Since I’m working on something else that’s taking up quite a bit of time at the moment, I’ll use this week’s post to spill the beans on what I take to supplement my dietary nutrition. Some of this post may be review for some of you, some of it may be new.
Anyway, my diet is mostly hit or miss and varies depending on a bunch of factors, so I’ve taken great pains to figure out what it is I’m missing, and what I need the most. I’m sure it’s the same for most other people too.
I’ve done much personal research since I started this site last year, and this stack is based on that research, my personal experience over the last few years, and the limits of my budget.
While I can’t say the following stack is for everyone, maybe you can figure out just what you need by reading this post, digging through the archives (found at page footer), hitting me up for a $5 consultation, or by checking out Male Health Protocol. Do what you need to in order to figure out what you need.
Purchasing recommendations and a discount for my personal stack here are found at the end of this post. There are no herbs in this post because I often rotate them and often use them for therapeutic purposes rather than in a nutritional sense.
A lot of the vitamins I selected are just harder to come by in a simple broke bachelor’s diet. I eat as clean and as healthy as I can, but I keep supplements on hand to ensure I get good nutrition whether it’s a feast time or a famine time.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is rich in DHA and EPA forms of Omega-3 fatty acids, and contains a decent amount of the vitamins A, D3 and vitamin E. Unlike other supplements that contain synthetic forms of vitamins A and E, the forms found naturally in cod liver oil are much healthier and usable by the body. This assumption stems from the fact that these nutrients would be found in foods that many of us do not eat today, namely organ meats.
Regardless of quality or brand, cod liver oil is probably the most expensive supplement on this list. However, taking it ensures that I don’t need to take 3 or 4 separate supplements. The nutrients in cod liver oil are good for maintaining a good baseline level of health and cognition. I think of it as foundational since Omega-3’s and fat-solubles like Vitamin A and E are harder to come by in a very simple diet.
I supplement Vitamin K2 because I know I don’t get enough in my diet and because it’s not present in many foods in general. One prominent natural source of K2 is fermented soy (natto – a Japanese food), and that’s nowhere near my dietary intake.
Besides, I don’t know whether my gut bacteria produce adequate amounts of it either, as these bacteria are required to turn K1 from plant foods into K2, the usable form for the body.
In the past I have written about Vitamin K2 and its relationship to vitamin D3.
D3 is popular and well-known, while K2 hardly gets a passing mention. Vitamin D3 is important as it ensures that the body holds onto the calcium it receives in the diet among other things.
Vitamin K2 ensures that the calcium is sequestered where it needs to be, particularly the bones and teeth. Incidentally the health of the skeletal system is linked to testosterone production.
While it’s not known if Vitamin D3 can directly contribute to calcification of tissues other than bone, one thing that is certain is that D3 stores that calcium somewhere.
A chronic shortage of its “regulator” Vitamin K2 is linked to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and similar issues where calcium is stored in the body’s soft tissues: That’s another reason why I supplement Vitamin K2.
I am firmly of the belief that you shouldn’t have one without the other.
Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol)
I still take anywhere from 1000 to 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 drops almost daily.
Even though the cod liver oil tends to have the “daily recommended amount” of 400 IUs of vitamin D3 in it (the bare minimum needed to prevent the disease called rickets), taking the amounts that I do on a daily basis seems to be related to testicle size and my erectile ability.
I’ve noticed that both of these benign/favorable side effects are part of a complicated relationship with the minerals I also supplement that are related to testosterone production and general health (we’re getting to that right now).
I supplement this amount of vitamin D3 and get some good end results from it for myself. I haven’t found a reason not to take this supplement since it’s hard to come by in the diet anyway.
The D2 form (ergocalciferol) is practically useless. Unless you know of any real applications for it, I would avoid it.
Pharmacopoeias have officially regarded these 2 forms [Ed.: Vitamin D3 and D2] as equivalent and interchangeable, yet this presumption of equivalence is based on studies of rickets prevention in infants conducted 70 y ago.
Given the assumption that the intake of any nutrient will deliver defined effects [ie, supplementation with vitamin D will lead to an increase in 25(OH)D or fracture prevention], it is clear that vitamin D2 does not fit this current nutritional notion. This is not to suggest that vitamin D2 is not efficacious, but, because the units of the 2 forms is clearly not equivalent, likely due to its distinct metabolic features and diminished binding of vitamin D2 metabolites to DBP in plasma, continual application of vitamin D2 in clinical use, including in research trials, only serves to confound our understanding of optimal vitamin D dosing recommendations. Furthermore, the public expects to derive the equivalent effect per unit dose of vitamin D, whether it is vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. The scientific community is aware that these molecules are not equivalent. Therefore, vitamin D2 should no longer be regarded as a nutrient appropriate for supplementation or fortification of foods.
