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Should I Take Supplements?

Should I Take Supplements? Are supplements necessary for health? Learn all about supplementation!

 

Should I take supplements?

Have you ever asked yourself should I take supplements? I have!

 

At one point in my life, I had an entire cabinet dedicated to supplements. An entire cabinet! That’s a whole lot of supplements! And a whole lot of money! 

 

The supplement world can be super confusing. Shelves and shelves of bottles line up promising big results. Did you know the supplement industry is  a multi billion dollar industry? These supplement companies and advertisers make so many claims promising big results with little to no work. They do such a good job at marketing that it’s easy to get sucked into the hype. If you’ve gotten sucked in, believe me, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. Remember my whole cabinet filled with supplements? 🙂 

 

As a real food, health blogger, an avid researcher and a generally very healthy person, Should I take supplements is a question I get asked often. And most recently, various people want to know my view on supplements, if I personally take any to stay healthy and if so, which supplements?

 

Please note that I am NOT a doctor and the supplements I take are based on my own research and what is working for me personally. I love to discuss natural remedies and to tell you about what’s worked/working for me, but please understand that I am not allowed to give any medical advice to you and the information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

 

Should I take supplements?

 

In general, I am not a big fan of taking a lot of supplements in pill form. I believe that we should be getting our nutrients from real foods, not a pill.  If the bulk of your diet is processed and lacking in nutrients, you cannot be healthy no matter how many supplements you take.  You cannot out supplement a poor diet!

 

However, even if you are doing everything right, it is almost impossible to get all of your nutrients from food these days. 

 

Modern farming practices have depleted our soil of nutrients.  Studies from the Journal of American College of Nutrition reveal a 40% drop in the nutrient content of vegetables since 1950 alone.  The water we drink is also depleted of minerals because of modern production methods. Water filters remove the harmful toxins, but they also remove key minerals we need like magnesium. And don’t forget about the onslaught of uncontrollable toxins that we are bombarded with these days.   Did you know that our body needs more nutrients to process the tremendous amount of toxins it is exposed to everyday?

 

So even if you are eating everything organically raised, reducing your exposure to household chemicals and trying to live a healthy, active lifestyle, it’s still likely that you still have some nutritional gaps thanks to the abundance of toxins in our environment and from nutrient depleted soil.  Vitamins and minerals are critical for metabolic functions in the body, and deficiencies contribute to anxiety, aging, cardiovascular disease, digestive issues, and increased stress.

 

Because of that, I do choose to supplement with a few select supplements. I think some of my “supplements” may surprise you!

  Should I take supplements?

 

Here are the supplements I take every day:

 

1. Frozen Raw Liver Pills (My Multi-Vitamin)

I call my homemade frozen raw liver pills my real food multi-vitamin and I don’t go a day without them. I know what you’re probably thinking right now, “this girl has lost her marbles.” 

I totally would have thought the same thing a few years ago, too, but hear me out.  I have experienced some profound differences since taking frozen raw liver pills – no more PMS or hormone issues, an abundance of energy & increased athletic performance just to name a few. Since my frozen raw liver pills blog post (HERE), I’ve received countless emails, messages and comments saying that supplementing with homemade raw liver pills has changed their lives for the better, too.

Organ meats from healthy, pasture raised animals are gram for gram, the most nutrient dense source of food we can eat.  They are jam packed with mega sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 

Here are some highlights of this true superfood:

  • Nature’s most concentrated source of Vitamin A
  • Contains all of the B Vitamins in abundance, especially B12.
  • One of our best sources of folate
  • A highly bioavailable source of iron
  • Nature’s best source of copper
  • Contains many other minerals like zinc and chromium
  • Contains a great source of CoQ10 

That’s why liver from a healthy animal is the ideal way for me to take a multi-vitamin. I take about 4 to 5 of my homemade “pills” in the morning. Not only do I get a large dose of bioavailable nutrients, but I also receive some incredible energy that lasts me through the day.

