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Supplements Needed for a Successful Raw Diet in Cold Climates – and in Today’s World

Do you need supplements when adopting a raw, natural human diet? Most likely, yes! We all know that our modern toxic world does not provide us with what it once did. But, what is less known, is that we need to consider shortcomings when living outside the tropics!

Why a raw fruit-based diet?

Everything animals eat in the wild is raw. A raw diet is not extreme – it is a natural concept. Cooking was (and still is) a survival strategy of humans when living in areas without abundant food. Further, we do not have physiological adaptations that hook us to a cooked diet (see here)! Our species-appropriate diet is raw, like the diet of any other living being! A raw diet is known to bring intense detoxification and transformative health benefits.

However, we need to know how to do raw right – with our biologically suitable diet (read more here). This brings us to the most neglected topic in nutrition – the pink elephant in the room: Are humans frugivores?

Did you know that we are frugivores?

On the quest to find the natural human diet, we now re-discover that humans are biologically specialized in eating ripe fruits:

We are biologically specialized in fruit-eating!

The human anatomy and physiology are essentially that of a primate frugivore. This means – very similar to chimpanzees – we are specialized fruit-eater that originated in the tropics! Frugivores are a subtype of omnivores that preferably and mainly eat ripe fruits. 

We live and eat outside our natural habitat!

As a species, humans originated in the tropics, but most of us live outside our natural habitat nowadays, and we don’t live within nature. As a result, most of us do not have easy access to the food sources we have evolved with, which is why we have turned to sub-optimal, cooked foods – our fallback foods.

Read more about frugivores here.

Why do we need supplements on a raw, natural diet?

The lack of awareness of our nature as tropical frugivores – and consequently the need for nutrition provided by tropical fruits, foods and environment – is a key cause of why raw diets fail! Unfortunately, supplements are often not welcomed in the raw community because, in nature, no animal needs supplements.

While it is obvious that nature should provide everything we need as biological beings, humans are unique in this regard: We live outside our original biological habitat – the tropics – which is why we need to consider supplements.

The environment outside the tropics cannot optimally provide us with everything we need! 

We need to balance the shortcomings of the “wrong” environment, especially when living outside the tropics and restricted access to tropical fruits. Additionally, civilization has degraded natural habitats and resources needed for a healthy diet worldwide!

Humans are a tropical species! Unfortunately most humans do not live in a tropical climate with abundant wild tropical fruits and foods – our species’ natural habitat.

For best health, we must imitate our ecological niche because we have adapted to those conditions. Changing our original habitat leads to shortfalls, deficiencies and ultimately health consequences!

One example is the cretinism in people living in the Alps before iodine supplementation: iodine deficiency caused not only goiters but also decreased mental health and short stature. Those people lived far away from the ocean with basically no iodine in their foods.

Nutritional supplementing is not new! Our ancestors “supplemented” their diet in colder areas with “functional foods”! For example, fish oil or dairy contains Vitamin D3.

Do you need nutritional supplements?

Most likely, yes, if you live outside the tropics and/or have a lot of detox and elimination cleansing to do! Because those processes require more nutrients and minerals than our body usually on a species-specific diet requires.

Maybe no, if you live in the tropics within nature and have access to fresh, ripe fruits and foods. Additionally, if you have not been pre-damaged by eating a wrong diet for all your life – like most of us!

Nutritional Supplements on a raw diet

There are supplements and supplements! Choose additive-free and organic whenever possible. Luckily, functional foods, instead of lab-created, isolated compounds, can address many nutritional shortcomings. So, which nutrients should be considered on a raw diet?

“Environmental” supplements

Environmental supplements compensate for environmental shortcomings (see above) and provide the nutrients that are not available:

  • Vitamin D3 Supplement or Light
  • Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin
  • Iodine Kelp, Sea moss, Dulce
  • Selenium Brazil Nuts
  • Grass juice powder for minerals
  • Magnesium and calcium Coral powder, Magnesium Malate, Dead Sea Salt

Additional supplements to consider

During transitioning, increased detox or to boost a raw diet, there are additional helpful supplements:

  • Powdered exotic fruits like Camu Camu and wild exotic fruits for more micronutrients
  • Maca Root for micronutrients and hormonal support
  • Chlorella cultivated in glass tubes for heavy metal detox
  • Organic sulfur (MSM) for sulfur, detoxification enzymes, and anti-parasite effect
  • Anti-parasitic herbs and agents like Artemisia

1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 in colder climates: In temperate climates, you will not be able to synthesize Vitamin D during October and April. The sun needs to reach an angle more than 45 degrees above the horizon for effective vitamin D synthesis in your skin. The lighter the skin, the more effective sun energy can be used, as light skin is an adaptation to poor sun availability and Vitamin D deficiency stress in colder climates! Read more here about the adaptations of cold-indigenous people to living in cold climates.

