The Roundup - Edition 20

The Roundup


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Happy Holidays everyone! Here is The Roundup, Edition 20, bringing you the best from around the web from the past two weeks!

Blast from the Past

A popular topic in the news recently has been the use of dietary supplements. This hype has largely centered around the editorial featured in the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.” In this editorial, the authors conclude that most mineral and vitamin supplements have no clear benefit, may be harmful in healthy adults, and should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Is this true? Are we wasting money on supplements that might actually be harming our health?

This week, Mark Sisson tackled this topic head-on, discussing the pros and cons of supplement use. It’s a great breakdown of when supplementation is useful versus useless, and Mark concludes that “specific supplements work in specific cases.” Quality matters, and there’s plenty of evidence showing that smart supplementation of certain nutrients is beneficial.

I agree with Mark, and have written about smart supplementation in the past. Humans are adapted to getting nutrients from whole foods, so we should get all our nutrients from food whenever possible. However, there are some nutrients that are difficult to get from food alone, and in this case maintenance supplements can be beneficial. In addition, there are countless studies supporting the use of supplements for specific therapeutic purposes, from probiotics and prebiotics for digestive problems to selenium for autoimmune thyroid conditions to St. John’s Wort for depression. Of course it’s important to buy high quality supplements in the right form and dosage for optimum results and minimum harm, but it’s simply absurd to claim that all supplements are a “waste of money”.

If you’d like to learn more about my stance on multivitamins and selective supplementation, check out the bonus chapter on Supplementing Wisely in my new book, Your Personal Paleo Code (published in just six days!; published in paperback as The Paleo Cure in December 2014).”

Research Report

  • A study shows that almonds have a prebiotic effect (beneficial impact on the gut flora) in humans.
  • New research suggests the father’s diet before conception may play equally important role in health of offspring.
  • Need another reason to stop smoking? New research shows it profoundly alters the gut microbiota.
  • It was only a matter of time before researchers linked the microbiome to cancer.
  • New research shows IBS and IBD are driven by interaction between the gut microbiome and gene expression.
  • A 75-year-long study finds what it takes to live a happy life in one of the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development.

Worth a Look

  • Are carbs really to blame for Alzheimer’s? Find out what I think in this article in The Atlantic.
  • A panel of experts suggests that hypertension guidelines can be eased.
  • The physician who originally fought to legitimize ADHD as a disorder has called the rising rates of diagnoses “a national disaster of dangerous proportions” and “a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”
  • Check out this great review of the Healthy Baby Code on Paleo Parents.
  • Laura, one of my staff nutritionists, analyzes her microbiome as described by her American Gut results.

For the Foodies: Holiday Edition

  1. No doubt the very best way to get nutrients is through a proper diet, but I find this discussion around vitamins to be truly fascinating.. Thanks for digging into it.

    • This is a superb article, thanks E

      One of the noted effects of altering ‘traditional diets (heavy on natural fermentation) vs modern diet strategies, is the drastic change in psychiatric/mood-towards-depression/suicide behaviors. To me there is a profound link with vitamin D3, fermented cod liver oil [a ‘staple’ for many traditionally northern cultures]; light – in Seasonal Affective Disorder and mental stability.

  2. Food is definitely the best source of all nutrition. But recognizing that supplements play a role we’ve put together an assessment and program that takes the guesswork out of supplementation.

  3. I’ll post the same question here that I did over at mark’s place: If herbs and supplements are such a waste of money, then why does the PDR have an entire volume devoted to them?–for-Nutritional-Supplements–2nd-Edition_82.aspx–for-Herbal-Medicines–4th-Edition_76.aspx

    Methinks it’s job security they’re worried about–with these, anyone who can read can become their own doctor!

    • Thanks for posting this! I think the doctor in the article is just genuinely ignorant, though, sadly, many doctors are ignorant about nutrition and supplements. I don’t think it’s really taught comprehensively.

  4. Merry Christmas all! I had a most unusual concept about nutrition: our bogies organs are a whole series of filters, for instance the liver uses glutathione to detoxify. Life Extension has found combining silymarin with phosphatodylserine yields a 10X potency to silymarin. What would be the impact of removing the waste materials that have accumulated around these organ-filters … for the liver: silymarin, + PS, + alpha lipoic acid, + lecithin, acetyl-L-carnitine?

  5. It’s quite ridiculous to say that all supplementation is a waste of money. I am a 26 year old with an autoimmune disease (hashimoto’s) and if it wasn’t for the supplements I’m not sure what state my health would be in now. When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I also had leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, multiple food intolerances, SIBO and multiple nutrient deficiencies. Those were very low B12, B6, B1, zinc, selenium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin A, I had very high iodine and calcium and highish copper. There’s no way I could replenish my levels with whole foods alone as I have malabsorbtion issues. Supplements are getting me healthy.