I have experimented with a large number of dietary supplements, but there are only a few that I take consistently. None of these are meant to replace nutrient-dense foods in my diet. I consider such a strategy to be extremely unwise because there is too much we do not understand about the interacting components of whole foods. As the word “supplement” implies, these are added to my best attempt at a nutrient-dense and balanced diet.
I have a genetic polymorphism in the enzyme vitamin K epoxide oxidoreductase (VKOR), which decreases the rate at which I recycle vitamin K and presumably increases my dietary need for the vitamin. I suspect this is part of why I am so vulnerable to tooth decay when the nutrient density of my diet is suboptimal. I therefore take 1 mg/day of Thorne vitamin K2 as insurance.
There are a few reasons I use this form. First of all, it is provided as MK-4, which is the specific form of vitamin K2 that humans and other mammals appear to require for specific roles in gene expression that are likely to protect against cancer and support optimal sex hormone production. Compared to other MK-4 supplements, I like that the dose is lower (for example, the lowest dose I can take of Carlson’s is 5 mg) and that it is in a liquid base, which gives me greater confidence in its bioavailability. Compared with MK-7 supplements, it provides me with a large dose of a harder-to-get form of vitamin K instead of providing me with a dose of MK-7 that I can easily get by eating cheese.
I buy it through iherb.com. At $65 per bottle, it may initially seem pricey. It isn’t. It’s actually dirt cheap. One bottle lasts over three years at the dose I take, which is 15 times less than the dose listed on the label. So it actually costs me less than $20/year.
Since vitamin K is fat-soluble, I take it with the highest-fat meal of the day, which for me is usually lunch.
I have a clinical history suggesting a large need for vitamin A. Signs include eye dryness and hyperkeratosis that seem to respond to vitamin A. Problems I have had entraining my circadian rhythm also seem to respond to vitamin A. When I am not making an intensive effort to consume large amounts of vitamin A, my serum retinol hangs out near the bottom of the reference range.
I do not believe that most people need as much vitamin A as I do, and I do not recommend people take as much as I do without monitoring their fasting serum retinol and fasting serum retinyl esters (Quest calls these serum vitamin A and serum vitamin A palmitate; if they are added together, retinyl esters being more than 10 percent of the total suggests the liver’s storage capacity for vitamin A is being overwhelmed).
I currently supplement with 50,000 IU per day of Carlson’s vitamin A.
Since vitamin A is fat-soluble, I take it with the highest-fat meal of the day, which for me is usually lunch.
More often than not, I take a tablespoon of gelatin or hydrolyzed collagen at night with my dessert. I don’t have any loyalty to a particular brand, but I have been using Great Lakes based on its excellent price.
Cod Liver Oil
During the coldest 2-4 months of the year, I take one serving of cod liver oil per day. This winter I plan to compare my response to Green Pastures and Rosita. When I take cod liver oil, I take it with the highest-fat meal of the day, which for me is usually lunch.
I aim to consume at least one gram of calcium per day. Right now, I am meeting that mostly through cheese. During the period where I lost 30 pounds in a little over three months, I was eating less cheese and relied on bone meal to meet those needs. I was using Kal.
Kal has some extra calcium carbonate added, which I considered valuable because I was getting plenty of phosphorus from meat at the time and my main goal was to get calcium. I thus considered it beneficial that this product contained the other trace minerals found in bone as well as the protein components of bone, yet with a higher calcium-to-phosphorus ratio than I would get from pure bone meal. Calcium carbonate is poorly bioavailable, however, when taken by people with low stomach acid, particularly when taken on an empty stomach, so this is not the ideal calcium supplement for everyone.
Energy Metabolism Supplements
In the past, I have found that I feel most energetic and most able to maintain stable energy between meals when supplementing with acetyl-L-carnitine, R-alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, and Source Naturals Coenzymate B (the only B complex I’ve ever seen that I like).
However, I have found that I get the same or better benefit by eating a large portion of my protein requirement in the form of liver and heart, which together are very rich in these nutrients. I find that to be far more economical. My simple way to do this right now is to regularly consume US Wellness Meats liverwurst.
I take these supplements because I find them helpful to me because of my particular constitution, genetics, goals, and perceived responses to the supplements. I hope this page provides you with some insights into what might be helpful to you and inspires you to put together a supplemental regime that works best for you. Take what works for you, leave what doesn’t, and experiment to find what you can add to your own program.
Most importantly, make good food the foundation of your nutrition, and avoid megadosing with anything without the help of an expert who can measure and interpret your nutritional status.