Dear Mark: Hempseed, Too Much Omega-3, and Vitamin D’s Halflife

It’s a lovely summer morning here in Malibu. The cool sea breeze keeps the coming warmth at bay, for now, and makes me glad for the hot mug of coffee I’m clutching. I’ve still got a couple hours before heading into the office, so I’m hoping that I can get this post wrapped up and edited in time to hit the water for a bit of paddle boarding. We’ll see. I’ll try not to rush things too much. Today we’ve got a quick round of questions on a diverse set of topics: the suitability of hempseed in the Primal way of eating, whether you can get too much omega-3, and how long vitamin D lingers in the body before you need to replenish your stocks. As always, feel free to keep the questions coming and I’ll do my best to get to them!

Hi Mark,

First off, thank you for the wealth of information you provide on MDA. This is an amazing resource for someone on a budget. Secondly, I was reading your Primal shopping list and I noticed that hemp seed is not listed under nuts. I’ve heard that hemp seeds are very nutritionally dense but would they be considered Primal? Thanks again for all the great information!



I covered hemp over a year ago. Here’s the post. It’s a fairly short, quick read that I still stand by, but I’d like to add something which I failed to mention last time. Hempseeds contain no phytic acid, the mineral-binding antinutrient common to most nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. This is extremely rare for a seed, and extremely cool because it means hemp seeds require no soaking to get rid of phytate.

Hempseeds are good tossed in a salad. They’ve got good levels of magnesium and contain ALA, the plant omega-3. Stick to whole hempseeds, rather than processed meal, and store them in your fridge or freezer to avoid any rancidity issues (since they’re high in PUFA, they’ll go bad pretty quick otherwise). Thanks for pointing out the omission, Andrew. The shopping list has been updated!

Thanks for your website and efforts. It really is excellent and I really appreciate all the work you must put in.

Is it possible to take too many omega three supplements?

Thanks again!


Yes. Remember that we talk about limiting polyunsaturated fats because they are inherently unstable and prone to oxidation (which can happen on the store shelf, on your counter, when cooking, or in your body), and omega-3s are in the same category.

Polyunsaturated fats – all of them – are fragile, and very powerful. Remember that the only essential fatty acids are the polyunsaturates, and that goes for omega-3. Be careful with the dosage, as several studies show that while a lack thereof is dangerous, an excess can also be harmful. One study found that pregnant rats with either an omega-3:omega-6 dietary ratio of 14:1 or a ratio of 0 (no omega-3 at all) gave birth to pups with impaired hearing; the excessive omega-3 group also had pups with retarded growth. Another study showed that when compared to a diet high in olive oil, a high omega-3 diet increased LDL oxidation in humans, most likely because of its inherent instability. It was overrepresented in the LDL particles, and the LDL particles were becoming more fragile.

Don’t forget why we take omega-3 in the first place. We’re not trying to cram as many in as possible. We’re trying to offset the imposing presence of omega-6 in the diet. Processed foods, vegetable oil, restaurant fare, and conventionally-raised animals all contain disproportionately large amounts of omega-6 fats. Fish is the best source of omega-3s, but few people eat much fish. And what fish they do eat is of the lean, low omega-3 variety, often covered in bread crumbs and deep fried in more vegetable oil. Adding omega-3 can help correct the skewed omega-3:omega-6 ratio, so if your omega-6 intake is abnormally high, or you’re trying to eat better after a lifetime of Standard American Dieting, taking higher initial doses of omega-3 has merit.

How much is too much? Don’t stray past a 1:1 omega-3:omega-6 ratio. If you keep your omega-6 intake low by avoiding seed oils like corn, canola, or soybean and processed junk foods, you won’t have to take much omega-3 to balance out the ratio and you won’t be in danger of taking in excess.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been following PB since the beginning of the year, and one of the most enjoyable recommendations to follow has been spending some time in the sun. I had previously been vaguely aware that sunshine promoted vitamin D production in the body, but I had no real appreciation of the scale or importance of this. Sadly, I live in the UK, with its notoriously changeable weather. Even during summer, many days may pass without a hint of sunshine. So my question is this – how long does vitamin D stay in the body? Will one longer session in the sun a week satiate my body’s needs, or should I be supplementing on cloudy days?




