3

votes

Do we really need supplements (of any kind) if we are eating right?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 09, 2011 at 11:21 AM

I was reading an interesting post on PaNu. It's basically a rant against most supplements and everyone looking for a "magic bullet". Here's an excerpt:

Living in ketosis 24/7 - even though this requires persistent avoidance of starches or peculiar amounts of coconut

Multivitamins - even though you eat real, whole foods

Antioxidants - even though there is not a shred of evidence for a benefit, and some evidence of harm

Prebiotics and Probiotic supplements - even though you already eat real, whole foods

Fish Oil, Krill Oil, or even copious fish - even though a minority of hominin evolution could have had an excess of marine n-3s and grass fed beef fat and butter is all you need if you avoid TemPOs

Iodine - even though humans evolved the capability to live with a huge range of iodine in the diet - a nonsense book by Brownstein claims that 90% of the population is iodine deficient - actual science shows that iodine downregulates thyroid hormone synthesis and can flare Hashimoto's

Eating well beyond satiety - even though you are getting fat and feel like shit, you have been told by someone that this will "heal" your metabolism

Thyroid hormone - You feel fine and have normal thyroid labs but you take thyroid hormone from pigs every day to "improve" your LDL levels

I think a lot of people probably take things because they think it is doing good. For example, we take fish oil to offset the O6 in out system or probiotics to replace gut flora we think is messed up. If we eat right, do we really need to take this stuff or does it just make us "feel" better intellectually?

I currently take fish oil, probiotics and magnesium but I've been thinking about eliminating all of that for a while to see if I actually notice a difference.

So I guess my question is this. Is there anything we really can't get from whole foods today that our body needs or are we all caught up in the BS to a certain extent?

I've seen some similar threads but nothing that really answered my question.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:42 AM

2 grams of vitamin C per day is a ridiculous amount. I'm also suspicious of the dog claim. I've seen it before, and it just doesn't seem right -- aside from the obvious that we're talking about _dogs_.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:20 AM

Wow, that sounds like a lot of chocolate. How big are those bars? Also a lot of fruit... 20 servings/wk is ~3 pieces a day, no?

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 09, 2011
at 10:28 PM

Yes, and mastalgia really hurts, doesn't it? According to Dr. Brownstein's book *Iodine: Why you need it, why you can't live without it*, the reason why Japanese women have so little breast cancer is because they consume so much iodine, *not* because they eat soy products. According to him, "The breasts are one of the bodys' main storage sites for iodine..." and after the thyroid gland, the ovaries "...contain the second highest concentration of iodine in the body." And I accept your apology, Dale. I would love to get my iodine from seaweed, but its just too expensive for my budget.

Ba686a7b91a9c04f18170dd4ac762968

on February 09, 2011
at 09:59 PM

@Travis "Flout such obvious decisions..." Highly speculative decisions, really. Such faux Nabokovian prose yourself! As far as equating me with a pedophile, go fuck yourself. How's that for "belligerent"? If you think I am saying no one should ever supplement, then you have poor reading comprehension. I take maegnesium myself and have only said so perhaps a dozen times on the blog, in interviews, etc. The point of the essay is having a healthier self-concept - to not assume that you are broken or deficient unless you have evidence for it. Not that it is impossible to be deficient.

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on February 09, 2011
at 09:23 PM

I've never heard the term "mastalgia" before- but I certainly recognize the symptoms! I'm so glad that you posted this, because I never knew what was going on before.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on February 09, 2011
at 08:15 PM

@Travis Culp, the character "Humbert Humbert" was a pedophile. Are you saying Dr. Harris was doing an impression of a pedophile?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 09, 2011
at 08:09 PM

Dogs endogenously manufacture 18mg/lb of body weight. They aren't designed to eat all that much in the way of carbs.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:51 PM

Vitamin C is only needed in the presence of carbs, and the good tubers, have C built in. ;)

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:49 PM

agreed, I liked PaNu before, Love it now.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:49 PM

id answer, but this would be my answer, of course my diet is different, but Vitamin D is the only thing we cant easily obtain thru diet... because we dont live outside in the wild, and work under the sun all day. Personally I eat virtually no fruit and alot more grassfed animals than Jay.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:36 PM

He is surely a hack, but the good doctor's usage seems to align with ours.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 09, 2011
at 07:31 PM

When I think of hacks I think of Dr. Mercola and others who sell supplements.

