Vitamins and Calcium

One of the more common questions is whether I recommend any supplements. I recommend very few of them. For longer fasts, I recommend a general multivitamin, although there is scant evidence that it is beneficial. In fact, almost all vitamin supplements have been proven to be useless. In some cases, like vitamin B, worse than useless. All vitamins go through periods of of popularity and unpopularity. It’s worse than high school. One minute, you’re the most popular kid in class, then next you’re the laughingstock.

In the 1960’s the king of vitamins was vitamin C. Linus Pauling is the only person to have won two unshared Nobel Prizes – once for chemistry and once for peace. He had the firm unshakeable belief that many of the problems of modern nutrition could be cured by mega doses of vitamin C. He suggested that high dose vitamin C could prevent or cure the common cold, the flu and even cancer. He even suggested that “75% of all cancer can be prevented and cured by vitamin C alone”. That, of course is wildly optimistic. Many studies were done over the next few decades that clearly proved that most of these vitamin C claims were simply false hopes. Turns out the only disease Vitamin C cures is scurvy. Since I don’t treat many 15th century pirates, it’s not too useful for me.

Once vitamin C supplementation was proven largely useless to prevent disease, the next great hope was vitamin E. Its main claim to glory was as an ‘antioxidant’. Supposedly, vitamin E would neutralize all the nasty free radicals that were causing untold damage to our vascular system. Taking vitamin E would prevent heart disease, we were told. Except, of course, it did nothing of the sort. The HOPE trial, best remembered now as one of the trials to establish the use of the ACEI class of medication in cardiovascular protection. However, this randomized controlled trial also tested whether vitamin E could prevent disease. Unfortunately, the answer was no. Vitamin E supplements did not prevent heart disease or stroke. Indeed, more patients in the vitamin group died, had heart attacks and strokes although this was not statistically significant. Vitamin C was a bust, and so was vitamin E. But the list of shame would not stop there.

The next great hope was vitamin B. In the early 2000s, there was a great flurry of interest in a blood test called homocysteine. High homocysteine levels were correlated with increased risk of heart disease. Vitamin B could lower homocysteine levels, but whether this would translate into better health outcomes was unknown. Several large scale trials were launched with this hope. One of these was the NORVIT trial, published in 2006 in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

The news was stunning. Stunningly bad, that is. Compared to taking placebo (sugar pills), supplementation with folate, vitamin B6 and B12 was giving people more heart attacks and strokes. Yes. The vitamin group was not doing better, it was doing worse. But worse news was still to come, if you can believe it. In 2009, researchers studied the two randomized controlled trials of vitamin B supplementation and found that in addition to raising the risk of cardiovascular disease, the risk of cancer was increased by 21%! Aw snap! The risk of dying from cancer increased by 38%. Taking useless vitamins is one thing, taking vitamins that are actively harmful is something else.

The use of vitamin B supplements for kidney disease was similarly dismal. The DIVINe study randomized two groups of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) to either placebo or vitamin B supplements with the hope of slowing down the progression of kidney disease. Homocysteine levels are high in CKD and the vitamins were able to lower these levels. But did they make any real difference? Sure did. The use of vitamin B made things worse. Much, much worse. It doubled the incidence of poor outcomes. Another nail in the coffin of the homocysteine story and vitamin B supplements. Another 10 years of research money wasted.

The ironic part of this flawed knowledge is that we are still paying the price. Enriched wheat flour, for example is wheat with all the goodness extracted and then certain vitamins replaced. So almost all the vitamins were removed, and replaced with huge doses of iron and vitamin B. So what we got was a huge surplus of vitamin B. Not that I believe this was malicious. People were mostly concerned about nutrient deficiencies like beri beri, iron deficiency anemia and not so much with anything else. The problem, of course, is that we now have data that show that giving large doses of vitamin B may increase rates of cancer and hear attacks.

But why should vitamin B supplements be bad? After all, folate supplements have reduced the incidence of neural tube defects in pregnancy significantly. Like everything else in medicine, it’s a question of context. Vitamin B is needed for growth of cells. During growth periods, like pregnancy and childhood, this is a good thing.

