Ben Greenfield’s Ultimate Supplement Guide – Your Complete Resource For Supplementing Choice, Timing, Dosing & More.

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Articles, Supplements

I’m often asked what supplements I take, why I take them, and if we really need supplements at all. After all, if you, like me, are following a healthy lifestyle, I’ll wager that you probably eat plenty of plants, prioritize sleep, hydrate with filtered (or, dare I say at the risk of wearing my tinfoil hat, structured) water, and expose yourself to the sun as much as possible. 

In other words, you, like me are probably what I call a “healthy, woo-woo geek”. You are an intelligent, well-informed person who embraces your softer side spirituality and also pride yourself on being passionate about health, nutrition, science, and fitness.

So why would you need to take supplements for health, fitness, and longevity? Doesn’t nutrient-dense food, good water and relatively clean living give you enough crucial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants? 

I get the question: life is already complicated, there are a dizzying array of supplements to choose from, and the expense can add up fast, as can the clutter and confusion from eight billion bottles of capsules, tinctures, powders, oils, tablets and packets in your pantry. Things can get complex fast, and no one – including me – wants to spend their precious time counting and swallowing pills. I’ve definitely been overwhelmed by the amount of space that supplements can occupy (in fridges and travel suitcases), and the time and monetary expenses of tracking and ordering new bottles.

Moreover, supplements can be dangerous. I’ve dedicated podcasts to exposing the deceptive tactics that some supplement companies employ and explored controversial fringe supplements.

So in this article, I’m going to present you with some pretty compelling information (all research-based, mind you) to support the notion that supplements can indeed amplify the benefits of your healthy, woo-woo geek lifestyle, especially if you’re a hard-charging, high-achiever like I profess to be. I’ll provide scientifically-validated reasons that supplements help optimize health, performance, and longevity. Then I will outline the exact supplements that I take (and recommend to my family and friends), and give you a handy-dandy guide for proper dosing and timing.


Scientific Reasons Why You Need Supplements (Even If You’re Doing Everything Right)

Let’s begin with this: our modern, post-industrial, polluted, toxin-laden lifestyle demands more nutrients than food can provide.

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That’s right: the chronic stressors of modern life – whether it’s the iPhone screen interfering with your circadian rhythms and chronobiology or the never-ending work deadlines – increase your nutrient needs. Every day, you face hundreds of toxins – pollutants in the air, degraded plastic byproducts in drinking water, chemicals in cleaning products, and pesticides in our food – which further increase our bodies’ needs for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients are necessary to help shuttle toxins through natural detox pathways and prevent the formation of DNA-damaging free radicals. Even exercise is a stressor that increases your body’s need for nutrients.

Furthermore, if you’re a hard-charging, high-performing exercise enthusiast (like many of the people reading this), your nutrient requirements far exceed the recommendations for the general, sedentary population.  

To make matters worse, you’re likely not getting the full array of nutrients from food that prior generations enjoyed. Due to modern farming techniques and fertilizers, most soil is depleted of nutrients, which decreases the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in conventionally-grown crops.

So perhaps eating organic is the ultimate solution? While some studies suggest that organically-grown foods contain more nutrients than non-organic, other studies conclude that there are no significant differences. Furthermore, for most of human history (and prehistory), our ancestors ate now nearly-extinct, dense cell-rich carbohydrates in the form of foods such as wild tubers, which provided essential prebiotics that helped probiotic bacteria flourish (in contrast to the refined “acellular” grains and white rice that comprise modern carbohydrates).

Along the same lines, the abundance of refined carbohydrates and processed foods create significant blood sugar swings and glycemic variability our ancestors also didn’t deal with to as great an extent. A glance at a coffee shop display case or hotel breakfast bar that features bagels, muffins, and sugary cereals explains why many people need a snack a couple hours later just to make it through the inevitable mid-morning blood sugar crash. Blood sugar imbalances lead to chronic inflammation and may be responsible for up to 80% of modern diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (nicknamed “type 3 diabetes”), obesitydepression, and cancer.

This is a roller coaster you definitely want to hop off…

Similarly, the meat, eggs, and dairy products commonly found in grocery stores deliver fewer anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, than those from wild or pastured animals. Speaking of omega-3 fatty acids, most Western diet munchers consume an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, further predisposing us for rampant chronic inflammation.

To make it even more complicated, modern harvesting, shipping, processing, and storage techniques degrade the nutrient content of food. Plants grown with modern fertilizer can contain only 25% of the micronutrients of those grown using more traditional farming methods, and nutrients degrade as they are shipped and sit on store shelves. A fresh-picked apple is more nutritious than the apples you buy at the supermarket in winter, which were likely treated with 1-methylcyclopropene and could be up to 10 months old (according to an FDA spokesperson). And the very preservatives used to maintain “freshness” could impede the bioavailability of the food’s nutrients – and increase your body’s need for nutrients to process these synthetic additives. Similarly, many common medications for acid reflux and hypertension also inhibit nutrient absorption.

