Optimum Nutrition Recommendations

dietary recommendations

Updated 2/4/16

The balance of scientific evidence suggests that the healthiest way to eat is a vitamin B12-fortified diet of whole plant foods. For optimum nutrition, we should be sure to include in our daily diet not only an array of whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit, and as many vegetables as we can eat, but also specifically dark green leafy vegetables, berries, and white (or green) tea. I go into specifics of the “Daily Dozen” foods I recommend in my latest book How Not to Die.

Attention should also be paid to these nutrients:

Vitamin B12 (see also Which type of vitamin B12 is best)

  • At least 2,500 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin once each week, ideally as a chewable, sublingual, or liquid supplement taken on an empty stomach
    • or at least 250 mcg daily of supplemental cyanocobalamin (you needn’t worry about taking too much)
    • or servings of B12-fortified foods three times a day, each containing at least 25% U.S. “Daily Value” on its label
  • Those over 65 years of age should take at least 1,000 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin every day.
  • Tip: If experiencing deficiency symptoms, the best test is a urine MMA (not serum B12 level)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • 250 mg daily of pollutant free (yeast- or algae-derived) long-chain omega-3’s (EPA/DHA)

Vitamin D (daily recommendations for those in the Northern Hemisphere; D3 from animal or plant sources may be preferable to the D2 sourced from fungi)

  • Below approximately 30°latitude (south of Los Angeles/Dallas/Atlanta/Cairo)
    • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
    • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • Between 30° latitude (sample cities above) & 40°latitude (Portland/Chicago/Boston/Rome/Beijing)
    • From February through November
      • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
      • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
    • From December through January
      • 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • Between 40° latitude (sample cities above) & 50°latitude (Edmonton/London/Berlin/Moscow)
    • From March through October
      • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
      • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
    • From November through February
      • 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • Above approximately 50°latitude (north of Edmonton/London/Berlin/Moscow)
    • From April through September (or even briefer above 60°latitude (Anchorage/Stockholm))
      • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
      • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
    • From October through March (or even longer above 60°latitude (Anchorage/Stockholm))
      • 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D


  • At least 600 mg daily via calcium-rich plant foods—preferably low-oxalate dark green leafy vegetables, which includes all greens except spinach, chard, and beet greens (all very healthy foods, but not good calcium sources due to their oxalate content).


  • For those who don’t eat seaweed  or use iodized salt, a 150 mcg daily supplement
    • The sea vegetable hijiki (hiziki) should not be eaten due to high arsenic levels
    • Kelp should be avoided as it tends to have too much iodine


  • All menstruating women should increase their absorption by combining foods rich in iron and vitamin C at meals and should get checked for iron-deficiency anemia every few years
  • Men should be checked for an iron overload disease before any attempt to increase intake


  • Northern Europeans may need to take a supplement or eat a daily Brazil nut

-Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: thebittenword.com / Flickr

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please leave any questions you may have about these recommendations and I’d be happy to try and answer them.

    • Nice’s health

      Hello! Flax seeds have 2338 mg per tablespoon. Isn’t that enough in a day instead of the supplement? Or the difference is in the absorption of the fatty acids? I’m a medical doctor from Portugal. Would like to hear your opinion about it as here is difficult to find this supplements. Thank you so much!

    • Jack Bloom

      Hello Dr Greger: Your good friend, Dr. Mercola, has just posted (Sept 17, 2016) an article entitled:

      The Case Against Veganism — Carefully Researched Book Spills the Beans — I respectfully think that you need to address this post as soon as possible, as many of your viewers are also viewers of Dr Mercola. Thanks. J. Bloom
      You can find it here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/09/25/veganism.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=artTest_B2&utm_campaign=20160917Z1&et_cid=DM116612&et_rid=1670745609

    • Alexandra Gomes

      Hi, Dr. Greger!
      I know you recommend 250mg of DHA + EPA, but I was wondering… I have IBS and I’m also on the pill (a very strong one). Since I have poor circulation to begin with, what dosage would you recommend? I’m scared of taking too much.
      Also, if it’s an algae-derived supplement, does it contain iodine?
      Thank you!

  • My 11 yr old Daughter is currently being taught the MyPyramid and MyPlate systems of health in School. She is having a difficult time with the Teacher because as a Vegan, she strongly disagrees with a lot of what the Teacher is trying to impose on her. Can you offer any science and research to help back her up?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I’ve got a whole string of new videos queued up about the new MyPlate recommendations, so stay tuned. In the meanwhile, please feel free to check out all of my videos on plant-based diets and if her teacher has any questions or concerns maybe she could post them here!

      • Oh wonderful! I am really looking forwards to the MyPlate article/video.

  • If what who is light skinned is out for more than 15-30 minutes in sunlight, can the Vitamin D be cumulative ? and I have heard different ideas on the use of sun screen and vitamin D absorption, or is there a different post on sun screen and vitamin D ?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you for your question Jill. Sunlight-induced Vitamin D is indeed cumulative but the same wavelengths that produce D in our skin can also cause us to burn. Sunblock can delay sunburns, but also interferes with the vitamin D production. So the recommendations above are for those not wearing sunblock.

      • ScottTrimble

        I’m sure you are aware of Dr. Fuhrman. I read recently on his site that many commercially available sunblocks contain chemicals that can be harmful to us (I can’t remember if he suggested they were *as* harmful as the sun damage, or not). He also offers a sunblock product for sale. Do you have any opinion on the scientific truth of his claim about commercial sunblock products? Or is it just a marketing ploy?

        • guest

          Hi Scott, I just happened to see your question here and I would share my quintessential information source for sunscreens and all categories of personal products. http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/ The Environmental Working Group has been investigating , reporti g and rating products for years . I only use mineral sunscreens. happy reading!