Well, according to one (older) study, 25OH(D) – which is the most basic measurement of vitamin D levels in the blood – has a half-life of a month. That’s a decent chunk of time, meaning vitamin D sticks around, and, provided you obtain enough during your sunning sessions, once a week might provide sufficient levels. One thirty minute session of full-body (no shirt, shorts, no sunblock) sun exposure when the sun is at its strongest, for example, can get you between 10-20,000 IUs of endogenous vitamin D production. If you get 20,000 IU a week, you’re way ahead of the game.

Of course, this all depends on your skin tone. If you lack melanin, you will make more vitamin D in less sunlight (a recent study showed that among healthy adults living in Toronto, darker skin was inversely associated with 25OH(D) levels). If your ancestors have been living in the same area for thousands of years, you’re probably adapted to that area’s UV-B availability. The only way to know for sure is to get your levels tested. Take the test, note your levels, and spend three or four months trying to obtain vitamin D from the sun alone; no supplements. You might even consider taking records of your sunbathing – time of day, hours/minutes spent, cloud presence, temperature – to really understand the conditions necessary for vitamin D production. Retest and see if your levels budge. The mechanism for storage definitely exists, so the key is finding out whether you’re making enough D in the first place.

That’s it for today, folks. Be sure to give the Workout of the Week a try if you’re game, leave a comment in the comment section, and thanks for reading!

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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88 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Hempseed, Too Much Omega-3, and Vitamin D’s Halflife”

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  1. …”but few people eat much fish.” Mark S.

    Since going primal and figuring out what I’m supposed to eat by Mother Nature (ancestry) I eat a ton of fish, even crave it.
    Before going primal I probably ate 1 slice of fish 1x a year and it was usually frozen, breaded fish sticks.

    Due to my high fish consumption, together with grassfed butter and different varieties of animal livers I was able to stop supplementing with Cod Liver Oils and High Vitamin Butter Oil.
    Those 2 supplements are very expensive and I’m glad I can take care of the nutrients through my diet alone.

    1. so true…grass fed beef and pastured eggs both offer a significantly better ratio of omega 3 to 6 I think

      1. Kind of. Pastured eggs and grass-fed beef do have more omega 3 but its not much at all.

        I still don’t personally worry about eggs. I just be reasonable with my consumption. 3 a day for a bit is great but not every single day for the rest of my life.

        Just stay away from all nuts/seeds outside of macas if you are worried about your balance!

    2. Has anyone looked into the long term exposure to PUFAs and how it down-regulates your metabolism? I thinkk is very important to look at this objectively. How it damages the function of your thyroid which is essential for lets say…everything having to do with your health.
      I havent use or will use any hemp products.

  2. I’m not light skinned, I’m just a vitamin-D production powerhouse

  3. England has been seeing a resurgence of rickets in the long bones of children due in part to improper use of sunscreens as mothers slather their kids with sunblock before they go outside. I often see people sitting in or standing beside their cars at the beaches & parks slathering up with sun screens before heading out to exercise.

    The proper way to use sun blocks so as to not impair your body’s vitamin D production is to get 15 to 20 minutes of good sun exposure and THEN apply the sun block to prevent burning. For people exercising in the outdoors this would mean having to carry some sun block with you so yo don’t have to return to your car to load up, so next time you see them at the store grab one of the little tubes of your favorite sun block. Some of them even have little carabiners so you can clip them to your clothes if you don’t have pockets or don’t like carrying it in a front or rear pocket.

    1. “England has been seeing a resurgence of rickets in the long bones of children due in part to improper use of sunscreens as mothers slather their kids with sunblock before they go outside.”

      Ironic. I was told a few years ago by a dermatologist that I wasn’t putting enough sunscreen on my kids and that a bottle should only last 8 times.

      1. @Alison Dermatologists are not scientists. Try not to be too disappointed when you don’t get science from non scientists or you’ll be miserable your whole life.

        1. This is a ridiculous comment. Dermatologists in the UK are specialist doctors and are therefore inherently scientific. I am a doctor and know many dermatologists.

          Rickets has been on the rise in the UK but not necessarily to do with the over use of sun block. The very fact that Kellogs have started fortifying cornflakes with vitamin D is because children aren’t eating vitamin D rich foods.

          1. Lol if you think doctors are scientific, you have a very poor understanding of scientists. They do not do imperial studies. They understand scientific articles very poorly except when dumbed down by pharmaceutical companies. I’ve had many doctors give bad, even deadly advise and completely misunderstand the meaning of studies and implications. (like you just did.) I’ve even ended up hospitalized due to doctors errors. More that 100,000 deaths here yearly due to doctor’s stupidity. They are not scientists any longer. Not practicing doctors. Maybe research doctors.

