There are thousands of micro nutrients and trace elements that are crucial for our bodies and for the way our bodies deal with nutrients that we know nothing about beyond the fact that they might exist.

    To assume we are doing our bodies good by injecting it with man-made ratios of artificially produced nutrients that lack trace elements and micro-nutrients sounds very contradictory to the ethos of returning to our ‘natural’ diet.

    Instead of relying on synthetically produced nutrition to fix the issue, I believe it is wiser to ensure the fruits and vegetables, meats and other foods we consume are of the highest nutritionally dense quality and to consume those foods in the way our ancestors did – with very little going to waste. That is what gave them the benefit then and what will give us the benefit now.

  43. Love to get my nutrients from natural foods rather than rely on supplements.

    If you can count that the food is just one ingreadiant eg. a carrot you can’t go wrong with avoiding processed harmful foods.

    Thank for a good read

  44. Krill oil is superior to fish oil by many times.

    When buying a protein powder, try to get whey protein from organic grass fed cows.

  45. At the same time there are many, many issues with the supplements sold through the website.
    Isolated whey, being the first issue.
    The use of sucrose (if ever there was an ingredient that was not Primal it is this one).
    Probable synthetic ingredients.
    The list goes on…

  46. I supplement with magnesium to help fight diabetes. I also take vitamin D3, alpha-lipoic acid vitamin K2. CoQ10 will be added next as soon as I figure out how much I need.I choose my menus based on magnesium and of course, protein content.

  47. Hi Mark & People,
    Just got here by reading Mark’s attack article on grains elsewhere.
    There are four basic things people fail to notice in the fight to be alive today:
    1. What you think of as “grains”, aren’t. Especially “flour”.
    2. Supplements a waste of money. Better to spend it on real, live, (Biodynamic) natural foods.
    3. Meat was a foreign substance to our bodies long before it was “redesigned”.
    4. 90% of the world (far healthier and vastly tougher than us) basically eat grains (almost no wheat)as their principal food.
    AND they eat a fraction of what we do while they work much harder than a triathlete!
    Meat was your main killer. Fineground white flour has taken over.
    Hint: “If it’s white, or in a box, it is not fit for human consumption.”

  48. Mark,
    I recently switched over to the PB eating plan and have been on it for about 3 weeks. I haven’t noticed any major difference in my energy levels yet since I’ve always tried to ‘eat healthy’ and get 7-8 hrs. of sleep. The one thing that I have noticed, however, is that my turds now float when before they almost always sank! Is this tmi? I don’t know if you have ever heard of Edgar Cayce but he had a book that was titled Edgar Cayce’s Guide to Colon Care and in his book he mentions that when a person is eating correctly he will have fully formed stools that float! I would be curious if you or any of your PB followers have experienced similar experiences with their turds! Signed, FTM (Floating Turd Man, lol!)

    1. Turdman :^)

      From what I have read if your digestive tract is in good health and your diet right, your turds should float. Mine float like a battleship in dock!!

      >8^)

  49. hi mark, what do you think about thermogenic supplements? lipo6 or hydroxycut (containing yohimbe and caffeine)?

  50. I have a question about protein supplementation. My trainer has told me to take a protein shake immediately before and after my training. The problem I have is that he recommends mixing the powder with sugar, for example fruit juice. I would rather avoid all sugars but he insists that it helps the body absorb the protein. Thanks.

  51. Sugar actually prevents optimal absorption of all nutrients. Sugar should be kept minimal at best. Think of sugar as a glorified poison.

    1. Apparently the science behind it is the insulin spike makes absorption easier. I don’t touch sugars otherwise (except for fruits).

  52. Sugar takes up room in the body’s cells. The sugar takes up so much room that the cells can’t absorb nothing else. You want to be able to keep your insulin levels as stable as possible. If you were to monitor your blood glucose after consuming sugar, you might be shocked at how high insuline levels can climb just so that it can “push” sugar into your cells. Eventually your cells will become defiant or more commonly resistant.

  53. Mark: More questions! Any opinion on whey vs. casein? Casein protein is touted to stay in the system longer, I believe, but I don’t see any mention of it here.