The problem is completely different during adulthood. Excessive growth is NOT good. The fastest growing cells are cancer cells, so they love, love, love the extra vitamin B. Not so good for us people. Even for regular cells, the excessive growth is not good, because it leads to scarring and fibrosis. This explains how you get more heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. Cardiovascular disease is caused by atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries and excessive fibrosis likely makes it worse.

Calcium supplements, of course have been recommended by doctors for decades as a preventative strategy against osteoporosis. I explained everything in this lecture from a few years ago “The Calcium Story“. Almost every doctor has recommended calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis.

Why? The rationale is that bones have lots of calcium so eating calcium must make bones stronger. This is, of course, the reasoning that a third grader might use, but that’s besides the point. Eating brains makes us smarter. Eating kidneys improves kidney function. Right…. But any who, this puerile reasoning lasted for about 50 years.

We pretend that we live in a world of evidence based medicine. Just as we discussed with calories, it seems that evidence is not needed for the status quo, but only for ‘alternative viewpoints’. They finally did a proper randomized controlled trial on calcium supplementation and published it in 2006. The Women’s Health Initiative randomized over 36,000 women to calcium and vitamin D or placebo. Then they followed them for over 7 years and monitored them for hip fractures. Did taking calcium every day for 7 years give women super-strong bones that never crack?

Hardly. There was no difference in total fractures, hip, vertebral or wrist fractures. In other words, calcium supplements were completely useless. Actually, that’s not true. There was a significant difference. Those people taking calcium had significantly more kidney stones. So, they were actually harmed by taking these pills. Nice. Are these women glad they faithfully took their pills every day for the last 7 years?

What is the reason why these supplements are not beneficial and mostly harmful? It’s really quite simple. You must understand the root cause (the aetiology) of disease in order to prescribe rational treatment. The diseases that we face today – obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease etc. ARE NOT VITAMIN DEFICIENCY DISEASES. If these are not disease caused by a lack of vitamins, why would we expect supplementation to make a difference? Let’s be clear. If you have a vitamin deficient disease (ie. Vitamin B12 deficiency) then yes, you should take vitamins. If you are obese or have heart disease (ie. NOT vitamin deficiency diseases) then you are not likely to benefit.

Let’s take an analogy. Suppose our car does not run because the engine has exploded. Somebody then says “Oh, hey, I had a time where our car did not run because it was out of gas. Therefore you should put more gas into the car”. But it doesn’t work. Because you must treat the root cause. The problem was that the engine exploded. I don’t really care how much gas is in the car in this situation.

So, if we are treating vitamin deficiency disease (scurvy, beri beri, osteomalacia) then replacing vitamins is very logical and effective. If we are treating obesity, then replacing vitamins is completely and utterly useless. I don’t worry about nutrient density of foods, because I am not treating a nutrient deficiency disease. However, people love trying to sell you the latest greatest weight loss supplement (green coffee, raspberry ketones, PGX, fibre, Sensa etc).

If you are asking the question “What can I eat/ take/ supplement to help me lose weight?” then you are completely going in the wrong direction. The question you need to ask is “What can i NOT eat/take/ supplement to help me lose weight?” The money to be made answering the latter question is orders of magnitude smaller than trying to answer the first.

63 Responses

  1. If I have low levels of ferritin and vitamin B12, is it not a good idea totake supplements?

    • Vegans and vegetarians get practically 0 vitamin B. I think this is a different case than the populace? I think this article is referencing the excess of vitamins, rather than whether we need them or not at all. Although I wonder what the record for fasting days on water without a multivitamin is.

    • john koroloff

      Dr. Greger has a great video on Ferritin you should see…the “normal” level is really, in his estimation iron overload associated with increased risks of many diseases…I donate blood on a regular basis to keep my Ferritin level(s) down below 40.
      https://twitter.com/nutrition_facts/status/825727717836480516

    • Charlene

      Yes–Dr Fung does say that if you are dealing with a deficiency–then a supplement could be a good idea.

