Supplements Update: What Supplements Does Ben Greenfield Take (& How To Time / Choose Your Personal Supplementation Protocol).

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I am often asked what supplements I take, why I take them, and if we really need supplements in the first place. After all, if you, like me, follow a healthy lifestyle, I'll wager you probably eat plenty of plants, prioritize sleep, hydrate with filtered water, and expose yourself to the sun as much as possible.

So why even consider supplementation?

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

That’s right.

The chronic stressors of modern life—ranging from heavy metal and synthetic chemical exposure to sensory overload—have been proven to increase your body’s need for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to shuttle toxins through detox pathways and prevent the formation of DNA-damaging free radical. This means that even if you are eating clean, relatively nutrient-dense food, you are likely not getting the full array of nutrients from food that prior generations enjoyed.

There are five factors that contribute to poor nutrient availability in most modern food.

1. Nutritionally Depleted Soil

Due to modern farming techniques and fertilizers, most soil is depleted of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in conventionally grown crops. You may think that eating organic is the ultimate solution. While some research suggests that organically grown food contains more nutrients than non-organic food, other research has concluded that there is no significant difference in nutritional content between the two. In addition, for most of human history (and prehistory), our ancestors ate now-nearly-extinct, dense-cell-rich carbohydrates in the form of foods like wild tubers, which provided essential prebiotics so that probiotic bacteria could flourish (in contrast to the refined acellular grains and white rice that comprise modern carbohydrates). In addition, the modern high intake of refined carbohydrates and processed foods creates significant blood sugar swings and glycemic variability that our ancestors did not encounter 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 after breakfast 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. This is a rollercoaster 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. Most Western diet munchers also consume an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, further exacerbating chronic inflammation.

2. Age-Related Declines In Nutrient Absorption

Your ability to absorb nutrients from food decreases as you age. While growing children should absolutely be taking a multivitamin to support healthy tissue and bone formation, supplementation becomes equally important for older generations. Many medications used to treat age-related diseases, such as acid reflux and hypertension, also interfere with proper nutrient absorption, further increasing the need to take supplements.

Then there are precious fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D. While the recommendations for sufficient vitamin D levels are controversial, it is safe to say that many Americans, especially aging Americans who spend more and more time indoors, do not get enough vitamin D. Even if we do our best to get sun exposure – whether it’s a morning walk or going outside for lunch – it is rare to get as much sunlight and vitamin D as our outdoor-dwelling ancestors did.

3. Poor Food Handling Practices

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 plants grown using more traditional farming methods, and nutrient content declines as they are shipped and sit on store shelves. It makes sense that 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 preservatives used to maintain freshness could impede the bioavailability of the food’s nutrients and even increase your body’s need for more nutrients to process these synthetic additives.

4. Pesticides, Herbicides & Pollutants

Pesticides, herbicides and chemicals found in the modern food supply are combined with low-quality water, environmental contaminants from elements like degraded plastic and airborne pollutants like carbon monoxide, lead and mercury. These synergistic factors vastly increase your need for extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients to combat the formation of free radicals and the attack on your metabolism and immune system.

5. Exercise

Are you an athlete or frequent exerciser? The amount of extra oxygen and energy used by active individuals requires far more than the nutritional RDA of the average population. Indeed, consuming only the stated RDA can actually limit your athletic performance. So if you engage in Crossfit WODs, Ironman triathlons, obstacle races or heavy weight-lifting, your nutritional requirements mean you need to take supplements.

In addition to these five factors, there are scientifically demonstrated longevity benefits of caloric restriction. Given these benefits, it seems silly to argue that you could ignore calories and simply eat more food to obtain nutrients. This is another crucial area where supplements come in – they are a helpful boost for those of us wanting to consume enough nutrients to function well but also wanting to live longer using strategies such as intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting and caloric restriction.

The assumption that previous generations didn’t take supplements is also not true. Ancient supplements include root, stem and leaf teas, medicinal powders ground by mortar and pestle and highly concentrated oil extracts. Just because these dietary supplements didn’t look like capsules and ridiculously-oversized tubs of powders doesn’t mean they weren’t supplements. In addition, our ancestors certainly consumed dirt, which we now know contains a wide range of beneficial probiotics. Perhaps even more compelling is the fact that animals, ranging from insects to chimps, self-medicate and supplement by consuming specific compounds. For example, when some caterpillars get infected by parasitic flies, they’ll eat poisonous plants to kill the invasive larvae. Ants fight off microbes and bacteria by adding spruce resin to their nests. Several animal species consume mud to counteract stomach upset, and animals of all kinds use plant medicine as their own rough approximation of “supplements.”

