Fuck supplements

July 31st, 2010  |  Published in Eating, Stumpblog  |  67 Comments

head of pillsOK, you know what? Fuck supplements. That’s right. Fuck supplements.

Large-scale study after large-scale study has shown that shotgunning single vitamins and minerals across a general population does either no good or is actively harmful. Vitamin C, E, A, folic acid, etc… and now calcium. I suspect that vitamin D supplementation may meet the same fate. Fibre additives are not the same as naturally occurring fibre, so don’t kid yourself about that high-fibre cookie with added inulin — you’re just turning yourself into a gassy balloon as your bifidobacteria population explodes, fairly literally, in your intestines.

Nature is still smarter than we are. The world — and our physiology — is still more complex than we like to think.

There are hundreds — thousands — of chemical compounds in our food that we need, and that probably work synergistically. Just because we’ve isolated a few doesn’t mean that:

  • those are the ones we actually need
  • we can, in fact, absorb and use them properly in supplement form
  • that they should be supplemented in isolation
  • that they should be supplemented in large doses
  • that everyone, regardless of individual medical, nutritional, and/or physiological status, should consume them
  • that we’ve gotten the molecular format right. (Remember that little whoopsie with the wrong form of vitamin E? Or the mixup between folic acid and folate? Retinol and beta-carotene? Wait, was that a righty or a lefty molecule again? Dammit I can’t keep all these tocopherols straight.)

We evolved to be outside, moving around, consuming a varied diet of other highly evolved organisms who secrete and produce thousands of their own chemical compounds — a diet looks nothing like the rubbish that most folks shovel in now and/or that food companies label as “food”. We evolved being dirty. We evolved being hungry. We evolved as scavenging omnivores who ate darn near everything we could chew or fit in our gobs. (Some of these attempts were obviously more successful than others.)

And you know what? If you’re an average person in North America (and here I use the general “you”), the garbage you consume far outweighs any tiny potential benefit that a single vitamin/mineral supplement could hope to give you.  And seriously guys, vitamin water? C’mon.

You probably eat:

  • too much sugar
  • too much sodium
  • too much processed food
  • too many artificially created and industrially processed fats
  • too many industrially added chemicals
  • too few fruits and vegetables — especially the chemical powerhouses like dark leafy greens and dark coloured berries
  • too little of the right fats (fatphobes, I see you yanking the egg yolks out)

You also probably:

  • sleep too little
  • move and use your body infrequently
  • have too much stress
  • consume too much caffeine, booze, and/or carbonated drinks
  • smoke
  • rely on mass-market pharmaceuticals to hide valid symptoms of physiological distress rather than attempting to solve the underlying problem
  • play, laugh, and love too little; work, worry, and grouch too much

If you are not this average person who does these things, of course, I salute you. You probably feel great. And no surprise.

So here’s my new stand: Fuck supplements.

There are a few that still seem to work and won’t give us cancer. There are some that one can take if one has a deficiency.

But really, most of the time you’re just creating expensive pee for yourself.

Remember HMB? Remember chromium? Remember ecdysterone? Those of you taking CLA, read the label — it’s probably soy derived rather than the naturally occurring CLA in animals.

Remember every magic saviour vitamin? Hey, folks with a cold virus, how are those vitamin C tablets treating you? Not doing jack shit, I’ll bet.

Fuck supplements.

BTW if you are interested in the role of calcium in heart disease in general, check this out. Can’t wait for the pharm companies to give us a calcium-lowering drug.

Responses

  1. Robert says:

    July 31st, 2010at 5:31 am(#)

    Preach it, Sister Krista.

    Gave up on most supplements a while back, when I started seriously stuffing myself with fruits & vegetables. My feeling is that if I’m not getting it in the mass of real food (TM) I eat every day, I probably don’t need it.

    I still use fish oil and whey protein concentrate; I tell myself that they are real foods. OTOH, I also make sure to get plenty of actual fish.

  2. Christine Morse says:

    July 31st, 2010at 7:07 am(#)

    Great Article. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to share this with some friends who truly believe in nutrients…… eeer, supplements. I’m with you… Fuck Supplements. It’s a mental thing, people can eat junk food but if they take a vitamin or give their kids a vitamin, it makes it all a-ok. Convenience and availability have turned us upside down…just look at the cancer rate for proof.

  3. DaleK says:

    July 31st, 2010at 7:18 am(#)

    You mean there is no magic pill? WTF?

    At my last physical my Dr “prescribed” some of those $80 a month vitamins she was pimping.

    Apparently, being a 5’5″ 43 year old female weighing 137lbs at 18% bodyfat is not healthy. AKA too skinny. AKA not fat like the average patient.