  54. I have always taken supplements but just became serious about them within the past 2-4 years. As I learn about deficiecies and symptoms I am better able to figure out what I really need to be taking. I don’t want to guess with how much to take or what are the ideal companies. I want to encourage everyone to realize that if a supplement doesn’t perform the way you expected check on the type. For example, don’t expect magnesium oxide to perform as you expect, unless you need a laxative. Ionic magnesium ( liquid form ) has worked best for me with helping to maintain stable blood glucose levels. Taking vitamin D has been amazing at stopping seasonal allergies and is most beneficial when taken with magnesium, K2, zinc and vitamin A.I have not started taking vitamin A yet because I am not sure how much to take. I would appreciat any comments or observations, thanks.

  55. I always said “If you don’t eat a pound of dirt by the time you’re 10 you just aren’t right.”

  56. I have a question about potassium. Every time I fill in my daily foods on FitDay, I always seem to fall way short on potassium.

    I eat lots of vegetables, but it just doesn’t seem enough. It’s the only mineral that doesn’t even come close to 100% RDA (usually about 40-50%). I don’t eat a lot of fruits, and no real starchy veg, like potatoes, since I still have a lot of weight to lose and I’d like to keep my carb intake around 50 grams.

    Can anyone help with this? Should I supplement?

  57. I’ve been taking the “Damage Control Master Formula” for a few months now, and I’ve noticed that my urine is a very yellow color and has a distinct smell to it. Is this unusual?

    1. That’s probably just all the money you spent on vitamins that your body already had enough of.

  58. Exceptional post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!

  59. Thanks for your comment. I asked the people at MDA directly,and was told that it is the reaction Vitamin B has on the body. It is not unusual nor is it something to be concerned about. Does that answer your question?

  60. Just wondering if Mark or anyone has any tips on where i can get good supplements in Australia? I would love to order Mark’s all the time but the postage cost is a bit of a bummer. (Although i love the primal fuel- it’s delicious!)A name of a good multi and fish oil would be of great help thanks 🙂

  61. Hello Mark and Everyone else,

    I loved this article, but I am having a hard time trying to find affordable good quality supplements.

    I also have been experiencing some tingly hands and feet and some random muscle twitches and thought it may be because I have some sort of vitamin deficiency. Do you think this could be a possibility Mark?

    I would like to get on a vitamin regimend but don’t know which exact ones to take for my problems or what brands to buy in the store.

    Thank you for your post!

  62. Similar to some of the above posts – do any UK PBers have a recommendation of a good broad spectrum antioxidant available in UK?

    I have been using Dr L Wilson’s adrenal supplement range with some success for Chronic Fatigue – but they pack a hefty price tag.

    Half an hour on google has given me a couple that might work but I’m going cross eyed trying to compare all the ingredient lists. Part of the problem with CFS is the brain fog doesn’t let me deal with large amounts of data any more – Mark’s supplements aren’t available (that I can find) in the UK – and shipping from US tips them out of my reach unfortunately.

  63. It’s interesting to me that Omega 3 fights inflammation. I have an inflammation based autoimmune disorder (ITP) and was wondering if there are any other supplements I could take to reduce the symptoms (low platelets) or, ideally, put me in remission?

  64. And don’t forget Gork also went hungry too. Which puts less stress on our bodies. And health supplements can’t replace a good diet.

  65. I would love to take supplements but I have a hard time swallowing them. Horse pills are way to big for me. They get stuck. Are there any supplements smaller or chewable?

  66. I believe that for most people supplements are nonsense. If you focus on eating real food, you’re going to get everything you need. Most people in the world don’t take any supplements and they’re healthier than Americans taking 10 magic pills a day. It’s because it’s all about diet and exercise, not about supplementing crap with stuff that is supposed to magically improve your health.

  67. Mark,
    What is your opinion on hydro whey peptides? I’ve recently been reading your book and getting into the world of the PB diet. You mention in your book that isolate whey protein is your preference. I am currently taking 100% gold standard whey (it includes both whey protein isolates and hydro whey peptides). I’m not sure on the difference and What is your opinion?

  68. Isn’t a high protein intake linked with high IGF-1 levels, and isn’t this known to be a disease driver in breast, prostate, and other common age-related cancers? And is it not true that protein restriction rather than supplementation is linked to longevity in animal and human studies (e.g. Okinawans)? Atkins got this wrong and paid the price. He also did untold damage to the environment. Read The China Study or Dr McDougall’s The Starch Solution to get the facts about modern nutritional science.

  69. I’m definitely into probiotics and have been drinking this since my teens. It helps with mild stomach discomfort caused by eating all sorts of junk food! And as I got older, probiotics helped with controlling yeast infection. So this is great advise and will look into the other supplements on your list. Thanks!