  • LouiseF

    For the Omega 3’s: Is flax seed yeast- or algae-derived DHA and/or EPA ?
    Thank you

  • Sujatha

    I’ve read that cooking spinach breaks down the oxalates and improves calcium absorption. Is that true?

    • Dr. Greger mentions the most important things we can do diet-wise is to drink 10 to 12 cups of water a day and reduce animal protein, reduce salt, and eat more vegetables and plant-based foods. Also I would mention that when you have healthy gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus that can help in breaking down the oxalates.
      Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • Mike Quinoa

    Hi Dr. Greger.

    I saw you speak at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival on the weekend, and I have to say Thank You so much! The crowd was enthralled with your program, and we all learned so much from your indubitably entertaining style. How does it feel to be a “rock star” of nutrition (lol)? Hope to see you next year!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Oh, you’re so sweet. I’m glad you made it in. I felt so bad about all those that were turned away at the door. Hopefully they’ll have a better venue next year!

  • mzleigh

    Dr. Greger–I have to second what Mike just said–you are the nutrition guru! I attended your presentation in Baltimore and found it both entertaining and informative.

    Someone on another post (can’t remember which one) asked if you would share a representative day or two of what you eat. I think that we would find that helpful. I am also raising my children vegan (just starting this summer). There are some good suggestions in the Vegan for Life book about nutrients for kids, but if you could share your thoughts on covering kids’ nutritional bases (or additional resources), I would appreciate that as well.

    Thanks, as always! Love the site!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Dr. Mangels has a good article online about feeding kids on a plant based diet. Dr. Spock may have been right!

      • Tammy Travis

        The article you linked too by Dr. Mangels recommends flouride suppliment for children. I have read numerous articles stating flouride was poisoness to our bodies. I cant remember the exact details. Can you comment on that?

  • voivoed

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    I asked this on the “Ask the Doctor” post but will repeat here:

    I have some questions about B12… is there any difference between taking B12 as cyanocobalamin versus taking methylcobalamin and dibencozide? Also, is the cyanide resulting from the body converting cyanocobalamin into methylcobalamin harmful?


  • Bix

    Some very good, sensible nutrition advice here and elsewhere on your site. How refreshing!

  • i’m starting to feel like sticking to a vegan diet requires a doctorate in nutrition. i’ve got b12, vit d, and Omega 3 supplements but I stumbled on this article that says we can’t really get as much calcium or A from plants either. what do you think? http://www.veghealth.com/why-vegetarians-eat-fish-meat-vegan.php

  • cuisinegourmet

    Would you please post recommendations for pregnancy?

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  • danbrunell

    I noticed that you recommend cyanocobalamin, not methylcobalamin. Can you provide more details?

  • wickedchicken

    Spinach is a yay for antioxidants but a nay for calcium. Darn…how do we deal with this Spinach conundrum??? Any tips?

    Also just re; vitamin D [which i recognise as being oh so incredible]… there are 2 things I would like to mention. One. Have you see the research on obesity and vitamin D? One is in AJCN. Very interesting. Obese have significantly lower peak vitamin D level post sun exposure compared to normal weight individuals- despite the same amount of precursor in the skin. The problem is, it is sequestered in the fat cells rather than entering the blood. Less of a problem with oral vitamin D supps, peak levels were similar for the 2 groups. My point is, with the shocking rates of obesity and overweight in the western world, maybe it’s time we put more emphasis on the ol’ supps here and not mister sunshine. My second point is that skin cancer is the most common of ALL CANCERS. That is all i have to say. It’s just my opinion, but even to give people the knowledge that hey, if you are obese… take a supp. And if you are light skinned…take a supp. Just my opinion [until I rule the world!] :P

  • 7worships

    Can a deficiency in vitamin D cause hypertension? Do people who already have a diagnosis of hypertension need to take more than your 2000 IU recommendation? What about people diagnosed with hypertension who now have it under control with diet and exercise – what level of vitamin D do you recommend for them?

  • DrDons

    Hi 7worhips, I know of no study linking Vit D deficiency to hypertension. Current science seems to support going with the same recommendations for Vit D for those with and without hypertension. Vit D is an evolving, complicated and confusing area. Dr. Greger’s video helps provide a good context please see his video and the blog comments at
    http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/is-vitamin-d-the-new-vitamin-e/. Final comment is that for my patients who have normal pressures and are following a healthy whole foods plant based diet with exercise I consider them “normal” not “hypertension controlled with diet and exercise”. Elevated blood pressure is the normal response to the SAD… standard american diet. A study a number years ago showed that labeling patients as hypertensive compared to a control group with the same blood pressures lowered their quality of life and increased the days of work missed. Congratulations on your success.

  • Nicolas

    Hi Dr. Greger. I’m wondering, what is your understanding of the pros and cons of supplementing with lithium orotate (or some other non-psychiatric version – none of them at psychiatric dose levels)? I got thinking about it since you’ve included iodine, and the two of them have roles in up- and down-regulating the thyroid, and lithium seems to have some benefits that might prompt one to want to get some more of it (or any of it at all, should ones food sources somehow be lacking it, much like a lot of commercial soil has come to lack iodine over the years, thereby yielding iodine-poor produce).

  • BPCveg

    Hi Dr. Greger,
    My question concerns your recommendation of “250 to 500 mg daily of yeast- or algae-derived DHA and/or EPA”. I understand that one can get EPA from yeast and DHA from algae. Could you please provide more information on which of DHA or EPA is the preferred form to take and what concentrations is best? Thank you in advance for your response.

  • cobalamin

    I recommend these supplements below because they are EU regulated and also because they ship worldwide at a very economical prices.

