When we recently came across a popular article titled Science Says These 7 Common Supplements Are Absolutely Pointless To Take, we thought it may be worth weighing in with our own thoughts. Check that. We felt obligated to offer a critical appraisal. Contrary to the catchy, attention-grabbing title, most of these are not just vitamins that work, for many people, they’re shortfall nutrients of concern, which are commonly under-consumed. In this episode of BioTrust Radio, we’ll discuss whether 7 common vitamin supplements work or are a waste!
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“You don’t have to be great at something to start, but you have to start to be great at something.” – Zig Ziglar
When it comes to navigating the sea of supplement options available to you, we know it can be downright confusing. We also recognize that there’s a massive anti-supplement movement going on. And while we acknowledge that there are indeed bad supplement companies, bad supplements, and bad ingredients flooding the market, we feel a responsibility to help set the record straight.
That’s why, when this article titled Science Says These 7 Common Supplements Are Absolutely Pointless To Take started popping up all over the place, we felt obligated to provide our evidence-based viewpoint. Overall, this article was especially concerning because it references to scientific research and quotes from medical doctors. In other words, it has elements of being a credible resource.
As you’ll find out, however, we beg to differ. And in this episode of BioTrust Radio, we’ll set the record straight on each of the 7 supplements called out in the article. Are they completely pointless? Or, are they vitamins that work? Here are the supplements/nutrients covered:
- Vitamins that work or pointless supplement: Vitamin A
- Vitamins that work or pointless supplement: Niacin
- Vitamins that work or pointless supplement: High-Dose Vitamin C
- Vitamins that work or pointless supplement: Vitamin D
- Vitamins that work or pointless supplement: Red Yeast Rice
- Vitamins that work or pointless supplement: Calcium
- Vitamins that work or pointless supplement: Vitamin E
What do you think? We’d love to hear your feedback. Are there other vitamins and supplements that you’re confused about? Let us know in the comments below. Enjoy!
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Have a comment or question on this episode? Comment below.
And remember… you’re just one decision away from better health and a better body!
Resources from This Episode:
- Science Says These 7 Common Supplements Are Absolutely Pointless To Take – Bustle.com
- Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients? – Fulgoni et al.
- USDA Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
- Linus Pauling Institute
- Ageless Core – Energy-Boosting Daily Multivitamin
- The TRUTH About Supplements – BioTrust Radio #3
- 9 Money-Hungry Supplement Scams—Buyer Beware! – BioTrust Radio #4
- What Should I Look For In a Multivitamin? – BioTrust Blog
- Do Gummy Vitamins REALLY Work? – BioTrust Blog
- The 4 Nutrients People Over 40 Don’t Get Enough of – BioTrust Blog
- Here are 4 Vitamins Every Women Over 40 Should Take Daily – BioTrust Blog
- Nutrigenomics: Is Your Best Diet Hiding in Your Genes? – BioTrust Blog
- Ageless Core – Energy-Boosting Daily Multivitamin
Transcript – Pointless Supplements? Or Vitamins That Work?
Shawn: Hey, BioTrust Nation. This is Shawn Wells, your host, along with my amazing other host, besides me. [laughs] It’s Tim Skwiat.
Tim: The other guy!
Shawn: [chuckles] We are co-hosts in BioTrust Radio, and we’re so thankful to be here. We enjoy bringing you this content. And we really drive to bring about change and make lives better, and touch lives, and we’re just here to help. And in in that process, I feel like we’ve helped ourselves quite a bit. I go back and listen to these episodes and quite frankly, it’s my favorite podcast. And I know that sounds weird to say, but I really love the chemistry that Tim and I have. I love the subjects that we have. Sometimes I realize how much I’m talking to myself.
Shawn: Ironically. And when you’re literally [chuckles] listening to yourself, like on the radio, and you’re in the car or whatever, and you realize like wow, where is that advice coming from. And I need to listen to my own advice and heed it. And it reinforces positive thought. It reinforces what you know and you tell people, but sometimes you need to hear it really strongly from yourself. And I feel like that’s why gratitude journaling is really important. That’s why self-affirmations are really important. Hearing your voice say positive things is one of the most powerful voices you can possibly hear.
Shawn: So, along with that, Tim has a review on BioTrust Radio, again, that we’re so thankful for and we love your views. And please feel free to give us those honest reviews and give us the criticism or the praise that we’re due.