    They were loaded with some sorta soy (for us old ladies which apparently I am sensitive to). I felt fine going in. After a about two weeks on those vitamins I could barely get out of bed.

  4. not2fat says:

    July 31st, 2010at 9:42 am(#)

    I’ve always been skeptical of supplements from my first memory of them. The idea of supplements, like so many other products, is that it presumes that YOU are lacking something. The pusher or salesperson can’t just pop a pill and offer you one, because until you’re sold, you’re not interested. No, in order for you to use their product, they must first inform you of the problem that you have, and further convince you with the use of some scientific generalization that you’re somehow deficient. You’re not eating enough vitamins, you’re body can’t absorb this, you need to detoxify that. The solution? Miraculously, they have it. Then you, with your stoic awareness of your problem, devote yourself to correcting it and informing others of the problem that you had and are treating, but also promoting what a clever person you nipping it in the bud.

    The supplement market, whether quiet and unassuming like some health food stores, or the high pressure sales jungle that is Popeye’s, use varying techniques to win consumers over each with the goal of delivering some future promise. With the soft selling health food stores, they offer a form of education as part of their benefit. You’ll know more about ginko biloba than anyone else would care to know. This soft-sell, however, is just as unscrupulous as the more aggressive salesmanship of your GNCs or Popeye’s, for the more you become educated and aware of the myriad array of products, the sicker you realize you are, and the more you need to rectify your health. “Try this” somehow becomes a logical approach to treating symptoms, whether real or psychosomatic. The new kid on the block, Popeye’s supplements are less about education, and more about the fulfillment of some dream. The athlete in waiting approaches the store with a friend or alone with some reluctance and is directed to take this if you want that, or this for those. A duffle bag (not kidding) started kit is offered to new clients so that they can ensure their commitment to their new temple. I don’t doubt that some of what is sold works, and that the staff members use many of the products that they recommend. The problem is that this is a fire-hose approach to getting the nutritional requirements one needs. Also, the dirty secret to the supplement industry is that the photos of the people endorsing the products are using steroids, human growth hormone, and other illegitimate doping regimens that have nothing to do with the products and their claims.

    There are real health problems that are facing both young and old in our population: OBESITY, heart disease, a sedentary lifestyle, and a poor diet. Changes to any or all of those four interrelated problems (assuming you’re not a smoker) would radically improve your chances of living a long healthy life. Too bad activity doesn’t come in pill form. No wait, the pharmaceutical industry IS seriously working on this.

  5. Lillian says:

    July 31st, 2010at 10:11 am(#)

    I agree with much of this. One supplement I do think has value if you train very hard is iron (for pre-menopausal women). I’m an Olympic weightlifter and if I stop taking my iron supp, a couple months later I start to get dizzy and lose my endurance. An easy way to check for low iron is to try to donate blood–they won’t accept it if your hemoglobin is low (it’s just an easy pin-prick test). I’ve tried increasing red meat, leafy greens, molasses, etc… but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. I also recommend cod liver oil in the winter (I live in the far north).

  6. Tabigarasu says:

    July 31st, 2010at 11:46 am(#)

    Enh, I’m not so sure about that. I happily take my prenatal supplement because I work long hours indoors. It’s literally not possible for me to get enough natural vitamin D because I don’t spend enough time in the sun, live at a high latitude, and have dark skin. Similarly, I’m lactose intolerant, and morning sickness makes it really hard for me to eat enough dark green veggies to get enough calcium. (Seriously, before I started taking the calcium supplement, my teeth were at risk of rotting out, after twenty years of perfect dental health. The fetus was draining my bones’ and teeth’s stored calcium in order to form its own bones).

    Supplements certainly aren’t a magic bullet and definitely can’t replace a healthy lifestyle, but I’m not about to toss them out the window either.

  7. Sasha says:

    July 31st, 2010at 12:08 pm(#)

    Krista,

    It has been my recent stance. I still think that general multi-vitamin, fish oil and some other specific supplement (iron, vitamin B, zinc, magnesium – in highly absorbent forms) can do a person well. Just concentrating twice a day on ritual of swallowing a supplement and visualizing a positive effect can make a powerful psychological difference.

  8. Dean J says:

    July 31st, 2010at 2:21 pm(#)

    We know that individual supplements are almost always bad; they work as synergy.

    But for making up for the two main deficits in the American diet, a multivitamin’s hard to argue against. We fertilize with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, not with a full-spectrum fertilizer. (Yeah, manure or compost.) Our food – even our fresh food – isn’t as healthy as it would have been a hundred years ago. We also eat processed foods and frozen foods, which automatically don’t have as many nutrients-per-calorie as they did before they went into that factory.