    Vegan EPA/DHA: http://www.opti3omega.com/
    Vegan Vitamin D3: http://www.vitashine-d3.com/

    Great Vitamin B12 supplements below, they don’t cause Acne breakouts.

    Vitamin B12: http://www.devanutrition.com/vitamin_b12.html
    Vitamin B12: http://www.jarrow.com/product/58/Methyl_B_12

    • janeyh

      What do you think about this company as an Vegan DHA product: http://www.nothingfishy.co
      My sister has started using them and I am considering.

  • Guest

    What nutritional or vitamin supplement do you recommend?  I know there are different brands with varying absorptions. 

  • Dr. Greger
    There seem to be a lot of mixed recommendations on the
    necessity of DHA supplementation even among proponents of whole food vegan
    diets.  Other than B12 I do not take any supplements
    and believe in general that our bodies provide us what we need so long as we
    feed it a well balanced diet which in my case is  a whole foods vegan diet with 2 tablespoons of
    flax andor chia seeds per day.  In
    someone with an near optimum diet do you still recommend DHA supplementation
    and if so can you provide references to the data demonstrating that need.

    • M.Harris, RD, LD

       Hi Jason,
      While I certainly agree that your whole foods vegan lifestyle is optimal, I also believe in (and have seen) great value in certain supplements, for a number of reasons.  To answer your question, I do agree that DHA supplementation becomes more important as we age, because EPA (that you are getting from flax/chia) will not be retroconverted to DHA as efficiently.  This information was obtained from the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetics Practice Group in an article on essential fatty acids by Mark Messina (sorry no link to it though).

  • Gale

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    I am a runner and have always tested low in iron. I eat all the right vegetables but my ferritin level remains around 20 unless I supplement with iron. I also am vegan. My endrocrinologist told me years ago that certain Europeans has a tendency towards enermia? I think he said Yugoslavians?

    Are you still opposed to an iron supplement in runners who tend to be a bit low? I feel much better while running with my iron a bit higher. It makes a huge difference.

    • Toxins

      In regard to foods, all beans are rich sources of iron so you may want
      to include them regularly. Whole grains are also an excellent source as
      are dark green leafy greens.

      Iron absorption can be increased by, avoiding tea and coffee at
      meals (because of the tanins in them) and by including a source of vitamin C at meals (fruit and/or veggies).
      Calcium supplements taken at the same time as iron can inhibit its
      Also, including garlic or onions will increase iron and zinc absorption.

      • Gale

        Thanks Toxins. I am pretty good with all the things mentioned. I am thinking garlic in my smoothy! Man, that thing is turning into a blended salad! :-) I am going to need a spoon soon.

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  • debbie

    i have a very low d level, was told to take 10,000 u daily. i have had trouble with some formulas and now am taking 2000 iu of a liquid trying to build up. it worries me that im so low and having a hard time. the nature of my work prevents me from being able to get midday sun even though i live in florida. any advice is appreciated. i am allergic to shellfish and so i avoid those varieties never mind that i am plant strong as well.

  • CJ

    As for the sunshine exposure – is that full-body (ie total nudie) because the one day per week the sun comes out during winter I can stand doing my chest, arms, and face but not full-body.

    Thank you for providing this excellent resource. I am also a medical student trying to sift through nutritional evidence and maintain my own health.


  • BPCveg

    Dr. Greger:

    I am still very concerned about your recommendation of algae-oil DHA. I closely follow the work of Brenda Davis, who I am sure you are familiar with.

    In ‘Becoming Raw’ (2010), Davis and Melina argue on page 127-128:

    “DHA is the most highly unsaturated fat in the diet and also the most unstable (meaning it is easily oxidized by free radicals in the blood). Oxidized fats are bad news; they contribute to all sorts of disease processes, including cardiovascular disease. It’s possible that our bodies are smart enough not to bother making DHA when it’s not needed. In addition, it’s possible that when DHA is in our bloodstream, it’s rapidly transported to locations where it’s needed and incorporated into tissues, such as the brain and the retina of the eyes.”

    Overall, Davis and Melina have not endorsed algae supplements for the general population. Nor has the American Dietetic Association as per their 2009 review paper on vegetarian diets.  

    Furthermore, a recent study (Am J Clin Nutr 2010;92:1040–51) argued that despite having zero intake of DHA, vegans made comparable levels to omnivores.

    Dr. Greger you seem like a great guy, but I worry that you may have jumped on the bandwagon too soon with this one.

    I hope that you can provide us with a very clear rationale as to why a healthful vegan (plant-based diet, no-oils omega-6:omega-3 in the range of 2:1 to 4:1) should need to take this oil.

  • This shit is great, thanks a lot xD

  • no zinc mentioned here?

    • Chris Gumb

      Just grab some pumpkin seeds! ^_^

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  • char

    Hi Dr. Greger – what are the recommendation level for kids?

  • Paul

    Should omega-3 supplements be taken by men given the recent finding that fish oil pills increase the risk for prostate cancer?

    • drew

      Great question, I am also wondering

      • Tommasina

        Drew and Paul, Dr. Greger recommends 250 to 500 mg daily of yeast or algae (not fish-based) sources of DHA and/or EPA Omega-3’s above. Hope that helps!

  • David


    May God bless you and everyone with whom you are associated with – each and every day!!!!!!

  • Nolan Muck

    I see that your recommendation for B12 intake are 250 micrograms every day; however, everywhere I search says that the recommended daily intake ranges from about 2 micrograms to 6 micrograms. I am wondering if perhaps someone misread the unit symbol for micro- “µ” when in reality the source of data had pico- “p”? I could be mistaken, and if I am, then that means a VAST majority of people are probably B12 deficient. The B12 supplement that I take daily has 6 micrograms of B12, so if I am mistaken, I would greatly appreciate my correction.