Tim: Yeah. One of the fastest ways and easiest ways to help us—it’s free, too—to help the show and help us grow and reach more people, is to leave a rating and review on iTunes.
Tim: We really appreciate those folks that have done that. And so, as a little kind of a pat on her own back and token of appreciation, we’re just going to read a 5-star review at the beginning of the show.
Shawn: What’s our overall rating and how many number of reviews?
Tim: We currently have 61 five-star reviews, plus our ratings on iTunes. Then we have a 5‑star overall rating. So today’s 5-star review comes from AmyEqualsMe, and it’s titled, Great Podcast. Amy says, “I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Shawn Wells through social media and love all the work he’s produced. I’m so glad to hear him on a podcast, and Tim seems like a wealth of knowledge as well. I hope more episodes come soon. These guys are smart and helpful when it comes to health and wellness. I also really enjoy my BioTrust protein and probiotics. Amazing quality.”
Thanks, Amy. We really appreciate it. Why don’t you send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll make sure I send you protein or probiotics, or whatever you like, as a complimentary thank you for taking the time.
Shawn: Wow, man, thank you so much, Amy. That’s means a lot. To have that kind of support really means a lot. Like sometimes it just feels like we’re talking into microphones and we’re in an empty room. And I love you, Tim, and I love talking to you, but sometimes it just makes it real that wow we’re really reaching people and we’re profoundly impacting lives. And that gives us so much more energy to keep doing what we’re doing. So, thank you for that comment. The rating is so valuable.
Tim: I totally agree with that. This person, Amy, took time out of her day to leave that. Because someone’s probably listening on their phone and you’d have to really take time to leave that review. It just reminds me. I travel up here to Dallas once a month or so to record some podcasts with you. Last time that I was here, last month, in June, when I flew back home, I actually sat down on the airplane and the woman next to me, Catherine, noticed the logo on my shirt and she asked me if I was like a member of BioTrust. And I told her that my name was Tim and I do the podcasts. And she pulled out her phone and she showed me that she was subscribed to our podcasts. And that was like really touching to me, as well, to know that here’s a real person that listens to the show and she had some really good feedback. So, Catherine, if you’re listening, shout out to you, appreciate you and all of our listeners.
Shawn: Yeah, thank you so much, Catherine. And again, thank you everyone. So, we want to do a fun episode on supplements. We are a supplement company and I do take pride in the fact that Tim and I cover so much. You’d expect health and fitness, and diet, and nutrition, and supplements, but we cover so much more. I feel like BioTrust is all about a healthier life. And yes, supplements and nutrition, and fitness are certainly ways that contribute to a healthier life. But a healthier life, I feel like starts with a healthier mindset. And that’s why almost every episode is about mindset. No matter what the topic, it all connects with mindset.
So, we take pride in covering mindset in every way that can help you achieve a better life. But, we do want to get back to supplements and have this episode be about supplements, so we grabbed an article from Bustle.com, and it says, “Science says these seven common supplements are absolutely pointless to take.” So we thought this would be fun to cover this and weigh in on whether they’re pointless or actually vitamins that work. Maybe some of these are true, maybe some of them are not. I’m known as the World’s Greatest Formulator. I’m a Registered Dietician and Nutritional Biochemist. I’m the CSO, the Chief Science Officer, at BioTrust, and a sports nutritionist, and I’ve written chapters on supplements, in academic textbooks, including one on creatine.
And Tim is brilliant on this front, as well. He is a CSCS Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is a Certified Nutritionist and he writes a ton of articles, knows research studies up and down, and is, for that reason, the Director of Scientific Affairs at BioTrust, and he’s literally just a research guru. I’m sure if you’ve listened to the show more than a few episodes, you’ve heard him just spout off lead author and year, and then tell you the data from that article. He’s just a savant when it comes to that, and really an amazing writer, too.
So, we thought, because of our backgrounds, that it would be fun to dig into this. And again, we’re a high-end supplement company that we’re quite proud of, at BioTrust. We feel like we make the best products in the world, and we’re certainly biased to think that. But they are extremely good products and we think that we’re atop the heap and a very elite company. There’s certainly other good companies out there, but I think we’re in very elite company, with all that we do and the focus and the passion that we have.