            I would never trust you. Go learn some real things that pharma didn’t sell you.

    2. Actually I’ve read that sunscreen takes 30 minutes to start working anyways. But since vitamin D takes 48 hrs to absorb through the skin any sunscreen will halt vitamin D production. Note that using soap will also wash away any vitamin D from your skin as well.

      To be honest, I was a little disappointed with Mark’s recommendation, since we already know the things that he’s suggesting readers track. I also think that supplementing is indeed necessary in England to get the optimal amount of 55ng/ml.

      Listen to for all the info.

  4. I’m a wicked white girl from Upstate NY and I go quite a few months without decent sun exposure. Was nice to read that a little can go a long way, especially in winter.

  5. I have gone off sunblock and haven’t used any at all this summer. My vitamin D levels are in the 60+ range and even spending 4 hours in the sun I have yet to burn. I am fair skinned and have been warned since birth to stay out of the sun or a I would die a horrible death due to skin cancer.

    So far I have been better off by seeking sun exposure rather then avoiding it. It is amazing how wrong people can be.

    1. I do not use sunscreen. I prefer to throw on a shirt if need be over my tank or swimsuit. people fear sun so much but what of the chemicals they are slathering all over themselves?

      1. I only use coconut oil on my skin, hardly ever gets even remotely red, although i may only be expose about 30 minutes in direct contact with the sun, and i am a pale dude!

        1. I have never used coconut oil as a sunblock or tanning agent. And when I am out in the sun for more than 30 mins, I either have to wear long clothes or apply sunblock every 60 minutes. And that is with a tan from shorter bouts in the sun.

    2. That’s a rather dismissive statement “amazing how wrong people can be”. Skin cancer doesn’t just pop up after sun exposure – it takes quite a while. I had plenty of sunburns as a kid in the ’70’s, have been burn-less in adulthood, and have had 2 melanomas and a basal removed this last year.

      Even when I was getting regular sun with minimal sunblock use my D34 levels were in the low 30’s. Supplementing with an oil-based D3 brought my level up to 54 in 6 months over the fall & winter months.

      Everyone’s circumstances are different; don’t be so quick to dismiss people as “wrong”. Moderation and common sense, as usual, are required.

  6. My question is how do you know what your ratio of omega 6 to 3 really is?

    For example take my lunch today. Pork and cabbage which I know was cooked in canola oil because it was not prepared by me. I also had a bit of salmon with the meal, maybe only 3 ozs? Because I had some salmon does that mean I can skip my cod liver oil supplement today – or was the amount of fish not enough?

    I’ve been taking cod liver oil everyday regardless and following the dosage instructions on the bottle.

    1. This is a big mystery to me too. It seems like pure guesswork. There’s a lot of variability in meat; pork can be high in O6 or more reasonable depending on how it is fed. Same with chicken. Pastured eggs are all over the place; some are very well balanced with orange yolks, and some that I get at the farmer’s market have pale yellow yolks like CAFO eggs, implying a worse O3:O6 ratio.

      How do you know the O3:O6 ratio of the food on your plate? How do you know the balance in your body? Is a tertiary marker like LDL our only indication? Does anybody know?

      1. I use every now and then. List your daily intake on the Tracking feature, and you can get a breakdown of your O6 and O3 consumption. You have to do the math to get the ratio, though.

        I find I need 4g of salmon oil (what I take, I don’t like generic “fish oil”–what’s that, exactly?) to balance out the O6’s on a typical 1800-2100 cal day. I wouldn’t count calories, but I’m a hard gainer and I need a reminder every now and then. 😛

      2. This might sound far fetched but I think my body is regulating the Omegas itself by sending me hunger signal for certain foods.
        I eat fish for 4-5 days in a row and I’m ready to gag. Then I crave chicken…when chicken is done I usually crave red meat. After tons of red meat (or organ meats) I am back to some kind of fish. Once in awhile I throw a rabbit in there. When I crave pork I’m usually just after some kind of fat. I have a 20 lbs bag of kidney fat in my freezer and just break off a junk the size of my fist, fry it up with rock salt and eat it.

