Throw away your multivitamins and antioxidants!

trashcan

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of supplements. I’ve always believed that it’s preferable to get the nutrients we need from whole foods, as they’re found in nature, rather than from isolated, synthetic sources (i.e. supplements).

Unfortunately, modern medicine is obsessed with isolated, synthetic nutrients and has convinced itself that they have the same beneficial properties as nutrients found in whole foods.

A gigantic dietary supplement industry has arisen from this misguided belief. A 2006 National Institute of Health (NIH) conference (PDF) revealed that 20-30% of Americans use a multivitamin daily, forking over $23 billion a year to supplement manufacturers for the privilege. Many more Americans effectively take a multivitamin by eating fortified grain products, like Shredded Wheat cereal and Wonder Bread.

Most supplements don’t work

With these statistics in mind, you might be surprised (or even shocked) to learn that clinical trials have shown that most of these supplements not only don’t work as intended, they actually make things worse. The NIH conference examined the efficacy of 13 vitamins and 15 essential minerals as reported in long-term, randomized clinical trials.

First the positive results:

  • A combo of calcium and vitamin D was shown to increase bone mineral density and reduce fracture risk in postmenopausal women.
  • There was some evidence that selenium reduces risk of certain cancers.
  • Vitamin E may decrease cardiovascular deaths in women and prostate cancer deaths in male smokers.
  • Vitamin D showed some cardiovascular benefit.

Um, not too impressive considering the near universal faith considering how many people are popping these pills on a daily basis.

Now for the negative results:

  • Trials of niacin (B3), folate, riboflavin (B2), and vitamins B6 and B12 showed no positive effect on chronic disease occurrence in the general population
  • There was no evidence to recommend beta-carotene and some evidence that it may cause harm in smokers.
  • High-dose vitamin E supplementation increased the risk of death from all causes.

Then there’s the now infamous JAMA meta-analysis on antioxidants. They looked at 68 trials with over 230,000 participants. Here’s what they found:

Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality. The potential roles of vitamin C and selenium on mortality need further study.

Oops!

(Re)-introducing the concept of food synergy

It’s crazy to me that so many health care practitioners – both conventional and alternative – tell their patients to take multivitamins and antioxidants when their is little support for that position in the medical literature.

That’s why I was so happy to come across a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition addressing this issue. It’s called “Food synergy: an operational concept for understanding nutrition” and it’s one of the most encouraging pieces of research I’ve seen in a while. I’m relieved to learn that their are researchers working in the nutrition field that don’t buy into the synthetic nutrient hype, and understand the importance of whole food.

Since it’s such a great article, I’m going to quote from it and riff off of a few passages.

A person or animal eating a diet consisting solely of purified nutrients in their Dietary Reference Intake amounts, without benefit of the coordination inherent in food, may not thrive and probably would not have optimal health. This review argues for the primacy of food over supplements in meeting nutritional requirements of the population.

This is the crux of the authors’ argument, which I’m 100% behind. They congratulate science on the discovery of fundamental nutrients such as vitamin C, and clarifying their role in health and disease. The realization that scurvy is caused by vitamin C deficiency has saved a lot of lives. But, the approach to nutrition that is fundamentally guided by nutrients has a dark side:

The aspect of science that reduces to fundamental principles, however, can lead to oversimplification and ultimately stifle understanding and progress.

Translation: reductionistic thinking can get us in trouble if we’re not careful.

The concept of food synergy is based on the proposition that the interrelations between constituents in foods are significant. This significance is dependent on the balance between constituents within the food, how well the constituents survive digestion, and the extent to which they appear biologically active at the cellular level.

Yes! It makes me so happy to see this in a major, peer-reviewed journal. The authors go on to define several aspects of food synergy:

  • A buffer effect, i.e. the effect of a large intake of a particular nutrient may vary depending on if it is taken in concentrated form or as part of a whole food.
  • Nutrients can affect each other’s absorption, such as copper-inc and magnanese-iron. These interdependent nutrients tend to appear together in foods, but not necessarily in isolated supplements.
  • It matters whether the nutrients have been produced by technologic or biological processes. Trans fat produced in ruminant animals (such as conjugated linoleic acids in dairy products) are beneficial to health, whereas trans fats produced in the processing of industrial seed oils are highly toxic.

Then they provide evidence that whole foods are more effective than supplements in meeting nutrient needs:

  • Tomato consumption has a greater effect on human prostrate tissue than an equivalent amount of lycopene.
  • Whole pomegranates and broccoli had greater antiproliferative and in vitro chemical effects than did some of their individual constituents.
  • Free radicals were reduced by consumption of brassica vegetables, independent of micronutrient mix.

Note: In the supplement world, the idea is that “a nutrient is a nutrient, a molecule is a molecule” regardless of what source it comes from. These folks claim that it doesn’t matter whether a nutrient comes from a whole food complex or a laboratory. Did you know that most vitamin B1 supplements are made from derivatives of coal tar? That ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is made by reacting high-fructose corn syrup with sulfuric acid? That many iron supplements are made from rusty nails? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat some meat and vegetables to get those nutrients.

Should we all take a daily multivitamin as “insurance” against a nutrient deficiency? Here’s how the authors respond to that question:

In our view, the better “insurance” would be to eat food with a broad coverage of nutrients and take no supplements at all, unless they are deemed necessary to fix a specific medical problem.

Hallelujah! I’d like to buy these researchers a beer.

Okay, not all supplements are bad

Now that I’ve made my point (or at least I hope I have), I need to add a qualifier or two.

There are a few supplements that I do recommend – in certain situations.

Vitamin D may be necessary for those who live in northern latitudes, especially during the winter months. Low vitamin D is associated with so many diseases that it’s probably a good idea to keep levels up. The first choice would be to do this by eating seafood, but that’s not always practical or desirable for a number of reasons. Cod liver oil is my second choice for maintaining D levels. But note that this is more of a whole food than it is a supplement. In some cases when people are very deficient, i.e. under 25 ng/ml, I may suggest adding a D3 supplement in addition to the cod liver oil.

Fish oil has been shown to provide great benefit for cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory conditions. My preference here is that people reduce their intake of omega-6 fats and simply eat cold-water, oily fish a couple times a week to meet their omega-3 needs. Unfortunately, people have been scared away (unnecessarily, which is a topic for a future post) from eating fish, or perhaps it’s difficult for them to find or afford wild fish on a regular basis. In this situation I may recommend a fish oil. My favorites are whole-food based oils such as Green Pasture’s Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Vital Choice Wild Salmon Oil.