Ultimately, supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and even nootropics and psychedelics is a natural, time-honored way to enhance the body and brain. In our modern era, while many would argue that your brain should work fine on its own, operating with flawless precision in the presence of clean food, pure water, sunshine, and fresh air, I beg to differ and have benefited highly from a bit of ancestral wisdom combined with better living through science.

During this podcast, you'll discover:

-Why you would want to take supplements in the first place…9:48

  • The post-industrial age creates a greater need for nutrition than previous generations
  • Cell phones, air, water create toxicity for our systems
  • Food that is farmed and produced does not contain the same level of nutrients as before
    • Soil is depleted of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants
    • No significant differences in organic produce in nutrient levels
  • Ancestors ate nearly extinct foods: quinoa, tubers, cellular grains
  • Modern food is acellular grains and white rice
  • Abundance of refined carb and processed foods creates high blood sugar swings
  • Meat, eggs and dairy products contain fewer Omega-3s and other anti-inflammatory nutrients
    • Imbalanced Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (as high as 40:1)
  • Modern fertilizers deplete food of nutrients
  • Preservatives have deleterious effects (the age of “fresh” produce is a bit shocking)
    • Decreases bioavailability of nutrients and increases the body's need for nutrients
  • Fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin D) are deficient in most people
  • Multiple examples of supplementation occurring in ancient generations
    • Root, stem, leaf teas
    • Powders extracted and compounded to aid the body's nutrient absorption
    • Ate dirt, which contains  high amounts of probiotics
    • Chimps and monkeys self-medicate by consuming specific plants (sometimes psychedelic compounds)

-Supplements Ben uses for basic daily nutrient and micronutrient repletion…20:16

-Energy supplements…27:18


-Supplements for fat loss and blood sugar management…36:21

-Recovery supplements…38:27

-Supplements to keep your gut in tip-top shape…44:48

-Supplements to help with deep, restful sleep…54:51

-Supplements Ben is currently experimenting with…59:47

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Episode sponsors:

Kion Colostrum: Nature’s “first food” that supports immunity, GI function, athletic recovery, and more. BGF listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order at Kion when you use discount code: BGF10

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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


56 thoughts on “Supplements Update: What Supplements Does Ben Greenfield Take (& How To Time / Choose Your Personal Supplementation Protocol).

  1. Jeff says:

    The Thorne Elite AM PM is being discontinued. Any idea why that is and if they are producing an alternative, or what product of theirs would be best?
    I am from Canada and the Kion website and Amazon.com do not ship this the Thorne Elite to me.

  2. Andrew Magruder says:

    MagSRT vs. MagSoothe, both from Jigsaw, which describes MagSRT as energizing and for during the day use and contraindicates it for night time use.

    The choice comes down to Mag Malate (MagSRT) instead of Mag chelate (MagSoothe). Which of those is better for sleep?

    I’ve previously used Calm, and am looking for a pill form Mag supplement for sleep.

  3. Chris says:

    Oxytocin Spray. You mentioned it as a special date night thing with the wife. (With Luke Storey) Saw one with 50mcg per spray. How many sprays do you use? Seems intriguing way to add a bit of spice in a loving long term relationship.

  4. Sean says:

    Ben,

    Multi-vitamins are a “myth”, even from great providers like Thorne and Metagenics. See this article here, you can’t pack nearly enough nutrients into a small pill. It’s best to take several pills (doesn’t need to be SO many overall) to cover your daily needs; usually you end up saving money this way too…

    https://besynchro.com/blogs/blog/8381011-debunking-the-multivitamin-myth-supplementation-series-part-1-of-3?_pos=1&_sid=abc8bde61&_ss=r

    -Sean

  5. Richard Henderson says:

    I have a recommendation to add to your reading list. The AGE Less Diet by Helen Vlassara MD. She shows the research around how eating a diet high in Advanced Glycation End Products leads to chronic inflammation and accelerates aging and causes chronic disease. This concept seems to not be one anyone’s radar but a I think it needs to be. Also would probably be a good Podcast show.