Then there are precious fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin D. Though the recommendations for sufficient Vitamin D levels are controversial, it’s safe to say that many Americans do not get enough Vitamin D. Even if we’re doing our best to get sun exposure – whether it’s a morning walk or going outside for lunch – it’s rare to get as much sunlight (and Vitamin D) as our outdoor-dwelling ancestors did.

Last but not least, our ability to absorb nutrients from food decreases as we age. Given the scientifically demonstrated longevity benefits of caloric restriction, it seems silly to argue that one could ignore calories and simply eat more food to obtain nutrients. This is another crucial area where supplements come in – a helpful boost for those of us wanting to live longer using strategies such as intermittent fasting, alternate day fasting or caloric restriction.


But Wait – Our Ancestors Didn’t Take Supplements, So Why Should I?

I love to use the wisdom of our ancestors to optimize my life, but I also believe in a healthy dose of “better living through science” – the ultimate marriage of ancestral wisdom and modern science.

In this case, the assumption that previous generations didn’t take supplements is simply not true. Ancient supplements include root, stem, and leaf teas targeted for specific symptoms, medicinal powders ground by mortar and pestles, and highly concentrated oil extracts. Just because these dietary supplements don’t look like the capsules and ridiculously-oversized tubs of powders doesn’t mean that they weren’t supplements.

The original “pharmacy”.

Additionally, our ancestors certainly consumed dirt, which we now know contains a wide range of beneficial probiotics. Perhaps even more compelling is the notion that animals, ranging from insects to chimps, self-medicate and supplement by consuming specific plants. Furthermore, the methods that we use to gather, cook, and consume food are drastically different from those of our ancestors, leading to different degrees of nutrient availability and absorption.

For example, we generally eat only animal muscle and discard the collagen-rich connective tissues. Previous generations – as recent as our grandparents – simmered animal carcasses for hours, liberating collagen, gelatin, and fat-soluble vitamins from connective tissues. In a way, the soups our ancestors consumed are equivalent to the glucosamine/chondroitin joint supplements that line the shelves of GNC and the now-trendy bone broth that can be found at high-end restaurants. To learn more about ancestral nutrition, the Weston A. Price Foundation provides useful guidelines on finding and preparing nutrient-dense foods in ways that our grandparents would recognize.


OK, I’m Convinced That Supplements May Be Helpful… So Where Do I Start?

In the past year, as you can read about in great detail here, I’ve translated the knowledge gained from years of reading, researching and experimenting to create a line of new formulations and supplements for my company Kion – supplements that satisfy my own strict standards for quality and “scratch my own itch” as products that I personally use, endorse and take myself every day.

My goal in creating the Kion supplement line – for both the existing products and some extremely unique formulations that I’m currently developing using some of the best raw ingredients on the face of the planet – was to merge the best that modern science and ancient wisdom have to offer to enable you to optimize your body and brain. For the Kion supplements that you are specifically about to discover and read about, I personally sourced each ingredient, designed optimal ratios, and controlled the manufacturing processes to ensure the highest purity, potency, and value.

So, without further ado, here is a list of supplements that my family and I personally take, along with their benefits:

Kion Aminos

Kion Aminos is a carefully-chosen blend of eight essential amino acids that can boost your energy, fuel your workout, and stave off cravings. I first began using essential amino acids when I was racing Ironman triathlon and needed a fast, anabolic protein source that didn’t have many calories and that I could take anytime, anyplace for sleep, recovery, muscle growth, mood and a host of additional functions.

You are likely aware of the benefits of a protein-rich diet, especially for athletes, since muscle cells are built from protein. You’re also likely aware of “collagen”, the latest darling of the supplement industry. You can put essential amino acids (definitely not to be confused with their inferior cousins branched chain amino acids) into this category, and get the same benefits without the calories or added fillers found in supplements such as protein and collagen powders. While essential amino acids are indeed the building blocks of proteins, they also perform many other important physiologic functions. For example, essential amino acids regulate genetic expression, including genes related to oxidative stress and immunity.

The amount of essential amino acids you need for optimal function is heavily influenced by your stress levels and workout intensity. While some amino acids can be synthesized by your body, other amino acids, specifically these essential amino acids (EAAs) I am talking about must come from food – and that’s why you eat complete protein sources such as, say, steak or eggs.

However, amino acid utilization (the percentage of amino acids that are actually used in your body) from food is significantly less than 100% – for example, your body can use approximately 48% of egg protein, less than 32% from meat, poultry or fish, and less than 18% from whey and soy protein.

With this utilization in mind, I designed Kion Aminos to have extremely optimal amino acid proportions. The amino acid utilization of Kion Aminos is a whopping 99%, and it’s absorbed by the body within 23 minutes, with nearly zero calories! No other protein source enables such efficient conversion of amino acids into protein synthesis – and it’s suitable for omnivores, Paleo enthusiasts, vegans, vegetarians, and ketosis lovers.

Kion Aminos are available in a tablet form (with no binders, fillers, stearates, coating, or dyes) or a dissolvable powder with a refreshing cool lime flavor that is 100% natural and sugar-free.