Magnesium is one of the most crucial nutrients in our diet, and many people are deficient. It protects against nearly every modern disease, and can be therapeutic for difficult to treat inflammatory conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, etc. Seaweed and various nuts and seeds are high in magnesium, but occasionally supplementation may be useful. I suggest using a highly-absorbable form such as magnesium glycinate.

Vitamin K2 has recently been revealed as an important nutrient in protecting against heart disease. It does this by telling the body to put calcium in the bones and teeth where it belongs, and not in the arteries and soft tissue. K2 is found in the fat of grass-fed animals and certain fermented foods like natto and hard cheese. I recognize that not everyone eats these foods for various reasons, so if someone has heart disease or is at risk for it I may recommend either Fermented Cod Liver / Butter Oil from Green Pastures, and/or an MK-4 supplement. For more on vitamin K, see my post Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient.

But even in these cases, I only suggest that people take these if they need them, and if they can’t (or won’t) get the nutrients from foods.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. CavePainter says

    Thanks for the analysis. I’ve wondered about the supposed benefits of supplements for a long time. Certain supplements such as Vit B6,B12, E, and A make me feel horrible even in low doses if I take them for more than 3 days. I can only conclude that they’re not doing anything good for me and me even be doing damage, hence I avoid them. I do however take Vit D and cod liver oil without any ill effects.
    I do have a question about minerals. I hear a lot of stories about how our depleted soil will lead to mineral deficiencies. I currently take a multi-mineral as “insurance”. Is there any evidence that supplementing with minerals can have negative effects?
     

    • says

      Toxicity is possible if taking in too much of a specific vitamin/nutrient, that is between intake of the food source and/or the supplement, this can cause too high a level on a particular day or days when you took in too much and the body hasnt used it or flushed it out and/or body has has stored it. Back off on the supplements is my advice if your food intake is adequate and contains the nutrients you seek….

  2. Chris Kresser says

    I haven’t seen much specific evidence that mineral supplementation causes harm, but nor have I seen convincing evidence that it provides benefit.

    It is true that soils are significantly depleted today and don’t contain the same level of nutrients they did a hundred years ago.  However, we can maximize nutrient intake by buying local, organic produce and consuming it as quickly as possible after buying.  The longer a vegetable is out of the ground before we eat it, the fewer nutrients it will contain.

    I don’t know your specific situation, but in general I don’t recommend that people take synthetic minerals unless they have a specific reason to do so.  If you’re eating local, fresh and organic I think you’re probably getting what you need.

    • Timar says

      The idea that storage would specifically reduce the mineral content of fruits and vegetables is absurd. Minerals are neither volatile nor unstable organic compound, they are physical elements. You can eat rotten vegetables and get the same amount of minerals from them as if you eat them fresh from the field.

  3. Jesse says

    Good post. Most of what I hear from scientists and scientific-minded physicians is that vitamin supplements are generally useless, but it seems the media and many doctors are still catching up.
     
    I’ve given up taking most supplements, though I’m taking some calcium/vitamin D combo at the moment because I heard of some benefit. Also, as a vegan, it seems wise to take a Vitamin B12 since there isn’t much of that in my diet. For omega 3s there is algal oil instead of fish oil, though I haven’t noticed that taking or not taking it affects me at all, but maybe it does invisibly.
     
    Also, I thought bacteria in the gut made enough vitamin K for us?

  4. Chris Kresser says

    Also, I thought bacteria in the gut made enough vitamin K for us?

    That is a myth, and vitamin K and K2 are different vitamins entirely.  The only adequate vegan source of K2 would be natto and possibly sauerkraut, though I haven’t seen any data on the latter.

    • Chris Kresser says

      As I said in the article, from the fat and organs of grass-fed animals primarily. Then from fermented foods like hard cheeses, kefir, etc.

  5. says

    Awesome post, Chris!

    It’s great to see your continuos fight against reductionism in medicine.
    Some notes and comments:
     
    Vitamin D: In line with your general line of thought, I now think that the suggested 80 ng/ml target for vitamin D blood levels for cancer protection as suggested by the Vitamin D Council seems dubious. As far as I know no study has ever checked levels in hunter gatherers, and absolutely no-one has controlled for numerous potential contextual factors. A post at Hyperlipid discussing how the amount of meat in the diet may modulate the need for vitamin D, e.g, rickets only occurring when meat intake is low, really got me thinking. (I’m now happy with my 50 ng/dl level, and will not try to ramp up to reach 80.)

    Iodine: What do you think of iodine? American soils seem to be particularly deficient in iodine, and ironically when we start eating less salty processed foods we are also less exposed to the involuntary iodine supplementation that goes with that territory. (As far as anecdotes go, I think there is a thyroid epidemic going on.)

    Cod liver oil: What’s your stance on the vitamin A content? There is a confusing argument going on in regard to if vitamin A is either synergistic or antagonistic to D. The ancestral template suggests that A in levels available in foods like liver is perfectly fine, but is cod liver oil, as a concentrated source, an ancestral food?

    Liver: This seems to be nature’s own multi vitamin and mineral “supplement”. The problem I see with it is that unless it’s obtained from pristine sources, it may also contain a large amount of toxins. (Think CAFO beef liver vs. grass fed beef liver.)

    Anti oxidants: I note that the more sensible supplement promoting organisation Life Extension Foundation has gradually replaced isolated compounds with various plant extracts in their vitamin products. I use their “Life Extension Mix” occasionally (and in combination with a fatty meal) as if it’s just another food in my fridge on the premise that my diet is probably a bit low in fresh vegetables and organ meats.

    The need for micro nutrients vs. inadequate supply: I think that one could argue that with the assault of “novel” compounds that our bodies have to deal with today, the need for adequate nutrition, including getting enough of the various trace minerals that are used in detox-pathways, has never been higher. Unfortunately, our food supply has gradually become more and more inadequate in terms of meeting this need. The question then becomes how to bridge the gap in a practical, affordable way. The task seems daunting since we can’t even know if foods that traditionally have provided adequate levels of the nutrients we need are really doing so today. (Food for thought!)