    For criminee’s sake, please stop supplementing single nutrients. But overall, to make up for the lowered nutritional value of modern food, a broad-spectrum multivitamin makes pretty darn good sense.

    That, and vitamin B before bed kills a hangover like few other things.

  9. Michelle Reinke says:

    July 31st, 2010at 5:36 pm(#)

    “We evolved to be outside, moving around, consuming a varied diet of other highly evolved organisms who secrete and produce thousands of their own chemical compounds — a diet looks nothing like the rubbish that most folks shovel in now and/or that food companies label as “food”. ”

    AMEN.

  10. Hudson says:

    July 31st, 2010at 11:46 pm(#)

    the person who wrote this apparently hasn’t read the research on vitamin D for the last 20 years. it is the single most effective reducer of all-cause mortality we have, more than diet or exercise or not smoking. don’t believe me, read statements from researchers and public health experts.

    obviously diet matters but most people do not maintain adequate 25(OH)D3 due to smog, being indoors, northern climates, etc.

    it’s great that the author “suspects” that vitamin D supplementation may pan out to be unsuccessful, but without any evidence it’s just a ‘gut feeling’ and not science.

  11. Tristan says:

    August 1st, 2010at 1:04 am(#)

    Linus Paulding’s vitamin C megadose research — involving the bowel tolerance — showed that vitamin C produced diarrhoea in people only when they surpassed how much they needed. where someone with a cold could ingest 10 grams before getting diarrhoea, someone with HIV could ingest 50. It’s been a while since I read that stuff but it sold me. He won the Nobel prize, or one of those big ones.

  12. Mistress Krista says:

    August 1st, 2010at 5:10 am(#)

    Hudson, yes I HAVE read the research and in fact urged family and friends to supplement D years ago. We’ll see in future whether that was a good idea. For now, I look to sunlight as best as possible — given the vastly improved dosage.

    Indeed, it’s years of reading clinical research that has led me to this unscientific-sounding conclusion. Perhaps folks might prefer “Meta-analysis indicates no effect or active harm. Few studies meet inclusion criteria for validity.”

    But hey, as Principal Skinner said, “Prove me wrong, children! Prove me wrong!”

  13. not2fat says:

    August 1st, 2010at 6:34 am(#)

    It’s no coincidence that the closer you live to the equator, the darker your skin tone. Skin and hair colour are fairer the further away from the equator one’s ancestry is. Darker skin serves as a protection against DNA damage from the sun because the sun’s rays are more direct at the equator than further north. As people settled further and further from the equator, lighter skin colour was selected for to absorb more vitamin D, especially in winter. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, and I believe that yes, the farther you live far from the equator, especially the darker your skin and hair, the more important it is for you to take the recommended dose for your area. A large study that I read recently indicated that, among other things, people were testing as “malnourished” from their everyday diet, and vitamin D deficiency was alarmingly low. That the intake of vegetables one consumes is limited to the lettuce, tomato, and onions found on a burger, this fact is cause for concern and supplements are not the answer for these nutritional deficits.

  14. Hudson says:

    August 1st, 2010at 9:47 am(#)

    Krista, depending on where you live, sunlight might not be adequate. I saw a study on men in Argentina, I think, and many of them were deficient. don’t take skin production for granted.

  15. psi*psi says:

    August 1st, 2010at 12:51 pm(#)

    Folic acid is folate plus a hydrogen atom…and that proton falls right off at physiological pH.

  16. Trishy says:

    August 1st, 2010at 4:19 pm(#)

    It seems to me that the whole supplementation craze is a byproduct of the reductionist philosophy that is pervasive in modern medicine. We have these studies that show vitamin X does this, mineral Y does this, hormone Z does that. Then a few more studies show that actually, hormone Z does a bunch of other things as well, and supplementing with hormone Z to try to fix one thing in the body seriously screws up another thing. A recent example that comes to mind (not about supplementation, but about medical knowledge in general) is the discovery that amyloid-beta fibrils, which are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, have beneficial biological roles as well. Since most of the research into preventing Alzheimer’s has focused on preventing the formation of amyloid-beta fibrils, this was actually an unpleasant discovery for many scientists (although I’m not sure why the possibility never occurred to them before). More and more, I think we are learning that few things in our body operate entirely independently of other things, and vitamins and minerals are no different.