    • If you have low levels of B12, it’s likely tied to low stomach acid. A person cannot absorb B12 very well (if at all), if their stomach acid is low. It is probably a better idea to take a swig of apple cider vinegar before a meal to get the stomach acid juices flowing to help with B12 absorption.

  2. My husband’s grandmother was always taking weird vitamin cocktails she would make, thinking it was going to keep her healthy, well, she apparently mixed some vitamins and too much iron and landed herself in the ER with congestive heart failure. She’s doing better now, but this is just one case of someone misinformed almost killing themselves to be “healthy” with supplements.

  3. Would taking electrolytes (home made or store bought) still be beneficial for people fasting or eating LCHF?

    • I take in more salt, potassium, and magnesium when fasting. I use Gerolsteiner for magnesium, and add salt and potassium to bone broth or herbal tea. If I don’t do this, I can get headaches and leg kicks at night. Also, being on a LCHF diet means you lose even more salt. So, I’ve been increasing my salt content. I note that I’m transitioning toward eating zero carb (basically meat), so I don’t eat — and haven’t eaten anything for a long time — that’s prepared. (Other than going out to dinner.) I therefore don’t have that source of salt.

      I also take magnesium supplements at times. I take Vitamin D, as I can never get in the sun. If I do get in the sun, I cease taking Vitamin D. I am taking Vitamin C at times, as this supposedly will reduce high Lp(a) levels, which I have. I haven’t yet checked my Lp(a) levels to see if there’s an improvement, though.

      I’m also trying to eat more offal. This week, after my 4.5 day fast (ate Sunday night, will eat Friday sometime), I plan on eating beef heart. I plan on eating beef liver next week. This is to correct my lack of vitamins and minerals.

      I think that Dr. Fung may be wrong for the case of those of us with myriad problems due to eating high carb over the years. I know I had leaky gut and many other problems. Dr. Atkins recommended supplements not because low carb lacked them but because high carb causes a lack of nutrition. It’s taken me years to rebuild my vitamin and mineral content, particularly magnesium. I had to take tons of magnesium at first. I take much less now. I think that’s also true for other vitamins and minerals. But it has taken me YEARS of eating low carb to correct everything. And, when I started low carb, I originally ate bars and the like, thinking because they were “low carb”, they were good for me. I’ve been eating nothing but real food for a while, but even that takes a long time to cure the low value foods (like brown rice, pasta, oats) I ate before.

      I think that if you’ve come from a high carb background and have dysbiosis, leaky gut, etc., vitamins might help. None of the studies he cites above involve this.

      • Stephen T

        Bob, after going low carb I also added salt, magnesium and potassium to my diet. My understanding is that the lower insulin level achieved with low carb and fasting will increase water loss and therefore mineral loss. If so, the minerals have to be replaced.

      • Gerolsteiner is like a mineral supplement. Total dissolved solids >2500. Apollinaris is my second choice.

      • Thanks Bob. Ive been using homemade electrolytes using epson salts for the magnesium (it doesnt taste great) along with lo-salt and Himalayan pink salt, also adding ACV and lemon juice.

        I think Jason has a point about supplements in general, equally so you have valid points too…its not a one size fits all. I was curious to hear if electrolytes were necessary but on reflection I think its needed.

        Ive basically been eating paleo/low carb/keto for almost 8 years but ive only discovered fasting since Dec 2016 to try and shift the last stubborn bits of body fat.

        I respect Dr Fungs opinion and I think he is on to something about vitamins being unnecessary. I take so many and spend so much money on them I think its worthwhile giving myself a break from them and then getting blood tests done to see if im deficient in anything. Then I will know if its worthwhile taking any or not.

  4. This could be correlation and not causation, but within a couple of days of taking a B supplement (50 mg. ) on physician recommendation, the little and fourth fingers of my left hand went numb. This about six weeks ago. No other reason, seemingly, though it could be ulnar nerve inflammation. Needless to say, I stopped taking that supplement. Fingers still mostly numb.

    Another great post of common sense and will be attended to!

    • Lauren Romeo

      You may have an ulnar nerve issue. If it continues see a neurologist. They can look at your spine, specifically your neck where the brachial plexus originates. Best of luck.