    • Chris Kresser says

      Vitamin D: In line with your general line of thought, I now think that the suggested 80 ng/ml target for vitamin D blood levels for cancer protection as suggested by the Vitamin D Council seems dubious. As far as I know no study has ever checked levels in hunter gatherers, and absolutely no-one has controlled for numerous potential contextual factors. A post at Hyperlipid discussing how the amount of meat in the diet may modulate the need for vitamin D, e.g, rickets only occurring when meat intake is low, really got me thinking. (I’m now happy with my 50 ng/dl level, and will not try to ramp up to reach 80.)

      I don’t recommend 80 as the target, as there is some research suggesting levels that high may cause harm. 50-60 is probably a good range in line with historical levels.

      Iodine: What do you think of iodine? American soils seem to be particularly deficient in iodine, and ironically when we start eating less salty processed foods we are also less exposed to the involuntary iodine supplementation that goes with that territory. (As far as anecdotes go, I think there is a thyroid epidemic going on.)

      This is a tricky one. Yes, soils are deficient. But people eating a SAD are probably getting more than they need through fortified foods and iodized salt. The other problem is that 90% of people with hypothyroidism actually have autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD). I know some are big on supplementing with iodine in these conditions, but that could potentially exacerbate the autoimmune attack and worsen the condition. I think the answer to this one really depends on the person and their situation.

      Cod liver oil: What’s your stance on the vitamin A content? There is a confusing argument going on in regard to if vitamin A is either synergistic or antagonistic to D. The ancestral template suggests that A in levels available in foods like liver is perfectly fine, but is cod liver oil, as a concentrated source, an ancestral food?

      The vitamin A studies suggesting antagonism demonstrate correlation, not causation. Have your read Chris Masterjohn’s articles, here and here, on the subject? Fish liver is an ancestral food for some populations, and liver from other animals as you know is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. Liver from all animals is high in vitamin A. I trust the wisdom of nature and thousands of years of evolution better than a few studies that don’t even demonstrate causation.

      Liver: This seems to be nature’s own multi vitamin and mineral “supplement”. The problem I see with it is that unless it’s obtained from pristine sources, it may also contain a large amount of toxins. (Think CAFO beef liver vs. grass fed beef liver.)

      Yes, although more toxins are stored in fatty tissue than in the liver. I would be more concerned about eating CAFO fat than I would about CAFO liver (but I wouldn’t really go for either).

      Anti oxidants: I note that the more sensible supplement promoting organisation Life Extension Foundation has gradually replaced isolated compounds with various plant extracts in their vitamin products. I use their “Life Extension Mix” occasionally (and in combination with a fatty meal) as if it’s just another food in my fridge on the premise that my diet is probably a bit low in fresh vegetables and organ meats.

      I’m not convinced at all of the need for antioxidant supplementation, above and beyond what we get from fresh foods. I am very skeptical, also, of even the “whole-food” supplements, knowing what I know about some of them. My understanding from talking to people in the field is that not all nutrients in these products need to be in their whole-food complexes. What often happens is they put synthetic nutrients in a base of rice bran or something like that, and then call it “whole-food”. Another way to scam people.

      The need for micro nutrients vs. inadequate supply: I think that one could argue that with the assault of “novel” compounds that our bodies have to deal with today, the need for adequate nutrition, including getting enough of the various trace minerals that are used in detox-pathways, has never been higher. Unfortunately, our food supply has gradually become more and more inadequate in terms of meeting this need. The question then becomes how to bridge the gap in a practical, affordable way. The task seems daunting since we can’t even know if foods that traditionally have provided adequate levels of the nutrients we need are really doing so today. (Food for thought!)

      I do agree that toxic loads in the environment and in our bodies are higher these days. I’m just not convinced that addressing this through supplements is the best way to go about it. In my mind it further raises the importance of medicinal foods like FCLO, seaweeds, organ meats, seafood and shellfish, etc. which are more than capable of supplying us with the nutrients we need. As for someone who can’t or won’t eat these foods, then yes, perhaps an argument for supplementation can be made. I say “perhaps”, because of all the caveats I explained above in this comment and in the article.

      Thanks for your comment, Christian.

      • says

        I have used liver as a dietary supplement for years (I say supplement because I can’t stand the stuff). I also take fish oil.

        Occasionally, when I eat something that makes me feel terrible I take some supplements as “insurance”. I’ll feel more confident after reading this post to just let my body and the whole foods I eat do the job.

        Thanks for the insight!

        • Robert Jacobs says

          Hmm – how to like liver?
          I just do not understand. Liver is delicious. Really. OK, you gotta make it right.

          Use Virgin Red Palm Oil. Yeah, the strong flavored stuff. Sautee at low heat whole onion (dollar slices) to half done. Then add sliced/cut garlic (at least a handful). THEN put the liver in the center. Cook on low heat two 2/3 minutes, flip, cook two more minutes to Medium Rare only.

        • Patti says

          Yes a thousand years of wisdom yet we didn’t advance until the last hundred and rapidly advanced in the last 50. What makes medicine, supplements left out of these advancements? Why are some ok to take to inhibit disease while others are not? Our average lifespan has increased by some 20 years over our great-grandparents so does that mean their whole foods diet was worse then today’s supplemented diet or is your argument wrong? As we advanced more in the last 20 years then humans did in thousands of years I’m sure this debate will go on.

  6. Jake says

    The study on Vitamin E and Vitamin A that caused increased mortality was faulty as the researchers had a poor understanding of vitamins.

    The Vitamin E they studied was the synthetic Vitamin E not the Gamma E which is the natural Vitamin E.  Second the dosage on the Vitamin A was lower than the RDA for Vitamin A.

    B Vitamins do reduce your homocysteine level.  My level was cut in half once I started supplementing B Vitamins.

    My research shows that generally Vitamin studies are poor conducted, poorly designed and the researchers have no idea what they are doing.

    The best way to study the effects of Vitamins is conduct a n=1 study on yourself and see if it affects important blood markers.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Some of the studies have been conducted poorly, but many have been well-designed. And if you think studies are done poorly, consider how most supplements are manufactured. You may be aware that synthetic E is not the same as Gamma E, but many consumers are not. They just get the cheapest multivitamin or antioxidant combo from Walgreens or Wal-Mart, and assume that they’re helping themselves. There’s no reason to take E or B supplements when you can get those nutrients from food. The same for every other vitamin and mineral, with the possible exceptions of D, K2 and magnesium.