So, let’s start with this one, Tim, 1. Vitamin A. Is it pointless? Or, vitamins that work? “The bottom line is most Americans are not deficient in this vitamin.” And this is Arielle Levitan, who’s an MD, author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. “It is available in many food sources and because it is fat-soluble, it stays with you a long time after you consume it. If your doctor says you have a deficiency, that is one thing, but generally, it may not be something to worry about.” Thoughts on this vitamin A, Tim? Because vitamin A is different than beta-carotene. Well, I’ll let you get into it.
Tim: Well, yeah. My point here was going to be related to beta carotene. Beta carotene, I consider it pro-vitamin A in the sense that this is this is a compound that you get in carrots, for instance.
Tim: Sweet potatoes, other orange-colored fruits and vegetables. And beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in the body.
Tim: Yeah, exactly. So, beta-carotene is a carotenoid, as well, which means it has potent antioxidant capacity and things like that. So, beta-carotene different than vitamin A, from standpoint. And like the same, vitamin A is fat-soluble, and so there is some upper limit or toxicity concerns with taking that vitamin A in supplement form. So, I can see the point that’s being made there, but I think it’s important to tease out beta‑carotene versus vitamin A, from that standpoint. So, do you have anything else?
Shawn: Well, there are situations, I think, where there are deficiencies. And it’s interesting the Retin-A, the medication for acne, actually works by delivering the active form of vitamin A. And there are scenarios where because of vitamin A deficiencies, there’s impaired fat metabolism and issues with, let’s say, pre‑predisposition towards obesity that they’re finding out. That there’s some issues with, not only retinol, but like the receptor for retinol. I think it’s like the RXR receptor. So, I think there’s some interesting data coming out about this.
Here’s what I think. We don’t know a ton about vitamin A.
Shawn: I think it’s going to be one of those things like vitamin D — which is certainly one of those vitamins that work. I really feel like this, that vitamin D is like, “Whoa, like vitamin D does everything. It’s a hormone. It’s like wow, it’s like anti-obesity, anti-depression anti-sarcopenia,” like losing muscle mass. Basically, it seems like it improves every aspect of us being a human. And like it used to just be like, “Oh, that’s the vitamin for bone,” and now it’s like 100 times that, right?
I feel like vitamin A is somehow in that category of vitamins that work where I’ve just read some interesting data about things that vitamin A is getting attributed to, that it makes me wonder if it’s only the tip of the iceberg and we haven’t given it enough attention, and that there can be situations where you have enough of the vitamin in the plasma, but it’s metabolites aren’t there, or there was there’s issues with the receptor and it being bound and being utilized in the correct way in your body. Similar to how we’ve seen with like folic acid and having the multiple steps to get to the active, you could have enough folic acid in your plasma, but you might not have enough 5-methyl tetrahydrofolate.
Shawn: Methylfolate, if you will. The active form. And so you have to really do a deep dive to understand that. And again, I just feel like with these vitamins, we focus for so long on deficiency, like vitamin C with, “60 milligrams,” [laughs] but we haven’t focused on optimization, which Linus Pauling was one to really dig into originally with orthomolecular dosing and what that meant. And orthomolecular just means like dosing large doses that elicit some kind of physiological response other than getting you out of deficiency. There’s just so much more to these nutrients that we just don’t understand.
So, I kind of want to put that caveat on probably all these, that if they’re vitamins and minerals, that there’s individuality. There’s deficiency, sure, but then there’s different needs for optimization. Are you an athlete? Are you aging? Are you someone who does a high-stress environment? Do you have certain ailments that maybe burn through more of this? So, there’s just a lot to kind of check as far as reality here, and individuality. So, we’ll go through this list, but know that I’m not going to just write off bombastically and dramatically these nutrients.
Shawn: That’s kind of silly to me. I know that’s what sells, but I want to put that caveat on this.
Tim: And just to kind of tack on to that, Shawn, I think that’s super. And individual needs vary and metabolism of these vitamins may vary significantly from individual‑to‑individual, like the folic acid example.
Here’s something that I had pulled from a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition, “More than 80% of Americans don’t get an adequate amount of vitamin A from food sources.” And again, you’re talking about just preventing deficiency. It’s not talking about optimization. And the most recent USDA scientific report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee says that vitamin A is one of several shortfall nutrients. So, for this article to say that people get enough from food is clearly inaccurate.