 

Why I don’t take a multi-vitamin pill: 

Most multi-vitamins on the market are made of synthetic vitamins made in a lab.  Artificial vitamins are not as effective as the real deal and in some cases, can actually be harmful. Researchers are finally seeing that whole foods behave much differently than isolated vitamins. So even if a multi-vitamin label has the right amount of nutrients on it, your body is not actually absorbing all of those nutrients. That means most of the time you’re just paying for some expensive pee when you take a multi-vitamin! Nutrients in whole foods work together in a process called food synergy. Most nutrients require specific enzymes, antioxidants, other nutrients, and still yet to be discovered elements to be present so that they can be properly absorbed.  This does not happen with isolated nutrients. One of the things that I’ve always found fascinating is that this happens naturally with whole food! The nutrients in whole foods are already perfectly packaged in such a way and are best utilized by our body in that format.

 

Not ready for liver pills or organ meats? 

If you aren’t ready to take liver pills or eat cooked organ meats, believe me, I get that. It took me a long while before I got the kahonies to even touch organ meats so I totally understand.  THIS is one whole foods based multi-vitamin that I feel very comfortable recommending and what I took before I discovered the benefits of raw liver pills and organ meats. It’s from a great company and they have a few different formulas to choose from if you are a man, a woman, for kids, over 40, etc. 

Whole Foods Based Multivitamin

 

 2. Magnesium

I’ve seen statistics that say over 80%  of us are not getting the ideal amount of magnesium and are therefore deficient. And it’s nearly impossible to get enough magnesium through diet alone. Even though I eat a wide variety of organic, in-season foods, when I started supplementing with magnesium, it changed my life. Taking raw liver pills and supplementing with magnesium are the 2 most dramatic differences I’ve felt health wise in my life so far. Because of the dramatic difference I’ve seen with magnesium supplementation, I sing the praises of magnesium to anyone who will listen.

 

Why is magnesium so important?

Magnesium is needed for over 300 enzymatic processes and assists in literally thousands of biochemical functions in the body! A lack of this important nutrient is a major factor in many very common health problems. In fact, when people start supplementing with magnesium, they frequently tell me, “I can’t believe it! My chronic headaches and migraines are gone!” or “I can finally sleep through the night!” or “My anxiety issues are now nonexistent!” For me personally, magnesium totally evened out my mood swings and irritability. I am like a totally different (much better!) person because of it.

Here’s some benefits you may experience from magnesium supplementation:

  • Aids in hypertension
  • Relieves joint pain (great for those suffering with arthritis)
  • Relieves restless leg syndrome
  • Relieves migraines and headaches
  • Prevents strokes and aids in stroke recovery
  • Improves insomnia
  • Helps maintain memory function
  • Removes the buildup of toxins and heavy metals
  • Helps build bones and make proteins
  • Helps smooth out cellulite and wrinkles
  • Relieves anxiety and panic attacks
  • Calming effect on the nervous system
  • Autistic patients have shown vast improvements when taking magnesium
  • Prevents PMS and cramping during menses
  • Helps tooth decay
  • Helps diabetics because without magnesium, insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells
  • Helps those suffering with asthma because it reduces bronchial spasms and lessens histamine production
  • Helps cystitis
  • Helps Musculoskeletal conditions like muscle spasms, eye twitches, and fibromyalgia
  • …and more (learn more about magnesium HERE)

Ideally, magnesium should be taken at night because it promotes a very deep, restful sleep. I can totally attest to that – wow is all I can say!

I take magnesium in the form of an Epsom Salt bath a few nights a week. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, a highly absorbable form of magnesium.  Not only is taking an epsom salt bath a very effective way to de-stress, which is so important for overall health, but Epsom Salt Baths are a great way to get the proper amount of magnesium.  You can find Epsom Salt very easily at your local grocery or drugstore.

 The evenings that I am too busy to take an Epsom Salt bath, I take just a small dose (1/2 teaspoon) of Natural Calm, a high quality, easily absorbable magnesium supplement. You can find Natural Calm HERE. If you’re not sure if magnesium could help you, read the Amazon reviews on Natural Calm HERE. The results speak for themselves!

 

3. Bone Broth / Collagen Supplement

I’ve sung the praises of bone broth many times throughout my blogposts. It reduces inflammation, helps joint pain, fights infections, is wonderful for skin, hair and nails and so much more. Homemade broth is also rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals that are hard to obtain and absorb otherwise.