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172

(693)

on February 09, 2011
at 06:29 PM

I didn't mean to come across confrontational or judgmental. I apologize. I'm trying to figure this all out for myself and decide what's best for me. I agree with you 100%. I'm not trying to figure out if it's "paleo". I'm just trying to understand if there is enough of a difference using whole foods instead of a supplement to justify one or the other.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 09, 2011
at 06:14 PM

Because it is easier and more cost effective for me to use Iodoral. Long story short, its all about what works, or does not work, for me. The biggest mistake the paleo "community" could make is to become dogmatic and start spouting "shoulds" and "oughts" and turn paleo into just another stupid *belief system*. If the paleo community cannot respect *individual* requirements, and the way individuals go about satisfying their requirements, then they can go fuck themselves because at that point, they are no better than the vegans.

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172

(693)

on February 09, 2011
at 05:41 PM

I guess my hang-up with it (supplements in general) is why not just get it from food? There are foods with high iodine content. I'm just thinking that there has to be some synergistic effects of eating the whole food instead of just extracting a vitamin or mineral from it.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 09, 2011
at 05:13 PM

As a maintenance dose I take one Iodoral tablet per day, divided into two doses, but when I first started taking it, I had to take much, much more than that to get myself over the deficiency. I don't want to say how much I was taking at first because I just know that someone will jump in and tell me it was too much. But they have no way of knowing what is too much for me. I have a problem with the whole idea that "we" should or should not take supplements. There is no such thing as "we" when it comes to *individual* needs and requirements, which are sometimes far below or above the norm.

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on February 09, 2011
at 04:47 PM

How much iodine do you take to prevent your mastalgia?

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on February 09, 2011
at 01:13 PM

Dr. Harris did recently say he takes magnesium.

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8 Answers

5
5f0158c23fcb5636e57b4ce097784da0

(1386)

on February 09, 2011
at 01:13 PM

i think certain supplements make sense, under certain circumstances. meaning, if you're recovering from a chronic disease or having digestive problems that cause deficiencies they certainly make sense. my approach is to only take the highest quality of vitamins and supplements (=bio-identical or "activated" vitamins like folate instead of folic acid, or RLA instead of ALA, etc), and only if i can feel/see a positive change while taking it. i think it's clear that almost all people eating SAD are deficient in many different vitamins/minerals. and i suspect this might be also true for paleo eaters - just to a MUCH lesser extent. i'm thinking of D, Mg, E, Zinc, Retinol, B-Complex as potential candidates - personally i would need to eat a ridiculous amount of fish and meat to even get the RDA of most vitamins/minerals when analyzed by http://nutritiondata.self.com for example. so, what i'd recommend is to take at least a 100%RDA MV/MM of the best quality available, plus additional D, DHA/EPA, Mg/Ca, etc if needed, depending on your eating pattern, lifestyle and health status. if you don't see or feel an improvement in mental or physical health, or in certain aging markers like homocysteine, you probably don't need the respective supplement. self-experimentation and observation is the way to go. but if someone is already feeling 100% super fit since years, there is probably no reason to change/add anything just for the sake of it.

3
1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 09, 2011
at 04:26 PM

I figure that's one of those questions that has to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. For myself, I can tell from positive changes in my skin, hair, fingernails, breasts, etc. that taking certain supplements is the right thing for me to do. As an example, if I don't take iodine, within 10 days I start to get mastalgia...shooting pains in my breasts. Resuming iodine eliminates the mastalgia within 3 days.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 09, 2011
at 05:13 PM

As a maintenance dose I take one Iodoral tablet per day, divided into two doses, but when I first started taking it, I had to take much, much more than that to get myself over the deficiency. I don't want to say how much I was taking at first because I just know that someone will jump in and tell me it was too much. But they have no way of knowing what is too much for me. I have a problem with the whole idea that "we" should or should not take supplements. There is no such thing as "we" when it comes to *individual* needs and requirements, which are sometimes far below or above the norm.

