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A Close Look at Supplementation - Part 3 of 4: Foods or Supplements?

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After years of researching and taking supplements, and finally rejecting them years ago even though I have continued to follow their ongoing research, I have come to the conclusion that pretty much every nutritional supplement is a massive waste of time and money.

More then 36% of American take supplements.  There is little evidence that any prevent or alleviate health problems, while there is mounting evidence that some when taken in large quantity will contribute to serious health issues.

We know little or nothing about what these supplements do to the trillions of cells within our body.  The reason for this is that nutritional science is essentially about as advanced as nuclear physics was in pre-industrial Europe! 

We humans are the most complicated machine that will ever grace this planet yet we really have no idea how these very complicated foods work in our bodies; either on their own or when mixed with other foods.

In some cases, we know what some nutrients do to rats.  In a very few cases, we know some nutrients have achieved promising results in humans.  But we have almost no data on what those nutrients do in combination with other nutrients. 

For example, we may be getting pretty close to a conclusion that it’s the lycopene in the tomato but, the truth is, it really may be other components in the tomato.  Or the way it is reduced and simmered with olive oil and basil.  We just don’t know. 

Only one thing is for sure: Don’t like the prevailing faddish nutrition advice? Wait a day; it’ll change!

Abundant new evidence show that high doses of single nutrients not only fail to improve health but also can make things worse, as has been shown in some recent clinical trials on the effects of beta-carotene, vitamin E, and folic acid, for example, on heart disease or cancer.  For example:

High Doses Of Vitamin E Found to Raise Risk of Dying
By Rob Stein – Washington Post Staff Writer -Thursday, November 11, 2004

High doses of Vitamin E, which millions of people take to protect themselves against heart attacks, Alzheimer’s disease and other ailments, appear to actually increase the overall risk of dying, researchers reported yesterday.

A new analysis of data from 19 studies involving nearly 136,000 people concluded that the overall risk of dying began to increase at the dose in a typical single capsule of Vitamin E, and that the more Vitamin E people took, the more their risk of death rose.  Someone taking 400 international units of Vitamin E a day for five years, for example, would face a 5 percent higher risk of dying, the researchers found. ”

For complete story visit www.washingtonpost.com and search with key words “High Doses Of Vitamin E Found to Raise Risk of Dying”

Supplements and Cancer

Millions of American affected with cancer, or cancer survivors take vitamin supplements.  However, there is little evidence that supplements help, and little is known about how mega doses of vitamins affect cancer.  With that, there is worries that some may actually fuel the disease.

A review of 32 studies conducted between 1999 and 2006 found that 64 percent to 81 percent of cancer survivors take extra vitamins or minerals (excluding multi vitamins).  A study of vitamin E showed patients with cancers of the head and neck who took supplements increased their risk for developing a second cancer.  A 1995 report showed that cancer cells in a petri dish thrive in the presence of vitamin C, and subsequent studies have suggested that vitamin C supplements may lower survival rates.

D, The “Sunshine Vitamin”

There has been extraordinary coverage and controversy over vitamin D in the last year.  Vitamin D bears the nickname the “sunshine vitamin” because the skin produces it from ultraviolet rays.  While naturalists knew that connection years ago, evidence continues to mount in support of the obvious link between vitamin D and getting the right amount of sunshine so the body can naturally produce it.  And unlike other medical fads that boomed and bombed, this evidence is strong and keeps growing.

In fact, given the importance of sunshine for vitamin D, researchers believe slapping on sunscreen may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, as doing so blocks this vital vitamin production.