Health Benefits Bone Broth - PrimallyInspired.com

I try to make an effort to make and consume bone broth (tutorial HERE) on a regular basis because of the vast health benefits. But on the days and weeks when I don’t (life happens), I supplement with THIS collagen supplement. It’s sourced from healthy, pasture raised animals. I put one tablespoon in my evening herbal tea. I’ve definitely noticed the skin and hair benefits from bone broth and collagen supplementation.  My hair has never been thicker. And my skin in my late-thirties actually looks better, smoother and has less fine lines than it did 10 years ago when I was in my twenties. I’m a big fan!

 

4. Cod Liver Oil (Vitamin D, A and EPA/DHA)

Most likely you’ve already heard from an expert that you should be taking a fish oil supplement. But here’s the thing about fish oils: If you don’t take a good quality fish oil supplement, you’re actually doing yourself more harm than good. Here’s some advice: If you can’t afford a good quality fish oil, don’t buy it at all.  Most fish oils on the market (especially the ones at your grocery store), are contaminated, oxidized and very low potency. Fish oil is a very delicate and unstable fat and it oxidizes easily and quickly.  Most companies process their fish oil using very high heat and/or purification methods that causes the oil to go rancid and destroys the nutrients. And rancid fish oil is like taking a dose of free radicals. Um, no thank you! This is why I say if you can’t afford a high quality fish oil, please don’t take one at all.

But a good quality fish oil is one of the best concentrated sources of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is another nutrient that the majority of us are lacking unless you are a full time lifeguard who wears a teeny bikini in Southern California.   Fish oil is also is a great source of Vitamin A, which is critical for fertility & immune function. Good quality fish oils also lowers inflammation, improves brain function and helps strengthen and support your immune system. 

THIS and THIS are the fish oils I switch back and forth from. I’ve noticed excellent results from both. I take a teaspoon a day and double up my dose for a few days if I feel any hint of sickness coming on or if I’ve been around sick people. I haven’t had a full fledged cold or flu in over 10 years and am a believer that the extra immune support from my fish oil supplementation is working really well for me.

 

5. Probiotics 

I am a fan of eating a very small amount of fermented foods each day to populate my digestive tract with good bacteria (probiotics) for gut and immune health.  My fermented foods of choice are homemade sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. I only eat 1 or 2 tablespoons a day of a fermented food – that’s it! One spoonful of a fermented food contains more probiotics than an entire bottle of probiotic pills. Plus, probiotic pills are expensive!

But I do understand there’s people out there that just want the pill and wish to know what I would recommend. HERE is one that is from a great company – it’s the same probiotic pills that many holistic practitioners recommend to their patients. But, really, just eat the food 😉

 

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth, commonly known as DE, is a fine powder similar to the texture of baby powder. It’s made from fossilized phytoplankton. Under a microscope, it’s very sharp and hard – harder than a diamond. That is significant because DE slices through the exoskeletons of pests and bacteria, killing them, but leaves your human digestive tract unharmed. It has a very strong negative charge. As DE moves through the stomach and digestive tract, it attracts and absorbs fungi, protozoa, viruses, endotoxins, pesticides, drug residues, E.coli, and heavy metals which are trapped inside their cylinder shape and then excreted from the body. In addition, any larger parasites that happen to be in the stomach or digestive tract are “cut up” and killed by the sharp edges of DE (source)

DE is made of 89% silica and about 20 other trace minerals. Because of DE’s high concentration of minerals and it’s natural detoxifying abilities, I find it important to take a small amount every week.  I take 1 teaspoon once a week mixed in about 1/4 cup of water. It’s very important that you make sure the DE you are taking is food grade.  THIS is the kind I use. 

 

7. Matcha

Matcha is the finely milled powder of green tea. I’m a huge fan of Matcha and have noticed some wonderful benefits since I started incorporating it into my daily regimen. THIS is the kind I use.

Matcha has an extremely high level of antioxidants. In fact, matcha has one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) counts of all the ‘super-foods’ presently known to us!  

Because of the amount of toxins we are assaulted with on a daily basis, antioxidants are extremely important. They help the body eliminate free radicals/toxins that destroy our healthy tissue and play a large part in the development of degenerative diseases.