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172

(693)

on February 09, 2011
at 06:29 PM

I didn't mean to come across confrontational or judgmental. I apologize. I'm trying to figure this all out for myself and decide what's best for me. I agree with you 100%. I'm not trying to figure out if it's "paleo". I'm just trying to understand if there is enough of a difference using whole foods instead of a supplement to justify one or the other.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 09, 2011
at 06:14 PM

Because it is easier and more cost effective for me to use Iodoral. Long story short, its all about what works, or does not work, for me. The biggest mistake the paleo "community" could make is to become dogmatic and start spouting "shoulds" and "oughts" and turn paleo into just another stupid *belief system*. If the paleo community cannot respect *individual* requirements, and the way individuals go about satisfying their requirements, then they can go fuck themselves because at that point, they are no better than the vegans.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 09, 2011
at 10:28 PM

Yes, and mastalgia really hurts, doesn't it? According to Dr. Brownstein's book *Iodine: Why you need it, why you can't live without it*, the reason why Japanese women have so little breast cancer is because they consume so much iodine, *not* because they eat soy products. According to him, "The breasts are one of the bodys' main storage sites for iodine..." and after the thyroid gland, the ovaries "...contain the second highest concentration of iodine in the body." And I accept your apology, Dale. I would love to get my iodine from seaweed, but its just too expensive for my budget.

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on February 09, 2011
at 04:47 PM

How much iodine do you take to prevent your mastalgia?

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172

(693)

on February 09, 2011
at 05:41 PM

I guess my hang-up with it (supplements in general) is why not just get it from food? There are foods with high iodine content. I'm just thinking that there has to be some synergistic effects of eating the whole food instead of just extracting a vitamin or mineral from it.

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on February 09, 2011
at 09:23 PM

I've never heard the term "mastalgia" before- but I certainly recognize the symptoms! I'm so glad that you posted this, because I never knew what was going on before.

3
76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on February 09, 2011
at 03:49 PM

I think it has to do with the fact that there are certain things missing in our modern paleo diets that our ancestors would have consumed. Such as; depleted magnesium in our soil/water, spending much more time indoors and not in the sun, always washing everything perfectly (therefore never consuming small bits of dirt with probiotics). For me, I just "supplement" the things that might be missing.

2
Medium avatar

on February 09, 2011
at 07:24 PM

Seems like his dismissal of those who rely on "hacks" is a shot across our bow, gentlemen.

I can't replicate (what I presume to be) historic levels of iodine or vitamin D (for most of the year at the 45th parallel) and I don't consume fructose-bearing fruits, so I supplement with about 1.5mg iodine from whole kelp, 5000IU of d3 and usually 2 grams of vitamin C per day. It is thought that we lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C so as to potentiate the lipogenic effects of fructose at the end of the summer. I'll pass, thank you very much. Vitamin C intake also increases urate excretion since there is something of a redundancy there.

These aren't "magic pills," they're what I have carefully reasoned to be necessary components of a complete diet. Flout such obvious decisions at your peril, Doctor.

Aside from that, 2 cups of steamed spinach per day is my multivitamin and probably 95% of the meat I eat is grass-fed lamb. I occasionally eat a couple brazilnuts for selenium as well.

Edit: I actually find Harris' blog to be far more entertaining now that he has disabled comments and become belligerent. Back when he was scoffing at vegetables in general and doing Humbert Humbert impressions I was unimpressed, but this is actually worth reading now.

Ba686a7b91a9c04f18170dd4ac762968

on February 09, 2011
at 09:59 PM

@Travis "Flout such obvious decisions..." Highly speculative decisions, really. Such faux Nabokovian prose yourself! As far as equating me with a pedophile, go fuck yourself. How's that for "belligerent"? If you think I am saying no one should ever supplement, then you have poor reading comprehension. I take maegnesium myself and have only said so perhaps a dozen times on the blog, in interviews, etc. The point of the essay is having a healthier self-concept - to not assume that you are broken or deficient unless you have evidence for it. Not that it is impossible to be deficient.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 09, 2011
at 07:31 PM

When I think of hacks I think of Dr. Mercola and others who sell supplements.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on February 09, 2011
at 08:15 PM

@Travis Culp, the character "Humbert Humbert" was a pedophile. Are you saying Dr. Harris was doing an impression of a pedophile?