        1. Also,..

          all my life I’ve wondered why I hate veggies so much. I never thought about ancestry having an impact on someones health. People from polar regions need more fat than someone from a tropical island near the equator.
          I always thought since I look more like my Dad (Balkan) I can tolerate things like olive oil and plant matter all together. Been sick my entire life with digestive problems that could kill half the planet, if all were in 1 room =P.
          Now I eat like my Mothers ancestors (Lapland) with lots of blubber (fat), fish, livers (D3), reindeer (elk, cow), arctic hare (rabbit) and the occassional bird (chicken, turkey), with minimal vegetables and fruit, and feel outstanding.

        2. That’s known as intuitive eating.
          If lots of various foods are available I usually eat the same way, making sure I get what I think I need but otherwise eating what I crave or whatever seems tastiest at the time.

        3. That’s really interesting. There is a cancer doctor who is getting great results and part of the regimen includes metabolic testing of the patients using hair samples. He then designs a diet that is either vegetarian to partially vegetarian or meat-based. The meat eaters are his “Eskimos” and he claims they do very poorly on a vegetarian diet.

          My only problem now is that I am 1/4 Mexican by way of Spain, 1/4 Italian, and half Danish, so I’m not really sure what that implies for my diet. My instinct, though, is that I should eat a lot of vegetables, and some meat but not a lot of meat. I always want fat but not sure I can ascribe that to genetic preference. Pretty sure that’s just Fat For Flavor at work there!

      3. I don’t think you can use the color of the yolk as your O3:O6 marker. I had a friend who did poultry research and we got eggs from her with orange/red yolks because they fed the chickens marigold petals!

    2. google – has the omega-3s and 6s for most foods (conventionally raised). Gives a good idea of where you fall. I’ve found the biggest discrepancy for me is the conventional eggs (inflammatory: way more 6 than 3s). Mine are usually pastured- so have close to a 1:1 ratio. Even store Omega 3s aren’t too bad – 2:1 6 to 3 ratio typically. If you are eating many nuts, this exercise will be enlightening!

      1. Like corn. I’m not sure flax is any better for you if you have to grind it up for your body to process it.

    1. I’ve read that the omega 3 in flax seed is not the omega 3 like in fish. It’s a precursor to the omega 3 of fish, flax omega 3 needs to be converted and by the time your body is done doing so not much is converted, leaving you with more omega 6 than 3 actually.

      About 15% is converted from what I know.
      Flax seeds therefor are like any other seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, kernels…leaving you with a higher 6 to 3 ratio because your body has a hard time converting it.

      1. Conversely, some sources say that you should stick with ALA (the O3 found in flax, hemp, and other plants) and avoid supplementing with DHA/EPA, which derive from ALA and can be problematic in excessive amounts.

        Some sources say the body is terrible at making DHA/EPA from ALA, as Primal Palate notes, but the experience of some vegans suggests that the conversion can be very efficient. Maybe the act of supplementing with DHA/EPA down-regulates the body’s ability to convert ALA?

        If anyone could shine light on this apparent controversy, I’d be grateful.

        1. I kind of wonder about this, too. The first week, maybe week-and-a-half, of taking salmon oil, I was way more focused at work. Then I went back to my normal state of twiddling my thumbs and whiling away the hours with daydreaming.

        2. @Timothy Supplementing with DHA/EPA doesn’t down-regulate the body’s *ability* to convert the parent ALA to EPA & DHA as much as it down regulates the body’s *need* to convert the parent O-3 into EPA & DHA because you’re directly supplying it, so the body doesn’t have to expend the energy it takes to make the conversion.

      2. Omega-3 linolenic acid in flax is an essential fatty acid, the oils in fish, ecosapentanoic acid & docosahexanoic acid are derived FROM, or extracts of the base omega-3 and are not essential because your body can make them. The EPA & DHA in fish oil caps can be and are synthesized by the human body from the parent base substrate omega-3. Humans can get O-3 from plant sources like flax, fish get O-3’s from algae or by eating the creatures that eat the algae.

        The human conversion rate of O-3 to the O-3 derivatives EPA & DHA is naturally low at around 2 to 5% based on a normal & naturally low physiological demand by body tissues for EPA & DHA. A normal balanced body does not have trouble synthesizing the derivatives unless something blocks the desaturaze enzymes from making the conversion. Insulin from high carb intake are known to impair the delta 6 desaturase enzymes.

