Sunday, November 4, 2012



Contrary to the claims of many sellers of supplements (including bad advice from health food stores), we should strive to get most of our nutrients from produce not pills, though there are rare diseases that require supplementation.
There are tens of thousands of phytonutrients in plants that can display synergistic effects and have not been successfully isolated efficaciously in supplement form. For example iron, which is important during pregnancy, may be harmful in pill form. Similarly, folate in beans and greens is preferable to folic acid in pills. Flax seed, but not flax seed oil, lowers cholesterol. Citrulline supplements may aid erectile dysfunction, but a better source is watermelon. Similarly, eating soy foods, rather than taking soy supplements, may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. And it is whole produce, not pills, which has been shown to increase physical attractiveness.
However, for those on plant-based diets, there are two vitamins not produced by plants that may require supplementation. They are vitamin D from sun but not from tanning beds (see also here, here, here, here, here, here, here) and vitamin B12 (see also here, here, here, here, here). Among vegans, B12 deficiency is an epidemic if no supplements are used, which can have devastating consequences for their infants (see also here). Vegetarian’s myelopathy is a syndrome coined to describe vitamin B12 decficiency, which can result in paralysis. Another nutrient vegans should keep an eye on is iodine, which is especially important during pregnancy (though harmful in too too great quantities).
One of the most commonly used supplements is fish oil. It has been found to contain DDT as well as other industrial pollutants, including high levels of dioxin, PCBs and mercury (which are neural and cardiac toxins). This includes distilled fish oil, cod liver oil and those labeled ‘Toxin-Free’. Instead, there are safe plant sources of omega-3; alternatives include algae and yeast derived EPA and DHA, which also lower inflammation.
While there are some harmless vitamin supplements such as vitamin C and Airborne supplements, others may do more harm than good, such as multivitamins, which may actually increase breast and prostate cancer risk, and antioxidant vitamin supplements such as Vitamin E that may shorten one’s lifespan.
A variety of other potentially harmful supplements exist including: Herbalife (for its liver toxicity, possibly due to vitamin A), Juice Plus+ (which is really just another vitamin supplement), glyconutrient supplements, lutein pills, creatine, copper supplements (which may contribute to Alzheimer’s), zinc gel, kombucha tea, noni juice, and rice bran. Ayurvedic medicine (see also here) has been found to contain lead. Spirulina and blue-green algae supplements may contain neurotoxins and/or liver toxins (a safer alternative is chlorella).
See also the related blog posts: Vitamin D: Shedding some light on the new recommendations, Multivitamins and Mortality, Vegan B12 deficiency: putting it into perspective
Topic summary contributed by Eitan
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Herbalife® Supplement Liver Toxicity

liver disease

The USDA has failed to safeguard the meat supply from drug residues and toxic metals, which may result in jaundice and other liver issues. The discovery of infectious hepatitis E virus in retail pork products may help explain the purported association between liver failure and pork consumption. The transfer of blood on cutting machines may explain hepatitis C transmission between deli workers. Potentially toxic to the liver: noni juice, Herbalife® supplements (see here, here), spirulina (see here, here), cod liver oil, BPA in plastics, JuicePlus+® supplements, and shark cartilage.
The good news is that a vegetable protein diet appears to treat liver failure. Indian gooseberries may also protect the liver. And Ceylon cinnamon is the safest because it does not contain coumarin, which may damage the liver at toxic doses. Lastly, chamomile tea may not be safe to consume if you have a liver disease.
Dr. Greger covers liver disease in his full-length presentation, Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, where he explores the role diet may play in preventing, treating, and even reversing our top 15 killers.
Topic summary contributed by Denise
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liver health

The liver is a detoxifying machine (see also here). The following appear to promote liver health: green tea, Indian gooseberries (see also here), and broccoli. Possibly protective against liver cancer: black beans, and coffee (see also here).
Possibly toxic to the liver: noni juice, Herbalife supplements (see also here), Juice Plus+ supplements, spirulina (see also here), BPA in plastics, cod liver oil, drugs and toxic metals in meat, pesticides, coumarin (found in some types of cinnamon), kava kava, and green tea supplements.
Hepatitis E is now known to be a zoonotic (animal-to-human) disease that may be contracted from pigs via pork consumption. Hepatitis C may be transmitted between deli workers via blood contamination of slicers. And poultry workers have been found to have an excess of liver cancer, among other types of cancer.

Topic summary contributed by Denise
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