  5. What about Vitamin D? We hear so much about not getting enough and I was tested and had very low levels.
    I do want to thank you for bringing my attention to the B vitamin problem. I did not know and have been taking a B complex for years. That stops today.

    • I’m curious about Dr. Fung’s opinion on vitamin D supplementation as well. I take no pharmaceuticals at all, or supplements, but my doc recommended I take 2000-4000 IUD of vitamin D daily. I’ve made a point to sunbathe more frequently, so hope that does the trick (I’m elderly and of northern European descent).

    • I want to share my resource on vitamin D. In summary, yes you needed it, sun will probably not provide it easily for most people. https://www.grc.com/health/Vitamin-D.htm

  6. sten bjorsell

    I read a great book “Stop the Clock” by Denis Mangan. He shortlisted a few supplements to take during fasting. But not to fill shortages, instead to promote hormesis! Hormesis is the sort of thing that is best described as “sharpening a pencil”, or using moderate not excessive but “lagom” exercise. Mangan describes it in detail in the book above that I found also in a Kindle version for less than 7 usd. Curcumin is one of these “hormetic supplements”. He also points out in the book that many antioxidants actually inhibit the effect of autophagy, in general agreement with this post.
    Autophagy is one of the two “health building” effects of intermittent fasting. (For most of us initially fat removal from the liver and ucial organs)
    The other effect seems to be the increased production of stem cells, described by Valter Longo. This was news for me, and I am certainly not alone! At the same time Jason Fung’s blogpost above also indicates that too much of a “good thing” is actually bad. The effect is in the dose. It holds initially for food in general, as we all knew well long before reading this post.

  7. Brilliant. Insightful. Evidence-based.
    Thank you for the updated review on vitamins.
    Can you also speak to any evidence about vitamin d?
    Keep up the great work!!!

  8. The only supplement I take now is Vitamin D, about 5,000 IU daily between the Fall and Spring Equinoxes, when the Sun angle at my latitude is apparently not sufficient for Vitamin D production. This is not a weight loss concern, but I thought I’d mention it since Dr. Fung addressed non-weight loss considerations for the other vitamins and supplements he discussed.

    Maybe 8-10 years ago, a friend who is an M.D. involved in research advised me that research indicted a big problem woth undiagnosed Vitamin D deficiency being rampant in the US (and probably elsewhere), and that the official recommendations for daily intake were woefully inadequate. Since then, the recommendations have been revised upwards, but still not to the levels that my friend advised. Since Vitamin D is relatively cheap, there seems to be no significant downside to takng it, and testing Vitamin D levels is not cheap, I choose to supplement at a level which is a ballpark estimate. Apart from people who have some specific medical conditions, research that I’ve seen indicates that toxicity occurs only after extended use of levels an order of magnitude higher than what I mentioned above. In general, the amount needed rises with age and with weight, but there are many other factors that drive the required intake level.

    The main benefit I noticed from Vitamin D supplementation was a sharp reduction in the incidence of winter colds. Vitamin D is reported to protect against adenovirus (Winter cold virus) and influenza, but not rhinovirus (Summer cold virus). I haven’t had influenza since supplementing Vitamin D, but I don’t know when I’ve last had influenza, or if I’ve ever had it (I’m 56 now), so I can’t say tht Vitamin D was necessarily a factor for me. But my friend co-authored a paper which seemed to find significant evidence (though not decisively conclusive) that Vitamin D deficiency is the seasonal variant that drives influenza infection.

  9. I absolutely love you, Dr. Fung. You make me think and laugh at the same time!

  10. William Brady

    Vitamin sales and weight loss products are big money makers. Supplement wisely based on need and fast to loose weight. Both are money savers.

    I have been reading Dr. Mercola’s new book “Fat for Fuel”. He agrees largely with Dr. Fung but in chapter 8 page 178; Mercola writes, “Elderly individuals need to be monitored very carefully to prevent muscle loss (sarcopenia).” Dr. Mercola did not elaborate about this case but he is clear that muscle loss is possible. Also, I have read other articles by Doctors that caution muscle loss is possible although Dr. Fung asserts the body will use fat first because muscle mass is key to survival and fat is just storage.