I take a B complex dosage once a day. I’ve written about the B Vitamins recently, summarizing why each one is important for general health.
While serious pathological deficiency is unlikely as most foods are fortified with enough to keep you alive, certain ones are harder to come by for some people, such as biotin, pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6) and cobalamin (B12).
Instead of purchasing each one separately I simply buy a B complex and take them all at once. Piece of cake.
The one thing you have to look out for in a B vitamin supplement is the form of the nutrients you’re getting since not all of them are equal. For example, Vitamin B3 (Niacin) comes in two forms – one that causes skin flushing in high enough doses, and one (niacinamide) that helps change blood sugar levels, esp. in Type 1 diabetics.
Vitamin B12 is another one. Most supplements contain cyanocobalamin, which is the synthetic form of B12. It’s not known to be as bioavailable or efficacious as the form found in nature, methylcobalamin.
Oral bioavailability of nutrients especially B12 is questionable, but you do absorb some of it. It’s why the B complex vitamins have absurdly high recommended daily value percentages, usually as high as 10,000% or more for B12 in a single serving for example.
I covered Vitamin C recently too.
I’m currently just experimenting with the benefits of taking higher than the recommended daily doses of ascorbic supplements since we already get “100% Vitamin C” in a lot of foods and drinks. Like a few of the other vitamins I just covered, the RDA for Vitamin C is just enough to prevent you from having the visible symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.
It’s been suggested that truly adequate Vitamin C intake promotes dental health, tissue healing and recovery, cardiovascular health, and adrenal health.
Vitamin C is in a lot of cold remedies, but I think vitamin D3 is more important for that.
You can die without getting any at all since neither your body nor your intestinal bacteria produce adequate Vitamin C. Therefore, it’s pretty important.
The current Vitamin C supplement I take is a calcium ascorbate powder. It’s good, is non-acidic, but it gives me a lot of calcium where I am forced to take extra magnesium to balance out the cramp-inducing effects it apparently has on me.
In smaller doses (less than 1/2 teaspoon of the powder) I have minimum or no cramping at all.
There’s a ton of minerals that you need to be healthy. The big ones that are missing in the standard diet are zinc, magnesium, selenium, potassium, iodine, manganese and phosphorous. Personally I don’t supplement most of these, but there are a few supplements I do take that seem to help me.
Every day I take a liquid supplement by Trace Minerals Research called ConcenTrace.
I am not specifically affiliated with them BUT I do really enjoy this supplement and use it daily, so I advocate it for this reason. Looking at the nutrition label for this supplement, it has 72 or so trace minerals in total.
The most significant mineral here being magnesium where one daily serving gives you 65% of the RDA for the supplement. Most oral magnesium supplements aren’t very bioavailable but I suspect this one is considering the minerals were isolated from evaporated water from the Great Salt Lakes anyway. They have a bunch of other mineral-based supplements too that may be worth checking out.
The only catch with ConcenTrace is that it’s relatively pricey up front, but spread out over 90 days, you’ll spend about $0.25 per dose. When I take it, I feel good and I don’t get muscle cramps.
I take a zinc supplement every day or so. Sometimes I don’t take it and don’t notice anything wrong.
Taking too much zinc chronically can offset your body’s copper balance. Fortunately NOW Foods sells a zinc supplement that contains trace amounts of copper so you don’t have to worry about that as much.
I try to take it at night to prevent food interference with my mineral absorption.
Selenium is good for you and your testosterone production but I do not regularly supplement this one. Some supplements are available, but you can also get selenium in significant amounts in Brazil nuts and tiny amounts in the ConcenTrace supplement I mentioned previously.
Purchasing these supplements
It shows you how much it will cost you to order 2 to 3 month supply of all the supplements mentioned here.
It’s roughly $120, and comes with free shipping in the US at that price. You can add or remove items at your discretion, too.
This sounds like a lot up front, but spread over a year will be just under $500. Consider that the average American spends $200 per month by eating out — Cook some food at home and invest in your health.
If you use my iHerb link (the pre-loaded shopping cart example I just linked you), you get a discount and I get a small commission at no cost to you.
Right now there’s an additional “VIP” discount available to buyers through the end of March, (14% if it’s just over $120) so hop on that offer too while you can.
As always, you can simply use this list as a reference if you choose to buy at your local supplements store. You don’t have to use my affiliate links if you don’t want to.
Also, let me know what you think about my personal stack. I’m going to start encouraging readers here to comment below ↓