If you cannot get enough sun exposure, you should supplement “the sun”. From June to August, you should lie in the sun for at least 30 minutes with a large portion of your skin surface uncovered. Adopting a raw natural diet makes the skin more resistant to sunburns. And be aware of sunglasses: letting natural sunlight into your eyes signals the body that the skin needs to prepare for the sun’s impact! Thus not wearing sunglasses prevents sunburn, too.

Getting Vitamin D3 through supplements is he most common way. However, it is certainly not optimal. There are Vitamin D light devices that imitate the natural conditions we need more holistically. See this study published in nature on Vitamin D-stimulating LED light.

2. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is exclusively produced by certain types of bacteria, which are found in the soil, but also in the human microbiomePseudomonas p. and Klebsiella sp. (Albert et al., 1980; Guetterman et al., 2022). Thus, in a perfect world – or let’s say in a perfect gut – B12 is produced by some of our friendly mutualistic bacteria. Unfortunately, human microbiomes are severely disrupted by antibiotics, pesticides, and pollutants we find in our modern and toxic world.

This is why supplementation is helpful until the microbiome is healthy enough to produce the cobalt-containing vitamin by itself.

There is another critical view on this though: vitamin B12 is synthesized in the intestines, however it is excreted without being absorbed! This problem seems to be resolved by animals eating their own feces (or other species’ feces), because the vitamin is present in excrements:

“It has long been assumed that B12 is produced by bacteria in the large intestine (aka the colon), but since B12 is produced below the ileum (where B12 is absorbed), it is not available for absorption. This theory is reinforced by the fact that many species of totally or primarily vegetarian animals eat their feces. Eating feces allows them to obtain B12 on their diets of plant foods.”


However, it has also been shown that a natural environment (which includes a frugivorous diet) can promote a healthy microbiome up to the point that the B12-producing bacteria are able to colonize the intestines higher up – where B12 is absorbed – and thus prevent deficiency on a plant-based diet (read the full article on this topic here).

What does this mean for vitamin B12 supplementation? The more closer we stick to our natural diet and live in an un-touched natural environment, the less likely we need to supplement. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case for anyone alive today!

Can you benefit from supplementing vitamin B12? My educated guess is, that you benefit if

  • your microbiome is unbalanced and pre-damaged 
  • you had antibiotics in your lifetime
  • you are exposed to chemical pollution (agriculture or urban life)
  • If your foods do not contain enough cobalt

In order to produce B12, we need a healthy colonization by B12-producing bacteria plus the mineral cobalt, which we get from nuts and greens. The same is true for animals – and thus “livestock”:

It is a misconception that humans need animal foods to obtain B12:

The cobalt-containing vitamin is not per se synthesized by animals but by their microbiome – just like our own! “Livestock”, ruminants, need to be supplemented with cobalt (or B12 directly) if there is insufficient cobalt in the food.

The quality of vitamin B12 is an important factor. As of today, methylcobalamin is being favored over the commercially most easily available cyanocobalamin: methylcobalamin is the natural and active form found in foods (read more here on different types of B12). It also has shown to have more positive outcomes for the microbiome (Xu et al.; 2018).

3. Iodine

The further away from the sea, the less iodine is present in the environment. Therefore, if you do not live near the sea, consider supplementing iodine! Fortunately there are functional foods to do so!

Functional foods with iodine: Kelp, Sea Moss, Dulce

Unfortunately, the iodine shortage in food and the environment is widespread. Not to a degree of developing a goiter, but not enough for optimal function. This issue has intensified due to the increased use of natural non-iodized salts, like pink Himalayan salt or sea salt. There are better ways to go than iodized table salt, though: high-quality seaweed is a natural iodine source, where the iodine is organically bound. Make sure the iodine content on your kelp (or other seaweeds) is labeled on the product.

4. Selenium

Selenium is an important mineral, a synergist of iodine and important in detoxification processes. If you live in selenium-poor areas (Europe!) you can comfortably supplement selenium naturally by consuming 1-2 Brazil nuts a day! A few nuts typically contain enough selenium to meet your daily requirement. However, selenium content in Brazil nuts vary, depending on the selenium content of the soil. Therefore try to access Brazil nuts with their selenium content labeled on the package.

5. Grass juice powder

Grass juice powder – as often mentioned by the raw diet expert Don Bennett – is a functional food to get the mineral nutrition that is decreased in foods and fruits due to soil depletion. It is important to get grass juice powder, not powdered grass, as we cannot digest greens as efficiently to extract the nutrition. And in organic quality. Make sure to increase the amount to a few spoons daily! The less tropical, ripe, high-quality fruits you can get your hands on, the more important to supplement extra minerals in a natural, bio-available way!