Shawn: But it’s fat-soluble and it sticks with you a long time.
Shawn: Unless you’re not using it, somehow. Like what if you do, again, have issues with the receptor, with the uptake? To just say, “it sticks with you a long time,” seems like oversimplification.
Tim: And the other aspect of that, too—I don’t want to get too thick into the weeds here—but obesity is closely related to vitamin D deficiency. At least blood levels of vitamin D, right?
Shawn: Right, there’s a correlation, a strong correlation.
Tim: Right. But they there’s a theory that fat sequesters these fat-soluble vitamins. So, just because it’s fat-soluble, you may be at a disadvantage because your fat may be soaking up those vitamins, per se.
Shawn: And not allowing you to use them.
Tim: Right. Exactly.
Shawn: Boom. So, there you go. Moving on to the next one on the list: 2. Niacin. Completely pointless or one of those vitamins that work? Okay, [laughs] “This B vitamin was long touted for its beneficial effect on cholesterol, says Dr. Levitan.” Okay, so he’s going to just be the overarching. [Tim laughs] And we all know how MDs know vitamins and supplements inside and out.
Tim: And cholesterol.
Shawn: And cholesterol. [laughs]
Tim: They got that one right.
Shawn: “However, it turns out studies do not show it to be beneficial to heart health or mortality. In fact, one study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology…”
Tim: Never heard of it.
Shawn: Exactly. I’ve never heard of it and one study and they used “in fact,” which drives me insane because science isn’t really about facts, which we’ve talked about before. It’s about a pursuit truth, but that truth is just in certain scenarios in certain conditions and there always needs to be more research. People that use the word “fact” are marketers. So, “Cardiology found that taking niacin was linked to a higher risk of death by any cause. In addition, taking niacin frequently causes difficult side effects such as flushing and feeling poor after ingesting it, says Dr. Levitan. It also has been shown to cause liver damage in excessive doses.”
I wonder what Dr. Levitan would recommend for cholesterol in lieu of niacin? I bet a drug. [laughs] It has way more side effects than niacin ever could. “Hey, let me put you on a statin.”
Tim: Oh, man.
Shawn: Thanks, Dr. Levitan. So, Tim? Thoughts on niacin?
Tim: Hopefully our sarcasm [laughs] communicated through the radio waves here. I mean, yes, certainly niacin can cause a flushing sensation when you take it. Certain forms can, but there’s non-flushing niacin. And I don’t know about the “feeling poorly after ingesting it,” I’ve not really heard any side effects besides the flushing.
Shawn: No, that’s such an unscientific comment.
Tim: Yeah. As you can tell, the skepticism of what was said here.
Shawn: The liver damage, it’s all just nonsense.
Tim: There’s a link to the study that they cited here that says that, “Niacin was linked to higher risk of death by any cause,” and I’m actually not seeing that here. So, I’m not real sure that was an accurate conclusion. And there was a reduced risk of stroke.
Shawn: [laughs] So, but we proved outcome, but we don’t find the negative.
Tim: We don’t want to mention that.
Shawn: Okay, well thank you Dr. Levitan.
Tim: Did you have any thoughts on niacin.
Shawn: No, because it is highly effective. I know people that have dyslipidemia and they’ve used it in lieu of a statin and didn’t get the CoQ10 depletion, the muscle cramps, essentially the mitochondrial dysfunction from CoQ10 depletion.
Shawn: Mitochondrial dysfunction is correlated to every disease state known to man. So, do I ever recommend statins? No, I’m not a huge fan of statins. Not saying to get off them. Talk to your doctor. Every case is individual, but I’m just not the biggest fan of statins. And niacin, in high dose, can work very well. I’ve seen the numbers dramatically improve. Again, I think cholesterol is a little misunderstood, so I would go to a cardiologist or endocrinologist that really understands the numbers really well and what to look at. We’ve talked about this. You need to do a deeper dive on your sub fractions of cholesterol, and not just look at LDL/HDL and total cholesterol. You need to you need to look much deeper and understand everything going on with your lipids. Doing a full lipid panel and then something like an NMR or VAP test.