I make a delicious Green Tea Frappuccino (recipe HERE) every afternoon using my matcha powder. Not only is it delicious, but it’s loaded with wonderful health benefits, keeps me focused, and gives me a sustained 3-4 hour energy boost.  Another big benefit of Matcha is that it boosts your metabolism and helps you lose weight! (source)  

Green Tea Frappuccino from Primally Inspired

 

 

I believe some supplements can be a useful and effective bridge to better health, but even more importantly, I think we need to be looking at the root cause of our issues.  Ask yourself why are you taking a certain supplement? Are you just ignoring the root cause of your problem? For an example, why are you taking that iron supplement? Is your iron low? But why is it low?  Could there be a digestive problem causing you to not be able to absorb iron? A hormone issue causing unusually heavy periods?  When you dig deep to discover and deal with the root causes, that’s when the real healing begins! To help you discover the root causes of your issues, I always recommend working with a good holistic practitioner.   

 

Wow, this has been a long blog post, hasn’t it? I do hope some of the information can be of help in your research and decision about what supplements are right for you. 

 

So what do YOU think about supplements? Do you take any? Which ones have helped you? Leave me a comment and let’s talk! I love hearing from you and learning about the ways natural remedies are working for you!

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22 comments

  1. Hello Kelly!
    This post was terrific! I take many supplements (grew up taking them because my grandfather worked for Park Davis and I had no choice)…
    I take a good multi, cod liver and krill oils, magnesium and add various goodies to my smoothies also. I also take chlorella, spiralina and kelps, and I have found that the seaweeds help a lot in digestion and detox.
    I am still looking to find grass fed beef so I can try those frozen liver pills. I am in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and it’s difficult to find farm fresh foods even though I’m surrounded by farms. lol
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom. There are a few supplements you discussed here that I’m interested in adding to my daily regimen. You’re an inspiration! 🙂

    • Primally Inspired

      Hi Angelique! Thank you so much for your comment 🙂 I love all your additions to your smoothies! I just started adding spirulina powder to my afternoon green tea frappuccino, too! Boy does that stuff stink lol. It definitely takes awhile to get used to! Thankfully, I can’t taste it once it’s in the smoothie, but it was hard to get that smell out of my nose haha 🙂

      And I know what you mean about farms all around you, but difficult to find farm fresh foods! That’s exactly how I felt when I moved here last summer – it was so bizarre. Thankfully, it didn’t take me too long to find some great connections that pointed me in the right direction. I hope you can find some soon! xoxo

  2. Great post! I too am a big believer in getting as many nutrients as I can from real food. I do take Natural Calm every night before bed. I’ve been doing so for several years, and have seen a difference with PMS and anxiety. I also supplement with gelatin and/or collagen, and when I began doing that on a consistent basis noticed a true difference in my hair (my hair dresser even noticed!)

    But the real reason I enjoyed this blog is that it forced me to tackle the pastured beef liver that has been in my freezer for months. I was doing the liver pills over the summer and loved them. Then ran out of liver. When I finally tracked some down, it just never felt like a good day to chop up liver. But last night I put on some good music and made my little pills. Looking forward to how they make me feel!

    • Primally Inspired

      Hey Elizabeth! Haha, I always procrastinate cutting up those pills, too. I really dislike doing it, but I need to do what you do – turn on some music!! Lately, I’ve been cutting them into bigger pieces like 1.5 – 2 inch chunks instead of tiny pills. And then each morning, I just pull a chunk out and chop that into little pills for me and Zach for the day. I’ve been liking that method a little better – it seems a little easier and less time consuming.

  3. Thanks for the new idea on processing the liver. I just finished up my supply (remembering it when I was diagnosed with pneumonia and it seemed to give me some added energy). I was toying with the idea of using scissors next time I process it, but the bigger chunks might make more sense. As for the other reader who is looking for it, I find frozen tubs of it at my health food store.

    I also looked at the magnesium you recommend and see that by the time you take only 1/2 teaspoon it’s only 80 mg or so. I’ve read so much about needing magnesium, everywhere from 200 to 3000 mg a day! I know I don’t eat enough to get all that so I am taking magnesium biglycinate chelate, which is a form that doesn’t upset the bowels so much, it seems.