  70. Hi Mark,

    I used to supplement with whey but after I learned about paleo/primal living I thought it would be best to avoid it (as a dairy product) and switched to egg protein. Now I found that you make a whey protein and I am confused. Can you elaborate some more on why whey is not a problem for primal living?

    Furthermore I would like to know the best way to obtain your products in Europe!

    Regards,
    Androklis

  71. Great article, Mark! Lots of great links to read through later. I’ve spent many years trying to get strong with heavy lifting and it’s only in the last year or two that I’ve realized the value of focusing on just a few lifts.

    What’s your opinion on circuiting sets in combination with heavy lifting? For example, a set of squats, a slight rest, then a set of pull-ups, a slight rest, then a set of presses, then repeat for the desired number of sets for each exercise.

  72. I’ve been on the diet for one month. I’ve lost about 12 lbs and have never felt better. It’s been so easy, I’m never hungry. Did Weight Watchers before and was never successful for long. I was always hungry,miserable and working out to excess. I needed to find a healthy diet that I could live on and follow for life! Currently, I’m taking Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 (suggested by my MD). The only concern that I have is should I be taking a Calcium supplement? I’m a female in my late 40’s and I used to eat plenty of yogurt, cheese and milk (not anymore) Thank you!

    1. The female skeleton stops storing most Ca++ at about 30. But it is still recommended you keep your intake up for healthy heart function (Ca++ makes the heart beat) to maintain levels. Ca++ supplements are too potent for me to consider them safe. If you are prone to low iron levels DO NOT take them. I figure a glass of Ca++ fortified milk is way easier, safer and cheaper than a pill. Trust me it won’t kill you. It has more minerals and vitamins than water and is excellent for hydration. Just drink a few hours apart from eating red meat or leafy green vegetables (us women must keep out iron up). And then take the money you would have spend on supplements and treat yourself to a new workout CD. The vitamin D will help with osteoporosis prevention though so for once I’d say take the pills if your doctor has suggested them and you are struggling to get enough from sunlight (being winter and all).

  73. Hi Mark:
    I have a question specific to women’s supplementation. I’m wondering about a post-workout protein suppliment or snack. Can you make some suggestions or suggest some reading?
    Thank you!

  74. Hey all,

    I’ve been trying to find this out, but maybe someone can shed some light. I take a multivitamin from GNC. Just the regular MegaMen. Anyone have some input on whether I should be moving in another direction or are these fine?

    Thanks!

  75. Hi Mark,
    Would you be interested in reviewing our main product, IgY Recovery Proteins. It is not the type of protein normally offered. It is helps the immune system work more efficiently. It is Paleo friendly, NSF For Sport Certified (independently tested Safe) and patented. No charge for anything of course.

  76. Hi,

    Primal man was out in the sun! His naked body absorbed vitamin D3.

    We in the West don’t get the sun for most of the year! We need vitamin D3! “Tons” of it!

    I take 30,000 units a day.

  77. As a physician with an interest in Neuroscience, I would add one other important supplement. Measure your homocysteine level and if it is above 8, take L-methylfolate as a supplement.

    Folic acid cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier and you need folic acid in your brain to make monoamine neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepineprhine and serotonin. Folic acid has to be converted to L-methylfolate, the only form of the vitamin that can pass into the brain. People with a high homocysteine level don’t produce enough L-methyfolate. The simple work-around is to take L-methylfolate as a supplement. It has even been approved as a treatment for depression under the brand name of Deplin.

    Also, limit your intake of sugar, HFCS, grain based high glycemic carbohydrates and omega 6 fatty acids. These toxic components of processed foods seem to deplet the brain of monoamine neurotransmitters leading to a form of food-induced brain dysfunction called Carbohydrate Associated Reversible Brain syndrome or CARB syndrome.

  78. I realize this is technically a question about the competition, but what do you think of Jigsaw Complete? Primal has more B, more forms of E, K2, and CoQ10. Jigsaw has 3g omega-3, eliminating the need for a separate fish oil. I currently take Jigsaw and CoQ10. My question is, do the extra vitamins make a health significant difference? They come at a much higher cost. Complete/CoQ10 costs $65/month while Primal/fish oil costs $150/month. Normally I wouldn’t ask this, but I’m impressed with how honest Mark is with his customers. I’ve already trusted the Primal Blueprint in completely changing my nutrition/exercise habits, and I haven’t regretted it.