6. Magnesium and calcium

Magnesium is found less in food plants today than it used to. While we consume less with food, the body’s requirements rise in our modern polluted environment, which requires increased detoxification activity! Calcium is a pH buffering mineral, which has been frequently reported to be in short supply during transition, because the body uses more than it naturally would.

Coral supplements are a natural way to get magnesium and calcium synergistically. Other bioavailable magnesium forms are magnesium malate or glycinate supplements (magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed). Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin: magnesium chloride baths, baths with Dead Sea salt, or applying magnesium oil can help alongside oral supplementation.

The grass juice powder (see above) does contain magnesium in the natural green chlorophyll pigments, too.

7. Organic sulfur (MSM)

Methysulfonlmethane, or short MSM, is organic sulfur, that naturally occurs in foods. In a sub-optimal raw diet sulfur can be short in supply. Despite its exotic name, MSM is one of the safest compounds to supplement!

MSM has multiple reported benefits:

  • MSM supplements the essential nutrient sulfur (mineral), as a sulfur donor
  • Sulfur is part of important co-factors for enzymatic activity
  • MSM aids the building of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine
  • Sulfur supports phase II detoxification in the liver, which is easily overburdened (see here)
  • MSM has effective anti-parasitic effects
  • MSM boosts collagen, hair, and nail production

Read more about the fascinating effects of MSM and how to use it here!

Read more here about how to adopt a high-fruit diet and here about the frugivorous human anatomy and physiology.

Read more about supplements to increase your cold tolerance here.

On a personal note: This topic is not the smoothest ride because of strong opinions and the complexity of the topic. However, I am committed to not shying away from hot topics and sticking to observations and nature! This article is intended to provide people in transition into a raw diet a biological perspective.

Go to How to do the Frugivore Diet


  1. Congenital iodine deficiency syndrome (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_iodine_deficiency_syndrome (Accessed: April 5, 2023). (link)
  2. Kalajian, T.A. et al. (2017) “Ultraviolet B light emitting diodes (leds) are more efficient and effective in producing vitamin D3 in human skin compared to natural sunlight,” Scientific Reports, 7(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-11362-2. (link)
  3. Fang, H., Kang, J. and Zhang, D. (2017) “Microbial production of Vitamin B12: A review and future perspectives,” Microbial Cell Factories, 16(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12934-017-0631-y. (link)
  4. Albert, M.J., Mathan, V.I. and Baker, S.J. (1980) “Vitamin B12 synthesis by human small intestinal bacteria,” Nature, 283(5749), pp. 781–782. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/283781a0. (link)
  5. Guetterman, H.M. et al. (2022) “Vitamin B-12 and the gastrointestinal microbiome: A systematic review,” Advances in Nutrition, 13(2), pp. 530–558. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmab123. (link)
  6. Intestinal bacteria as a vitamin B12 source (no date) VeganHealth.org. Available at: https://veganhealth.org/vitamin-b12/intestinal-bacteria-as-b12-source/ (Accessed: April 5, 2023). (link)
  7. Xu, Y. et al. (2018) “Cobalamin (vitamin B12) induced a shift in microbial composition and metabolic activity in an in vitro colon simulation,” Frontiers in Microbiology, 9. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02780. (link)
  8. Zimmermann, J. (2022) Formen von Cobalamin (vitamin B12) IM überblick: Kanyo®Vital und Gesund. Available at: https://www.vital-und-gesund.de/b12/cobalamin/ (Accessed: April 5, 2023). (link)
  9. Xu, Y. et al. (2018) “Cobalamin (vitamin B12) induced a shift in microbial composition and metabolic activity in an in vitro colon simulation,” Frontiers in Microbiology, 9. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02780. (link)
  10. Hou, X., Yan, X. and Chai, C., Chemical Species of Iodine in Some Seaweeds II. Iodine-Bound Biological Macromolecules, Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 245(3), pp. 461–467 (2000). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1006728420096. (link)
  11. D. Bennett, Educational Resources. Available at: http://health101.org/edu/ (Accessed: April 5, 2023)
  12. US4914135A – use of methylsulfonylmethane to treat parasitic infections. Google Patents (available at https://patents.google.com/patent/US4914135A/en). (link)
  13. N. Muizzuddin, Beneficial effects of a sulfur-containing supplement on hair and nail condition (2022) Natural Medicine Journal. Available at: https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/beneficial-effects-sulfur-containing-supplement-hair-and-nail-condition (Accessed: April 5, 2023). (link)


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Are we frugivores?

Exploring the species-appropriate diet of humans.

We challenge the dietary classification of humans as omnivores. Why does this matter? Because knowing our evolutionary, species-specific diet is the compass in the ever-growing contradictory diet and health jungle.

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