  7. Todd S. says

    Sounds like what Pollan was preaching in “In Defense of Food”.  Glad to see the establishment catching on.
    And I can vouch for magnesium supplementation.  I was having a lot of odd problems, heart palpitations being one of them.  After much googling I came across a chat board where someone suggested magnesium deficiency for similar symptoms.  Not long after starting to take it, the palpitations went away.

    • Crystal says

      Hi there, I’m having heart palpitations currently that are bothering me. Do you mind sharing which form of magnesium supplementation you used (brand, type)?

  8. Jim G says

    Well, I was looking for a study I remembered reading with the conclusion that in general those people taking any types of supplements were healthier…but instead I found this scary abstract that concludes: “Multivitamin use was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of breast cancer.”
    http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/ajcn.2009.28837v1
     
    In any case, thanks for the thought-provoking articles and healthy advice!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Jim,

      That study you mentioned wouldn’t prove that supplements were responsible for the better health. The difference could simply be due to the fact that overall those who take supplements are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle, eat better, exercise more, etc. than those who don’t. In fact, it’s even possible that the supplements on their own would increase mortality but the other factors (diet, exercise, not smoking, etc.) were more significant and had a net positive effect. Without a study that actually controls for those variables, we have no way of knowing.

  9. says

    This is another good article, as per usual on your site. I’ve been formulating whole food supplements for years and am amazed at the fact that isolates and synthetics are called “nutrition.” Nutrition is what we get from food, not from isolated chemicals. Plus, few people know that most of the vitamins supplements today are manufactured by Big Pharma. And they are used in the same way as drugs — pharmacologically. In other words, these pills are used to quell, stimulate or suppress a symptom, but not to offer real nutrition.

  10. Desdemona says

    I don’t know if you pay attention to individual vitamins, but when I do take them (not often) I take Garden of Life’s raw/food based vitamins.  The only exception is a CoQ10 Vitamin I buy from another big “natural” company, though I have fogotten the brand off the top of my head.  They are usually only found in WFs or health food stores and have an orange label on everything.

    Anyways, I usually only take them when I start to feel stuffy.  A while ago I caught something that I couldn’t kick.  I took a slew of suppliments after being miserable for two weeks and felt better over night.  Now when I start to feel stuffy I take at least D3 (raw) and the CoQ10 and I feel better over night, no matter at what time of my illness I take the vitamins.  It does seem that they are helping.

    I don’t take them on a regular basis though, with the exception of FLCO, but I have been slacking on that lately.

  11. Chris Kresser says

    I pay attention to the ones listed in my article.

    Your example is a case in point, for me.  Rather than take vitamins when I feel like I’m getting a cold, I drink large amounts of kefir (made from raw milk) and kombucha, eat homemade bone broth (chicken) with plenty of garlic and ginger and boost my intake of CLO.  75% of our immunity is in our gut, so boosting probiotics is the best way to protect against a cold.

    No synthetic nutrients required.  If I’m feeling really on the edge, I will take herbs but those aren’t synthetic supplements either.

  12. Robert Jacobs says

    Wait a second.  Shredded Wheat is just that, wheat.  No added vitamins or other nutritive additions.  That cereal and maybe Grape Nuts are probably the most natural and least modified items on the market.  Yes, grains are a problem for many, but don’t go knocking Shredded Wheat.  Knock Total, with its cheap vitamins, or other MUCH more heavily processed cold cereals! (I got a soft spot for SWheat – always liked those big woven biscuits as a kid).

  13. Chris Kresser says

    Okay, my ignorance surrounding the small differences between cold cereals has been exposed.

    However, I can find about a hundred other reasons to knock any cereal that comes in the box.  The first is that they’re all made by extruding grains, which alters the proteins and makes them toxic.  Second, most people are probably gluten intolerant so eating Shredded Wheat isn’t a good idea in general – even if it wasn’t extruded.  I could go on, but you get the idea.

    This is coming from someone who used to LOVE cold cereal as a kid.

  14. Robert Jacobs says

    Yeah, I know.  Love that cold cereal in milk.  All of it is not too good, I agree.  My only point was that, given cereal consumption being what it is, Shredded Wheat is probably one of the best of the entire group.  Just did not want anyone knocking my childhood favorite!  <VBG>

  15. says

    I agree with all of the supplements in your list. But I might consider additional supplements:

    Natural vitamin E or wheat germ oil – Vitamin E is hard to find in food.
    Zinc, if you don’t eat enough red meat or oysters, but please balance it with copper.
    Vitamin A, if you don’t consume liver or fish liver oil. Don’t take too much of synthetic vitamin A, because synthetic, water-emulsified forms of vitamin A is highly absorbed.
    Coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinol, if you’re over forty years old while not consuming enough food containing this.

    Coconut oil and unrefined salt should be supplemented, but that may be too  far-fetched because they are not usually categorized as “supplements”.
    The reason that I don’t include iodine is because it’s found in kelp, which is cheap to buy. And iodine without accompanying with selenium is toxic because selenium’s antioxidant activity protects iodine from damaging the thyroid. Selenium is rich in western American soils, but poor in the eastern parts.

  16. qualia says

    i’m new to this blog (not to the topic), and i have to say, that’s probably one of the worst and most naive title and blog post about this topic i’ve ever read. it’s like saying, “hey, if you’re not dehydrated, you really don’t need to drink water! so throw away your evian bottle alrady! but you know, if you don’t have enough water, you really should drink some!”.  or stated otherwise: “you really all should throw away your MV/MM supplements, because you know, i’m sure your diet is already perfect and all as you exclusively buy organic and grass fed you definitely do not lack any single nutrient, because i tell you so. also, all MVs are from the devil! HOWEVER, if you think you lack something, you really should rely on some serious supplements, you know.” whaaaat?  seriously? too simplistic for my taste, thank you very much ;)
     
     
     
     

    • Chris Kresser says

      Let me guess: you take a lot of supplements? This is the typical response I receive from people with a drawer full of them. The point of the article is clear: taking supplements is not the same as getting the nutrients from food. There are a few nutrients that are difficult to obtain from food, and are so important to health, that they may require supplementation.

      What’s your point? You haven’t made one yet.