    Thanks in advance,
    Nolan Muck

    • Toxins

      Dr. Greger explains this in great detail on several videos. This would be the first of the series of videos uncovering the b12 issue.

      • Nolan Muck

        Thank you for the link to the videos; however, I have a new question. If we re-absorb 99.9% of the vitamin B12 already inside of our system, that would mean if we have 5.5 mcg of B12 (the average between 4 and 7) in our system, then we only lose 0.0055 mcg of B12 daily, and if I can absorb 1.5-2.0 mcg + 1% of my daily supplement, I should be fine(and actually be slightly above the daily requirement) if I take a daily supplement of 6 mcg?

        • Toxins

          Well, not exactly.

          When we take a 500 mcg dose, we absorb 1.5 mcg through our receptor system and 1% of the rest. So 1.5 + .01(498.5) = 6.48 mcg, this falls into the 4-7 mcg per day range. We could also multiply the dose by 10, so 5000 mcg and take that weekly. It would average out to 7.3 mcg a day. The first section of our large intestine can absorb vitamin b12 so this is constantly recirculated allowing us to take weekly doses.

          250-500 mcg of vitamin B12 a day, or 2,500-5,000 mcg of B12 a week is all that is needed. Or you can take the more complicated route and eat something fortified with atleast 25% of you B12, three times a day 4-6 hours apart. 25% = 1.5 mcg

          • Nolan Muck

            So what you are implying is that we lose about 4-7 mcg of B12 everyday (the 0.01%). And that to replenish this we need to intake the amount lost? Also for the formula saying 1.5+1% of the amount of B12 ingested does that 1% intake even hold true at these high daily dosages, and at the even higher weekly doses? Also Dr. Greger does say that if you take too much B12 into your system, that your body will “pee” it out, so if your body registered one of the mega weekly doses, would it not just “pee” the rest out? Another thing, Dr. Greger says that the reason that we as humans only lose 0.01% daily is that our ancestors would sometimes get very very small amounts of B12, so would that not confirm what I stated in my previous comment?

          • Toxins
          • Nolan Muck

            Those resources are very informative, and now I do believe I have read or watched everything that Dr. Greger has about B12. However, my questions weren’t really answered, and I attempted a brief over view of some of the sources from the videos and found nothing in them that helped me either.

          • Toxins

            If I may backtrack and clarify, supplementing a single dose of 6mcg will not be sufficient for the day as you will only absorb 1.5 grams + 1% of 6. The rest will be excreted. I am unsure what specifically you are asking, perhaps you can restate your question in a different way?

          • drew

            What b12 do you recommend? I have found a few veg friendly brands on amazon, but all include a “natural” flavoring in the ingredients with no explanation of what that natural concoction is

          • Toxins

            I personally use twin lab 5,000 mcg weekly dose. I am unsure what the natural flavorings would be, but overall I don’t think my health will be seriously harmed by whatever it could be.

  • Isak E

    I’ve a hard time to find other sources reccomending such high amounts of B12. Most sources i find says none to few reported side effects of overdosing b12, but some report increased cancer risk and other bad things. For exemple: http://vitamins.lovetoknow.com/Side_Effects_of_Too_Much_Vitamin_B12

    Should I take my normal veggie pill with 15 mcg daily (higher then swedens reccomended amount) or should i take 500 mcg pills each day? Confused :S. Sources for your claims would be good.

    Thanks in advance

  • superape

    Dear Dr. Greger, can you tell me if calcium minimizes the absorption of
    iron? I seem to remember you said in one of your presentations it
    doesn’t matter if the sources are plant based but I´m not sure…
    This morning I had overnight oats (oats, soy milk & fruit) for breakfast so it made me wonder again…
    Also because there´s not only iron but calcium in oats as well. (Both minerals not mentioned on the packaging!)

    Thank you and I hope my English is ok.

    • Toxins

      Yes, calcium does inhibit absorption of iron but not to the point where it should be a dietary concern. A whole foods plant based diet will give you more iron then you would think. If you want to test to see how much of each nutrient you are getting, you can put it into cronometer which is the USDA nutrition database. Its like a food diary and it will give you the total nutrition profile of your meals.

      • superape

        Thanks a lot for your reply Toxins :)
        Yes, I’ve heard about cronometer before, never used it though but I will now. Thank you!

      • Guest

        And I already love it, wow! Thanks!

  • Diane

    Is there anything to the theory that eating foods in certain combinations helps us absorb more nutrients from them? For example, I have read that fruits should be consumed by themselves, never as part of a meal. Or that water or other liquids should not be consumed with a meal, but 10 to 15 minutes before or one hour after a meal.

    • Thea

      Diane: There is definitely something to the theory that eating foods in certain combinations is a good idea. For example, if you eat foods rich in vitamin C with foods rich in iron, you can increase the absorption of the iron.

      Dr. Greger talks about this and other food “synergy” options on this site. You might start your research here:


      However, just because the concept in general is valid doesn’t mean that everyone’s theories are valid. I’m not an expert, so I can’t say for sure. However, I am under the impression that the two examples you site are not valid – at least as stated. Especially the one about eating fruits separately.

    • Toxins

      There is 0 scientific evidence to suggest this. I have also seen this myth going around the net, it is untrue.

  • Bonnie A Strub

    Maybe you can explain why I don’t sunburn anymore. I always used to burn. Now, I can work at establishing new gardens in our East Texas summer sun for up to 6 hours and show no signs of sunburn. (I could probably stay out longer, but run out of time and need to get on to other things.) The only differences are a shift to a mostly whole plant diet… as free from GMO, herbicides and pesticides as possible. More and more of our food comes from our own and our neighbors’ gardens. We make sure beans and greens are a staple in our diet. This was the year of the musk melon (aka cantaloupe). Which of these changes could have made such a radical difference in the sunburn factor? Just curious, but very grateful too. I am a 68-year-old Caucasian female, if that makes a difference. After years of the rat-race, we are enjoying raising our own food and shopping far less.