So, I am a big fan of niacin, and I would definitely consider it among vitamins that work. I’ve also seen a correlation with people that high-dose niacin, and I don’t know if this is because of its impact on lipids, but I’m telling you, like I’ve seen this correlation. I’ve never seen the data on it. But I know people that achieve the high flush with true nicotinic niacin, that they tend to be really lean, like vascular. And I know niacin can bring out vascularity and have an impact on nitric oxide, but I’ve also seen that they’re just leaner and lower body fat. That’s anecdotal. I haven’t been able to connect it to data, but I’ve just seen it consistently with old‑school bodybuilders, especially, that used to high does niacin. They’re all they’re all super‑lean.
So, just something that I’m throwing out there. I don’t have data to back that up. And I’ll be honest with you about that, unlike the doctor mentioned in this article.
Shawn: So, the next one on the list of vitamins tha work, 3. High dose vitamin C, which we just mentioned before. Thank you Linus Pauling, orthomolecular specialist and researcher from the very late 70s, I think, the end of the 70s. And then it got very popular in the 80s, where people would take high-dose vitamin C for colds and whatnot. And of course, they say there’s data that shows it isn’t that effective for colds. I think a cold is so hard to define and it’s not a clear condition. It’s a series of things that we call a cold, and it’s so individual per person that to say vitamin C helps with the cold or doesn’t help with the cold is a very complex thing. And we don’t know what that dose is to where it’s effective and then to where it’s not effective. Any antioxidant can become a pro-oxidant at some point.
Shawn: And we don’t know what that point is because we can’t say what your uptake is of that vitamin, what your other stressors are going on that exacerbate that, or counteract that. So, that’s very difficult to say. So, it’s so individual per person.
What I can say is that super high-dose vitamin C, which you can’t really do orally, maybe in the liposomal form you can, but with oral vitamin C you can run into some GI distress in high, high doses.
Shawn: Like above maybe a gram or two. But what I can say is that the IV vitamin C, man, there’s been some powerful effects on cancer and on things like colds and other conditions, immune conditions, recovery — certainly qualifying as vitamins that work. We’re seeing that IV vitamin C is very powerful. So I would say it’s just a question of how much you can take and what way you’re taking it, and there’s limitations to it, orally. But to say it doesn’t work is kind of silly.
Tim: Yeah, I agree with that, Shawn, too. I mean, vitamin C is one of those that most people aren’t getting enough through food source, so a supplement is really important. It’s another one of those shortfall ingredients, or shortfall vitamins.
Shawn: And that’s a water-soluble vitamin that’s very transient, potentially, too.
Tim: Yeah. Meaning that if you take too much, your body can get rid of it without a problem.
Shawn: Right. Excrete it. Yeah. So, the next one. This is completely absurd, [both laugh] and I have now become unbelievably frustrated with this article. Maybe it’s palpable at this point. My sarcasm has now been elevated to anger. So, I can’t believe this. This article has just completely lost all credibility to me. I just can’t believe this. I can’t believe what I’m about to say here. 4.Vitamin D. I’m going to read and know this isn’t me saying this. I’m going to read what they said. I’m going to read what’s absurd, clearly. It’s hands down one of those vitamins that work and not completely pointless.
“Vitamin D is another one of those popular supplements that unfortunately isn’t doing much for us. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology study.” [laughst] What is this journal? I’ve never even heard of it and they keep mentioning it. It’s kind of like this Dr. Levitan. “The study found that vitamin D supplements had no benefit on people’s health. There even can be some dangers. In fact, vitamin D toxicity can cause calcium to build up in your bloodstream and result in symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. But this is rare.” [both laugh] [laughing] They brought it up in an alarmist way, but “this is rare…”
Tim: The one thing they got right is that is rare.
Shawn: “…and does not come from receiving too much sunlight, but rather taking 60,000 international units of vitamin D a day for several months.” [both laugh] That is a stupid amount!
Tim: For a long time.
Shawn: Oh my god. So, 2,000 is a good dose, orally; 4,000, maybe even better; 5,000 is seen in products. And I’ve seen as high as 10,000 a day recommended in supplement form. But that is the limit. So, this is six times the highest limit of supplement I’ve ever seen, so therefore you’d have to take six of these very high limit, the highest limit supplements on the market a day for several months and really take it with a fatty meal to get good absorption of that fat-soluble nutrient. So, that is a stupid, stupid comment.