  17. qualia says

    ok, apparently i wasn’t clear enough. here is what i mean:
    you: ” I’ve always believed that it’s preferable to get the nutrients we need from whole foods, as they’re found in nature, rather than from isolated, synthetic sources (i.e. supplements).”
    me: a) show me a single person on this planet who doesn’t think it’s preferable to get all needed nutrients from their food. duh..
    b) “from whole foods as they are found in nature” -> well guess what, that’s exactly why most people take MVs, because they actually became aware that they do NOT have access to unadulterated, nutritionally-dense food anymore. most soil is not what it was anymore, even for organically grown food.
    you: “Unfortunately, modern medicine is obsessed with isolated, synthetic nutrients and has convinced itself that they have the same beneficial properties as nutrients found in whole foods.”
    me: pure, unproven propaganda. no one is “obsessed” with isolated, synthetic nutrients, and no one believes that  “a single synthetic nutrient” has the same effect as “nutrients found in food”. this comparison doesn’t even go together logically (the former is singular, the latter a multitude of “nutrients”)
    you: ” A 2006 National Institute of Health (NIH) conference (PDF) revealed that 20-30% of Americans use a multivitamin daily, forking over $23 billion a year to supplement manufacturers for the privilege. Many more Americans effectively take a multivitamin by eating fortified grain products, like Shredded Wheat cereal and Wonder Bread.”
    me: a) 20-30%? yeah, that’s bad indeed. it should be 100%, considering how depleted and poisoned todays food is. no comparison to what our ancestors got from the same amount of food, as you know very well. and yeah, i guess we the should abandon iodine fortification as well.. because you know, it’s so synthetic and singular..
    you: “Vitamin D showed some cardiovascular benefit.”
    me: i guess diabetes, breast cancer and multiple sclerosis was not good enough for you to list as a (huge!) benefit of D supplementation..   http://is.gd/chWey
    i could go on and on. as i said: your post is biased, populist, imprecise, and partially untrue.  what i could agree with as recommendation would be “eat as healthy as possible (depending on the available resources you have), but as we all know, today’s food doesn’t come nowhere near the nutrient-density our bodies where designed for, so it’s certainly a good thing to take a potent, high-quality (!) MV/MM, including some fish oil, and at least 3’000IU of vitamin D (even better, do a D3 blood test), just to be sure.  and yes, there ARE crappy and worthless supplements. but thats true for all mass produced goods. buy quality – whether it’s food, or your supplements.
     
     

  18. Jesse says

    Organism, in my opinion, if you don’t get enough Vitamin A from your diet, you’re eating way too few vegetables.
     
    Qualia,
    Chris is pretty much correct in this article, actually: studies show that getting most vitamins from supplements does not prevent disease and can actually cause problems. If someone is deficient, that’s not good, but if supplementation doesn’t help the problem but causes more problems, that can’t be called a solution.

    • says

      This is from 10 months ago but I’m going to answer it anyway because I think people’s health is suffering from an incorrect assumption. Mine certainly did. I love carrots and sweet potatoes, but I still wound up vitamin-A deficient, which hurt both me and my daughter.

      “How well do you convert beta carotene?” http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2001/010323.htm

      The article doesn’t say whether all the study participants were healthy. It is known that diabetics (regardless of type), people with hypothyroidism, infants, and young children cannot convert beta carotene. If all these study participants were free of chronic disease (they were already adults) then add 40-50 percent of the healthy population onto the chronically diseased population already having trouble.

      By the way, there’s been a similar British study that has had similar results.

      If it weren’t for the fact that people think beta carotene and vitamin A are the exact same thing, we would have already seen vitamin A become the next fad nutrient. And it might yet happen. Vitamin A not only nourishes the immune system but is also vital in reproduction and embryonic development. Particularly it is necessary for bilateral symmetry of the outside of the body (and proper asymmetry of internal organs), and important in the development of the embryonic ureteral bud into ureter and nephrons. Guess what one of the most common classes of birth defect is in the developed world? Urinary tract. End-stage renal disease is one of the conditions that automatically triggers Medicare coverage in the United States, and the effects of vitamin deprivation tend to be cumulative across generations if uncorrected, so our false equivalence of BC and vitamin A and the mainstreaming of veganism may have interesting implications for public health spending in the future.

  19. Chris Kresser says

    Qualia,

    a) show me a single person on this planet who doesn’t think it’s preferable to get all needed nutrients from their food. duh..

    It’s not about what people think.  It’s about what they do.  And I can tell you from firsthand clinical experience that the vast majority of people taking supplements are not eating a truly nutrient-dense diet.  There are plenty of people who eat a relatively poor diet, but take a daily MM/MV and think that’s going to make up for it.  It won’t.

    b) “from whole foods as they are found in nature” -> well guess what, that’s exactly why most people take MVs, because they actually became aware that they do NOT have access to unadulterated, nutritionally-dense food anymore. most soil is not what it was anymore, even for organically grown food.

    I agree that modern soils are depleted and even organic produce is probably not as nutrient dense as it once was.  However, that doesn’t mean we still can’t get the nutrients we need from food.  Superfoods like organ meats, shellfish and oily fish, animal fats and eggs provide more than enough nutrients – with few exceptions, which I mentioned in the article – when eaten regularly.

    Show me proof (credible clinical or epidemiological studies) demonstrating that we can’t meet our nutrient needs from food, and perhaps I’ll change my mind.

    c) pure, unproven propaganda. no one is “obsessed” with isolated, synthetic nutrients, and no one believes that  “a single synthetic nutrient” has the same effect as “nutrients found in food”.

    I couldn’t disagree more.  Modern medicine is indeed overly focused on synthetic, isolated nutrients and fails to consider the interrelations between constituents in food, how well the nutrients survive digestion, and how well they are utilized on the cellular level.

    The paper on “food synergy” that I referenced and discussed above makes this point very clearly.  Why do you suppose researchers would publish such a paper, if there wasn’t a prevailing attitude supporting the use of synthetic, isolated nutrients?

    d) 20-30%? yeah, that’s bad indeed. it should be 100%, considering how depleted and poisoned todays food is. no comparison to what our ancestors got from the same amount of food, as you know very well. and yeah, i guess we the should abandon iodine fortification as well.. because you know, it’s so synthetic and singular..

    Your argument here is disingenuous because I’m not arguing that we should eat “depleted and poisoned food”.  I suggest people buy food that is locally grown without pesticides, and don’t eat processed junk.  Again, show me the research suggesting that we can’t meet nutrient needs by eating fresh, nutrient dense foods.