  17. rhm says:

    August 1st, 2010at 7:59 pm(#)

    After a long mystery illness I finally found a clinic that would perform an extensive blood chemistry analysis for me. The results of their test showed that I was suffering severe malnourishment. I was amazed as I thought my diet was good and varied and involved a lot of fresh food. My diet now consists only of fresh food but I’ve still been put onto a lot of supplements for a couple of reasons. Firstly, initially we need to get my levels up to healthy. Secondly, some of these supplements I will continue to take forever as even fresh food is deficient of nutrients and/or contains toxins because of the way we grow our food (plant and animal).

    My health has improved a lot in a short time which I believe is a combination of dietary changes and supplementing the RIGHT vitamins and minerals. I agree that a shotgun approach of taking random vitamins and minerals is probably going to be ineffective for most people most of the time. However, I think any individual that thinks they may be deficient in something should get tested so they can supplement effectively (and/or adjust their diet effectively).

  18. Terry Gibbs says:

    August 1st, 2010at 9:15 pm(#)

    Krista, thanks again..very entertaining reference I will pass onto others..

  19. Abys says:

    August 2nd, 2010at 8:57 am(#)

    Out of curiosity Krista, without supplements, what would you recommend for a person who has every tick mark on the list of “High Probability for Skin Cancer” do to get enough Vitamin D? Stand outside for 15-30 minutes anyway, or stay covered and potentially be Vit. D deficient? I doubt it will, but if it would make any difference, I’d like to note that I live at high altitude, meaning we’re hit by between (an est.) 24-30% more of the sun’s radiation than someone at sea level.

  20. Mistress Krista says:

    August 2nd, 2010at 10:16 am(#)

    Abys, there’s a difference between “sun exposure” and “crispy critter”. :) For you — assuming you’re very fair and burn like a gas-soaked pile of hay — 10 min a day at noon should be quite sufficient when the sun is strong (i.e. in the summer). The amount of vitamin D we get from even a few moments of sun exposure far outweighs the supplementation. Depending on what’s exposed, what time of day, altitude, and your skin pigmentation, you can get up to the equivalent of 20,000 IU from a single exposure. Most supplements are around 1000 IU. Simply plan a few minutes of sun exposure on as much of your body as possible, every day. It adds up nicely and you needn’t cook yourself.

    More on vitamin D here: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp

  21. Linds says:

    August 2nd, 2010at 12:15 pm(#)

    Great blog post Krista!

    Was having this talk just yesterday as I have decided to stop taking all forms of supplements with the exception of Vit. D and Fish Oils (which will probably turn into Chia Seeds and hemp seeds once I can find a good brand).

    So often I see people spending hundreds of dollars a month on supplements because they think that it is going to cause miracles to happen. I would rather take that money and spend it on better veggies, health grass fed meats and organic dairy.

    If you have a deficiency in a specific nutrient then by all means, supplement. If you live in Alaska and spend 6 months in “darkness” then you probably do need some vit. D. I know people who have been diagnosed with cancer that have taken specific herbal remedies and have actually stopped and reversed the growth of their cancer. And after watching 3 dogs take glucosamine for arthritis (or arfritis) go from having a hard time walking to running up the stairs I feel it is better then giving them rymadil which has been shown to cause internal bleeding in dogs (and may have caused the death of my childhood best friend) and sudden death in black labs.

    But if you don’t need it, why take it?

  22. Abys says:

    August 2nd, 2010at 12:30 pm(#)

    Oooh, “burn like a gas soaked-pile of hay.” I’ll have to add that to my repertoire of descriptions for my relationship with the sun.

    With 300 days of sun a year, I’m sure I can figure something out to get just the right exposure.

    Thanks for the info!

  23. Laura says:

    August 2nd, 2010at 1:51 pm(#)

    The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York agrees with your position on Vitamin Water:

    http://consumerist.com/2010/07/vitaminwater-isnt-healthy-rules-federal-judge.html

  24. Trishy says:

    August 3rd, 2010at 10:23 am(#)

    While we are on this topic:

    http://health.yahoo.net/articles/nutrition/dangerous-supplements

  25. Krista J. says:

    August 4th, 2010at 7:00 am(#)

    I love you. This works for me as I could not remember to take any of them anyway.

  26. steelcutoats says:

    August 4th, 2010at 11:36 am(#)

    A guy I work with swears that taking large doses of vitamin D has caused him to gain muscle while losing fat with no extra exertions on his part, and also that he can feel his bones getting stronger.

    It is interesting to see that his “large dose” is less than what he would get from a few minutes in the sun around here.

  27. nikki says:

    August 4th, 2010at 12:13 pm(#)

    Hi Krista,

    I enjoyed your article very much… it was a nice change from what I’ve been hearing recently (the “shovel approach” – take in as many multis as possible and let the body discard any excess… supposively this is important for anyone who trains hard).