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:51 PM

Vitamin C is only needed in the presence of carbs, and the good tubers, have C built in. ;)

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 09, 2011
at 08:09 PM

Dogs endogenously manufacture 18mg/lb of body weight. They aren't designed to eat all that much in the way of carbs.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:49 PM

agreed, I liked PaNu before, Love it now.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:42 AM

2 grams of vitamin C per day is a ridiculous amount. I'm also suspicious of the dog claim. I've seen it before, and it just doesn't seem right -- aside from the obvious that we're talking about _dogs_.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:36 PM

He is surely a hack, but the good doctor's usage seems to align with ours.

2
4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on February 09, 2011
at 04:26 PM

Vitamin D is necessary if you spend your days inside - or even if you spend your winters outside in very northern latitudes.

Beyond that, I don't think anything is necessary (or even good) if you eat right.

I only take 2500IU vit D/day and very small amount of vit K (since the evidence is compelling and it seems safe even in doses that are two orders of magnitude higher than what I take).

In case your curious, here's my basic diet:

1 pound of sockeye salmon per week, 10 pastured eggs per week, 4 bars of 100% dark chocolate per week (consumed with fruit), 1-2 servings of grass-fed beef heart or liver per week, 2-3 servings of grass-fed ground beef per week, 20 yellow fleshed potatoes per week, 7-10 servings of leafy or cruciferous vegetables per week, and 20 servings of fruits per week. Added fats (used somewhat heavily) are mostly grass-fed butter or cream and, less often, olive oil.

And, full disclosure, I do take magnesium citrate very occasionally...

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:20 AM

Wow, that sounds like a lot of chocolate. How big are those bars? Also a lot of fruit... 20 servings/wk is ~3 pieces a day, no?

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 09, 2011
at 07:49 PM

id answer, but this would be my answer, of course my diet is different, but Vitamin D is the only thing we cant easily obtain thru diet... because we dont live outside in the wild, and work under the sun all day. Personally I eat virtually no fruit and alot more grassfed animals than Jay.

1
C1c86f42410cd4788bd9c5cf801dcd8f

(2246)

on February 09, 2011
at 11:30 AM

If you eat a serving or two of a fish a day, or all your meet comes from a healthy grass fed source you really do not need fish oil.

I don't eat fish almost at all. (The only reason is I grew up on the coast and now live in Ontario, can't get over the taste) however when I stop taking fish oil I notice a difference in my recovery from working out after about a week.

Vitamin D, is another one I take because I almost never get any sun.

Overall must supplements are there to replace something you are not getting. Really they should be there to assist a very good diet, a lot of the time people think they can train or suplement themselfs out of a shitty diet. Its just doesn't work.

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 10, 2011
at 05:22 AM

I actually agree with all of the posted PANU rant. I am suspicious of antioxidants and fish oil. Fish oil might help those with poor diets and it might help via blood thinning. And eating lots of FRESH fish might be better than diets full of carbs or many other options. But what I am not sure of is that sucking down fish oil pills would help me personally. And I don't see a need for pre/probiotics as my gut seems just fine. And no way would I take a multivitamin full of vitamins I don't need.

However, there are two versions of eating 'healthy.' One is to just eat whatever is on the 'healthy' list of foods. Doing this can actually NOT be healthy because even though each food might be healthy individually, if your particular choice in menu items is badly deficient in any particular vitamins and minerals, that can make your overall diet unhealthy in some ways. So if you want to skip supplements and still be safe, then you need to have some understanding of your overall needs and nutrient intake levels.

I don't necesarily agree that all supplements are bad for all people in all situations. But I am suspicious of most commonly touted supplements, even some within the paleo community.

0
A6e2b231f69366ce825476c5a6dcfff6

(1967)

on February 09, 2011
at 05:24 PM

The only supplement i take is vit D. And I only take that because I'm in Northern NY, it's winter, and I work nights. I've had one or two minor issues which I attributed to a nutrient deficiency, but I researched which foods contain those nutrients, and ate them.

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