It’s possible for you to get a vitamin D shot and get that much, but in those cases, they give that to you once a week, once a month. So this is really stupid and frustrating when we just talked about how vitamin D is so pivotal. It’s getting attached to everything. And it’s not just a vitamin. It is a powerful hormone that’s part of our endocrine cascade, meaning hormonal cascade, where one hormone affects another hormone, affects another hormone, affects another hormone. There is a stream of hormones that are connected to each other. As one goes down, another can go down, another can go up. They’re highly affected by each, so having an optimal amount can affect 100 other things in your body. And that’s what we see with vitamin D. we see improved depression, improved obesity, improved focus and intelligence, improved bone health, improved cardiovascular health.
I mean, there’s so many things that are attached to vitamin D, I’m really frustrated here. And most people aren’t getting enough sunlight and there’s certain risks to potentially getting too much sunlight maybe not the right type of sunlight, but certainly, for too long. I am a proponent of sun gazing and sunbathing and whatnot, and there’s no question that vitamin D is one of those vitamins that work.
Shawn: But you do have to be careful. But that said, most people aren’t getting enough sunlight.
Tim: I was just going to say the same thing, Shawn. I would not say that vitamin D supplementation is a substitute for getting proper non-burning sun exposure, which is having your body exposed to the sunlight. Just general. It varies by geography, skin types, but for 10-15 minutes, at least, daily. At least through the months of May through October. But depending on what latitude. In Texas, we could probably get the vitamin D we need from the sun for most of the year. But for other places that are further away from the equator, from October through May you really can’t achieve the vitamin D levels. You can’t get it. The sun is not close enough. They’re not getting the intensity of the UVB rays. And so you really need supplementation with vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is further on the end of the spectrum than vitamin D insufficiency, even. And vitamin D insufficiency is correlated or associated with many negative health outcomes. Now, that doesn’t necessarily show directionality, but it’s a pretty good indication based on all this stuff that you’re saying, that that’s a big missing piece of the puzzle.
I do think there’s other things that we get from the sunlight that we can’t replicate in the supplement. But for this to say that vitamin D supplements are unnecessary or pointless to take is absolutely absurd.
Shawn: It’s crazy. I would recommend, if you’re taking a high dose D3, to take some K2 with it. Just based on the research I’ve seen, I feel like that bypasses any potential for the low risk, but the subject that they bring up here with calcium and its relation to calcification and things like that in your arteries.
So next on the list of so-called pointless supplements that actually seem to be vitamins that work, 5. Red yeast rice. This one has been really pulled off the market because big pharma won, because it was just as effective as statins at doing what statins do, so of course, they had it pulled off the market.
Tim: Was the author of this article of a statin company?
Shawn: [chuckles] It does seem that way.
Tim: Did you say that red yeast rice was the name?
Shawn: Sorry, yeah, red yeast rice. So, it says here—again, this isn’t me writing it. I’m going to have to make sure you guys know the stupid stuff is not me.
Shawn: “So, like niacin, this herbal—we had no idea this article was this bad. This is this is so frustrating. We thought this would be fun, and I thought I might agree on some of these, but no.
Shawn: “So, like niacin, this herbal product has often been used for its role in cholesterol reduction. Although it can help lower these numbers, it often does so because it contains statin drugs, the medications used to treat cholesterol,” says Dr. Levitan. “The problem is that in this form, the dosing is inconsistent and people who take it are not being monitored for liver testing, muscle enzymes, and other things that are recommended when taking prescription statin drugs.” Aka, Big Pharma isn’t getting paid yo.
Shawn: So, great job, again, Dr. Levitan, who I’m betting is a cardiologist that moves a lot of statin drugs. I don’t know. That one’s just, they’re starting to break me. I’m just going to move on from there to the next supplement: pointless? Or, yet another to add to the list of vitamins that work? 6. Calcium. “Calcium is another supplement that can lead to an increased risk of mortality. According to the same study [both chuckle] from the Journal of American College of Cardiology…”
[both laugh] What? This one study and this one ding dong that wrote this article. [Tim continues laughing] Oh my goodness. Tim and I have never even heard of this journal.
Tim: This is ridiculous.