        The reason for the naturally low physiological demand for EPA & DHA is because human body tissues require very little of it, there is 1000 times more tissue requirement for omega-6 linoleic acid, for example there is NO omega-3 in human skin or arterial structures & endothelial cells, they’re both omega-6 based. This is one more reason why skin cancer rates are rising as people supplement their diets with large quantities of omega-3 that do not support skin or arterial health.

        1. “skin cancer rates are rising as people supplement their diets with large quantities of omega-3 that do not support skin or arterial health”
          I don’t understand … I thought most people were getting vast amounts of omega-6 in their diet. Even if what you say is true, why would supplementing a little pill of omega-3 mean the body has no omega-6 available for skin cells?

          And if omega-3 is not needed for skin, why do so many people report that omega-3 supplements fix their dry/cracked skin? My wife’s pattern is like clockwork: she runs out of omega-3 pills and gets cracked skin (usually heel) within a week; she gets new pills and the cracked skin goes away within days. Repeat.

          Also, regarding the conversion rate of ALA to EPA/DHA — isn’t it possible that the low rate of 2-5% that you state, is because of the high availablity of EPA/DHA in the human diet during evolutionary (paleolithic) times?

        2. To Mike (can’t reply directly):

          It would make sense that the conversion is low when availability is high. This is why humans stopped producing vitamin C.

        3. @Mike 1. Most people were getting vast amounts of ADULTERATED, oxidized, biologically dead TRANS omega-6 in their SAD processed “food” diet, not the good, functional, bioavailable organic O-6 linoleic acid necessary for production of the *complete* suite of eicosanoids – leukotrenes, thromboxanes, lipoxins & prostanoids.

          2. Omiting O-6 robs your body of the balance of hormones that come from the O-6 side of the eicosanoid production pathway and IMbalances the system. (Google ‘Tripping Lightly Down The Prostaglandin Pathway’ bY Mary Enig PhD.)

          3. Taking more O-3 than O-6 dominates the delta 6 desaturase enzymes and limits delta 6 availability for O-6 derivative production of the L,T,L & P’s listed above. From Ed Kane’s article “4 to 1 Oil”, google ‘BodyBio Bulletin: 4:1 oil The Right Stuff’

          “In addition, the location of the ?rst cis-double bond on the chain is critical. This pertains not just to the base EFAs (LA and ALA), but also to all members of each family. For ALA and all the n-3s, the ?rst double bond on the carbon chain is positioned 3 carbons up from the methyl end (the methyl end is the tip of the chain). It derives the name omega-3, from the location of the ?rst cis-DB on the carbon chain, which is at the 3rd carbon, actually between the 3rd and 4th. The destabilizing dance of the ?rst cis-double bond of the n-3s effectively swings just 3 carbons of the chain, a much lighter load than for its
          competitor LA, hence a higher frequency. The n-6 ?rst DB is between the 6th and the 7th position and has to swing 6 carbons, twice the amount, which equates to a lower frequency. Recall that the activity level of the cis-double bond of poly-unsaturated lipids is the loss of two H atoms on one side, inducing a frequency. The frequency of ALA is higher because it’s swinging a lighter load — simple.

          Swinging 3 carbons back and forth is easier than swinging 6. That gives the omega-3’s an energy advantage. At a one to one ratio the omega-3’s will win the metabolic race and subsequently suppress the omega-6s.”

          Eczema is primarily a symptom of a deficiency of essential fatty acids, but it can be fungla as well. Although O-3 does not supply the O-6 needed for *optimum* skin health, people with skin conditions are so deficient in essential fats that even taking O-3 oils will initially resolve the condition. EFA’s are powerfully anti fungal as well, as are the fatty acids in coconut oil.

          4. The low conversion rate of O-3 into the derivatives EPA & DHA is not an adaptation, it’s based on the low physiological presence of O-3 based tissues compared to O-6 tissues in the human body, low O-3 tissue presence equals low demand for O-3 & O-3 derivatives. Google ‘The Scientific Calculation of the Optimum PEO Ratio’ and see the chart ‘Ratio of Tissue Composition’.

        4. Good info, but not completely true. The modern brain needs O-3, average brain comprised of about 18% O-3s; higher levels are not only beneficial but primal. This might be one part of the total body where more is better for neuron firing and neurotransmission.

        5. I wanted my comment to fall under this one, not the one further down….I am responding to cancerclasses…
          Good info, but not completely true. The modern brain needs O-3, average brain comprised of about 18% O-3s; higher levels are not only beneficial but primal. This might be one part of the total body where more is better for neuron firing and neurotransmission.