  • How do you determine 150 mcg for iodine? Dr Furhman says 150 mcg, too, but dieticians Jack Norris and Ginny Messina say only 75 mcg every few days. Others like, Dr McDougall, don’t recommend supplementing anything other than B12. I don’t eat much salt and rarely eat seaweed. With conflicting advice, I don’t know what to do.

  • NewCamelot Thenewcamelot

    Hi Michael I have brought recently some 1000µg B12!” tablets as I couldn’t find any in the dosage you recommend in the UK. How many of these should I take weekly? Thanks for your amazing work btw :-)

    • Toxins

      When we take a 1000 mcg dose, we absorb 1.5 mcg through our receptor system and 1% of the rest. So 1.5 + .01(998.5) = 11.48 mcg, Divide this by 2 days and we get 5.74 mcg. This falls within the 4-7 mcg range. So 1000 mcg every 2 days would suffice.

      • NewCamelot Thenewcamelot

        Thanks for your help :-)

    • You would take tablets once weekly. One week take two tablets and the following week take three tablets which will average to 2500/week. Maybe take the odd number of pills (i.e. 3) on the first and third week of the month and the even number (i.e. 2) on week two and four. Hopefully 2500 ug tablets will be available in the future to make it easy. Of course you can occaisonally check your levels and if you have symptoms you should be seen by your health care provider.

    • You can review the series of video’s on Vitamin B12 in February 2012 for the details. You could alternate 3 tabs once a week with 2 tabs once a week. You can get your B12 levels checked occasionally and if having symptoms you should your regular health care provider.

      • NewCamelot Thenewcamelot

        Thanks for your help. No I don’t have any symptoms of B12 deficiency just trying to eat an optimum diet for health as advised by Doctor Greger. I am vegetarian but have recently reduced my intake of eggs and dairy and Doctor Gregger states even ovo lacto vegetarians are not getting enough B12 for optimum health even though they might not be deficient in B12.

    • JacquieRN

      Hello, you are responding to a post from Sept 2011. There is an updated presentation on recommendations found here from Feb 2012, along with comment string that maybe helpful to you: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/vitamin-b12-recommendation-change.

  • Karyn Scher

    Dr. Greger,

    I had a thought/question based on trying to integrate your findings into practical dietary changes…Do you have suggested menu plans somewhere? I’m struggling to find hearty sources of protein as entrees since we now know meat, eggs, chicken, cheese/milk products are bad, bad, bad!
    Karyn Scher

    • Thea


      Good luck on your path to eating healthy. I have some thoughts for you.

      1) Your assumption that you need “hearty sources of protein” is quite understandable given what we have been taught by our government and the food industry. However, it turns out, you simply do not need to focus on “protein” to eat a healthy diet. Here are two sources that will help you understand why this is so:


      and Dr. McDougall’s newsletter articles from December 2003 and April 2007:

      2) But that still may leave you with the question, “What does a healthy diet look like?” I recommend that you check out several sources from PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine):
      a) Power Plate
      b) The new 4 food groups

      c) 21 Day Kickstart Program – it is free and contains 21 days worth of meal plans and other great info and support

      With some minor differences, I believe that all of this information fits in with what Dr. Greger would recommend or approve of.

      You might also consider getting a good whole plant food based cookbook or two. Let me know if you would like some suggestions along those lines.

      Hope that helps.

  • Travis Allen Hoggatt

    Doc, you are literally a god-send and Im not saying this just because I have a question. Thanks You.

    I have heard that those deficient in Iodine may have trouble getting fluoride chlorine and bromine out of their system and that there are considerations like sodium and vitamin C levels. I was made to believe that it was too complicated to handle on my own…


    I hope you can clarify this. Thanks

  • Kartoffelmao


    Northern Europeans may need to take a supplement or eat a daily Brazil nut”

    Why do northern Europeans need extra selenium?

    • dogulas

      Because it’s not in the soil there or something. He mentioned it on one of those videos linked to I think.

      • Kartoffelmao

        But much of our food is imported?

  • Joanne

    Hi Dr Greger, I’m currently breastfeeding my son and I purchased 2,500 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin to make sure I had enough for my son and I…. two years ago I needed injections to bring my levels up. When I got Home the bottle said that pregnant and nursing mothers should not take the supplement… I’m confused…. Can I take it ot not?

    • dogulas

      Have you found an answer to your question? I’m curious now.
      Also, why is an injection necessary when levels are low? Does taking an oral supplement not do the trick?

      • Joanne

        Hi Douglas, no. No reply as yet. The injections were because I needed a fast boost of B12. Thanks for answering.

      • Joanne

        Hi Douglas, thanks for answering. No I haven’t found and answer to my question yet. As to the injections, the doctor said my B12 was so low it needed an urgent boost.

        • gcottenc

          can you share, how your B12 was measured? did the injections work?

  • edv24

    Very good recommendations but did you forget about Zinc, copper, and magnesium.

  • Derrek

    If I eat 1-2 tbsp. of flax daily do I need to supplement with omega- 3’s?

    • Toxins

      Probably not, as long as you don’t eat a copious serving other nuts with it to throw off the omega 6:3 ratio.

  • Derrek

    I developed hypothyroidism. Brain is foggy and still a little tired. Will everything reset itself if I’m getting all the daily recommendations?

  • Derrek

    How much selenium per day?

  • Derrek

    Would about kelp if it is in a supplement? It is only 150 mcg. Is this ok?