  6. Hannah Osterheim says:

    Hi Ben! I absolutely LOVE hearing about your routine & this podcast was so amazing to hear you talk about what you believe in most. With that being said, I was wondering if on a future Q&A podcast if you could talk about the best routine for someone who works out in the morning. Working the way I do, commuting, etc., it’s not really feasible to have a consistent 4pm workout schedule. Questions I have been wondering is how someone who works out in the morning should control carb loading? Or if they should at all? If so/if not, when to eat the most carbs, what do you do for the other meals? How to schedule out the supplements? etc etc. Thank you so much! Hannah

  7. Jake Adams says:

    What would you suggest as far as prenatal and pregnancy supplement stacks?

  8. James says:

    What about getting enough minerals, should that be taken into consideration separately from any of the multivitamin supplements you suggested? I recall you recommending Natural Vitality’s brand at some point, maybe in a separate article.
    I’m trying to cut costs on supplement regimin so I ‘d like to know how necessary that would be.. thanks

  9. Jack says:

    What would the drop off be from Thorne Multivitamin Elite to Thorne Basic Nutrients 2/Day (28.00)?

  10. Thomas Shepard says:

    When working out in fasted State, how long should I wait to refeed with protein whey, amino acids, and food?

  11. Joe says:

    Hi Ben,

    Good stuff as always.

    I listened to the one with Ian Mitchell regarding C60 and was thinking about trying it out myself as you indicated in this current podcast you are doing now.

    What’s your impression so far?

    Joe

  12. Glaucio says:

    Ben,

    I intend to add Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Beef Organs to my daily regimen. Serving size is 6 capsules. Do you recommend taking a full serving in the morning and evening or could I get away with taking 2 half servings per day?

    Your frugal biohacker,

    Glaucio

  13. Lisa C says:

    Hi Ben,
    I love your podcast and have gotten a lot of value from it, so thank you! In this episode you referred to a book by Dr. Daniel Amen. Can you let us know what the title is? My apologies if it’s somewhere and I’ve missed it. Thanks.

  14. Denet says:

    Great show, super helpful, thank you. Just wondering doesn’t Ben take any vitamin C?
    Thanks

  15. Johnny says:

    Hi Ben, is it okay to combo Kion Aminos with Beta alanine and L-Citrulline Malate? Didn’t know if there was competition with amino acid absorption when combining these pre workout.

  16. Lisa says:

    Hi team Kion/ Ben,

    Can I use Kion Colostrum if I’m lactose intolerant (since it contains goat milk)?

    Thank you very much!

    Lisa

    1. Kenneth Moran says:

      From what I understand about colostrum, the levels of lactose in colostrum are minimal and have likely won’t give someone with an intolerance any issues. As far as milk derived from goats, or sheep for that matter, you should also be ok as they contain predominantly type A2 casein. A1 casein, found in cow dairy, is the problematic protein that folks who have lactose issues will struggle with. I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to tolerate goat colostrum.

    2. Goat's colostrum contains a very small amount of lactose that generally doesn't bother those who are lactose intolerant.

  17. Kenneth Moran says:

    I’ve noticed a few people asking, and I’m wondering myself, what are your sources for the Transdermal nitroglycerin cream, intranasal semax, and intranasal oxytocin? Oxytocin yields some results on amazon although some have some additives so I’m not sure if I should opt for the pure, and the nitroglycerin just gives me hemorrhoid creams. Thanks

  18. Brad Kernick says:

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for answering questions; If you have a minute for mine, I would greatly appreciate it.

    In your boundless pre-released chapter 13 you talk about getting a genetic test to help determine a persons correct diet and supplements and mention 23andMe. However, I recall your podcast with Dr. Karim Dhanani from the Centre for Biological Medicine and what appeared to be a superior genetic test. With the cost of Dr. Dhanani’s test multiple times higher, which one would you recommend to determine not only dietary genes but overall health markers as well?

    Cheers!

    Brad.

  19. Eric Guido says:

    Ben, a great episode. I’ve already started making some adjustments based on your regiment.
    My question, will colostrum take you out of a fasted state?
    And, is there any issue with taking them only about 1/2 hour prior to Kion Aminos?