    2. Apparently, the nutrients in flax seed are much more bioavailable when sprouted and ground. Makes sense since, once you’ve sprouted it, you have reduced the antinutrients and enzyme inhibitors that keep predators from eating seeds and help the seed stay fresh until it sprouts naturally.

  7. Another possible side effect of excessive omega-3 intake is increased risk of bleeding/poor blood clotting, as it can act as an anticoagulant. Bleeding episodes are probably the most common negative side effect of supplements being taken excessively (including omega-3 supplements) seen in hospital ER’s and surgery tables, especially if the doctors aren’t aware of what the patient is taking. This is mostly a concern with those who are on anticoagulant medication or taking multiple things that have an anticoagulant effect- hopefully a healthy primal lifestyle and diet will make such meds unnecessary! But I always counsel those on anticoag. medications who are going to start taking omega-3 supplements to notify their MD, and have their PT/INR checked if the MD feels it is necessary.

    1. I have a client whose husband had unexplained bleeding–found out he was taking too much Omega 3 supplements while eating a lot of salmon.He was not on any meds either

  8. Sunscreen … Isn’t it better to use the good-old virgin coconut oil instead, just like the traditional civilizations in the Pacific would do? Without any chemicals?

    1. When reading The Odyssey (excellent story) I was confused about the mention of the Greeks rubbing themselves down with oil, as a reason was never given. I thought they were trying to oil up to look better like the guys in bodybuilding competitions. I guess it was sunblock. Weird how modern civilization larglely stops teaching about things that work and replaces them with things that harm.

      1. Greek athletes used to coat their bodies with non-food-grade olive oil and then they would scrape off all the oil and dust and sand with a razor/scraper thing (strigil).

        Kind of a soap and moisturizer in one.

        I don’t know that olive oil was ever supposed to confer sun protection–I doubt it. Ancient Minoan paintings depict male cowboys with lobstery skin being cheered on by fashionably pale upper class females.

        Egyptian laborers used makeup (mineral powder, I’m guessing) to prevent sunburn.

      2. Yeah, read about the ancient Greeks.

        Anyway, I tried VCO and liked the result. I now managed to procure some real West African red palm oil that should also make a great tanning lotion. So far, I only tried it as an after-sun lotion, to my satisfaction.

  9. Speaking of fish, here’s a blueprint of one of my favourite meals.
    Start with olive oil and chopped onions and garlic in the bottom of a pot, and a little water if you want to make the end meal more soupy. Add your favourite blend of spices (or just a whole bunch of them) at any point in the meal – I usually add them in at the beginning. Cook until the onions appear softened, but still slightly crunchy. Add eggs and cheese. Mix well. The eggs will cook fairly fast or at least taste that way with all the other ingredients so at this point you’re just a couple minutes away from being done.. once the cheese gets gooey it should be ready. Dump in a can of salmon and mash it up and mix it in (or mashed up, pre-cooked uncanned salmon if that’s not too expensive for you). And there you have a healthy, tasty meal.. a high fat and protein feast.
    The garlic will give you a slight boost in testosterone. (Other testosterone increasing foods are nuts, asparagus, meat, cheese, figs, and especially oysters – their zinc content is supposed to be what does it.)
    Other ground meat goes well in this dish too, but I’ve found salted salmon and/or tuna tastes the best.

  10. Interesting about the hemp seeds. I’ll have to try them out.

    Also, laughing at Animanarchy’s comment about the guys in the Odyssey oiling up to look like bodybuilders. Must be watching too many reruns of Hercules out of the 50s 🙂

  11. You can read all about vitamin D and how much you need each day by downloading the report called “Sunlight Robbery”. I have been taking vitamin D supplements now for approx 5 years now and haven’t had a cold in that time. My fair skin stays slightly tanned all year round. I live in Holland so have the same weather conditions as the UK.

    1. Amazing piece of information. My country is closer to England, sun-wise, than to California, so the information in the paper is pretty relevant to me. Thank God I can buy fresh oily fish here now.
      Thank you for the link!

  12. I read somewhere that ancient Greeks put olive oil on their skin before wrestling competition in order to get more slippery for their opponents and more difficult to hold. Of course, I don’t know if it is true of false.
    I have a seed questioned – what about a buck-weed? My family members love it. As far as I know, it is high in magnesium. I tried to soak it, but it absorbs too much water.