  • monika

    I just want to thank you Dr. Greger! You are a sweetheart of a person and professional! I feel I can truly trust your recommendations because you are not trying to make money off of them! And you lead by example!!! If you are married with children I hope they take your info and example to heart and do the same! I wished mine did!

  • suman Noor

    Do you recommend fenugreek seeds to lower cholestrol?

  • edv24

    What does Michael Greger think about taking Nascent iodine?

  • Derrek

    What’s the RDA for omega 6? I get about 5 g per day.

    • Toxins

      It is important to focus on your omega 3 intake and mostly ignore you omega 6 intake. Omega 3 is harder to get, omega 6 is plentiful. You want a ratio of about 4:1 of omega 6:3 or lower.

  • Derrek

    Would about dha/epa? I eat 1 tbsp flax per day.

  • Derrek

    I’m vegan and have hypothyroidism. I’m tracking everything and getting over rads. Doctors think I’m deficient in minerals or not enough protein. I get brain fogs.

    How much EPA and DHA is recommended? Just trying to pinpoint evertything

    • Toxins

      Optimum total omega 3 intake is 1.6 grams for men. Be sure to eat 2 tbsp of ground flax.

  • Derrek

    I try to vary and not eat 2tbsp because then I’d be stuck eating 2 tbsp flax, and 1 brazil nut per day. I workout and am trying to put on some muscle and eat 80/10/10 so like to add 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds after working out.

    • Toxins

      Derrek, you are getting far too specific and your specificity is negligible. You can eat a meal of brown rice and veggies after exercise and it will still be sufficient protein to gain muscle. Protein needs match caloric needs. There is no reason to seek “protein rich” foods. Simply eat when you are hungry till you are full.

  • edv24

    what are good food sources of zinc and supplement forms of Zinc?

  • Derrek

    Why is the 80/10/10 diet superior? Not the high fruit diet. Any research? Did the longest living people eat this diet?

  • Derrek

    Would about vitamin E? I’m vegan and struggle getting enough on 80/10/10. Any advice? I don’t want to supplement with harmful vitamin E as you showed it isn’t good to supplement.

  • Vince

    Is there any particular reason flax seed is not suggested for omega-3?

    I’m also wondering if seaweeds are being contaminated due to pollution, as well as radioactivity depending on the origin (Japan, American coast). Would love if someone shared some insight. All I was able to find were blogs and unscientific stories.

  • Ken Damro

    Is it possible to get enough DHA / EPA from leafy greens and greens such as purslane? or as a vegan do I need to take an algae supplement?

  • Ken Damro

    Thanks Thea, purslane is a common weed that is loaded with omega 3’s (and grows wild in my garden and on my patio). I thought it had DHA-EPA,but upon farther reading I’ve found out it only has ALA to offer – though in good quantity. Yes, I’m familiar with the association of omega 6’s and 3’s and I never use olive oil, but these days it can be hard to avoid consuming too much omega 6. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.Thank God for algae oil.

    • Thea

      Ken: Thanks for the info about purslane. I learned something new. :-)

  • Mery D

    I find calcium and iron difficult to replenish at optimal levels with a vegan diet. Could you please enlighten me with more specific advice (e.g specific foods I could eat to get to DRA). Thank you!

    • Thea

      Mery D: I recommend that you get a hold of a book called, “Becoming Vegan – Express Edition” by RDs Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. It is a great reference book for your type of questions. Ie, when you want to know a healthy way to meet RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowances) for certain nutrients. They have done a great deal of research. For a wide range of nutrients, you can find a ton of background information plus recommendations on foods to eat and how much. The book even has a set of meal plan examples. Good luck.

  • Dynamitee

    When Dr. Greger says 250mg of long-chain omega-3′s (EPA/DHA) does he then mean you have to take 250mg of EPA and 250mg of DHA, or does he mean you have to take 250mg of omega-3s containing EPA and DHA? :)

  • Has Dr. Greger updated these recommendtions anywhere? What’s the difference between the yeast and algae-derived DHA/EPA?

  • And for new converts to PBDs, how long can prior omnivores go before having to worry about B12? How long does your body maintain its stores?

    • Dr. Jen _NF Volunteer

      Hi Harriet,

      Thanks for the great question! The amount of B12 stored in the liver is quite variable from person to person. For some people they have liver stores that can last several years but for others even a short period without B12 can cause trouble. So, for most of us, a supplement sooner, rather than later, is the best plan.

  • aaa

    Do you recommend Krill oil over Fish oil? I heard it is good because of the asataxathin content

  • thanks for sharing these useful information. nutrition need in pregnancy and also for fitness. may i use these product which are on these site: http://blog.naturalfoodbarn.com.au/weight-loss/pregnancy-and-breastfeeding-high-nutrition-protein/ . suggest me plz because vitamins and Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy.

  • harelb

    Vegan since 1994..fan of NF (and met Dr. G as a friend back in 1990s when he was student at CU in Ithaca) I’m wondering if you could clarify something for me about calcium (for a research project I’m doing, about which I hope to be able to share about in some weeks).

    Michael was interviewed by my friend Emily of Bite Size Vegan and in the series said that we need 600mg. That’s not my question,
    that’s what he really said (confirming longtime impression I had that
    “1000” was overkill) He said one does *not* want to go below that, but
    that’s what one really needs.

    (I do regularly read NF also but have not seen one on calcium
    specifically rec amounts in last 12 months on N so I assume it’s safe
    to go with the info he gave in a life video feed interview with Emily a
    few months ago…)

    Ok…except nutrition labels don’t give “mg” they give “percents” as you know! :-)

    What is their 100% (how many mg per day) is my question, part 1.