Kion Flex

Kion Flex has been carefully designed to take care of your bones and joints. Specifically, this blend improves recovery from hard workouts, boosts the immune system, and staves off age-related bone and cartilage degradation.

With Kion Flex, my desire was to create a veritable “shotgun” of nutrients I could mainline into my body when overextended or sore, without having to use three to ten different bottles. It is comprised of sixteen (count ’em – sixteen) different ingredients that were chosen based on purity and effectiveness for restoring a beat up body and beat up joints, and it’s been formulated with a proprietary encapsulation technology for maximal bioavailability and absorption.

Far beyond the basic glucosamine and chondroitin blends, Kion Flex includes Type II Collagen from chickens raised without growth hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics, as well as carefully chosen blends of enzymes and minerals. This type of collagen is a whole food concentrate to provide maximum absorption for faster connective tissue repair in healthy subjects with joint discomfort associated with physical activity and immune system support – with no known side effects.

Inspired by traditional holistic medicine, Kion Flex features compounds that have been scientifically validated to promote tissue recovery from exertion and support the body’s healthy inflammatory response. These medicinal compounds include cherry juice extractginger, turmeric/curcumin, white willow bark, hyaluronic acid, boswellia (aka Frankincense), and cetyl myristoleate, a naturally occurring fatty acid that has been clinically proven to reduce pain in people with mild knee joint arthritis. Much more detailed information about each of the ingredients and the encapsulation technology can be found here.

Kion Lean

Managing blood sugar is of paramount importance for health, high performance, and longevity. With my own genetically tested propensity for type II diabetes, and my desire to not completely eliminate carbohydrates from my diet (what can I say – I dig Italian food, dark chocolate and red wine) I wanted something that would immediately lower my blood sugar after a meal, without all the damaging effects of a popular drug such as Metformin. Enter Kion Lean, a proprietary formula that combines the benefits of two staple foods in the diets of centenarians from “blue zones” like Okinawa: wild bitter melon extract (Glycostat) and rock lotus (Shilianhua).

Rock lotus optimizes insulin control through several mechanisms, including regulating levels of circulating insulin and promoting efficient glucose metabolism. A Chinese clinical trial studying Type II diabetics showed that rock lotus (20 mg, 3x/day) helps maintain blood glucose levels in a healthy range, while a Japanese clinical trial gave rock lotus extract to healthy company managers, finding reduced body fat and improvements in liver function.

In laboratory studies, wild bitter melon extract has been demonstrated to reduce inflammation in macrophages,protect against fatty liver disease, activate signaling pathways that support fat loss and longevity, and regulate blood glucose and blood pressure. I’ve tested my own blood sugar after a carbohydrate-rich meal for which I’ve popped two of these beforehand, and it gives me a night and day difference in my blood sugar levels, allowing me to return to ketosis extremely quickly after a carbohydrate refeed.

And because of that, this supplement is good not only for your waistline, but also for anti-aging. Kion Lean enhances longevity by regulating the blood glucose and insulin responses, leading to healthy liver function and healthy body fat levels.

Kion Colostrum

I first began using colostrum when I wanted to protect my gut from the rigors of racing triathlons and endurance competitions in hot and stressful environments, especially when competing in events such as Ironman Hawaii. 

But it turns out that colostrum is good for far, far more than simply sealing up the lining of a leaky gut or helping your stomach to feel impervious to the stressors of hard physical exercise.

As a matter of fact, this goat milk-derived colostrum in the form of Kion Colostrum is one of my favorite supplements since it contains a huge variety of macro- and micronutrients, including growth factors, growth-promoting hormones, lactoferrin (a protein that helps with iron absorption), and immune modulating molecules such as cytokines and immunoglobulins. Additionally, a broad spectrum of enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals are in colostrum. Together, these compounds can effectively rebuild your gutdecrease intestinal permeability brought on by strenuous exercise, increase your VO2max, strengthen your immune system, and help build lean muscle mass.

And if you’re looking to enhance your growth hormone levels without fringe injections or hormone replacement therapy, colostrum is, bar none, your best bet to get that done in a natural way. Plus, this supplement is derived from 100% grass fed, fully organic goat milk from a goat farm near my house, so I can attest to the extreme quality of the colostrum in Kion Colostrum.

SuperEssentials Fish Oil

I’ve always said that “‘taking a bad fish oil is worse than taking no fish oil at all,” and so I’m constantly on the hunt for a joint-protecting, brain-enhancing, vision-assisting fish oil that isn’t rancid, that is sustainably sourced, and that contains a powerhouse of antioxidants to keep the oil stable, such as astaxanthin and antioxidant vitamins.

Enter SuperEssentials fish oil. This supplement includes the highest quality fish oil derived from small cold-water fish, with a rare 1:1 balance of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (you aren’t going to find this in nearly any other fish oil that exists – especially with the addition of astaxanthin to keep it incredibly stable). These omega-3 fatty acids are clinically proven to regulate inflammation, enhance cognition and mood, and support healthy circulatory and brain function.

