In this final post on supplementation (vitamin and others), I'm going to put out the exceptions to my general stance — that's not necessarily strictly against it, per se — that most of it is probably unnecessary. But first, a quick review.
In part one, I laid out the general position, which is that supplementation ought to be the exception, not the rule, and there ought to be clear reasons for supplementing. Study after study seems to have failed to find measurable benefit. In part two, I diverge into a criticism of what I'll call Neolithic Authoritarianism, and most particularly, the tendency of people to submit themselves to the will and authority of others; to, in essence, default on their responsibilities as rational animals. Finally, in part three, I demonstrate very clearly that a diet consisting of natural animal fats, meat, fowl, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts to the exclusion of all grains, rice, legumes, heavy starches, vegetable oils — and most particularly, all the 'frankenfood' derived therefrom — literally knocks the average ADA, AHA or any other alphabet soup agency's "eat-more-whole-grains" recommended diets out of the water in terms of nutritional content. In some cases, the nutrition is 300% higher and more.
So, to summarize, it ought to be the position of Paleolithic eaters to source whole, real food, eat it, and enjoy the superior nutritional benefits. Finally, there's one case in which I do advocate heavy supplementation (you name it): if you're eating the crap grain-based diet most people eat. It's probably not going to do you any good, but what the hell.
– By far, the most necessary supplement is vitamin D, and it should be in the D3 form and not the plant-derived D2 form. I have posted a lot on vitamin D, so I'll not rehash. You can click here to access most, if not all of my past posts. The epidemiology is pretty clear: you need a 25 (OH) D level of 50 ng/ml to get to the point of real (associated) protection from cancer and a host of other bad things. Take it in gel cap form only, and the most consistent recommendation is in the area of 5,000 IU per day (you can take the whole thing weekly, too). But get tested after about three months and adjust as needed. I'm shooting for a level of 80. I take 6,000 IU per day, and I use the Carlson mini gel caps.
Why supplement with D? Most people are severely deficient, and even more so the darker their skin and the father away from the equator. To make matters worse, we're indoors most of the time, now, and as you age, your skin's ability to synthesize the hormone (it's not actually a vitamin) diminishes.
– Next on the list of important supplements is omega 3 fatty acids. The reason for this is that a natural, Paleolithic diet would have a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 at anywhere from about .5/1 to 4/1. The typical American diet with its processed foods, most particularly high n-6 vegetable oils lies in a completely perverse range of 15/1 to 30/1. I have not blogged a lot about this, but here's a post that addresses some of the problems, and be sure to read the reference links.
So, because of the difficulty of ingesting too much omega 6, I want to get some omega 3 in my diet to atone for my sins. Probably the chief way I get too much omega 6 is that I don't always buy free range beef and eggs. Animals fed grains have a different fatty acid profile. The other thing is that though I've been eating a lot of fish lately (good source), it's not always that way. So, I take about 5 grams per day of fish oil, 3 as Norwegian salmon, and 2 as cod liver oil. I use these two Carlson products, here and here. On a final note, be careful with CLO. Some products have way too much vitamin A (like 10k IU per gram and more). The product I use has 2,000 units, so my daily dose is only 4,000 of A (note: I don't take this for either the A or D, but for the n-3). There have been some concerns lately about vitamin A toxicity, and there may be, but what it is is really vitamin D deficiency. Stephan explains completely.
– The last of the essential supplements is vitamin K2, menatetrenone (MK-4). This is one I've also blogged a lot about, so for the reasons why, click here to access most or all of my posts. There is now another issue regarding K2 that has just recently come to light, and that has to do with the potential benefits of the longer chain menaquinones -7, -8, and -9. These are forms created by bacteria during fermentation, for things such as (real) cheese. The -4 subform is the kind made by animals (from K1) for other animals (like us). It's interesting to note that the richest natural sources of MK-4 are to be found in eggs and mammalian milk (including humans).
So, though I think that -4 is the one to take, in the interest of full disclosure, here's the latest news I blogged about last week. And, be sure to read Stephan's review of the study full text as well. Here's the thing to keep in mind about K2. It works to activate vitamins A and D, and helps to ensure that calcium and other salts go everyplace they should (bones and teeth), and no place they shouldn't (arteries). Note in some of my posts that atherosclerosis has been reversed in rats through K2 (MK-4) supplementation. This is also the stuff Weston Price used to use, in combo with A and D to recalcify dental carries (cavities) back in the 1930s.
I used to take the very thing Weston Price used, butter oil, from grass fed cows. The butter fat is clarified and then centrifuged, and it's only a certain portion that has the K2. This is the Green Pastures product I used up until just a few weeks ago. The "Activator X" is the K2, as explained by Chris Masterjohn. The problem is that I don't know the dose, and nobody seems to, so I've gone to a synthetic, by Thorne Research. Each drop is 1 mg. I was taking one, but I've gone to two as I found that two made my skin baby soft overnight. That's quite a bit more than you would get from diet unless you eat a lot of foie gras (huge content), but I'm just going with that, for now. I do have a small bit of calcification in one of my coronary arteries, according to a recent heart scan, so I'm taking this as a therapeutic measure. In another six months I'll have another scan. If you want to simulate how you might get it from diet and don't want to eat a lot of fish eggs and beef (or venison) liver, then you could put a drop of the Thorne product in something that you consume over 3-4 days.
– There's one non-essential supplement I use, and that's whey powder. I posted about it back here. Because a Paleolithic diet leaves one in a state of rarely being very hungy, the whey gives me a chance to get protein in a very light meal a couple of times per week. I typically have it the morning after a workout day, and I always mix it with one or two eggs and plenty of fat in the fom of heavy cream and coconut oil. It's a fully nutritious meal, just not bulky and filling.
On a final note, I am open to other suggestions for essential supplementation. Drop 'em in the comments. Moreover, I fully recognize that there is a whole science to supplementation in the pursuit of life extension. Any information on that score is welcome too. I consider that far different than what I'm doing here, which is bare nuts and bolts, and most people can understand why they would and should take these supplements.
However, some of the regimes of the life extension folks are pretty extensive, including dozens of various supplements. My opinion is that nobody should undertake such a regime without knowing as much as can be known about every single supplement they take and why they're taking it.