On the other hand, in advance nutritional science we know today that like for any other vitamin, the metabolism of vitamin D is a complex chain of event that we have no chance to reproduce with mega dose of the vitamin taken as a separate, or isolate.   Here is an excerpt from Dr. Lynn August, MD’s March, 2008 newsletter on vitamin D:


The most important manifestation of vitamin D toxicity is more accurately called the sub-clinical-until-its-too-late manifestation.  Vitamin D depletes vitamin K.  Vitamin K orchestrates the deposition of calcium in the bone via the activation of osteocalcin.  Osteocalcin not only promotes calcium deposition in the bone, it inhibits calcium deposition in the tissues, including calcium deposition in arterial walls!  Thus vitamin K builds bones and inhibits plaque, atherosclerosis.  Parathyroid hormone does the opposite of vitamin K, removing calcium from bone and depositing it in soft tissues.  When vitamin K is depleted by a relative vitamin D excess parathyroid hormone prevails.  And, to make matters worse, there may be excess parathyroid already due to a not uncommon deficiency in magnesium.

Conclusions: It is not surprising that vitamin D, just like any other vitamin, mineral, nutrient, or person for that matter, cannot work/live in isolation.  The synergy amongst nutrients in their respective proportions creates the desired result, health.  Supplementing any isolated nutrient will inevitably lead to unwanted, even if unidentified, consequences.  Weigh benefits vs risks.  Continuous daily supplementation of more than a total of 1,000 units of cholecalciferol a day may lead to unwanted immeasurable consequences.  In acute situations larger doses can be taken for short periods with close monitoring of 25(OH) D blood levels.

My Antioxidant is Better then Yours

Which supplement, which fruit has the highest antioxidants?  The latest report says noni, followed by goji, blueberries, mangosteen, red grapes, and finally green grapes.  What? Cranberries don’t even make the top five?  In this case, who knows?  The researcher were testing a new assay method and those were the only fruits they examined.  Does it really matter?  The science has shown that the fundamental principle of nutrition is variety.  In the case of antioxidants, variety means to eat a bunch of different colorful fruits and vegetables.  Each contains its own unique complement of antioxidants and other nutrients and if you eat a variety of foods, you are likely to get all the ones you need and as importantly not overdo (mega dose) on any.

Risks in Mixing and Overdoing Supplements

The much-touted properties of today’s new supplements and antioxidant are also pretty suspicious.  Rather, it’s that there’s no magic bullet and the really sensible advice is to get a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, not to concentrate on mega-dosing on the next big thing of the week.

Evidence continues to accumulate, little bit by little bit, that fat-soluble antioxidants and antioxidant vitamins in this case, lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene vs. vitamin E interfere with each other’s absorption.  Here’s the short description so you can see how the little bits accumulate. 

For me, the take home lesson is easy: eat food, not supplements.

Why take Chances: Eat Real Foods

Many supplements have been proven toxic, and you are left to pray that the rest are harmless.  Given our hit-and-miss understanding of nutrients and “reductionist” food science (reducing diets down to superfoods and those foods down to nutrients), why take chances with supplements when we know that foods are the real deal?

Unless you have been diagnosed with a severe vitamin or mineral deficiency and need to replenish that nutrient in a great big hurry, it will always be better to get nutrients from foods the way nature intended. There are too many benefits to whole foods as compared to supplements:

  • there is no possibility of harm from taking nutrients from foods
  • the amounts and variety of nutrients in foods are balanced and will not interfere with each other’s digestion, absorption, or metabolism
  • the synergy of nutrients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, when occurring together in the food

Start with not believing nutritional claims made by public relations departments, be they made on the internet web site or food bar label or recycled into various health and lifestyle articles. Such claims are generally bogus, except in the rare instances when they’re made on behalf of parsley, tomato, spinach or broccoli. And these are obviously the type of foods we should all be eating. They are foods, the real deal.

BioSuperFood is a Real Food

I close by stating that BioSuperfood, as a mixture of four algae, is a food and not a supplement.  The broad-spectrum cellular nutrition derived from ingesting BioSuperfood is provided through the complex elements provided within these four algae...over 5000 of them.

This complexity provides the body with the opposite effect provided by isolated supplements.  This is why we state that BioSuperfood can replace all supplementation -- because its complex makeup provides nearly all the proteins, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, enzymes, carodenoids, nucleic acids and more that the body needs.  

AND it optimizes the hypothalamus.  It doesn't get any better than that!

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