In addition to fish oil, this supplement also contains another beneficial fatty acid, omega-6 gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), derived from borage seed oil, as well as a blend of antioxidants and vitamins such as Vitamin D and Vitamin A, and the super powerful antioxidant astaxanthin (which is basically like edible sunscreen).

Astaxanthin, a carotenoid derived from algae, has been shown in lab studies to have potent antioxidant effects, reverse some effects of aging, improve metabolic function, and even enhance the appearance of skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Numerous studies have shown the immune, skeletal, and hormonal benefits of Vitamin D and Vitamin A. This is one of the only guilt-free fish oils on the face of the planet and of course, it gives you zero of the dreaded fish burps.

NatureCleanse

Detox” is a popular health buzzword, and there are a lot of silly “detoxes” out there (think cayenne, lemon, and honey tea). For a simple cleanse I can use throughout the year, I turn to NatureCleanse Detox and Gut Cleanser. It contains over 20 ingredients that help your body initiate Phase I and Phase II detoxification processes, ultimately decreasing the toxic load you get from the chemicals we can’t escape in the modern world.

Think of this cleansing supplement just like Kion Flex – it’s an entire shotgun of nutrients that limit the number of other supplements you need to take and drastically simplifies internal cleanup.

Approximately 63 million Americans suffer from some type of digestive disorder, and constipation is usually a symptom. This lack of mobility of food through your colon can create a fertile breeding ground for parasites, Candida yeast, and pathogenic bacteria – and that’s why I first started using NatureCleanse. It is comprised of a fiber blend of psyllium husk and seed, flax seed oil, and inulin that can help move that mucoid plaque through your colon and simultaneously feed probiotic bacteria.

The elimination is further aided by NatureCleanse’s colon blend of rhubarb root, marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, cape aloe, fennel seed, and fenugreek seed. These ingredients have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries and been validated by modern scientific methods. After the colon blend mixes with the fiber to push out colon buildup, the mineral blend of fermented goat milk mineral whey, magnesium citrate, and beet root helps restore the integrity of gut cells.

Finally, the botanical blend of milk thistle extract, hyssop, ginger root, yucca root, rosemary, and turmeric aid digestion and provide regenerative compounds to rebuild your digestive tract during the detox and cleanse. NatureCleanse combines these powerful ingredients in carefully-chosen ratios to holistically restore intestinal mobility, detoxify, and enhance gut integrity.

You get the idea. This one covers all the bases for gut cleanup, without the complexity of an entire box of detox supplements.

Kion Oregano

Kion Oregano is a potent boost to your immune system, which is especially important when seasonal sicknesses are being passed around, or anytime you’re around crowds of people, sick kids, etc.. This supplement is a blend of Wild Mediterranean Oregano Leaf Oil and Sweet Almond Oil in a 7:1 ratio for maximal absorption, and it has been laboratory tested to ensure purity. I first began using it after interviewing my father about the benefits (on an old-school podcast several years ago), when discovering he used it as a twice-daily health tonic.

Essential oils concentrate and amplify the healing power of plants, and they act as intelligent immune modulators, increasing targeted immune responses when threatened by pathogens and regulating non-specific inflammation. Carvacrol, the active ingredient of oregano oil, is a powerful antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antimicrobial compound. In lab studies, carvacrol can neutralize MRSA, protect against brain injuryheal gastric ulcers, and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. These studies were done on just the active ingredient, but still, this stuff is one of the best items for your immune system that I’ve ever been able to find.

Unfortunately, most oregano supplements are fake (they really come from thyme plants) or extremely low in the active ingredient carvacrol. Not Kion Oregano. It comes with a laboratory certificate of analysis to verify carvacrol content and is a must-have for anyone who travels or who doesn’t want sickness to halt a workout, vacation, or any other important moment in life. This one is in my laptop satchel always, and I often use it on skin scrapes too.

Creatine

For as long as I can remember, I’ve taken 5 grams of creatine per day. Why? Frankly, it’s one of the most researched and safe performance and cognition-enhancing molecules on the face of the planet.

Creatine plays a crucial role in the production of cellular energy by making ATP, a molecule needed by all cells in your body. An organic acid naturally produced in the body from other amino acids, creatine is found in foods such as meats, eggs, and fish, and is commonly deficient in heavily exercising individuals, the elderly, and people who eat a primarily plant-based diet. With increases in exercise or as a result of muscle damage, your physiological need for creatine is increased.

Creatine supplementation has been shown to support increased work capacity and power output of the muscle while promoting physical endurance and lean body mass gains. Outside of the athletic population, creatine has also been shown to lessen muscle breakdown and even to support cognitive function, especially in aging populations. Because creatine stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine, it releases energy to aid cellular function during stress. This effect causes strength increases after creatine supplementation, and can also benefit the brain, bones, muscles, and liver.

I currently use Thorne Creapure. The creatine in Thorne is derived from Creapure, which is a micronized form of creatine monohydrate that’s colorless and odorless. This form of creatine has highly enhanced solubility, so it mixes well with water, juice, smoothies or just about anything you toss it into.