    And show me the research supporting the health benefits of supplementing with synthetic nutrients.  As I showed in the article, there is very little of it. The majority of the research indicates that taking synthetic supplements either does nothing or causes harm.  I listed what I thought were the exceptions, including vitamin D (which you somehow chose to ignore).

    I should also point out that although there’s a tremendous amount of prospective evidence connecting deficiency of D with disease, there is very little clinical evidence that proves that D supplementation reverses disease.

    In this paper supplementation of D didn’t change cytokines or markers of inflammation in overweight subjects.  In this paper cardiovascular risk factors were not improved even after one year of D supplementation.

    e) me: i guess diabetes, breast cancer and multiple sclerosis was not good enough for you to list as a (huge!) benefit of D supplementation..

    See above.  I included D in my list of recommended supplements, despite the fact that the actual clinical evidence supporting supplementation of D is much weaker than the prospective evidence suggests it should be.

    Sorry, your unsupported and unproven statements have failed to convince me of anything other than your unfounded belief in the effectiveness of synthetic supplements for meeting nutrient needs.

  20. says

    Supplementation does cause problems, if they are taken in large, isolated doses. I don’t recommend taking one large dose at once. It should be spread out evenly throughout the day.
    Setting magnesium aside, I don’t recommend the supplementation of trace minerals such as chromium. Chromium is found to antagonize molybdenum and vanadium. If you supplement with chromium, your molybdenum and vanadium reserves will be depleted.
    And a lot of whole foods contain amounts of minerals comparable to supplements. For example, one oyster contains about 10 mg of zinc.
    Have you read the Mineral Primer? The authors have an opinion that minerals chelated to amino acids will cause serious imbalances in the body. If that’s true, then magnesium glycinate would be harmful because it’s an amino acid chelate.
    The Vitamin A Saga suggests that the conversion from beta-carotene to retinol is poor. So one has to eat a lot of high beta-carotene foods, such as sweet potatoes, along with plenty of fats to emulsify the beta-carotene.

  21. qualia says

    you: ” Again, show me the research suggesting that we can’t meet nutrient needs by eating fresh, nutrient dense foods. And show me the research supporting the health benefits of supplementing with synthetic nutrients.”
    me: watch the video from dr hyman – he’s the man out in the filed treating patients. do you? no studies needed for this, thank you very much.
    you: “there is very little clinical evidence that proves that D supplementation reverses disease.”
    me: i just recently cured (=symptoms free) my neurodermatitis which began 20 years ago by taking 5’000IU D3 alone. nothing else had any effect, despite seeing 4 different doctors and using any kind of weird sulfur shampoos etc. who do you think i believe – your “guesses” that vitamin D can’t really cure/reverse anything, or my body?

    my tip: go to an online vitamin shop of your choice (like http://is.gd/cby5h ), go to the “reviews” section for the best selling vit D supplement, and read the user reviews. done? any more questions? good.

  22. Chris Kresser says

    Are you seriously suggesting we make decisions based on a single doctor’s opinion and consumer reviews on vitamin shop websites, and that this somehow negates the need for solid research?  Good grief.

    I said in the original article and now twice in the comments that I recommend supplementing with D.  Somehow you keep missing that.

  23. Robert says

    What is your opinion on the whole food multi-vitamins where all the vitamins come from fermenting bacteria?

    I haven’t seen much research on them but I do know ones like Garden of Life’s Living multi and NOW’s Whole Foods multi both do the create all vitamins via yeast free bacterial fermentation.

  24. says

    I’m not looking for a debate or argument or whatnot. I’m just defending users such as qualia. Here it goes:
    <blockquote>Are you seriously suggesting we make decisions based on a single doctor’s opinion and consumer reviews on vitamin shop websites, and that this somehow negates the need for solid research? Good grief.</blockquote>
    Weston A. Price has surveyed traditional societies and found that natives often supplement with foods to cure diseases. For example, he found that Indians can cure scurvy by supplementing with adrenal glands. He has also found that liver is a supplement to cure blindness. They are anecdotal reports.
    These reports aren’t based on “solid research” that eating the adrenal glands will cure scurvy, or that eating liver will cure blindness. They are anecdotes from traditional societies, and you continue to respect them?
    The consumer reviews on vitamin retail stores are also done by people. They have a large number of people showing that magnesium supplementation lowered their blood pressure, and that vitamin D cured their depression. They are also anecdotal reports.
    What’s the difference between the anecdotal reports done by traditional societies and the anecdotal reports done by consumer reviews? They are both anecdotal, and they should be both condemned.
    So you have a double standard against the reports by consumer reviews whilst respecting the anecdotal cures done by traditional societies.
    <blockquote>I said in the original article and now twice in the comments that I recommend supplementing with D. Somehow you keep missing that.</blockquote>
    I think his point was that supplementation is useful in many cases other than vitamin D, magnesium, or vitamin K2. You should have argued against the context of his words, rather than the words themselves.
    You seemed to have selectively interpreted his argument in the literal form, so you can easily succeed in one-upmanship with him. You’re afraid to admit that you have no argument if you have interpreted his argument to context.  So you unconciously decided to interpret his words is a biased manner, as an excuse to win over him when nothing should have won.
    One of your arguments was that some nutrients interact, antagonize, and synergize with each other, but supplementation is isolated. But as you know, that doesn’t mean that supplementation itself is bad. People can just choose to supplement with a balanced ratio, and that will solve it. Yes, most people don’t do this, but my point is that it’s possible for people to supplement with a balanced ratio.
    Whole foods doesn’t even necessitate a correct ratio. As you know, you can overdose on whole foods. You can also create an imbalanced ratio with whole foods. For example, if you eat too much calf liver, you can create an imbalance of copper and zinc. If you eat too much Brazil nuts, you can overdose on selenium.
    Of course, whole foods are harder for people to overdose, but as you know, it’s still possible for people to overdose on whole foods.
    Your concept of “food synergy” is based on a rationalization. All of your arguments against supplementation aren’t good.
    Your argument on the “buffer effect” is flawed because people can just take supplements that are buffered on with lower dosages with food. Of course, most people don’t take buffered supplements or lower their those, but your argument doesn’t refute supplementation in itself.
    Your argument that nutrients compete with each other is refuted by my words above.
    Your argument against synthetic nutrients isn’t sound. You are like attacking a whole group of people who take the only natural forms of supplements. Even though you did not, that argument doesn’t apply to supplementation chemically identical to the natural forms. That doesn’t refute supplementation itself.
    You cherry pick a series of studies that show that vitamin supplementation have harmful effects, and then make your case that all vitamin supplementation can have “potentially unknwon effects”, even if it’s proven to be natural and eaten in a correct ratio.
    So I have shown that all your argumentations are mere rationalizations against supplementation. You seem to have a “whole food bias”. And you’re unaware of it, at least subconsciously. That isn’t objective, even though you claim otherwise.
    You made these arguments, not only because of your bias against them, but because you value consistency. You value purity. You value the purity of eating a whole foods as “natural” so you condemn supplementation.
    You randomly pick data in order to generate your arguments against supplementation, because you are against supplementation in the first place! That’s what I call rationalization. No, I’m not saying that all of your arguments are like that, but your article sounds like “propaganda” against supplementation.
    I’m not attacking you. I’m not attacking your reputation. I will continue to read each one of your blog posts with scrutiny, being as careful as possible to prevent any biases on your posts. I will continue to value each of your posts as much as Stephan Guyenet or any other top paleo blogger.
    What I’m really attacking is the paradigm of the entire paleo blogosphere. They rationalize. They have a “whole food bias”. They value the “purity” of eating whole foods rather than supplementation. I’m attacking the entire blogosphere, so I’m not treatening your reputation. I’m attacking the reputation of the entire paleo blogosphere.
    I know that these arguments aren’t necessarily yours. Other people such as Stephan Guyenet, Richard Nikoley will make the same arguments against supplementation. Calm down Chris, I’m not attacking you. I’m attacking every other paleo blogger (except myself because I’m arrogant :-) ).