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts on both fish oil and protein powder. Those two have always been regarded as “essentials” but I’m willing to step outside that box if that’s what’s best.

    Thanks for a great article!

  28. Mistress Krista says:

    August 4th, 2010at 2:51 pm(#)

    @nikki: Fish oil, still well supported in research and my experience with hundreds of clients, so I’m still happy to recommend it. The issue here is really that the omega-3 vs omega-6 balance tends to get out of whack with North American diets. For folks consuming an ancestral diet full of bugs, snails, free-living game, and sea creatures, well, the o-3 ratio isn’t such a problem.

    Protein powder is just a convenient, portable source of protein, much nicer in a fruit smoothie than, say, a steak. :) There’s nothing special about it. In fact some evidence suggests that whey is insulinogenic and may cause problems related to the consumption of dairy. Check out Loren Cordain’s work on dairy. http://www.thepaleodiet.com/faqs/ However, there are other protein powders available. I like hemp seed protein in particular, because it is not heat-processed in the same way that other types are.

  29. R.E. Dickson says:

    August 5th, 2010at 1:54 pm(#)

    I have been using nutritional supplements successfully for more than 4 decades, not only for myself but also for World Champions, professional athletes, & showbiz people…because they work. Quality plays a major role here. Of the nearly 3,000 different multi-vit/mins on the American market (at last count), I recommend only 3 of them to my clients…and no, I do not sell them myself. Following is what I have to say about vitamin/mineral supplements in my book, “Cut Thru The Crap of Exercise and Fat-Loss Nutrition”.

    “There are a few good multi-vitamin/mineral products on the market. I want to emphasize here that I am talking about multi-vitamins and minerals. Single vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs can have medicinal effects on your body. Taking single vitamins, minerals, amino acids or herbs is self-medicating. You wouldn’t self-prescribe medicine for yourself (although some of you probably would…and probably do), so don’t self-prescribe nutritional or herbal supplements either. Some single vitamin, mineral, amino acid and herbal supplements can also interact with
    prescription and OTC (Over The Counter) medications to either increase…or decrease…the medicine’s effectiveness.
    Do you know which supplements can do this…with which medicines…and what their effects are, both positive and negative? If you are not an expert in this field of supplementation, leave single vitamin, mineral, amino acid and herbal supplements alone. If you feel that you need a single vitamin, mineral, amino acid or herbal supplement, you should first do some serious studying of the subject so that you can ask knowledgeable questions and make intelligent decisions. Then you should seek out a qualified and competent professional to see if he/she agrees with your self-diagnosis. Otherwise, you are flying blind.”

    I was a world class gymnast & professional acrobat/stuntman until I was 57 years young. Quality supplements helped me to stay healthy, recover better from exercise, heal better & faster from injuries, etc, etc. 95% of supplements on the market are crap…some more…some less, but the Quality ones should not be thrown out with the bad ones.

    You can read more about me & my book at: http://www.CTTChealthpublishing.com

    Live Well,
    R.E. Dickson

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  31. allie says:

    August 6th, 2010at 2:45 am(#)

    Krista, where do you buy your hemp seed protein? Loved the article.

  32. Mistress Krista says:

    August 6th, 2010at 5:36 am(#)

    A good health food store should carry it, but you can also look for it online. I like Manitoba Harvest. http://www.manitobaharvest.com/

  33. Sue says:

    August 7th, 2010at 10:16 am(#)

    Claims like this–fuck supplements unilaterally–would be more credible with a little more credible linkage. I read the one link you attached and it says “Calcium supplements (without coadministered vitamin D) are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction.” Pretty much everyone who takes calcium also takes vit D. There are no definitive conclusions. I agree that there is a lot most Americans can do to improve their health without supplements but there are prescribed supplements that, like medication, we can still take with a big glass of common sense water.

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  35. Bridget says:

    August 7th, 2010at 8:00 pm(#)

    How do you feel about supplementation for people on corticosteroids? I use a steroid inhaler daily (which allows me to do fun stuff like run and bike and lift heavy things), and there’s pretty solid research showing that calcium supplements can help maintain bone density, which is a big issue for corticosteroid users. The ideal seems to be a combination calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplement.

    I’m reluctant to just pop vitamins for no reason, but it seems like there are times when it’s necessary to offset other health issues.

  36. L says:

    August 8th, 2010at 10:16 am(#)

    Be careful with the iron supplements. Some women have low iron levels, but it is possible to have too much and not know it.

    See: http://www.toomuchiron.ca/

    This makes it tough to get enough protein while not getting too much iron. Any suggestions?