Sleep Remedy + CBD

I get dozens of questions about which pre-sleep nutrients or supplements I personally use. After all, from mixes of apple cider vinegar and raw honey to phosphatidylserine to melatonin and beyond, the wide world of pre-sleep supplements can be quite confusing.

So I keep things simple. I only ever use two supplements at night: “Sleep Remedy” and “NatureCBD.” The first one, Sleep Remedy, is a formula created by a sleep physician and former Navy SEAL Dr. Kirk Parsley, who wanted to design something that would help extremely hard-charging, stressed-out folks settle down at night without the use of damaging sleep drugs like Ambien or Valium. You can listen to my interview with him at “A Navy SEAL Physician Reveals How Hard-Charging, High-Achievers Can Fall Asleep Fast“.

The sleep remedy supplement contains simply very small amounts of the nutrients involved in the production of melatonin, specifically:

-L-tryptophan
-5HTP
-Vitamin D3
-Magnesium
…and a very small dose of melatonin.

Since an increase in brain GABA levels is a key player in the initiation of REM sleep, Sleep Remedy also includes a small amount of a unique form of GABA called “phGABA” that, unlike most forms of GABA, can actually cross into the brain. Here’s a study that just came out yesterday on the potent sleep aid and growth hormone increasing effects of just 100mg of GABA.

NatureCBD is comprised of cannabidiol (CBD), mixed with the natural sleep herbs ashwagandha and lemon balm. Here are just a few of the key studies on CBD and sleep:

In sum: smaller doses of CBD provide you with a calm and relaxed focus that comes in handy during everything from writing to music to parties to workouts – very similar to what you would experience with THC, but without the psychoactive or paranoia properties. And if you combine these smaller doses of CBD with common natural sleep-inducing compounds like melatonin, magnesium, or lemon balm, then you can get yourself into an even more relaxed state. But larger doses of CBD (which are going to range based on the actual absorption of whichever CBD blend you are using) can be used all by themselves to enhance sleep or combat insomnia.

You can learn more about CBD in the most comprehensive article I’ve ever written on the stuff, which is at “A 100% Legal Way To Get All The Health Benefits Of Smoking Weed Without Actually Smoking Weed.” If you don’t have the time to read all that, and instead want a succinct audio explanation of how CBD works, then take a listen to an extremely recent podcast episode I recorded with SmartDrugSmarts entitled “Cannabidiol: THC’s Legal Sibling“.

Finally, I’m often asked if I take a multivitamin. I do indeed (this one, to be exact), and have included the multivitamin information in the dosing and timing guide below.


Supplement Dosing and Timing Guide

Now that I’ve covered which supplements I personally take for optimized health, performance, and longevity, there are still more questions to answer to ensure that you’re getting maximal benefit from supplements.

When should you take which supplement? Which supplements should be combined with each other or with a meal? And what’s the proper dosage?

The timing and combinations of your supplement protocol can significantly affect how well your body absorbs and uses nutrients. I designed my own supplement routine based on data from the latest studies, including advice from resources such as Nutrition Expert from Healthspan, the Examine Research Digest, Suppversity, Alan Aragon’s Research Review and my own master’s degree in exercise physiology, biomechanics and human nutrition, to help you maximize your health and value from supplements.

So here’s a handy timing guide that takes into account the solubility and mechanisms of action of each of the supplements. This is what a typical day looks like for me in terms of supplements:

Morning, empty stomach

  • Kion Colostrum – 4 capsules. I take up to 8 capsules during periods of heavy exercise. I am not too brand specific on probiotics and I “rotate” the probiotics that I do take. But I always stack probiotics with my colostrum, especially if I’m traveling and don’t have access to a wide variety fermented foods. 
  • Kion Flex – 4-6 capsules, depending on how beat up my body is. If injured, I take another 6 capsules at night before bed, so my body can recover optimally during sleep. For this supplement to work best, take it on an empty stomach in the morning or evening. 
  • Thorne Creapure – 1 scoop (5 grams). I take this year round. No cycling at all.
  • At this time of day, I’ll also add 10 drops of oil of oregano to a glass of water if I’ve been traveling, have been around sick people, or need an energy boost. Honestly, my timing of oil of oregano intake varies widely – e.g. before I hop on an airplane, after I’ve been around a kid with a cold, before a book signing or extensive handshaking at a conference, etc.

With breakfast

Mid-afternoon, pre or post workout

  • Kion Aminos – 1 scoop in a glass of water or 5-10 tablets, depending on the difficulty of the workout. This supplement works best 30 minutes before a workout so that you go into your workout with high blood levels of amino acids. For long workouts, repeat the dose once every one hour of exercise. To avoid competition among other amino acids, try to avoid taking with much other protein. This one also works well before bed to support sleep, or at any time during the day if you are fasting. It can also be used for post-workout recovery. Sky’s the limit on aminos. 

Before dinner

  • Kion Lean – 2 capsules. Take this supplement before or after your largest (or highest carbohydrate-containing) meal of the day to regulate the blood sugar response.

Before bed


Summary

So that’s it! I trust this guide gave you ideas on how to enhance your health, performance, and recovery without needing to pop a dizzying array of pills.