    From http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/

    it is about 1000 (with more for men and women 9-18 and for women over 51) but somewhere 1,000-1,300.

    2, based on part 1, is how should one adjust the “percent” on nutrition
    labels if one is aiming for 600mg (or maybe a bit above, but not
    much). Can you confirm this is correct:

    I assume 1,000 is
    their “100 percent” so I divide by 0.6 to get the actual percent out of
    600 (I know the math is right, that’s what my doctorate is in…I mean
    the nutrition :-) so for example if it says:

    “6% of calcium in one serving”

    6% divided by 0.6 is 10% (which also makes sense looking at it another
    way, “6%” of 1,000 is 60mg, which is actually 10% of the 600mg one is
    aiming for)

    Anyway does this sound right?

    Or are they using 1,200 instead of 1,000mg as their “100%”?

    Or something more complicated?

    like the “last mile” of internet connection, the connection we have is
    only as fast as that last mile (or as fast as the slowest segment) and
    the best most amazing vegan advice works only if we can “translate”
    it..and as you can see this one single part of my research project I hope to create a web page about, is about translating so
    consumers, or human beings as I prefer to call them/us, can use the NF
    recommendations etc….thanks,

    • Matt

      The The American Dietetic Association recommends 500 mg of DHA/EPA per day, twice as high as your 250 mg. Is there a danger with going with the 500?

    • Dr. Jen _NF Volunteer

      Great question! Reading a nutrition label can make your head swim, or at least it makes mine swim sometimes. ☺

      For your first question: The DV for calcium is 1,000 mg for adults and children aged 4 years and older and that is what the nutrition labels are using. So if a food has 33% of your DV it has about 330mg of calcium in it.

      For your second question: Yes, you are right on. The easiest way (I think) to figure out how many mg of calcium are in a food is multiply the %DV by 1000. If a food has 10% of the DV multiply 0.1 by 1000 and (viola!)- your food has 100mg of calcium.

      Let us know when you get your website done, I’d love to see it! Anything that makes nutrition information more accessible is great.

  • Nutritarian

    An article in Science News “How vitamin B12 makes pimples pop up” https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-vitamin-b12-makes-pimples-pop.
    As per Dr. Greger’s recommendations my wife and I, both 65, take 1000 mcg of B12 daily. We do notice more pimples it seems. We just thought it was part of getting older…Acne for the elderly. Is 1000 mcg daily REALLY necessary or would every other day be OK?
    We’re both WFPB no/lo SOS followers and Dr. Greger is one of our Gurus.


    • dogulas

      The acne is caused by the cyano part of the cyanocobalamin. Some people are more sensitive the the small amount of cyanide in the cyanocobalamin. Use methylcobalamin b12 instead and your problems should soon clear up. There should be some B12 supplements in your local grocery store that use methylcobalamin instead of the cyanocobalamin. Let me know if you do and if it works!

    • gcottenc

      can you please share your results with dogulas’s suggestion?

  • mmm

    Should we supplement with glycine ?

  • Sarah R

    I’m a little confused about the selenium recommendation . . . why is it recommended that Northern Europeans should take a supplement or eat a brazil nut daily? Is this recommendation applicable to individuals living in North America? Thanks!

    • Dr. Jen _NF Volunteer

      Hi Sara,

      Most people in the US get their selenium from meat since selenium is stored in muscles. However, plants certainly contain selenium as well. The amount of selenium in plants depends mostly on the amount of selenium in the soil and in the US, even in low selenium areas, we are almost always above the US RDA. In some areas of China and Northern Europe though the soil levels are low enough that vegans can be in trouble. So you should be fine if you’re in the US!

  • Heath

    Hi Dr. Gregor, I was checking out recommended daily allowances for various minerals and vitamins and saw that adults get 1000 mg of calcium daily. Now this doesn’t concur with what you have written above for calcium. Could you explain, please? Thanks a lot. Heath

    • Thea

      Heath: There is plenty of evidence that 500-600 is all we need. There are cultures who eat primarily whole plant foods and which exercise plenty and which do not get osteoporosis. The book, “Building Bone Vitality” by Lanou and Castleman is a real eye opener on the issue of calcium and bone health.

      Even Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, who are very much into following the RDAs acknowledge that “There is good evidence that intakes less than 525 increase risk.” From: Becoming Vegan, Express Edition. (Which means that over 525 is not an increase of risk – ***all else being equal***.) They also point out that getting enough calcium is about an intake balance. The total amount of calcium you get is less important than balancing how much comes in vs how much goes out. Diet and exercise affects this balance/flow.

      My point being: So, coming up with a single recommendation for large numbers of people is really hard. But the range between 500-600 seems to be relevant for people eating whole plant food based diet. (And truth in writing: Davis and Melina do say, “Until more definitive research is released, it’s a good idea to make sure you get the recommended [RDA]…” After reading the Building Bone Vitality book, I feel confident enough to go with the 600 range myself.

  • Heath

    I missed the word “should” below… that adults should get 100 mg of calcium… sorry about that!

  • Joanne

    I have just recently discovered your site and I must say I am quite enthusiastic about it. I am unsure about where to get the basic information for a plant-based diet. I thought any non-animal food would be good, but I have since learned things like coconut milk or olive oil should be avoided. Do you have a book to help out the novice, laying out the less obvious things to avoid and other things to be sought out?
    Thanks, and great site!

    • Thea

      Joanne: Welcome to NutritionFacts!

      Rumor is that Dr. Greger has a book coming out in December which should answer your questions. In the mean time, I think this page that you are commenting on is a great summary. Notice Dr. Greger is generally listing whole plant foods on this page, instead of highly processed foods like olive oil (or any oil, except maybe some algae DHA). So, the idea of “whole plant foods” (or as Jeff Novick puts it, “minimally processed plant foods”, which I find to be a helpful description) could be your guiding principle.