  25. says

    What do you think of 4-8mg/day of Astaxanthin for natural sun protection? I heard it cannot become a pro-oxidant, but not sure of the science.

  26. Anonymous says

    Great article, Chris. I’m happy to see knowledgeable people discussing and disseminating important information. Especially when it’s to others who otherwise wouldn’t have come across it.

    I have one suggestion for improvement: Most of the article does a great job of sticking to facts and being objective. However, the paragraph that mentions that vitamin B1 is sometimes derived from coal tar is pandering to the reader’s emotions. Making a vitamin from coal tar sounds gross and unhealthy. However, without an explanation of why that’s undesirable, the statement is out of context, and nullifies the argument.

    For example, a common medication for deep vein thrombosis is rat poison (AKA Coumadin). Said like that, some patients will be put off from using Coumadin, despite its applicability and efficacy in dealing with DVT.

    Keep up the great writing! Have a fun weekend, mate.
    Nick

  27. says

    what about “niche” supplements as it were? Milk thistle for example to help protect the liver against alcohol consumption? Or what if someone has a medical condition of some kind or another – as well as good diet – surely certain specific supplements must help?

  28. says

    Thanks for such targeted and plain language articles and comment-replies! I started on 5,000 iu d3 in January when I learned about the links between it, winter depression/insomnia and type 1 diabetes. The magnesium followed a month after more research.. and, well, something interesting has happened with the magnesium. I’ve been using a 300 mg phidolate/oxoid mix daily, and I ended up with severe emotional bouts of crying and distress that would last 2-3 hours in varying strength after each supplementation. I suspect my magnesium levels to be the ground reason for the clockwork seasonal insomnia (I live in denmark), but am rather confused by the results I’ve started to have to the magnesium supplement here in the summer months. Is it possible to hit an upper limit of magnesium intake, and if so, would it show up because of focusing on a magnesium-rich diet already?

    Also, there is a teensy threshhold where the question, ‘to multivit or not to multivit’ becomes a grey zone. It is possible to buy multivitamins based entirely off of food sources (especially in the case of mineral uptake). Are these still rather ruled out?
    Thanks!

  29. says

    More than vitamins, your supplement should contain minerals and other ingredients if they are to work to optimal effect. This is because many ingredients work together to improve function. If we were to eat a natural diet without supplements and fulfill our daily requirement of minerals, vitamins and so on, our diets would be varied to include numerous vegetable, whole grain and protein components.

    • Eric Anondson says

      Nothing in whole grains you can’t get from other sources. Except asthma, GERD, leaky gut, carb-induced weight gain, blood sugar spikes.

  30. Laurel says

    Hi Chris,
    I’ve always believed that nutrients / vitamins/ minerals/ were best taken / and more effective in the package they grew in, and that the combo with other naturally present elements, was as nature intended it to be for best use by we humans. BUT with the way we now grow things now, not fallowing fields, over germiciding, fertilizing etc., Ileads to “studies” that show how depleted our food sources are from say 50 years ago – thus the need to supplement.. is this right or wrong?

  31. says

    Chris,

    I enjoy reading your opinion in your blogs and agree on many concepts you present to your readers. The natural approach to health and nutrition is the optimal approach and I’m also a strong advocate of the paleo diet. It’s the approach I use personally and with my patients. As a Functional Medicine practioner, I use the Functional Medicine model to diagnosis and reverse illness. The Functional Medicine model is the understanding and application of our genetic expression with our environment (epigenetics) to address key underlying issues such as improper assimilation, systemic inflammation, endocrine dysfunction, biotransformation, mitochondrial insuffiency, etc.

    We utilize the current objective research regarding supplementation therapy to enhance enzyme systems and facilitate optimal physiology. In fact, there is an impressive amount of research indicating the proper use of prescribing integrative nutrceuticals. (I’d be happy to share this non-bias, objective research.)

    I agree that blind supplementation can be dangerous to a lay person without proper guidance. I have personally observed many patients who are uneduacted and follow the media’s unwaranted supplement advice.

    I believe your intention to provide surface information, flawed research and data regarding multivatamins and anti-oxidants was good. Unfortanately, it is a bit decieving and inaccurate. If a person wants to understand their own personal physiology and take nutraceuticals to faciliate optimal function, I recommend they run specific labs (organic acids test, lipid peroxides, micronutrient testing, etc.) That takes the guessing out of it, prevents blind supplementation and ensures they’re recieving a personalized approach.