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  38. violet says:

    August 19th, 2010at 1:48 pm(#)

    Linus Paulding’s vitamin C megadose research — involving the bowel tolerance — showed that vitamin C produced diarrhoea in people only when they surpassed how much they needed… He won the Nobel prize, or one of those big ones.

    Pauling won two Nobels: the Peace Prize, for his anti-nuclear-weaponry activism, and the Prize for Chemistry, for his research into chemical bonds. His vitamin C kick came after those, and wasn’t, alas, true. (He advocated for vitamin C in treating colds, AIDS, and cancer. It doesn’t.)

  39. Katherine says:

    August 24th, 2010at 1:34 pm(#)

    It’s ridiculous. People think they can take some pill and cure or prevent any ailment in the book; why not EAT ACTUAL FOOD?!?!?!

  40. Moon says:

    August 27th, 2010at 2:02 pm(#)

    I hate the sun, it burns and gives me migraines, I hateses big flaming ball of gas. The only supplement I take is biotin because it keeps my skin crud at bay and lord knows I don’t eat a balanced diet. I don’t drink milk or eat enriched bread. But but but my blood counts show no Vitamin D deficiencies even though I avoid the sun as much as possible. Could it be that I eat well enough to take in enough Vitamin D?

  41. Mistress Krista says:

    August 28th, 2010at 7:52 am(#)

    Either that, or you don’t need vitamin D because you are a vampire. :)

  42. jenny says:

    August 30th, 2010at 10:26 am(#)

    Amen! To everything you said, Krista. I dumped all suplements years ago. The hard thing is to find food that isn’t supplemented with something. I’ve gotten super picky and won’t even eat enriched flour anymore. Great idea, that. Remove the usable fiber and vitamins, then add back in some unabsorbable crap that your body probably treats like an allergen.

    So now that you’re saying fuck supplements, what about protein powder? Many of the brands out there are full of heat treated proteins that are not only not absorbable but cause a great deal of trouble while they’re in the body.

    Why all the busting on milk in the comments? Unadulterated, mildly pasteurized milk is great and a vitamin power house. I did a milk fast this last spring (drank a quart to a gallon of a day replacing one to two meals a day with the stuff for six weeks). I fixed skin, scalp and teeth issues, like you wouldn’t believe. My posture straightened out. I’m actually measurably taller (about a quarter of an inch) at age 40. Your body can actually absorb the calcium it’s gettingin whole milk, unlike supplements.

  43. Karen says:

    September 5th, 2010at 12:25 am(#)

    What if there were a supplement company who guaranteed it’s purity, potency, ability to dissolve, bioavailability, and backed it up with a million dollar guarantee that athletes will never test positive for banned substances. What if it were affordable. What if it were made by a scientist who was awarded the Albert Einstein Award for knowing exactly what the cells need to function optimally. Not all supplements are created equal. There are a few worth swallowing:)

  44. Mistress Krista says:

    September 5th, 2010at 2:37 am(#)

    @Karen: Do you mean Mother Nature? :)

  45. Kerry says:

    September 7th, 2010at 2:34 pm(#)

    When pregnant with both my children, the obstetricians would always ask “And you’re taking a maternity vitamin, right?”

    Well, when you put it that way… No.

    And at no time did I become deficient in Vitamin B, or Folic Acid, or Iron. Instead of taking vitamins, I listened to my body, ate what I needed, and my kids certainly haven’t suffered for it.

  46. JBHoren says:

    September 29th, 2010at 10:17 pm(#)

    At my age, I sometimes *need* a “fuck supplement”.

  47. Marjorie says:

    September 30th, 2010at 9:40 am(#)

    And to the obstetricians I would cheerfully reply, “Oh of course!” which made them stop asking. Of course, I was lying, but they are force-fed such crap from drug companies that it is impossible to reason with them.

    I have a bone to pick with the blood centers. Invariably I am turned away because of low iron,(after waiting about an hour to have my finger pricked) and yet when I go to the doctor to have my hemoglobin checked, it is always fine. WTF?

  48. Michael says:

    October 23rd, 2010at 5:36 pm(#)

    Krista! Oh I wish you were around during the 90’s when I spent all of my hard earned money on creatine, HMB, vitamins and whatever supplement that had the bodybuilder on the cover that was pumped with the most hormones and steroids!

    Or what was worse was when I religiously took the supplements and followed all of the lifting routines exactly, even eliminating cardio from my lifestyle so I could preserve my muscle and let it burn off my fat. Squats and deadlifts keep your lungs up too we were told! I began to resent my parents for passing weak genes to me… I spent years doing everything right, yet I was SO sore all of the time, my gut was smooth, I was slow and didn’t look like the magazines! Yeah, I looked BIG in a sweatshirt but I had to suck that stomach in hard and I had to take a shit every 22 minutes!

