A Discussion of Supplements

TLSP member Arun, sent the team an email surveying the group’s thoughts on supplements.  He asked the question, “Do any of you take Vitamin D and Magnesium supplements that Robb Wolf recommends? If yes, which brand and dosages do you take.”  The following includes some of the responses.  I’m sure that more will follow.

From our friend Ryon:

To answer your questions first, here are the supplements I take that I consider necessary:

From my research those seem to be three nutrients that are seriously lacking from the modern diet and lifestyle. That is, they are difficult to obtain because they are scarce in the modern food supply and in the case of D3, the modern lifestyle:

  • Fish Oil: Scarce because readily-obtainable food has a horrible Omega-6/3 ratio due to grain feeding practices (even in fish)
  • D3: Scarce because we are inside all of the time during peak sun availability hours. This is especially vital during the winter
  • K2: Scarce due to grain feeding practices. We don’t get a lot of this unless you eat a ton of Foie Gras or butter from pastured cows. Beware of MK-7 variants and K1 found in supplements sourced from plants and soy. The Thorne bottle costs a lot but literally lasts  > 1 year (1-3 drops/day)

Here are the supplements that I could take or leave but prefer to take just to round things out:

  • Mark Sisson’s multivitamins
  • ZMA (Sleep aid and absolutely crazy dreams). I always take this before bed (and sometimes some melatonin). Note that this has a healthy dose of Magnesium and Zinc. I’m not sure why Robb recommends a straight up Mag supp over ZMA. I have an email I’m writing him with just this question.
  • Glucosamine/MSM/Chondroiten (Probably completely ineffective. I will likely stop taking this when my supply runs out)
  • BCAA (I rarely take this these days)
  • Creatine (I rarely take this these days)
  • Kelp for iodine (I use only sea salt for cooking, which isn’t iodized)

From me:

For the reasons Ryan mentioned, fish oil and Vitamin D are very important.  Rather than taking two supplements, I take Cod Liver Oil in liquid form.  Yes, Cod Liver Oil has slightly lower levels of DHA/EPA; however, unlike fish oil, it is also a significant source of Vitamins A and D–but only if you choose the right brand.  Most brands of cod liver oil have gone through a process to remove these important vitamins due to exaggerated claims of toxicity. It is true that Vitamin A and D are both fat soluble vitamins, and it is therefore possible for these vitamins to accumulate to toxic levels in the body; HOWEVER, studies have shown that taken together, Vitamins A and D reduce each other’s toxicity.  Not to mention, cod liver oil likely contains other cofactors that reduce toxicity as well.  For more information, see this article from the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Other than that, I take Vitamin C.  Given that real vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid (which only comes in crystal form), I take Vitamin C crystals–I use the Bluebonnet brand from Whole Foods, but I think that most are likely comparable.  I know that Vitamin World also carries their own brand.  Anyway, here’s the important part:  I mix 1 teaspoon of C Crystals with 1/2 tsp. of baking soda.  This is important because Vitamin C is an acid, and in order to be absorbed by the body, it needs to be buffered. Baking soda (aka: sodium bicarbonate–a base) dose the trick.  Just mix the two in a little water, let fizz, and voila–the best form of vitamin C I know of.

MSM.  I’m not sure why Ryon is eliminating this from his list, but I’ll definitely be keeping it on mine.  I first started taking MSM seven years ago, after watching an interview with James Coburn, who claimed that it cured his rheumatoid arthritis.  No, I don’t have RA.  At the time, however, I was in the midst of my freshman season of college basektball.  I was 6’1″, weighed 140 lbs, and consistently got the crap beaten out of me in practice by girls who weighed 30-50 lbs more than me.  I distinctly remember laying in bed at night, and crying because my body ached so badly.  Cutting to the chase, I started taking MSM on a routine basis and it took care of the majority of my muscle and joint pain.  Even though I no longer put the same type of stress on my body, MSM is a good alternative to NSAIDS (which I highly recommend you avoid–see why here) and also the only bioavailable form of sulfur.  I take MSM alone, in capsule form, because of an article I read years ago that stated it was better absorbed by the body in this form.  I get mine in bulk (I take around 20 capsules/day) from a company called Vibrant Life in California.