Shawn: “We are not a calcium-deficient society and the effects of calcium supplementation on bone density are minimal,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “The concern is that calcium supplementation could cause increased calcification of blood vessels. If calcium is taken, it should be combined with other nutrients—magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K—that direct the calcium into the bone instead of the blood vessels. Speak with your doctor if you’re planning on taking calcium supplements to see if it is necessary for you.”
This is one of the only ones that I would say I felt has some validity to discuss.
Shawn: This is the first one [laughs] out of this list that I at least would sit with you and discuss this because there’s some valid concern on this one. And that’s why I don’t focus on high calcium in a multivitamin. I don’t mind some being in there, but I don’t think there should be the full 100% in there. And I think when people are just taking calcium supplements in and of themselves.
And again, to this point here, not taking the other nutrients that probably should go with it—magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K (which are all vitamins that work)—where would you get these things? From bone broth, from eating an animal, potentially. Like from some of the dark leafy greens you might get like some of these nutrients together. But we used to eat the animal more in its entirety, not just eat the altered steroid antibiotic flesh/muscle of the animal, but we used to eat the collagen and the bone, and all this different tissue, the skin, and we used to get the fat-soluble vitamins. We used to get the magnesium, phosphorus, boron, calcium, and all these different nutrients.
Like silicon, that’s some of them are trace nutrients. Some of them we don’t even know that we know that we need them, potentially. There’s still more research that needs to be done, especially on these trace minerals. It’s not very clear as far as data. So, these things that are in the bone matrix, we’re not getting enough of. And if you just take a calcium supplement in high dose and you’re not taking other things with it, like you would get through food, potentially, then you might be lacking. And I feel like the bone broth movement has some legitimacy.
Tim: Yeah. Great points, Shawn. And like you said, there’s like some silver lining of truth here when talking about those other nutrients. I would say that most people are not consuming enough calcium through whole food sources, so there’s some rationale for supplementation there.
Tim: I think an especially important one to point out is that it needs to be paired with his vitamin K, which is definitely on the list of vitamins that work. Vitamin K is essential for laying, like basically for your body to kind of like the foramen on the assembly line. If calcium is a building block, vitamin K is essential for that to be laid down properly. And when we have too much calcium relative vitamin K, we can have calcification of the arteries, for instance, which can be problematic. In fact, some people think that some of this calcification is due to inadequate intake of vitamin K2.
Tim: And now vitamin K2 — hands down, one of those vitamins that work — is becoming a very hot for cardiovascular health. Tricky, very tricky to get vitamin K2 in your diet. There’s some, like you said, in some animal sources like dairy would have a little bit of vitamin K2. The best sources are going to be fermented foods, which most people aren’t eating.
Shawn: Right, right. And so, the sources that we recommend for vitamin D, if you’re going to take them, is D3 versus D2. We recommend K2. Vitamin K, the “regular vitamin K” is a clotting factor, but the K2 is what we’d recommend for vascular health. And if you’re going to take a calcium, I would recommend an organic form, like calcium citrate, calcium malate, calcium orotate; any amino acid chelate, which would mean like calcium glycinate or something like that.
So, those organic forms are a lot better than calcium carbonate or calcium oxide, which are the inorganic forms and very poorly absorbed. So, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, and organic forms of calcium are what we’d recommend.
The next one, I kind of agree with but I think there’s more to this topic than just vitamins, which I’ll explain in just a second. So last on the list of so-called pointless supplements that seem to actually be vitamins that work, 7. VItamin E, and it says, “Synthetic forms of vitamin E are not recommended at high doses because they cause deficiencies of other forms,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “One analysis from Johns Hopkins
Oh, good lord. Finally like a good source. [Tim laughs] We’re definitely a fan of Johns Hopkins here. That’s pretty much top of the heap, so there’s no overly-criticizing John Hopkins here. Maybe that journal and maybe Dr. Levitan, but Johns Hopkins is a great place for research and medicine. “And they found that taking daily doses of vitamin E that exceed 400 international units can increase the risk of death.”
So I would say this here is vitamin E is an antioxidant. And anything that can protect something undesirable, potentially, you can run into issues. And I think in studies that have high dose antioxidants or that have anabolic compounds like various steroids, they can be helpful. Antioxidants can be helpful. These muscle mass protectants can be helpful for people. Anabolic steroids that have sarcopenia, muscle loss of cachexia, again, where they’re losing weight and losing muscle. There’s certainly a lot of scenarios where those things can be helpful. Like think of cancer and things like that.