    Can anyone point to research about muscle loss via fasting?

    • Was Dr. Mercola talking about muscle loss during fasting? Or was he talking about muscle loss as we age?

  11. Ok, I have to say that the 38% increased risk of getting cancer is a RELATIVE risk The actual risk is tiny.

    Here’s the summary:

    Results During study treatment, median serum folate concentration increased more than 6-fold among participants given folic acid. After a median 39 months of treatment and an additional 38 months of posttrial observational follow-up, 341 participants (10.0%) who received folic acid plus vitamin B12 vs 288 participants (8.4%) who did not receive such treatment were diagnosed with cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 1.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.41; P = .02). A total of 136 (4.0%) who received folic acid plus vitamin B12 vs 100 (2.9%) who did not receive such treatment died from cancer (HR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.07-1.79; P = .01). A total of 548 patients (16.1%) who received folic acid plus vitamin B12 vs 473 (13.8%) who did not receive such treatment died from any cause (HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.04-1.33; P = .01). Results were mainly driven by increased lung cancer incidence in participants who received folic acid plus vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 treatment was not associated with any significant effects.

    Note that the design was as such:

    Combined analysis and extended follow-up of participants from 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials (Norwegian Vitamin Trial and Western Norway B Vitamin Intervention Trial). A total of 6837 patients with ischemic heart disease were treated with B vitamins or placebo between 1998 and 2005, and were followed up through December 31, 2007.

    So, the chance of dying from cancer was 38% because 36 more people (136-100) died from cancer. But that was 36 more people out of 6,837 people, or an ABSOLUTE risk of 0.5 percent. Yes, less than one percent.

    And: “Results were mainly driven by increased lung cancer incidence in participants who received folic acid plus vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 treatment was not associated with any significant effects.” You mean to tell me that lung cancer is CAUSED by more folic acid in combination with vitamin b12, yet vitamin B6 does not cause lung cancer? How is that possible? That is, what mechanism could cause this?

    This is the type of crap study that proves essentially nothing but generates headlines.

    It used to be that unless your absolute risk was greater than 2 percent and you had a plausible mechanism to explain an effect, the study would be ignored. Now, garbage like this gets through all the time. Could it be true? Possibly, but the chances are better of a snowball surviving in hell for years. If you’re interested in more research, I suggest you start here:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

  12. I love the work of Dr. Fung, be even he hiccups at time. One is on vitamin C and Pauling on cancer. I just so happened to have done a summary of his work and a trial he and Cameron conducted in the mid 70s. The survival of the terminal patients was 5 times longer on 10 grams of vitamin C daily. Very few chemo therapies ad more than a few months.. 22% of his patients survived over 1 year, while only 0.4% of the control group. In that hospital in Scotland no treatment was given to their terminal colon cancer patients., thus their immune system and health wasn’t compromised by treatment. For the journal article by Pauling and excerpts from his book http://healthfully.org/rcdm/id14.html

  13. Another hiccup of Dr. Fung, the role of Vitamin C as an antioxidant. One more comment, if you look for cancer and cigarettes and run a 2 year trial, you will not find among healthy young participants a statistically insignificant increase. The reason I take CoQ10 300 mg and Vitamin C 1,500 mg is because they are antioxidants. As such there are many benefits, however the studies of these two, one fat soluble the other water soluble, would take a couple of decades to become statically significant among young, healthy volunteers. I would go on to aver that bad pharma and the bad regulatory system know this and do deliberately bad science. I just so happened to have done a review of Vitamin C. spent over 200 hours reading journal articles. The summary is at http://healthfully.org/rc/id20.html

    • Jerome,
      Are you sure you didn’t mean to say “statistically significant”? Also, Dr. Kendrick has said that negative affects don’t even show up before 5 years so you may be being conservative here. He was saying that in the context that apparently no statin safety studies have gone beyond 5 years…

  14. “Turns out the only disease Vitamin C cures is scurvy. Since I don’t treat many 15th century pirates, it’s not too useful for me.”