  13. I made a version of coconut water with a drizzle of fruit juices and two tablespoons of flax oil, in a huge container (about 3 liters). It’s light and refreshing! I made it three days ago and we’re about halfway through the container, with about three people sharing it. I’m wondering — if we don’t use any corn/soy/veggie oils (only use animal fats, olive and nut oils), and this is the only way we supplement with flax oil, is it too much or too little?

  14. What about flax seeds? I eat them at breakfast a lot, and have researched and haven’t found any legit studies showing problems.

  15. Hi people,

    Completely off topic but I’m totally jealous that I don’t live in Malibu where I could go paddle boarding today!!!! 🙂

    I live in New Zealand (the most awesome country on the planet) and we’re in the middle of a freak snow storm and I’ve pretty much been stuck inside for the last three days.

    Anyway…..I’m going to go dream about Malibu sunshine……..maybe I should wear my bikini round inside to really get into the mood!

    Thanks for all your wisdom, Mark, and all contributors to this site……it really is a great lifestyle and community.

  16. One factor that gets over looked with sun exposure is how much clothes one wears if they are trying to get vitamin D levels up. Most people don’t even give a second thought to wearing as little clothing as possible. Compare us to our primal ancestors they would have very little clothing or no clothing for most of their primal lives. Optimal way is to get naked during the midday sun, having said that social laws forbids this in most locations 🙁 but thats our modern life I guess.

  17. I loved all the information about the vitamin D, I was just wondering about it today because I get so little sunlight lately.
    Since I never eat junk food and I hate fried foods, I don’t really have to worry about not getting enough of Omega 3 or 6. I always eat plenty of salmon and I buy Omega 3 organic eggs.

  18. is any chemical treatment done to hemp seeds that prevent germenation? hence addind chemical bullsh#@t to a good food source.

  19. I have still not yet found a definitive answer on this question (which is probably a pretty stupid one, but I’m a newbie!): When asked for a recommended supplement dosage, one level that comes up frequently is “1 gram a day of Omega 3”. The capsules themselves are frequently described in terms like this: “One 1,000mg capsule daily provides 350mg of total omega 3, including 120mg
    DHA and 180mg EPA.” So is that one capsule a day, or 3 capsules a day in order to get 1 gram of DHA/EPA?

    1. To get the DHA/EPA you want you have to take enough of the pills levels to get that amount. So in your case its 3 capsules per day for your ~1 gram.

    2. You would have to take 3 capsules to get 1 gram of omega 3.

      Its a shame the labels arent more clear, but they are corect you get 1000mg of fish oil, but only 350mg of that fish oil is omega 3 Im not sure what the other 75% is?

      So when buying Omega 3 try to get the highest ratio of DHA/EPA to the overal volume of the capsule.

      I found one that is 1300mg per cap, and the omega 3 content of that is about 800mg, so almost 75% omega 3.

      1. The average fish oil cap has 180 mg. EPA and 120mg DHA for a total fatty acid content of 300 milligrams, the other 700 milligrams is usually glycerin, or sometimes glycerine & soybean oil.

        From Wikipedia search, glycerin: “As a sugar substitute, it has approximately 27 calories per teaspoon (sugar has 20) and is 60% as sweet as sucrose. Although it has about the same food energy as table sugar, it does not raise blood sugar levels, nor does it feed the bacteria that form plaques and cause dental cavities.”

        There is a big controversy about the use of glycerin in food bars as current laws do not require manufactureres to list the glycerin as part of the carb content. From

        “Glycerine is another sweet additive that manufacturers add to low carb bars. Here again, you’ll find that, because manufacturers claim glycerine does not raise blood sugar, they omit it in the carb section of the label information or, if they do list it, they do not include it in number of diet-counted “impact” carbs. (Glycerine is sometimes spelled Glycerin and is another name for glycerol.)

        As Lee Rodgers, proprietor of The Low Carb Retreat explains that it is only true that Glycerine does not raise blood sugar when people are not low carbing. Rogers states:

        1. When liver glycogen is full, glycerol is converted to fat.

        2. When liver glycogen is empty, glycerol is converted to glucose.

        3. And sometimes just goes right through without doing anything

        In short, if you are in ketosis (having emptied your liver of glycogen, its stored carbs) glycerine is likely to turn into blood sugar, and then, of course, it raises insulin, defeating mechanism by which low carb weight loss takes place.”