    Anyway, I went to a bodybuilding contest one weekend and went to a college track and field meet the following. I was confused! The guys I spent all of my money to look like, had the vibe of insecure douches and looked foolish and distorted out of the posing shorts; however, the athletes were skilled with bodies that looked AMAZING with or without their ‘uniforms’! Hmm, how did they train? I began to investigate.

    I added cardio, fruits, vegetables, sports (swimming, cycling, sprinting, jogging) and stopped all supplementation. My body looks better than it ever has! I weigh 30 pounds less, but appear more muscular because you can actually SEE the muscle! I have a proportioned body, because I don’t do isolation lifts, and I look pretty good in or out of clothes. My mood swings are gone and I can go out on a date without a premixed shake and actually concentrate on the person I’m with and not have to obsess on my body! I know this sounds weird, but I am FREE of supplement oppression!

    ~Michael

  49. Mistress Krista says:

    October 24th, 2010at 5:24 am(#)

    @Michael: Viva la revolutione athletique!

  50. Shannon says:

    October 24th, 2010at 7:42 am(#)

    Thank you for this article!!! I have been saying this for the last few months as I’ve been eating clean(er) and trying to take care of myself…

    My parents started taking vitamin B…randomly my mother chose a vitamin and they started taking it….they both got horribly sick….I told them that unless they have an actual deficiency you should NOT be taking a vitamin! They stopped taking it, and miraculously they felt better….

    Aside from a multivitamin (it likely doesnt’ do much but at least it should not hurt you…) people should NOT be taking random vitamins….

    If you THINK there’s something you are deficient in…GO TO YOUR DOCTOR…they can figure it out if you get blood tests….and you will be able to be told if and how much of a vitamin you need….

    I apparently was vitamin B deficient at one point…but my body corrected itself….and with eating healthier i’m sure i’m good to go….

    On the topic of vitamin D, you should be able to get the right amount from the sun (even if it’s cloud) in a few minutes a day….I live in canada and I have yet to have a vitamin D deficiency….

  51. John says:

    November 26th, 2010at 2:23 pm(#)

    Sorry I must agree OK, you know what? Fuck supplements. That’s right. Fuck supplements. Fuck Marketing and the silly fools who fall for it.

    At best you are wasting your money at worst some bodybuilding supplements like the pro-hormones not only do not work but they can have long lasting health damaging side effects.

    You should really be pissed off with the whole supplement industry and the superstars that promote this junk.

    Stay Well Stay Happy all

    John

  52. Aurora says:

    November 30th, 2010at 3:45 pm(#)

    Vitamin C pills have stopped 90% of my oncoming colds. 9% of those 10% are the ones where I forgot to take them. I’ll call you on the Vitamin C thing. Research is inconclusive — and even if it’s placebo, it’s working, isn’t it?

  53. Michelle says:

    December 4th, 2010at 3:24 pm(#)

    The supplement I love is whey protein. It’s all about convenience more than anything.

  54. Matthew says:

    December 16th, 2010at 12:48 pm(#)

    Though I appreciate the general thrust of the article, I will keep my creatine and protein supplementation. I worked for 3 years trying to get the body I knew I could have and never got it. 1 year later after regular creatine and complex protein powder, I am just about there. Everyone is different!

  55. Doug says:

    December 19th, 2010at 2:40 am(#)

    Never used suppliments, I use food!!!!!
    Mother Nature Knows Best!!!!

  56. Bradley says:

    December 25th, 2010at 11:34 am(#)

    Agreed, f— supplements.

  57. Mountain KillerAbs Evan says:

    February 13th, 2011at 8:22 pm(#)

    I loved this. Will likely link to this often. Thanks, Stump!

  58. Pamann says:

    March 1st, 2011at 8:12 pm(#)

    agreed! I never believe that I am absorbing much of anything from multiples. I take a D3 since I wear sunscreen year round and a B complex but rely on a balanced diet for my real source of vitamins and minerals. I do love your sentiment!!

  59. Nicola says:

    March 9th, 2011at 5:23 am(#)

    “Can’t wait for the pharm companies to give us a calcium-lowering drug.”

    I’ve got news for you – they already have. By the bucket load. I’m on medication for high blood pressure or hypertension and one of the groups of medications is a calcium channel blocker. They go by names like Amlodipine, Verapamil, just to name 2.

    Basically, calcium acts on the muscles in the walls of your blood vessels, making them contract (to regulate body heat, blood pressure etc). These drugs stop this action, therefore dilating the arteries, and reducing blood pressure. Here in the UK, they actively advise you not to take calcium supplements if you are taking any of these medications.