    Keep in mind that Linus Pauling was under the firm belief that atherosclerosis was actually the subclinical form scurvy. He based this on many studies, including the fact that in order to keep gorillas from getting heart disease in captivity, they have to give them vitamin c supplements. In Pauling’s view, the body’s use of plaque to repair the arteries was a backup mechanism, with the primary mechanism, the use of collagen, being vastly reduced by a genetic defect that rendered humans unable to produce their own vitamin c from glucose. I know these ideas are detested by most doctors, but I think Pauling was right, and these ideas will, eventually, be accepted as valid.

    • In 1994 Pauling was issued a patent for the treatment of atherosclerosis. He is the father of modern day biochemistry for which he received a Nobel prize. What is bewildering is that no University or Drug company ever tested the underlying theory behind the patent to prove or disprove it. The reason was the compounds used in the patent were not patentable – why fund the test if you can’t make money. The compounds were 2,000 mg of Vitamin C and 1,000 mg of Lysine twice a day. He believed that atherosclerosis was simply a Vitamin C and/or Lysine deficiency. When a blood vessel tears due to the rapid flow of blood, the body has to repair it. Pauling believed that Vitamin C and Lysine were key to repairing the blood vessel tear. If there was a deficiency of Vitamin C and/or Lysine, the body knowing that it needed to repair the blood vessel tear to prevent blood flowing into the body, would use cholesterol as the back up to clog up the tear. The only downside with the use of cholesterol is that it could build up and clog arteries.

  15. He talks about “taking vitamins for weigth loss/treat obesity” being useless and clearly stated that if you have a deficiency, then taking that vitamin as a supplement makes sense.
    So if you are vitamin D deficient (like most people), then yes you can supplement.
    It is all about the context.

  16. I take Vitamin D, K, C, L-lysine, fish oil, and Astaxanthin daily.

  17. What would the name of the lab test be for testing/evaluating a comprehensive vitamin/mineral profile for a person. Is there a “panel” that can be ordered that would clearly show deficits?

  18. I think that Dr. Fung is trying to get across the idea that it is better to get your nutrients from real food when you are “feasting” and that you should not rely on lab created “vitamins” The human body requires certain nutrients in balance, and when you supplement, you are likely upsetting that balance. If you develop symptoms of deficiencies such as low electrolytes, you definitely need to supplement. However, too much potassium can be extremely dangerous.
    I believe he is referring to the practice of some people to obsess about vitamins and minerals. There is a lot of “hype” out there. So eat a variety of whole foods and totally avoid processed foods, and, generally, you should be OK.

  19. There have been periods in my life when I consumed large amounts of supplements and other times when I used no supplements. I really could not tell the difference in how I felt. Doing Intermittent Fasting and eating a Low Carb Moderate Protein High Fat diet is more important. What to eat and when to eat within these guidelines depends on individual circumstances. So you need to experiment with the macros and timing a bit.

  20. There definitely many moving parts. Protein, fats, carbs, fibre, insulin load, insulin index, energy density, various essential vitamins, essential minerals, cholesterol, saturated fat, ketones, blood sugar, insulin, fasting etc etc etc. Magic bullets that work alone for all people are hard to find. The challenge is to find the right tool or highest priority suite of tools that best suit an individual’s current situation and goals.

  21. Initially, this article was VERY disturbing for me!
    Then I thought about it long and hard!
    My question was: Am I better off with krill oil as without it? The extensive research on krill oil is compelling, science based, and properly tested! There is NO DOUBT about that!!
    So, I ask the same question for EVERY other supplement (including Vitamin D and Magnesium) I take!
    I got the SAME answer!
    I rest my case!

    • The article subject is clear:
      “If you are asking the question “What can I eat/ take/ supplement to help me lose weight?” then you are completely going in the wrong direction.”
      It is about people who are looking for supplements/vitamins thinking it will help them treat obesity.
      It doesn’t question the utility of supplementation if you are deficient.
      I won’t change my habits of taking vitamin D in winter and o3 daily based on this article.

  22. I bought your book and I’m about to burn it. Please dispute this http://www.doctoryourself.com/klennerbio.html

    • Burning books. That sounds so progressive and rational. More book burning more book sales.