    I’ll look into the cod liver oil idea. The fish pills from the drugstore I give to my dog (has helped his skin issues immensely) doesn’t seem like a very fresh when I’ve taken it. Once I use up the stash bought on 2 for 1 sales I’ll look for something better.

    Thank you for all the good ideas and research. It can be so confusing!

    • Primally Inspired

      Hi Janet! I’ve also been cutting the liver into chunks with my kitchen scissors – it’s so much easier to me that way. Thanks for the tip about the frozen tubs of liver – I didn’t know that and that’s great to know it’s out there like that.

      Getting the right dose of Natural Calm was something I definitely had to play around with. I started off a few years ago taking 1 teaspoon of Natural Calm and then worked up to 2 teaspoons without any bowel issues. You’ll know when you are taking the right amount when your bowels are comfortably loose – if they’re too loose, you’re taking too much. At first, I had no issues with the 2 teaspoons and then after a few months, I started taking more and more Epsom Salt Baths and making it a point to eat a lot more organic greens grown in rich soil. 2 teaspoons of Natural Calm became way too much and it really started to upset my bowels. So I backed down to 1 teaspoon and then a few months later I had to back all the way down to 1/2 a teaspoon, which is what I’m at now. Even with the 1/2 teaspoon, I can tell it’s working – I’m sleeping like a log, which is the telltale sign for me. It seems like the Epsom Salt Baths and trying to eat more organic greens are working for me and I haven’t had to rely so heavily on the magnesium supplement.

  4. THANK YOU for this post! I have been trying to tell people for years that most of the supplements on the market were synthetic. Passing off ascorbic acid as Vitamin C is such a travesty. And your next choice of Magnesium is an excellent one. We do take encapsulated herbs for our health. My husband had a profound good experience taking Hawthorn for his lifelong high blood pressure. It’s within normal range now and has stayed that way for over the year since he’s been taking it. I take whole food Vitamin C and Rosehips (in capsules) for my Vitamin C intake to, in fact, build my iron, along with liver tablets.
    Just couldn’t agree with you more on this post. Thanks much!

    • Primally Inspired

      I am a big believer in herbs, too Lisa! There’s none I take on a daily basis other than tulsi (holy basil) from my tulsi tea throughout the day and of course I do cook with many fresh herbs. But I take herbs or make something with them when specific issues come up and I’m finding them incredibly effective. This past year I took a few courses on healing herbs and started growing and drying my own. It’s a lot of fun and I’m learning so much! Thank you for sharing your experience with Hawthorn and Vitamin C/Rosehips – great info!

  5. What about the Natural Calm with Calcium? Is the extra calcium even needed? I never know whether to get the regular or with calcium. Thanks!

    • Primally Inspired

      Hi Cayce! I wondered this for a long time, too. From what I understand, the magnesium with calcium is more of a calcium supplement. Calcium needs magnesium for proper assimilation. Most calcium supplements on the market do not have any magnesium in them. So if someone would take a calcium supplement without magnesium, the calcium actually pulls magnesium from different parts of our body so it can be properly assimilated. That’s one of the reasons so many people are deficient in magnesium! So Natural Calm with Magnesium has the proper amount of magnesium needed for calcium assimilation. This is taken directly from the Natural Vitality website: “The objective (of Natural Calm with calcium) is to supply nutritional cofactors needed to obtain benefit from calcium without lowering vital magnesium levels or building up unabsorbed calcium in the body.” If you think you are needing extra calcium, you may want to try Natural Calm with Calcium, otherwise I would just stick with the regular version.

  6. I have really enjoyed your site. I appreciate all the work and research that you put into it. I have a suggestion that would be helpful to me. I would like a printable version added. I end up copying information by hand and adding your name so I can remember where the information came from. Thanks for your consideration.

  7. Hey I love the blog. This was an interesting post. I take most of your recommendations. Interesting I’ve never heard of Diatomaceous Earth. I do keep some activated charcoal in case of any illnesses. I eat liver about once of month but thinking of trying your liver pills 😉 good tip.

    I will not take a supplement where I have doubt that it is helpful or might even be harmful. There are numerous voices from different camps that question if fish oil is healthy. And more critics seem to pop up every year.