Probiotics.  Populating my gut with a healthy array of bacteria. Enough said.  My father sent me Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12 Plus Formula several months ago, and I really love it.

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8 Responses to “A Discussion of Supplements”

  1. I’ve just gotten on a good supplement regimen, and here’s what I take:

    -5000 IU Vitamin D3, Bluebonnet Brand
    -2000 mg Vitamin C, Bluebonnet
    -Calcium (1000mg), Magnesium (400mg), Zinc (15mg) multivitamin, Bluebonnet
    -Probiotic (still looking for a fave, may try V’s)
    -Experimenting with fish oils; much prefer caplets but am convinced oil is better for you. Currently trying Carlson Norweigan Cod Liver Oil, 1 tsp/day

    Note: the really knowledgeable vitamin guy I last talked with at Whole Foods recommended Bluebonnet Brand because they don’t use anything weird to either supplement the vitamins or encapsulate them. He had negative things to say about NOW brand, primarily that they’re cheaper for a reason (fillers). This is only one guy’s opinion, but he’s right about everything else he said (helped my bro heal from swine flu in 2 days) so I believe him and try to avoid NOW brand.

    Now (ha), questions for the rest of you:
    1) Ryon, what does K2 DO for you? Why is it so important?
    2) V, on MSM – 20 caplets a day?! Is that a normal dose?

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  2. Crystal mentioned the merits of MSM but horse pills scare me. V-is it worth it and have you yielded results from MSM?

    Thanks

    B

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  3. To answer your questions:
    1) Yes, I am taking a normal dosage of MSM. In order to see results, it is recommended to take between 4-20 grams/day. I’m willing to bet that if you are/have been taking MSM in tablet form combined with glucosamine and/or chondroitin, you probably haven’t been getting enough. If you don’t like taking so many pills, Vibrant Life also sells MSM in powder form, and you can just take a few heaping teaspoons in water.

    2) Horse pill?? As far as I know, MSM has only recently (within the past 10 years) been used on horses. There are more than 30 years of tests from institutions like Oregon Health Science University that shows the LD-50 rating (lethal dose) to be comparable to that of WATER.

    You should be more worried about taking Tylenol/Acetaminophen (toxic if you exceed 4 grams/day) and Advil/Ibuprofen (toxic if you exceed 2.4 grams/day). I recently had a patient who put herself in renal failure through long-term/excessive use of ibuprofen.

    3) Results? As I mentioned earlier, MSM was a life-saver in college. It drastically reduced the pain I muscle and joint pain that I had. Although I no longer put the same type of stress on my body that I did in college, I continue to take MSM for its NATURAL anti-inflammatory properties. As sulfur is needed for many hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and anti-oxidants; it also has numerous other health benefits. Did I mention it makes your hair grow faster too???

    I definitely recommend MSM as a supplement, however, you need to be sure that you’re taking an adequate AMOUNT in the proper FORM. If you’ll notice, there is a bit of a trend in my discussion of supplements…..FORM matters!

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  4. I should also mention that MSM can be taken in much higher dosages (i.e. 21 to 40 grams/day), but only under the supervision of a doctor as it does have blood-thinning effects at these levels.

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  5. I, too, take Fish Oil (7, 1000mg capsules/day) & Vitamin D3 (2000 IU/day). In addition, I take 3 to 5 capsules of Perfect Food Super Green Formula to get a boost of green stuff (and Probiotics, too) that I might miss out on during my days of unbalanced meal planning. That stuff has saved (SAVED!) my digestive tract. I also drink Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement, each night. If anything, it’s an important supplement and a nice pre-bed ritual.

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