I get lots of inquiries about other supplements like greens powders, l-carnitine, high-dose Vitamin B, beta-alanine, sleep supplements and so on. I highly recommend specifically tailoring your supplement protocol to meet your specific goals, and also to use the comments section below to ask me your other specific questions. Ideally, you should choose supplements that address your own genetic results or blood biomarkers, and to learn more about personalizing nutrition and supplements to your genetics, listen to my recent podcast with Dr. Ben Lynch, author of “Dirty Genes”, or read my article about customizing your diet to you.

So what do you think? Which supplements have you found to be personally useful? Do you still think supplements are a waste of time and money? Do you have questions about other supplements folks have recommended to you? Leave your questions, comments, and feedback in the comments section below!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question


66 thoughts on “Ben Greenfield’s Ultimate Supplement Guide – Your Complete Resource For Supplementing Choice, Timing, Dosing & More.

  1. JP8 says:

    Hey Ben,

    Quick question… I’ve been taking the key on flex in the morning now for about six months right when I wake up. Great product! The one thing I was curious about is I take it along with the qualia mind, Lions mane from Paul statments, and the Thorne a.m. multivitamin. Given the collagen and goat milk minerals, is this breaking my fast? And also is there any cross contamination or malabsorption issues with the fact I am taking all those at one time? Thanks in advance for your reply and insight!

    1. No. There is an extremely minimal number of calories in something like this. The bigger concern here is that you should be taking a multivitamin with a meal…So be sure to make that switch.

  2. Amy says:

    Is there a less expensive cbd brand that you would recommend?

    1. Amy says:

      Also, don’t mean to double question you— but I killed my nervous system a year ago with too intense workouts combined with life stress, caffeine, supps… at least that’s the only explanation I can come up with for why when I train hard now, my nervous system doesn’t recover (near immediate symptoms of overtraining)- it’s never been the same. It’s been a year.

      Do you have recommendations for supplements that restore a too sensitive / shot nervous system? 😢

    2. Good CBD oil isn't cheap. The brands I've used and recommended are all around this price point.

  3. Taylor says:

    I have been waiting to take “AM” supps until I break my fast… curious what your opinion is on this? I have heard some mixed reviews. Rhonda Patrick and Sachin Panda saying technically it would break the fast.

    1. Depends on what the supplements are. Here's another good guide on when to take supplements: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/pill-pop… Rhonda Patrick and Satchin Panda say anything other than water will break a fast. I'm not as much of a purist :)

  4. Rosanna Albano says:

    Hi Ben,

    Is it OK to bring your CBD overseas? Would not want them to confiscate at the airport!

    Thank you for all that you do!

    Rosanna

    1. Hi Rosanna, I no longer sell CBD, but the one I recommend, BioCBD+ has this video on their site all about traveling with CBD. Worth watching… <a href="http:// .https://www.biocbdplus.com/can-travel-cbd/ref/5″ target=”_blank”> <a href="http://.https://www.biocbdplus.com/can-travel-cbd/ref/5” target=”_blank”>.https://www.biocbdplus.com/can-travel-cbd/ref/5

      1. Rosanna Albano says:

        Awesome:) Thank you Ben! Worth watching indeed!

  5. Adam says:

    I usually take a whey and/or vegan protein powder several times a day as a protein source. I know from your site that you recommend the Thorne vegan powder. What’s your latest whey recommendation, and do you take whey anymore?

    1. Mainly pea protein isolate, as far as other protein sources it's mainly meat or EAAs: https://getkion.com/shop/body/kion-aminos/

  6. Hi Ben!

    I’m a female athlete and looking for faster recovery. I currently don’t take any supplements. I’ve never known or heard of any female athlete supplementing with creatine. Do you know of any specific research that says it may be efficacious for woman to use on a long term basis or would you suggest something else?

    Thank you!

    Amy

    1. Jayne peterlin says:

      Would love to know your thoughts on this? I’m a female also and wondering the same thing.

    2. Yes, many studies on both men and women. I would do a search on pubmed and you should be able to find some.

  7. James H says:

    If you were going to take Qualia Mind, would you do that before or after Flex, Colostrum, and Creatine?

    In reading Qualia site, they do recommend that Qualia be taken by itself, meaning that if you take another supplement, you take it with a later meal (lunch or dinner) so there is no competition for absorption when Qualia is being taken.

    How much time would you wait?

  8. Chris L. says:

    Ben,

    In calculating amino acid gram amounts, is it safe to say that 1 gram EAAs is roughly equivalent to 1 gram protein? Like, say if EAAs were to be used as a dietary replacement in extremis or during a fast.

    Thanks!

  9. Will says:

    Hey Ben, for someone on a budget, do you recommend any of these supplements more than the rest? I’d love to add a lot of them into my lifestyle, just not sure if its affordable or sustainable for me right now. Thanks so much, love your site and appreciate all the content you consistently put out!

    1. It was never my intention to suggest anyone needs to take all of these. Think about what your body needs, and go from there. If you need help sleeping, try CBD. If you need help with recovery, try Kion Flex, etc.