  79. Something else that worries me is that calcium supplements may cause a mass of calcium to suddenly enter the blood stream and cause clots/strokes/heart attacks. Jigsaw always provides calcium in a separate pill you can choose not to take, but its unclear whether Primal does the same.

  80. I agree, there are so many healing properties of food but if a person is not ingesting a large amount of nutrients in a sitting, then supplements can really be beneficial to them. I love my tuna fish oil tablets and fiber supplements. However, I do think people need to make sure they are taking supplements made out of whole foods and botanicals, etc.

  81. Hi Mark,
    What are your thoughts on taking amino acid supplements? I’ve been taking l-tyrosine and 5-htp and they have had a tremendous impact on my mood. Or is your viewpoint to this matter, to just eat food containing those amino acids?

  82. I’m a big fan of the Omega 3 supplement’s I got on board after listening to an audio book where they listed off the health benefits and the sense of well being they promoted. Almost like a natural anti depressant 🙂

    Mark do you have any favorite Omega 3 fish oil brands?

    – Trevor

  83. Have you heard of or used Commander Go Pack from BMI or BMR? My local radio host has been promoting it all the time. I normally don’t take this kind of supplements just curious. Thanks,

  84. I like the part of the article where you mention : Grok ate dirt”
    I bet most people nowadays don’t like this free alternative anymore!
    Like you I prefer probiotics to support the digestive system 🙂

  85. I’m not sure I agree with not supplementing. I agree that if we could actually eat like our ancestors with the wide variety of plants, animals and microbes – maybe we wouldn’t need them. But can anyone guarantee me that the food I eat has the required nutrients? Most of it is grown in seriously depleted soils or hydroponically. Even the organic tomato bought at Whole Foods doesn’t look or taste like a garden tomato. I don’t have the time to spend growing my own food so I have to buy it. I try to get organic — but organic doesn’t mean “full spectrum nutrients” it just means no pesticides and chemicals. I take a multi-B, fish oil, minerals (calcium, magnesium and potassium) and Vita-D in the winter.

  86. Good stuff. The antioxidant booster is almost a no-brainer. For instance, why spend $5 on a fancy “Pom/Blu/Acai” juice loaded with sugar when you could get twice the amount of antioxidants in a simple supplement?

  87. I can definitely get behind the fish oil bit. I rarely eat enough fish in order to be healthy, which makes me definitely need high doses of fish oil every day. Combine that with the fact that most of the American diet is omega-6 heavy and you have a serious problem.

    Another note, sometimes krill oil might be a better idea. Because of the structure of the fatty acids, it is around 33% more well-absorbed. This means 1000 mg DHA / EPA from krill oil is going to have 33% more than a regular fish oil product. Add in the advantage of astaxanthin and you have a pretty good reason to switch over.

  88. Hi,

    I have a question about maltodextrin. I believe it’s one of the ingredients in your primal fuel, but I read somewhere that it’s bad.

    Basically, I have a packet of maltodextrin which I add to my protein shake to give me energy during workouts. I’m I stupidly adding high glycemic index carbs and sabotaging my efforts to be a fat burner as opposed to a carb burner?

    What would be a good replacement for a some energy during working out?

    Thanks!

    Warmest regards,
    Mark

  89. You implied that you would address how to spend time in the sun without sunscreen and without burning but the article you linked to only talks about how marathoners get more skin cancer. Now I am curious, ant advice would be great!

  90. Vibram five fingers shoes are being recalled due to them stretching out the toe abnormally and causing them to fracture or break.

  91. Things have definitely changed. Soils are depleted, Our food supply is just not as nutritious as it once was. I am glad to hear your take on protein powders, as I use them but wasn’t sure if I should since I try to avoid processed foods. But they made sense to me as a quick high protein meal when I just don’t have time for anything else. Thanks.

  92. Hey Mark, you said “We shower in water that is much too hot” and that hyperlink led to an article on cold water therapy and its benefits- cool
    but did you actually mean we shouldn’t be showering in hot water? Or much less? Cold water therapy has its benefits but I didn’t see anything stating hot water is bad.

  93. Hi! Thank you for this wonderful article. It’s very informative. I like how you elaborate how Grok got those nutrients and why we’re not getting them and how to fix that problem. The way you classify each supplements and how to integrate them in our lifestyle is pretty good too. It makes it seem much more simpler on how we could get the best nutrients/supplements.

  94. so the whole problem with all of this is that I believe in God, not evolution.