Just this past weekend, some friends and I were discussing bee pollen supplements. I’m not going to pretend I’m some expert on the topic. I really only knew that some people take them to help with cancer and bee pollen is considered by some to be a “super food.” So I decided to do a little reading of my own to educate myself and YOU about bee pollen supplements!
Where does pollen come from? The use of bee pollen and other bee products (honey, beeswax, propolis and royal jelly) from honeybees have dated back thousands of years and has been used by cultures all over the world. Many health experts tout bee pollen has one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Pollen is collected from many plant sources. “During the act of feeding on nectar, the hairs on the body of the bee brush against the anthers (the end of the stamen containing the pollen) of flowers. The tiny pollen grains stick on to the body hairs and are compacted into little pellets by the worker bee using its mouth and legs. The pollen pellets are then packed onto its rear legs. In the process, the bee mixes enzymes and possibly nectar with the pollen.” (source) Humans gather pollen with a special device placed at the entrance of the bee hive. As the bees pass through the device, it causes the pollen to come off the bee’s legs, trapping it.
How is bee pollen used? Nutrition from pollen, honey, and royal jelly are used by honeybees for nutrition in the early stages of development. Pollen from honeybees is easily assimilated by the human body and once ingested, can reach the bloodstream within 30 minutes, to be utilized.
Health Benefits: In scientific literature, every macro- and micro- nutrient known to be required by humans has been found in bee pollen. “On the average, pollen contains 60% carbohydrates, 20%protein, 7% fat, 7% moisture (water) and 6% minerals.” (source) Pollen is a balanced source of amino acids, containing the same 10 amino acids that are required in the human diet. “An amino acid comparison of whole egg, cow’s milk (3.3% fat) and honeybee pollen has shown a 22.6% protein pollen to be a superior source of amino acids when measured by dry weight percentage of crude protein. Pollen was found to be particularly higher in lysine, leucine and glutamic acid than either cow’s milk or whole egg.” (source)
Bee pollen is also rich in B vitamins, flavonoids, carotenoids, and the trace minerals potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, selenium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, iodine, manganese, and many more!
Therapeutic Claims: If you Google “bee pollen,” thousands of websites will be singing the praises of bee pollen supplements and why you should take them. According to nutrition expert Carlson Wade, bee pollen has all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements, and protein needed to sustain life. Just a teaspoon of bee pollen provides the equivalent of one large serving of vegetables, states C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD.
Bee pollen has many therapeutic claims; increase endurance, strength, energy, libido, and mental function. It has also been claimed to aid in weight-loss, diabetes, and help fight high blood pressure. However, although bee pollen is a powerhouse of nutrients that does not mean it is a cure all. If a supplement is making claims that sound too good to be true, they probably are.
Side Effects: Skin flushing, wheezing, itchy throat, hives, dizziness, and headache, could all be signs of an allergy to bee products. It’s important to talk with your physician before beginning any new supplement.
Would I recommend bee pollen? From talking to several people who have used bee pollen, it would seem that there could be some positive benefit to taking a bee pollen supplement. I would recommend a bee pollen supplement for those looking to increase energy or to meet our trace mineral needs. I would suggest finding a high quality supplement without any fillers or additives such as sucrose (sugar), starch, gluten, silica (sand), or artificial flavors, dyes, or colors. Also, I’ve read that buying freeze-dried pollen is best because it preserves the nutrients in the bee pollen. Just be ready to shell out some serious cash for the good stuff!
Overall, bee pollen is definitely a “super-food” in my book, but that’s how I feel about almost ALL foods grown or produced by the Earth. It is truly one of God’s wonders how food can be our natural medicine. Eat foods in their most natural state, avoid too many stresses in your life, get exercise every day, and your body will flourish. In life, it’s all about balance.
QUESTION: Have you used bee pollen supplements? Thoughts?