  10. Rob p says:

    I have been using Qualia over the last couple weeks Trying to narrow down the amount of supplements I carry with me to work the days I dont work from home. They recommend doing 5 days in a row then 2 says off as I’m sure you know. I read your review on the product but am curious to hear when you use it, and if you do regularly do you substitute it with any of the other daily supplements. I honestly don’t know that I feel any different then when I did my usual supplement routine with some lions mane after lunch to keep me sharp through the day.

    1. I use it as suggested. You can learn more about my experience with it here: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/brain-ar…

  11. Anthony says:

    Hello,

    First off thanks for all the great info. I appreciate how you get back to me. I take a wide arrange of supplements and aminos. The aminos before my workout and my supplements with a meal. Usually lunch. Is that ok?

  12. Matt Avoyer says:

    Ben,

    How long should I wait to take my antioxidants after my workout such as my greens drink, magnesium, Vitamin D3, Ubiquinol, astaxanthin, fish oil? Should I wait 2, 3, 4 hours or longer?

  13. P says:

    I am interested to know how you would adjust your pill regime for an eighty year old woman with a fatty liver and a lazy pancreas. In my day we never had all this information that you have collected but there is no reason not to try to keep complaints down and to keep as healthy as possible. I realise you haven’t been 80 and who knows, even you might not get there with this fearsome regime you inflict on your body! I think that it is good to be kind to your body by letting it work for itself at least for 2 days of the week. But this is just my opinion..

    1. You are right, I never have been 80 :) This type of question is great for the Kion community! Because I get so many questions like this and it's impossible for me to respond to everyone individually, I built this community of like-minded people who both have advice and are seeking advice! Facebook.com/groups/getkion/

  14. Jordan says:

    Hey Ben, do you still use the Mahler’s aggressive testosterone booster or do you recommend something else now?

  15. Payton says:

    Hi Ben,

    Does Kion Colostrum kick you out of a fast?

  16. Riker says:

    Hey Ben, love your stuff! I’m a very active 26 year old. I play sports often and enjoy a good workout or some kind of movement everyday. Can I (should I?) be taking all of this? Or is there some that I could skip because I’m only mid twenties?

    Thanks!

  17. David Jones says:

    I’m currently taking a collagen supplement that just says “Collagen Peptides”–derived from pastured beef hide. Is this different than the Type II collagen in the KionFlex?

    1. Yes, it can be far different.

      Type II Collagen is the principal structural protein in cartilage which provides strength, flexibility and joint support. It comprises over 50% of the protein in cartilage and over 90% of articular (joint) cartilage. A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the efficacy of oral supplementation of type II collagen on moderating joint function and joint pain due to strenuous exercise in healthy subjects.* The study showed that collagen supplementation increased joint mobility, prolonged how long one could exercise before joint pain occurred, improved recovery speeds after exercise, and less joint pain after exercise.*

      The Type II Chicken Collagen used in Kion Flex provides structural support needed for healthy joints.* It also contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfates and comes from chickens free of growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides. This form of collagen is a whole food concentrate that has no known side effects and provides maximum absorption. According to recent studies at Harvard University Medical School, the Type II Collagen derived from Chicken Cartilage can also help to strengthen the immune system.*

      1. David Jones says:

        Fascinating. Any reason one shouldn’t take the KionFlex with another collagen peptide supplement? I suppose, do you see any virtue in taking these other collagen powder supplements (Type I & III)?

        I also make a pretty killer bone broth (if I do say so myself)–very gooey; is it correct to assume you’re getting the myriad of collagen from such a thing?

        Also, my wife is also one of the senior SoulCycle instructors on the West Coast (not to brag or anything) and they don’t really have any formal nutrition or supplement coaching. Any reason I couldn’t bring your name up to maybe offer something like that?

        1. No reason that I know if, but I am not a doctor and would recommend asking a doctor if you have any concerns with supplements you're currently taking. I also can't be sure of what's in your broth, so that's tough to say. For partnership inquiries, please email partners@bengreenfieldfitness.com If you mean can you bring my name up as a good resource for nutrition advice, of course!

      2. nathan patry says:

        I recently purchased some collagen before reading this article and the label says types 1 and 3 and has amino acids should i continue taking it? Or just finish the can and get a different product with only type 2. I live in Canada and with the exchange rate the shipping Kion products become a little expensive.
        Thanks again

  18. Zack A says:

    Hey Ben, per your recommendation I’ve been doing 5mg Creatine every morning and I dump it into a post-workout smoothie. Should I switch to taking it right upon waking? For clarity, when I awake I do 16 of water with a scoop of ‘Athletic Greens,’ then I’ll exercise in a (mostly) fasted state taking a scoop of Thorne BCAA’s beforehand. Then I do a post-workout breakfast smoothie with coconut water, full fat coconut milk, a handful of dark greens, frozen banana or blueberries, 1 scoop Shakeology, hemp seeds, chia seeds, brazil nuts, and cacao powder. Curious if the creatine is getting lost in the smoothie and I should add to first water I drink in the morning instead? Thanks as always.

