Ben Greenfield On Supplements, Sleep, and Joint Health

credit: Instagram @cbrphotography

credit: Instagram @cbrphotography

Last week personal trainer and fitness expert Ben Greenfield very generously supplied us with detailed answers to your questions from an awesome Webinar (Damage Control: How To Be Extremely Active Without Destroying Your Body.)

He gave so much information that we split it into two parts. Check out last week’s post to see what Ben had to say on important topics around sports nutrition. In the second half, Ben tackles questions about supplements, sleep, and joint health. Don’t be fooled! These aren’t your everyday tips. For example, he wears a special device on his wrist to better connect his body to the earth’s magnetic field and help with things like sleep and hormones.

Intrigued? Read on!



Two good resources are The Effects of Physical Activity on Serum C-Reactive Protein and Inflammatory Markers from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Monica Reinagel’s website.


The Zensorium Tinke

The Azumio Stress Check

– The SweetBeat System. You will need the phone appchest strap, and ANT+ adapter


Vitamin D is technically “natural”. It usually starts with 7-dehydrocholesterol, usually from sheep’s wool oil, which gets exposed to UV light (simulates the same thing sun does to your skin) and turns it into cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

When possible, I’m a fan of using something like I just described above to as little an extent as possible and rely on an even more natural vitamin D source such as salmon, eggs, and liver or cod liver oil.

Any vitamins can legally be called natural even if it is made in a lab. Vitamin C, for example, is factory-made from starch, which is technically “natural”, and biochemically looks the same as the molecular structure of vitamin C from, say, oranges. And actually, factory made ascorbic acid works OK.

But in some other cases, the factory-made version isn’t as efficacious as a truly natural source. A good example is vitamin E, which in its natural form is called d-alpha tocopherol and derived from vegetables but in its synthetic form is called dl-alpha tocopherol. The natural form is more expensive, but also far more absorbable by your body and much more useful as an antioxidant.

For a really thorough explanation of synthetic vs. natural vitamins, check out this article, and if you want to find a natural vitamin supplement, look for one with a label that includes a phrase such as “naturally occurring food sources.”


I was first familiarized with the concept of grounding by a physician who worked with professional cycling teams at the Tour de France, where they use grounding mattresses to recover more quickly.

Basically, the surface of the earth emits a natural magnetic frequency that assists with our circadian rhythm, hormonal cycles, and absorption of negatively charged free electrons (which can mitigate oxidation, stress, etc).

Since most of us spend much time wearing shoes, being indoors, not touching the ground/grass, etc. we can benefit by increasing contact with the earth or the “ground” and using a mattress or mat wired to the earth via an outlet in your home or office is one way to do this.

Another, even more powerful way to ground is through the use of devices, which emit the same magnetic frequency as the earth. The electromagnetic device I personally use under my mattress every night is called an Earthpulse, and you can listen to a podcast I did about it here. I also wear a magnetic frequency device on my wrist 24-7.


In my article about What To Do When You’re Overtrained, adaptogenic herbs are described as one of the ways I “dig myself out of an overtraining hole.” Adaptogenic herbs include compounds that help to relieve adrenal gland stress and support proper adrenal function, including ashwaganda, eleuthero, epemedium and gotu kola. These types of compounds are incredibly effective at restoring function to your adrenal glands when you’ve been asking yourself to churn out adrenaline, epinephrine, norepinephrine, etc. with day after day of hard training.

So to keep my cortisol and stress levels low and to increase my mental capacity, I use extremely potent and fresh adaptogenic herbs called TianChi in the mid-morning on an empty stomach every day. They are not cheap, but they are extremely fresh, concentrated and efficacious.


Run less.

Seriously, you may find that you get faster when you run less. Some of my best performances have been on just one day of running per week, with substitution on the other days with either aqua jogging or my stand up elliptical trainer (the Elliptigo).

Other strategies are to:

Never run on consecutive days.

– Do the majority of your running on either treadmills or trails, not pavement and road.

– Strengthen your feet and switch to minimalist footwear after you’ve done that (here’s how).

My #1 supplement that I use when my joints are beat up or I’m injured is called “Capraflex”. It is comprised of Glucosamine & Chondroitin from Type II Chicken Collagen, and then a big cocktail of anti-inflammatory enzymes and botanicals and over 20 naturally occurring minerals from both predigested and regular goat milk whey.


Considering how much EPA and DHA you actually get out of it, krill oil is expensive. My fellow Quick & Dirty Tips podcast host “The Nutrition Diva” compared the costs in this table, from her article “Fish Oil vs. Krill Oil”:

Source: 2/16/2012

Source: 2/16/2012

As you can see, krill oil is about ten times more expensive, and although it may be slightly better absorbed than fish oil, no studies have shown it to be 10 times more absorbed.

If you don’t want to break bank, I’d go with a combination of regular consumption of cold-water fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon, and on days you don’t eat fish, 2-3 teaspoons of cod liver oil and 2-6 grams of high quality fish oil.

ben greenfield greyBen Greenfield offers personalized coaching to clients around the world. Get Ben as your coach, access his books, handpicked supplements and wealth of fitness, endurance and overall wellness information at, or simply e-mail if you have any questions. You can also hire Ben for a one-on-one phone or Skype consult at

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.