Bee pollen refers to the small pollen balls that have been packed by worker honey bees into pellets. It has been used as a health supplement for centuries. The old Egyptians described pollen as “life-giving dust” (Bogdanov, 2015). The use of bee pollen as an energy enhancer was introduced to American athletes by gold medal Olympic coaches from Europe.
Bee pollen is comprised of carbohydrates, followed by protein, fiber and fat. It is extremely high in vitamins. Compared to the vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, pollen has 20 times more vitamin A. It also contains almost all the B complex vitamins. Some believe bee pollen can be helpful with weight loss. There are also claims that bee pollen is one of the few complete foods, and that it is possible to live on only bee pollen and water. The nutritional benefits of bee pollen can vary greatly because the composition of bee pollen varies so widely. Depending on the pollen’s botanical source, the contribution of fiber and protein can reach 20 percent of our required daily intake (Campos et al., 2010). Bee pollen has also been known to be an antioxidant, reducing the oxidative stress thought to contribute to chronic disease.
Despite the promise of being a perfect food, there are some who warn against the consumption of bee pollen, especially for those with allergies, asthma or who are pregnant. Trace amounts of some hazardous compounds have been found in some pollens (Boppne et al., 2008).
Bee pollen is generally well tolerated and has great potential for use in nutrition. However, the actual usage as a dietary supplement may be limited by the lack of standardization of the substance; what it is made of and which plants it came from.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.