Diet & Exercise: Need energy? Try bee pollen

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, November 16, 2017

When doing nutritional counseling and seminars, I’m often asked which diet supplements I take, as well as recommend. I usually get a few raised eyebrows when I tell folks that if I could take only one nutritional supplement, I would choose bee pollen.

That’s right, bee pollen.

That might seem strange, but did you know bee pollen is actually a unique and powerful superfood? Honeybees actually eat pollen because they need incredible amounts of energy to fly on average 15 miles per hour, and visit as many as 1,200 flowers in a single flight. Also, bee pollen has been used for centuries by cultures all over the world for its energy-producing and healing effects. In fact, Hippocrates wrote on the healthful benefits of bee pollen.

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First, let’s look at what bee pollen is. Pollen comes from the male stamen of flowers. Bee pollen is created when worker honeybees transport pollen granules to their nests with specially arranged hairs on their hind legs. When honeybees arrive back to the hive, they have to crawl up through a series of quarter inch wiring to enter. This process harmlessly scrapes pollen from the bee’s legs and body, then drops it down into a collection tray. After the pollen has been collected, it’s sifted to clean it, and then it’s frozen.

Now we know what bee pollen is, but what makes it such a super food? First, bee pollen contains over 5,000 enzymes and co-enzymes, which is more than any other food. Enzymes are specific proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in the body. (Catalyze is just a fancy term for “speed up.”) These enzymatic reactions are necessary for everything from muscle contraction, to using the nutrients in our food, to even breathing. In fact, without enzymes, life couldn’t exist.

Bee pollen is 40 percent pure protein, which makes it denser in protein than any source of protein from animals. It’s also a safer source of protein, when compared to animal proteins, because it doesn’t contain saturated (bad) fats.

Also, bee pollen contains 18 vitamins, 25 minerals, 59 trace elements, 14 fatty acids, and is extremely rich in carotenes, which are precursors of vitamin A. This marvelous food is also rich in B complex, vitamins C, D, E, and Lecithin, which is a lipid that helps keep cell membranes healthy.

Bee pollen is not only the richest source of vitamins found in nature, it’s also the richest source of rutin. Rutin is in a class of flavinoids that also contains querctin, hesperidin, eriodicyl and citron. These flavinoids are essential for the absorption of vitamin C. Rutin is a powerful nutritional supplement because of its ability to strengthen capillaries. This action helps people with arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, or venous insufficiency.

There are also trace elements found in bee pollen that modern science can’t even identify, which is believed to be another reason bee pollen packs such a nutritional punch. By the way, bee pollen is good for dogs, cats, and even horses.

Bee pollen is available in health food stores in many varieties such as whole granules, wafers, powders, and capsules. To start, I recommend taking bee pollen slowly—any bee product could cause allergic reactions in some folks—by placing a couple of granules under your tongue to test for sensitivity, like sneezing, itching, swelling, rash or flushing. If you experience any allergic reaction, seek medical help. If no allergic reaction occurs, gradually increase to one to two teaspoons a day, or more.

Pollen granules (being plant based) do have cell walls, so chew for better nutrient absorption.

Just because you have pollen allergies doesn’t mean you can’t take bee pollen. Pollens responsible for allergies are airborne or anemphilous (wind-based). The type of pollen collected by bees is called entomophilous (pollinated by insects). Pregnant women and nursing mothers, however, should not take bee pollen. 

Diet or exercise question? Email me at or text me at 864-494-6215. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years.