    • Thomas Dr. Klenner himself would have been highly interested in Dr. Fung’s work as it is just a progressive while flying in the face of traditional medicine. One doesn’t necessarily preclude the other. Dr. Fung may not be correct about Vitamin C but there is little doubt that his methodology regarding fasting is just a ground breaking as curing polio. To the best of my knowledge, obesity far outweighs polio as an epidemic in this country at least.

      Questing minds must always be open to new information rather than shutting off a theory simply because it goes against another theory one holds. And for that matter, the vitamin b therapy described by Klenner was in response to MS not as a daily supplement. I saw little to suggest that he held with daily, and often useless supplementation which is what Dr. Fung disagrees with and rightly so.

      • I couldn’t agree more. Not a one size fits all supplements. Some are better than others. As are herbal remedies. With depleted soils & foods that lack fresh quality. Obviously nutrients are lost or altered from cooking or heating. Some supplements are Concentrated foods. Green foods, sprouts, kombucha and various herbs have merits. Aspirin being formulated originally from Frederick Bayer would drink white willow nightly and wanted to offer the benefits of white willow to general public.

  23. Oh my god . Supplementing just feels not right unless we r sure that we lack those very nutrients. To each his own, and each will offer evidenced and personal anecdotes to support. Mad

  24. Jason Fung, vitamins are not useless. Vitamin c, for example, is one of the best one: https://www.amazon.com/Primal-Panacea-Thomas-Levy/dp/0983772800

    Greetings from Estonia 😉

  25. “Many studies were done over the next few decades that clearly proved that most of these vitamin C claims were simply false hopes. Turns out the only disease Vitamin C cures is scurvy.”

    These studies were likely low doses, under 1 g a day. Government guidelines re: vitamin C is useless, because it’s based on wrong premise.

    I would hope, the goal is not only to prevent scurvy, but to promote optimal health. Low dose takes care of the former, mega-dose takes care of the latter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0LLX0sgwAU

  26. valentina Ranslam

    You are another courageous worrier against public ignorance.
    Without having the backup knowledge from such trials like HOPE, NORVIT , WHI etc, I always thought taking vitamin supplements was useless for people, just another way to make money. Thanks for summarizing . Now I know for a fact vitamins there are not only useless but actually harmful!
    Vitamins are key for our bodies to function properly at the molecular level, cofactors for escential chemical reactions etc., but there is no need to take extra vitamins if we have a varied and balanced diet. .

  27. Sue and Tony

    Has anyone used Berberine or Banaba Leaf for blood sugar control?

    • I grew up in a town whose central plaza was planted with banaba trees. Sure, folks use the infusion of its leaves for various ailments, mostly for kidney complaints. We control blood sugar by not eating sugar (and carbs), in other words, by self-control.

      • Sue and Tony

        Wow. So do we. We have eaten a very strict LCHF diet for a year and half. I was just asking if anyone has used these supplements with good results.

  28. Charlene

    Supplements to aid in weight loss???– Do people really think that?? Guess that is why vitamin water is so popular. I do have a question though…
    My Dr has instructed me to take Vit D, a few of the B’s, a multi and calcium supplements among other things. She says I am deficient or, in the case of calcium, could prevent bone loss. I do not take any of them.
    Where can I find reliable information that tell where my levels should be so I can compare with my actual blood work results levels? Currently the test results show either a L or H to indicate low or high–but the range is merely a compilation of the averages from the patients tested by that lab (so pretty much useless IMHO). I just don’t know who to trust–is my Dr recommending supplements just because it is generally accepted as “good measure” or do I truly need them? How can I be sure?

  29. Karen Davis

    What about people with the MTHFR genotype polymorphisms C677T and A1298 who are adversely affected by folic acid? Supposedly 15-20% of the population has these polymorphisms. Was the B vitamin supplementation referenced in the research above done with natural folate or with synthetic folic acid? Does anybody know? And if any folic acid was used, wouldn’t that would adversely affect the results? Just askin’.

  30. can someone explain why eating fat is good ?
    I mean maybe it won’t make you fat
    but won’t it still clog your arteries?