    1. Creatine will still get absorbed by you having it in your smoothie, Zack, so that's fine to do it then.

  19. Jake says:

    Hi Ben,

    Would you advise against taking Kion Lean post workout? I eat dinner after my workouts in the evening. (Usually the highest carb meal of my day.)

    Thanks

    1. Yes. It will shove your blood glucose to low if you take it before work out in my opinion. Just take before a carbohydrate rich meal.

      1. Maggie says:

        I think the question was post workout but Ben’s reply appears to be for “before workout.”

  20. Sam says:

    Ben

    Well thought out line. Your thoughts on DHEA as part of your line offering?

    1. I technically can’t take or endorse that because it is banned by world anti doping association. But at 25-50mg/day not a bad option.

      1. Joseph says:

        Hi Ben, I am currently cycling 30-50miles a day as a courier. Lots of stops and starts so more anaerobic than general road biking. Looking at the Vaxxen labs stack as an option to improve performance? Can it be used at same time as the Mahler’s aggressive strength? Many thanks

        1. If I had to choose, I'd go with Mahler's, but then also include plenty of aminos for those harder efforts: https://getkion.com/shop/body/kion-aminos/ & https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/product/aggr…

  21. Edward Arreguin says:

    If you take a greens powder such as Living Fuel. Would you still recommend taking a multi-vitamin supplement as well?

    1. Yes, generally would toss it into my smoothie…

  22. Bex says:

    Hi Ben

    Great article. I’m asked ALL the time why I take so many supplements. I used to be so sceptical about them but the one that I noticed the biggest difference was Calcium D Glucarate. I had a bio signature analysis test done to measure my body fat and as with a lot of girls, I had a higher % reading on my hamstrings. I was advised to take CDG and after only 4 weeks I was tested again. All readings were the same except for my hamstrings which were down. Ok so there were a few other lifestyle things I changed like stopping using plastic bottles and cling film but I was really amazed. I also use Aloha Lipoic Acid, green tea, garlic and CoQ10, onnit krill oil, magnesium/Calcium/zinc, as well as greens powders, grass fed whey protein, psyllium and collagen powder. How my mind has been changed and believe all these things are helping me perform better and live more healthily.

    Thanks for all you do

    Bex

  23. Greg says:

    Hi Ben. Love your stuff. What multi-Vit and/or supplements are you giving your children? It’s hard to find good sugar free options, particularly as we have limited selection in Canada. I’ve got two boys close in age to yours. Thanks.

  24. Nicki says:

    Hi Ben,

    Wrapped up chemo and radiation last August, cancer free now and working hard to get my strength back. Any reason I should not take anything you listed?

    1. Glad you're all done with that! I am not a doctor and this is not to be taken, interpreted or construed as medical advice. Please talk with a licensed medical professional about this. I'm not aware of any reasons you wouldn't be able to take any of these, although I would "cycle" colostrum 8 weeks on 4 weeks off as it has a pretty potent anabolic effect. These are just my own personal thoughts and not a prescription or a diagnosis or any form of healthcare whatsoever.

  25. Cjlizzard says:

    isnt this a conflict of interest? Your recommending your products, how can I consider this impartial advice??

    1. I eat my own dog food. I designed all my products to "scratch my own itch". ;)

  26. Chi says:

    Hi Ben, do you still take creatine?

    1. Forgot to add that in. Yes, Thorne Creapure 5g daily.

  27. Dora Dorenbush says:

    Ben, a few questions: My kidney function is low. I was advised to minimize proteins. Are the Kion Aminos for me? My vitamin A levels too high. Will the fish oils exacerbate my Vit A levels? Would you say that taking all of the supplements you listed will fulfil all my needs or should I take, additionally others. E.g. iodine, trace minerals (zinc, selenium, etc), berberine….. What about CoQ10, picnogenol, PQQ….. will you, can you, come up with other supplement combinations/ stacks so I don’t have to take so many individual pills.

    Love your “stuff”.

    Dora

    1. You can still take aminos and fish oil. Zero issues there. The aminos are quite easy on your kidney and there's not much A in the fish oil – only enough to keep it from oxidizing. You can still take a multi too. I am not a doctor and this is not to be taken, interpreted or construed as medical advice. Please talk with a licensed medical professional about this. These are just my own personal thoughts and not a prescription or a diagnosis or any form of health care whatsoever.

  28. Doug says:

    hi Ben,

    Just wondering if multi-vits (elite) factor into this also. Thx in advance. Doug

    1. Yep, that's the one I take.

  29. Ryan says:

    Hi, what do you recommend for high cholesterol? I was thinking of fish oil, krill oil, or cod liver oil perhaps and garlic ?

    My triglycerides (235) and LDL (192) numbers are high/ Hdl (62). Thanks !

    1. Depends. If you have high glucose, high inflammation or high triglyceride to hdl ratio then you need to do something about it. In your case, your triglycerdies are through the roof. I'd be limiting vegetable oil and starch and really upping dark leafy green and fish oil intake if I were you.

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