    The thing is with fish oil is high in polyunsaturated oils which are VERY unstable, oxidizing quickly when exposed to oxygen, light and heat—even just sitting in a bottle, but also when they go into our bodies—and turning rancid. (including omegas) Also Fermented foods require a glucose source to create (metabolize) a by-product e.g. lactic acid that prevents the food from decomposing. The result is a pleasant sour taste that one would find with sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, etc. Cod liver oil has no glucose and cod livers have very little glucose (mostly protein, fat, water and some minerals). The livers and the oil simply go from fresh to rancid in a short period of time. If left to continue decomposing the oil will become putrid leaving a foul smell and taste.

    Why not just eat more fish and liver and gain similar yet better benefits since it’s a food source?
    I take Raw Vitamin D3 and eat eggs everyday.

    • Primally Inspired

      Hey Michelle! You make some great points! I totally agree that you should err on the side of caution if you’re not sure. I’ve gone back and forth with fish oil myself and have read compelling evidence from both sides of the coin. I actually stopped taking fish oil for about 2 years because of it. I love reading the science and seeing the latest research and studies (that always seems to change anyway lol), but ultimately I am a believer that you have to trust your own experiences/body. I was talking with a friend, who also researched both sides of fish oil, about this same subject about a year ago. She said that she swore by fclo and that her daughter’s eczema would come back every time she stopped fclo. Another blogger friend of mine said the same thing, but it was about her face and that she would breakout every time she stopped taking fclo. I’ve heard many similar stories. It seems that the anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil are really helping a lot of people. Fish oil is a complete food source and I personally take it because I don’t eat as much fatty fish as I know I should and ultimately because I’ve felt the benefits of fish oil supplementation, especially in the winter when Vitamin D tends to get low for me.

      • Thanks for getting back to me. Interesting how it works for some. I didn’t notice any differences for myself. Other than that it’s hard to swallow fclo lol. I decided to just stick to eating more seafood. I’m enjoying the blog! Keep up all the good info! best,m

  8. Hi Kelly, great enriching post. Do you take your fermented cod liver oil at a specific time of day, with or without food, etc..? FCLO is a new supplement for me. Thanks for your time and posts. Keep it up!!

    • Primally Inspired

      Hey Kristin! Since FCLO is a complete food, you can take it whenever you want and it gets absorbed well as is or with whatever you happen to be eating. That’s one of the beauties about whole foods – it’s already perfectly packaged in a way so you don’t need to worry about taking it alongside anything else. I usually take mine in the morning with my liver pills after breakfast just because it’s habit for me to do so. But anytime is fine! I’ve never experienced fish burps (haha) but my husband does so he likes to take his fish oil before he eats. He says it’s not as bad that way 🙂

  9. DE –
    I take Bentonite Clay by great plains.
    (Today I suffer from colitis, leaky gut, gut dysbiosis, and auto-immune. I’ve been doing paleo for 1.5 months now.)
    I learned of this when I had C-dif in 2012 – which probably was the kick-off of my issues to date ….
    I COULD NOT SURVIVE WITHOUT IT
    When I had c-diff, the gagging and puking I was doing every 2 minutes of every day COMPLETELY STOPPED after the first 1 night/1 morning cycle (1/3:3/4C).
    When I can’t get control over my diarrhea, this will set me straight after 2 days or so.
    When my stomach hurts so badly I that I can’t stand up straight(gastritis probably)this is the only thing that will calm it.
    *CAUTION* when I treat the severe gastritis, involving up to 2 servings of 1/3 DE to 3/4 water I suffer flu-like symptoms but discomfort is better than PAIN.
    I like that you take this on the regular. I will try it – as opposed to using it as a medicine.
    I like the liver pill idea!! Need it! Don’t want to eat it!

    What about Vitamin C?
    When I was so sick, and didn’t know what was wrong, my dad suggested megadosing on vitamin C (for a variety of reasons).
    I went from being unable to form complete sentences or remembering words like “washing machine” to regaining the brain I always knew was there but was locked away from me.
    My severe joint pain went away as did my swollen neck glands.
    I take 6000mg or more a day. Dad takes 12.

    Some symptoms now come back when I try to cheat on my paleo, which ironically, I was not practicing when I improved the first time (July-Dec).

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