    Ryan Lazarus
    Napa, CA

  32. John says

    Many vitamins contain adulterated mixtures, instead of what is labeled. Very dangerous. Of course pharmaceuticals are often adulterated as well. That said, what is quite bothersome is when a natural supplement manufacturer touts their product as being superior, based on comparisons to adulterated products, then it turns out the same product is in fact also adulterated: Case in point: Garden of Life vitamins have lead in them! What a scam. So much for the Garden of Life. Seems like a garden full of lead.
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FoodContaminantsAdulteration/Metals/Lead/ucm115941.htm

  33. says

    Interesting article. I take the following daily:
    Vitamin D
    Magnesium
    Potassium
    Multi-mineral
    Multi-vitamin
    Fish oil – For high triglicerides
    L-Carnatime – Forgot why, but was recommended by my doctor (I know that’s silly on my part)
    Nuvigil – More of a smart drug than a supplement.

    Moving forward, maybe I should change it up

    Fish oil – My wife doesn’t like much fish, so we don’t eat it a lot
    Fermented Cod Liver oil – Do I need both, or would cod liver oil replace fish oil?
    Vitamin D – I don’t spend a lot of time outside
    Magnesium – Seems to help me sleep, but maybe I could just start eating seaweed. I don’t eat many seeds or nuts, and don’t want to due to mold issues.

    Since I eat a lot of fatty grass-fed beef, Kerry Gold butter, and pastured eggs, I’m probably good with just about everything else, but I wonder if I need to add iodine if I’m not eating much fish.

    • Bill says

      You may want to add small amounts (i.e. sprinkles) of various seaweeds into your diet. Start very slowly and do your research.

  34. Angela says

    Chris,

    I absolutely agree that we should be trying to get as much of our vitamins and minerals as possible from whole foods. And sometimes, I think that is so easy. But I find other points in time that healthy eating just becomes so difficult based on life situations (long hours in a new teaching job, moving,etc). Sheesh… I haven’t found the time to properly prep a liver dinner in awhile! I also thought your article on the Victorian age eating habits was very interesting… considering that they would have taken in way more vitamins and minerals for their 5,000 calories diet. Gosh… I doubt I’m even coming close to that when I’m on top of my diet and exercise routines. So while I have no interest in using any synthetic vitamins, wouldn’t some of the whole food sourced vitamins be the next best thing after the number one choice of consuming the healthy diet that doesn’t need but a few of your suggested supplements? Have there been any studies that would come closer to that?

    I haven’t decided if I’m going to order a whole food multi until I can truly get back on my healthy schedule, but I’ve definitely got my boyfriend on one for now until I can insidiously take control of his slowly dwindling fast-food fetish.

  35. Judith says

    I was a believer of supplements because in my forties I decided to eat healthy and do more exercise than I was already doing and supplements were part of the regime. So as the years went by I ate more and more organic, when I could afford it. But along with that from all the big meat eating and omega 6 in many of the unclean oils I was ingesting, along came a few health problems. So off to the homeopathic doctor and the regular doctor. I read everything on food and supplements, and believed everything told me by those great folks, and they are, they care, but the folks who sell supplements don’t take half of what we take, they just eat better and know how to get the nutrients from whole food.
    I really thought… take a lot of supplements, be superwoman, and never be sick…wrong. And so I just thought supplements were saving me, from what I don’t know. I did not eat five or six helpings of fruit and vegetables, (no one I know does) every day. So I thought I was missing nutrients. One day I woke up. Unless you have scurvy, I think that is gone now, and are paper thin, or live where there is not enough food, taking supplements does not save you. Some times it can hurt you. I had to do my homework. Now I have.

    I feel so much better now, no rashes that ate away at my skin, no funny stomach, no pain in the side, but this is just me. For me, well, I threw them away. I am still alive, eat whole foods, never had heart disease, but what I was using for a butter substitute, well, it did me in, big time. And some other things that I thought if I did not have them I would die next week. Because the guys who use this stuff, sell this stuff, put it on the shelves of health food stores, believe in it. I tell you it is trial and error. I am older now. Sure I have arthritis, bad knees, from the work I did, a little irregular heart beat, so do millions of other people, and we are all still here. The thing is no walker, no pain, and the few, two pills I take are prescription, and lots of clean water and pure food. Making my own bread was an eye opener. READ the ingredients in your bread some time. I don’t buy processed foods, all the good stuff has been processed out!

    I guess I won’t find out if I live longer because of taking the supplements for years on end, or not taking them for many more years. I just know I feel better now. I just had to believe in myself, trust myself that I was right about what was going on in my body and outside of it too. Calcium is something I really need. For years I was very sick, lucky for me only a few years went by while taking calcium supplements. My stomach was a mess. I tried them all. One day I said, enough, it has to be these supplements not agreeing with my system. In THREE days I was better, that did it for me. I get my calcium from nature now. I spent two years in pain, not well, wondering what was going on, and my doctor kept saying I needed to take these calcium supplements, and I tried all doses, nothing worked, I stayed sick. I have never had a broken anything, well, heart, but hey, better than a bone. No, I am not everyone, we are all different, but I can say here, find out what works for you, read up on it, find trials, and if your are sick now, and were not before taking something, think about it, and do the math. Oh, there is more out there to talk about, but then I would have to write a book, and I think a few people have already done that. Experience is a grand teacher.

  36. Kathryn says

    Trying my best to increase my family’s consumption of local, pesticide-free or organic foods. Costly! The kale my husband grows for us is unfortunately decorative in terms of my kids actually eating it.

    I’ve had better luck putting spinach in smoothies for them. Picked up a Garden of Life protein powder sample. Impressive list of ingredients, but no information regarding the source of their original foods. Nothing on the website.

    The founder is maligned on a few websites as having e-mail degrees. The foods themselves are ones I want to increase eating, but GoL is accused of importing foods, not inspecting his sources, and misusing the organic label.

    The LAST thing I want to do is inadvertently increase my intake of Chinese pesticides. And how bioavailable is a powder?

    Back to kale. Sigh.

    Thanks for any insight you can provide.

  37. mona says

    Hi Chris What are your thoughts about emulsufied Vit D drops? Are they better then the tablets? I heard the drops are absorbed better then tablets.
    Thanks

  38. says

    The word “antioxidants” doesn’t necessarily refer to supplements. When I use the term, I am referring to food sources (notably fruits and vegetables). So, to me, your title “throw away your antioxidants” translates to “throw away your fruits and vegetables”.

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