But the flipside is in in times of cancer, in times of other disease states, you may be protecting something that you don’t want to protect. And that can happen with some of these compounds that are anabolic and protective. And so there’s a lot of complexity here and we were talking about before that with every antioxidant there’s a pro-oxidant level, and there’s just so much complexity.
And then here, again, there’s more complexity added with there’s synthetic forms and natural forms, and this is just discussing the synthetic forms. No data has been shown, that I know of, with the natural forms. And especially when you give the blend of natural forms that include tocopherols, or some people say tocopherols, and tocotrienols. When those are given in a blend, in their natural form—alpha, delta, gamma, beta-beta—then I haven’t seen data that shows that they’re unhealthy or that there’s risk.
So, what this tells me is take all of the active forms that your body uses, if you’re going to take it, and take them in their natural form like your body would use. Shocker. So, don’t use the synthetic one, but instead they’re just saying vitamin E sucks.
Tim: Right. That was an incredibly salient point that you just made, because vitamin E is not just a vitamin. It’s refers to a collection of the 8 fat-soluble tocopherols, collectively we could call them vitamins that work, like you said. And so, the data that shows an increased risk of mortality in patients with cardiovascular disease with supplemental vitamin E is with synthetic vitamin E, meaning they only used alpha tocopherol. Like you were saying, when you supplement with natural mixed tocopherols, provided in the appropriate natural ratios, that is not apparent. So, it’s very important to point that out that there’s a big difference between supplementing with one tocopherol by itself versus a blend of all the naturally occurring ones.
Shawn: Right. And I think you can get a blend of the tocopherols and tocotrienols, which is associated with the tocopherols from red palm oil, right? And do you know any other sources?
Tim: Let’s see. I have spinach and quite a few of the greens, the dark leafy greens have some vitamin E in it. Sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, and bell peppers, tomatoes.
Shawn: Yeah, sunflower, sunflower seeds. That’s a really good source from what I remember, too. But I think a lot of the supplements that have the full blend of these that have been used on the manufacturing level to isolate and bring out these compounds, I believe is typically from the red palm. Anyway, that is the list of seven from Bustle.
Tim: When in doubt, ask your doctor before taking any supplements, which we would agree with. But just make sure your doctor’s name is not Dr. Levitan.
Shawn: [chuckles] Sorry, Dr. Levitan. Sorry, Bustle.
Tim: Bustle your bubble.
Shawn: [laughs] Oh boy. So, we’ll link to this article so you can tell other people to not read it.
Tim: [laughs] The funny thing is, this has been going around a lot, so I’m glad that we talked through this one.
Shawn: Yeah, I am too. It’s frustrating. There’s a massive anti-supplement movement, and where that’s coming from; largely from Big Pharma and those that profit from supplements not being on the market or being discredited. And we’ve talked about that there’s plenty of bad supplements out there. Bad supplement companies and bad supplements, bad ingredients, potentially. But there’s people that do the right thing, the right way. And BioTrust is certainly one of them. And there’s plenty of other great companies out there.
You just need to do your research. You need to talk to people in the know. You need to go on Amazon and look at the reviews. You need to look up the research yourself, the studies on that ingredient. Is that the right form, the right dose, and is this a quality company that’s been around and does their testing and is transparent with their labeling, and if you call them they’re transparent as well. And there’s companies like that out there. I wouldn’t say that’s the norm, but there is good companies out there like BioTrust, which is committed to formulating and providing you with vitamins that work.
So, we appreciate your business and we appreciate you listening to the podcast. Let us know about other topics you want to hear about. Let us know if you take some of these supplements and you think this article is stupid as well. [laughs] But it was fun to do. Tim and I had a good time with this one. [laughs]
So, we appreciate you listening and check out BioTrust.com/VIP for our Facebook group. Check out BioTrust Radio for all the links to everything we mentioned in here. Tim will have the data on some of those compounds we mentioned, like the vitamin D3 and the K2, so you can look those up.
Shawn: And we’ll have our recommendations in there. And we really appreciate you, so thanks again for listening. We’ll talk to you soon.
Tim: Thanks gang.