    So you could say that calcium supplements are contributing to the millions of people worldwide who are suffering with strokes, cardiac arrests etc due to unnoticed hypertension.

  60. JayJay says:

    March 28th, 2011at 6:41 pm(#)

    Taking supplements is something you should not take lightly. However, there is a place for them. Let’s face it, none of us folk eat a diet that supplies us with everything we need. Modern day living ensures that. Some people’s metabolism does not produce certain vitamins or minerals in sufficient quantities – that’s where supplements come in.
    If you are a body builder, supplements assist with increasing the body’s ability to produce more muscle. Careful consideration and research is necessary to ensure that the supplements you take are not harming your body.
    Doctors today can advise you what supplements to take in a certain situation – their advice and knowledge should not be shaken off as quackery. Many years of research has gone into why supplements help, surely they are not all wrong.

  61. Lisa says:

    April 4th, 2011at 8:12 pm(#)

    The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar business. When people talk about their “food” they seem to be talking about packaged items. For the love of Pete, people, eat whole foods. Foods that we were meant to eat! like pick an apple off a tree and eat it. Pull some lettuce out of the ground and eat it. If you don’t have a garden, then support your organic farmer.
    When you take supplements, there is always the chance of over doing it. When the cup runneth over, calcium gets deposited in your joints, makes kidney stones, etc. Crunch on some broccoli please!
    I eat a lot of fruit during the day and then green salads with some cooked food for dinner. At work, someone said to me, “That can’t be healthy, eating all that fruit” I looked over and asked what she was drinking. She said Medifast shake- to lose weight. I almost had a stroke at the stupidity and blindness of her statement. I am eating what nature intended and she is drinking a chemical soup. How brain washed can we be people???? It is infuriating!

  62. Adrienne says:

    April 24th, 2011at 5:15 am(#)

    Wow! I just discovered this website. Glad I did. Great article and so well put! You are so right!

  63. Rachel says:

    May 27th, 2011at 3:13 pm(#)

    anyone who still believes in supplements should see the documentary “Bigger, Faster, Stronger”. It’s mostly about steroids, but also does a large bit about proprietary blends and how these companies dupe people out of billions of dollars.
    this website is awesome, btw

  64. Shannon says:

    June 27th, 2011at 7:12 am(#)

    There’s a chance a few readers have missed the point. For those vehemently defending their “safe” supplements, read again…the article plainly states that,

    “There are a few that still seem to work and won’t give us cancer. There are some that one can take if one has a deficiency.”

    So why the need to defend your iron or vitamin D supplementation? She’s only saying that eating McCrappy as a lifestyle choice is not going to be undone with a designer multivitamin.

  65. Michelle says:

    August 23rd, 2011at 9:31 am(#)

    An important counterview…

    In someone like me, with a history of long term systemic corticosteroid use, supplements are a must. Steroids inhibit nutrient absorption. I have been clinically deficient in B and magnesium as a result.

    Since steroids are so widely prescribed, this is one demographic that probably needs some supplementation. I find supplements immensely helpful given that I spent 15 years malnourished, unable to absorb the full spectrum of nutrients in my food.

    M

  66. Josh says:

    August 28th, 2011at 7:44 am(#)

    God.
    Bless.
    You.

    Yes. Fuck supplements. Fuck the supplement industry. For all of these folks touting “Vitamin D” and “omega 3″ supplementation – EAT YOUR FREAKING HABITAT PEOPLE!!!

  67. Leslie says:

    January 12th, 2012at 11:36 am(#)

    Great article! Since I started eating paleo about a year ago, the only supplement I now take is cod liver oil which could be considered an actual food. It’s difficult to get a satisfactory balance of omega 3 & 6 even eating fish 4-5 times a week. I now feel fantastic–in my 50s and no more joint pain, headaches or crankiness … seriously, my emotional and mental state has improved enormously.

    For those with iron level concerns … before I started eating this way, going to give blood was a maybe–perhaps 1 out of 3 times they would reject me for low iron. I understand for women they want a reading of 124 (higher for men) at a minimum (Canadian Red Cross). On one occasion my blood was 90 and the nurse suggested I see a doctor. The last two times I’ve given blood now, the reading is 147 … no more low iron levels for me, and no iron supplements. My diet isn’t particularly high in red meat, but I do eat eggs, liver and red meat as well as plenty of fish, poultry, and lots of vegetables. Some fruit and nuts, and specific oil and fats. This has worked for me and I can’t say enough about what a change it has made in my life. A healthy diet needs no synthetic supplements.


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