    I work out fasted in the early morning with Aminos, and wondering where ti can fit in.
    Thanks

  20. Reg W says:

    Whatever happened to the activated charcoal capsules you were taking? Those were always somewhere in your regiment when traveling.

    1. Reg W says:

      Sorry, meant regimen!

    2. django says:

      ye what happened ??

      1. Reg W says:

        Do a Google search with Ben Greenfield and Activated Charcoal and you’ll get the idea.

  21. Florencia D says:

    Hi Mr. Greenfield!

    In 52:50, you mentioned that you can place the coconut yogurt in the OVEN for 100º. How long do you leave it in the oven?

    Thank you!

    1. RayWilly says:

      Google: How to make L. reuteri yogurt: A step-by-step guide | Dr. William Davis

  22. James says:

    For those wondering about the total cost of going Full Ben Greenfield™ I made a spreadsheet that explains the breakdown: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1MdgVNwmb6…

    I also included a “Ben Greenfield Lite” page on the spreadsheet where I unscientifically and for my own benefit chose the supplements in each category that would give you 80% of the benefit for ~20% of the cost.

    Too lazy to click? Taking every one of these supplements in the frequency Ben takes them will cost you approximately $1070 to buy all of them, and around $827 per month.

    Yeah that’s a lot of money, but I mean, this is a really good, curated, and effective list of supplements.

    The “80/20 rule” supplement regimen cost is about $350 per month. That’s the one I seem to be following the most closely.

    Lastly, I didn’t do this for anyone’s benefit but myself. It was just fun. Idk, I like nerdy things.

    1. Jeff says:

      Thanks James super helpful.

  23. LMU says:

    I thought this was a very valuable podcast and provided the specifics many listeners are after. One question for Ben–and I would suggest this would be great click bait to drive traffic to this one: what is the dollar tally for this regime on a daily basis?

    If Ben, or someone working for Ben, is willing to provide a ballpark figure, it would give listeners an insight into what investment is required to follow a regime commensurate with someone as informed and committed as Ben Greenfield. Thank you.

    1. Steve says:

      Looks like James made an excel sheet for this, his comment is on top of yours

  24. Tor says:

    I am surprised you did not mention supplements that are taken by David Sinclair, such as NMN or nicotinamide mononucleotide, NAR, NR or Resveatrol. Are you supplementing with these products and if so, what manufactures should we consider?

    1. LMU says:

      I wondered this, too.

    2. Mike says:

      Me too. I take NR and NMN. I get a lot of benefit. I heard once on a podcast that Ben takes NAD intravenously.

    3. Nick says:

      They are not systemically very bioavailable at commercially available doses. Look at Rhonda Patrick’s review of the literature.

  25. Nagarjun says:

    Hey ben,

    Do you recommend any supplement for improving REM sleep?

    1. Nick says:

      Huperzine can work but what I have found most effective is to wake up a little later as most REM happens in the second half a night of sleep.

  26. Jada says:

    HI Ben,

    Loving your podcast! Very helpful info when your husband is a professional athlete! I”m curious why you don’t take hydrogen tablets or Plankton blooms? Also, do you have a podcast on what you give your kids?

    Blessings,
    Jada

  27. PrairieA says:

    At age 13, would you put a kid on adult multivitamin ?

  28. Bill Montgomery says:

    Ben,
    Two things. I ordered some C60 and noticed it had L-carnosine in it which lowers blood pressure. I have low blood pressure already and today it was 96/56. These dizzy spells are no fun. I am pretty sure it is from this stuff. I have been on it steady for 3 weeks. So be careful! Two, you said you recommended taking multi with food. So you don’t think the Calton’s are right about taking them away from food due to competition?

    Thanks!

    Bill

  29. Jose says:

    Hi Mr. Greenfield,

    Are there any disadvantages of taking fish oil with a meal in the evening vs the morning?

    I was under the impression that DHA was helpful to improve sleep when taken at night.

    Thank you!

  30. Steve says:

    Ben, if you are drinking coffee every morning, what are your thoughts regarding the pros and cons of mixing creatine with caffeine?

    https://www.healthline.com/health/creatine-and-ca…

    1. Nick says:

      I wouldn’t worry about it. Do whatever feels natural.