  20. I’m a big proponent of taking a high-quality Vitamin D supplement, but there’s no substitute for getting outside and spending some time in the sun.

  21. I try to eat a lot of omega 3, but Ive noticed that all the brands have loads of vitamin E. Is there any danger in eating to many?

  22. I feel sick when I take any supplement with Omega 3’s –absolutely every one that I have tried–fish oil of all kinds, flax, chia, hemp, etc Don’t know what that is all about–I do have several food allergies, but I can eat salmon or other dark fish without any problem. In fact I sometimes crave salmon–so figure that is when I need the 3’s or something else in the fish. I have also started eating more free range eggs and try to get different kinds for variety. The farm we go to raises chickens, geese, ducks and turkey and they all get to run around and eat bugs and plants. I figure there are probably differences in the nutrients of each kind of egg. They don’t have the other kinds often though–mostly chicken.I used to be a Macrobiotic vegan but while pregnant with my youngest (now 23) the midwife said she would not attend a homebirth for vegan moms–too many complications! Since I was craving salmon and eggs anyway I started eating them –and never went back. I felt so much better–then eliminated gluten and continued to improve. I may not ever go totally primal as I still like some grains like quinua and millet and just can’t eat much meat. But I try to go with my instinct now rather than what I think I should eat.

    1. I just was reading you post and found it very interesting. If you are still considering a Omega 3 supplement I might suggest, and liquid Omega 3 (Nutrasea) is a great brand, which is regulated. Or you could try Vpure, which is from Algea, It might be the capsuls you are struggling with. Or Try including canned Mackeral into your diet, one tin of tomatoe sauce and mackeral has over 3g of Omega 3!

  23. I’d be interested in hearing Mark’s reply to one of the comments about the long-term exposure to PUFAs as I was considering starting a hemp regimen but was researching the good and the bad of it.

  24. Hello Everyone,
    Here’s another website link showing the phytic acid content of hemp. On page 15, there’s a chart: Hemp has about 1,400 mg of phytic acid per 100 g. I’m not sure if the phytic acid is in salt form or not. My understanding is that if it’s in the form of a salt, like coconut, it doesn’t have the chelating power of the non-salt form of phytic acid. I just tried soaking and dehydrating some hempseed, though, and wow, what a mess!


    1. I really wish someone would clear up the phytic acid issue. I think the seeds available for purchase are hulled. Are the seeds used in all of these studies hulled? Perhaps that is where the discrepancies lie.

  25. Hi Mark. Just reading your post on Omega 3 to 6 ratio. I noticed today that almonds, which are a nutrient powerhouse, have a very high Omega 6 level. Should we avoid almonds, after all? Thanks. Helen

  26. ALL the omega 6 people get from “food” are processed and cooked at extreme temperatures so that it can be used again and again and again and never go bad.
    There are NO omega 6 in the food people get on a daily basis.
    Unless you are eating organic nuts, oils, red meat, you are LOW in the omega 6 EFA.
    No processed food contains true or pure omega 6.
    To get omega 6? You need organic cold pressed oils like canola oil, sunflower oil, primrose oil etc.

    Please, do you think the food industry keeps these oils cold and unprocessed ? No.

    So, it’s not omega 3 you are short of, it’s omega 6

  27. This is great website and I always find the articles interesting. I buy shelled hemp seed and have a tablespoon a day. More if I have been exercising or need a boost. The seeds go well in sweet and savoury dishes as well as munched or their own. As for vitamin D, I am a naturist and when possible sit out and soak up the sun or do some gardening.

    Kids these days are in playing on the computer or cotton wool wrapped in toxic sunscreen. Everything in moderation here, seeds, vitamin d, sunscreen and nudity… Happy naked seed eating!

  28. just to point out, “During the first intervention period, patients received a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA)-enriched diet (olive oil diet). During the second period this diet was supplemented by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (n-3 diet).”
    fats were supplemented as in processed oils not whole foods, hemp seeds are a whole food and thus would have different affect than processed oils.

  29. Hi. Hemp seeds do contain anti-nutrients, such as Phytic Acid. No sure, why you say it does not.

  30. Can someone share the a reference for the amount of phytates in hemp seeds? I trust him but still would like to see a reference, he didn’t reference the study. Thanks.

  31. Just thought you should know that hemp seeds are very high in phytic acid, so you probably need to correct your statement here. The hearts contain around 5%