    • KidPsych

      Rose, arteries don’t get clogged by you consuming fat. That is an outdated model that does not align with modern research. Your arteries clog from consuming too much sugar, which leads to inflammation and repair of the arterial wall, which then scabs and causes blockages. It’s the sugar and refined carbs that cause clots that lead to heart disease, not saturated fat.

  31. On a diet of meat, eggs, fat, fermented foods, and greens, you do not have to take any supplement except vitamin D. Greens provide the Mg and K needed for fasting. Fermented foods have plenty of salt.

  32. “There was a significant difference. Those people taking calcium had significantly more kidney stones.”

    This is why it pays to know the relationship between Calcium, Vitamin D, and K2 (most notably K2). K2 is the vitamin responsible for directing calcium where it should go, but also removing it from areas it shouldn’t be: Kidney Stones, Gall Stones, and arteries. In my opinion, it’s a dangerous game supplementing with Calcium and/or Vitamin D without K2.

    It also comes down to food, which is where people should really be getting their nutrients from. If people have vitamin deficiencies, I’d think it’s likely more to hinge on the individuals ability to absorb them which would be directly linked to their gut health and stomach acid (or lack thereof). One of the major problems with someone with say a B12 deficiency is lack of stomach acid. Somebody with little stomach acid cannot absorb B12 from food very well (if at all).

  33. So for osteoporosis how do you treat it without D, Calcium & Magnesium?

  34. Very different from the Wheat Belly way, which I have been following, together with IF, with some success. I tend toward the “less is more” approach, but WB’s Dr. Davis strongly recommends some supplements like Vitamin D, Iodine, Omega 3 fish oil, as well as magnesium, potassium, and good salt. I respect both doctors – it’s so difficult to know what’s right.

  35. I’m a physics professor and strongly support evidence-based medical decisions.

    The only issue I have with this article is that Dr. Fung is sorely ignorant of huge amounts of research evidence. His conclusions, therefore, are at best incomplete.

    I’ll just list a few things here— because the research is so substantial that I can’t list it all:

    (1) Vitamin C

    Having a plasma vitamin C level greater than 66 uM is associated with reduced all-cause mortality in men. The dose-response curve of vitamin C in humans is well-elucidated. In order to reach 66 uM plasma vitamin C you need a vitamin C intake of about 500 mg a day. (By the way, there are FIVE separate studies by different groups which show this same correlation.). You CAN get 500 mg a day by diet alone— if you eat, say, 10 mangoes a day, which most people won’t do. Here is a great summary, with bibliography to papers from peer reviewed journals, by Dr. Michael Lustgarten, a PhD researcher at the Tufts University Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging:

    https://michaellustgarten.wordpress.com/tag/vitamin-c/

    (2) Thiamine and Diabetes

    There is solid and substantial research that a fat-soluble form of thiamine (B1) called Benfotiamine helps with diabetic neuropathy. Go to MEDLINE and search “diabetes and benfotiamine.” Here is an (old) summary article with references from the Life Extension Foundation. (The article is 10 years old, and there is substantially more research now, but this is a place to start):

    http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2007/1/report_benfotiamine/Page-01

    Best wishes!

  36. Robin Bunderson

    I find I take vitamin B-6 every night because it helps stop the bottom of my feet get really itchy or burning feeling and taking B-6 stops the itching in 15 minutes. A friend told me that vitamin B-6 helps stop naurpothy. My husband is diabetic and has problems with naurpothy and taking B-6 really helps him. So I hope we don’t have any health problems.

  37. I think we often overlook the role of nutrients in nutrient.

    Spectracell has compiled a fantastic resource of research papers correlating nutrient deficiencies and common medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, overweight, ADHD, anxiety, asthma, autism, depression, dyslipidemia, estrogen, fatigue, infertility, fibromyalgia, hypertension, hypothyroidism, inflammation, insomnia, methylation). Makes for some fascinating reading.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/to3f84z77sckvjx/Interactive-Library-Nutrient_Correlation_Wheels-2.pdf?dl=0

    The next question is, “which whole contain more of these nutrients without having to rely on pills and supplements?”

Leave a Reply