  31. Ronnie Ramirez says:

    Hey Folks

    This is not been an easy experience, try to be brief.

    Now after a Lf Side Basil Ganglia stroke. Hitting the gym harder than I have ever. Worked construction in Chicago which led to that lifestyle of drinking, drugs 25 years of a hard life that led to a accident breaking 25 bones to the stroke in beginning of 17. Now pounding like I never thought would be possible. Earlier had CYO ( Chicago Youth Organization)boxing title blk belt in Taekwondo. Whoop for a year to see progress with a sound diet exercise listening to Ben,off 14 Medications from Rush Chicago. Supplement deducing to a perfect protocol, through having a better feel for all things now. Question is how?? Went from 220 to 135 at time of stroke. Steady at 153. When I say pounding hard would be an understatement. Started with a dumbbell 5 reps in front of the mirror a day to now.

    Thank you 🙏🏻

    1. Ronnie Ramirez says:

      Meditation practice has been key as well,now over protocol.🙏🏻

  32. Peter Fokas says:

    What about NAD supplementation?

    1. Ronnie Ramirez says:

      Have been using Nicotinamide Riboside Thorne for 2 years, definitely helps me.

      1. Nick says:

        At what dose?

      2. Brandon says:

        How does it help? I took it for a few months and never noticed a thing. I find it remarkable that my biology could be so different. I have tried 1000’s of supplements over the years (including different brands as part of that) and can’t tell any difference one way or another not counting stimulants. I feel like I have wasted 10’s of thousands of dollars on stuff that did absolutely nothing over the years. I often wonder if I haven’t caused more harm then good with all the extra stress on my organs to process this stuff. I don’t look younger or feel any younger then people my age. I feel and look great, just not better. I have used all the “recommended” supplements for about 32 years now so I imagine they would have worked by now right??? LOL Oldest living woman just turned 117. Bet she takes zero supplements or very very few and probably eats a lot of foods that are supposedly bad for you. I don’t think we are anywhere near understanding what is needed and what isn’t. I took 50000 (yes 50000) iu a day of Thorne (good brand) Vitamin D/K2 a day for 6 months and my Vitamin D levels went down. Measured before and after. Our bodies are very complex and down regulate or up regulate as needed. From my experience those with a true deficiency will see a benefit of taking something to offset that deficiency via supplements or diet. Those of us who eat healthy and are moderately active (not hard core athletes) will see very little benefit if any from all of this stuff. We will need to wait another 50 years to see if Ben Greenfield is still kicking and if he is how good does he look? I’d bet my life savings he won’t look much better then any other healthy and fit 80 something year old. Time will tell. If you have the 1000 bucks a month to burn then more power to you. 90% of you probably do not get a full (no alarm clock) nights sleep consistently. Eat in moderation 99% of the time and excercise moderately with 100% consistency. Until you do those three things the money spend on supplementation is likely wasted. Just my opinion. By the way I am still spending lots of money each year on supplementation. I currently have about 25 jars of stuff in my pantry. Again, can’t tell any difference either way.

    2. Tor Lam says:

      My question as well. Ben Greenfield did not mention taking NAD or Resveratrol.

  33. Noah says:

    Hey Ben, another great article! I was just wondering what your thoughts are on DPA. Is it necessary, or are the products with it such as Pure Omega-3 from Natural Force or Omega JYM from JYM Supplement Science out to get us?

  34. Sylven Claessen says:

    I’m really curious if you’ve experimented with the supplements from Cymbiotika? Their founder Chervin did an incredible podcast on Living 4D with Paul Chek and their supplements seem top-notch

    1. Martin says:

      Hello,

      Never trust a salesman. It’s just an antioxidant in a little bottle. No backed research. Next they are going to tell us that we come from fishes and need to eat algae. Stick with the basic stuff.

      1. Kyle Bruce Leighton says:

        You realize Ben is a salesman as well, yes? Take everything with a grain of salt

      1. catpil says:

        Tian Chi seems very interesting….but there is ZERO data on how it’s sourced etc. Plus, the founder apparently had bladder cancer that he believes is related to “chemical exposure” from working on a farm. OK, but what if it was from chemical exposure his herbs that are sourced from the ends of the earth ?????

        Any thoughts? I’d like to try the product. Convince me.

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