      There are some exceptions to the principle of only eating minimally processed plant foods. For example, Dr. Greger generally seems to promote cocoa powder (cacao beans with much of the fat removed). And various teas come out looking very good. But in general, if it is flour or oil or isolated __ protein, etc. Then that would be a plant food you would generally want to avoid.

      If you don’t want to wait until December (and who wants to wait?!), I believe that the free PCRM program called 21 Day Kickstart is very close to Dr. Greger’s recommendations. This program will hold your hand for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions. You might want to check it out to see example of what is in vs out.
      (Click the green “Register Now” button.)

      Hope this helps.

      • Joanne

        Thank you! I’ll be looking forward to the book for sure, and will check out the link.

  • Gwen Oatman

    I might be reading this wrong but it seems like the cities and latitudes under the vitamin D recommendations don’t match up? Or maybe you just rounded down to the nearest 10? Just checking b/c I’m in Phoenix and was thinking I would be able to get by without a supplement year-round, but we are above 30 degrees latitude.

  • Pat MH

    You’ve stated that the African diet is mainly plant-based and very high in fiber, which is why heart disease and diabetes are nearly unheard of in Africa. So how do they get their B12? Because without B12, we humans are subject to some pretty scary health issues.

    • Tom Goff

      Their diet is “mainly plant-based” so they do eat some animal foods. Unchlorinated stream or well water will likely also contain B12. Unwashed plants will also have B12. Herbivorous animals like elephants and gorillas need B12 from their diet and do not suffer from B12 deficiency. I believe that they obtain it mainly from bacteria in the soil on plants and in water.

  • This post is dated Sept. 2011. Can I assume that you review these recommendations intermittently? In other words, are these your current recommendations? If so, it might be a good idea to add the most current review date up top read the date of the post. Thank you for all of the amazing work that you do Dr. Greger.

    • Thea

      Brian: I agree! We need updated info. Happily, Dr. Greger has been working on a new book that includes his current recommendations, plus sample meal plans and more. The book comes out in December and all money earned goes toward supporting this site. There are prize opportunities for pre-ordering. If you are interested, you can learn more here:

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Still valid! If the science changes he’ll change these recs :-) Good catch though I know it’s misleading to see Nut. Recs posted 2011.

  • Fleur

    Hallo, I’m vegan and I have found that I have magnesium (28,4), selenium (62,4) and zinc (3,5) deficiencies. I think I need to take supplements but I don’t know how much per day and for how long, maybe you can give me an advice please. Many thanks,Fleur

  • David Schwartz

    What do you think about the health value of low fat or zero fat cheeses? I realize they are certainly not a plant based food but I’m hopeful that the low fat content might move them closer to the healthy range. Thanks

    • Thea

      David: It is a very reasonable question and one that is shared by others. Unfortunately (for those people who like dairy cheese), removing the fat just means that you have more of the lactose (sugar) and animal protein. And it does nothing to eliminate the many harmful contaminants and (I think) hormones found of dairy cheese.

      This site has many videos listing the problems with animal protein in general. And with the contaminants found in diary cheese. Here is the topic page for cheese. Not everything on this page will apply if you take out the fat from the cheese. But a great deal of this information would still apply I think:

      Here is some information on animal protein in general:
      or check out this for a super good reason to skip the animal protein:
      And the entire series on IGF-1 (linking animal protein to cancer) is a must-see. The beginning of the series starts here (and you just keep clicking ‘next video’ until you get to the end of the series, something about body building):

      And here is some information on lactose:

      My take-home from all this is that fat-free cheese is about taking an extremely unhealthy product and making it just as unhealthy in different ways.

      Make sense? What do you think? Would you be interested in some ideas for getting rid of the dairy?

  • Michael Green

    Exellent Recommendations

  • Sierra

    I became vegan about 8 months ago and have been noticing that my skin has been breaking out more. I was wondering if there is a vitamin I am lacking in my diet, or if there is one you suggest to take more of? Thanks so much for writhing what you do! Looking forward to your response!

  • Abby

    Hi Dr. Greger! I saw you speak in El Paso and I have since finished reading your book (part 2). I’ve tried implementing the Daily Dozen checklist into my eating habits for the past week and I can’t meet them because I’m so full! So I calculated out the average calories that meeting those requirements would take and it was about 200 calories/day higher than my calculated basal metabolic rate (not counting exercise). This is great because it forces me to avoid junk foods… but I am concerned about long term weight gain. Any thoughts on this?

    • TheHulk

      I will let you know my experience, I do eat his daily dozen and have lost weight, same with my wife. “Calories” is very loose concept, our body doesn’t work based on Calories. For eg, in one of videos Dr. G for nuts, even eating tons of nuts, none of the participant in the study gained any weight.

  • Justin

    Hello! I was wondering if Dr Greger (or anyone else) has any thoughts about the need to supplement -choline- for people eating exclusively a plant based diet (vegans also) ?

  • David J

    For those over 65, would taking 500 mcg per day sublingually be sufficient? (I’ve read sublingual B12 is absorbed better.)

  • Unknown

    Can you please list any supplements for depression and anxiety? also is a turmeric curcumin supplement fine to take everyday? I do not like eating turmeric. do u know any good brands or sites that sell it if so? i can’t have corn products.

    • Thea

      Unknown: Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die, has an entire chapter about depression and mood disorders. I don’t remember recommendations to take specific supplements, but there is plenty of recommendations about a general diet. If the book doesn’t interest you, you can do a search on this site for depression and see what you come up with. I think you will find some interesting information. But in the end, I think the general recommendation will be to implement the diet you see here on this page. Good luck.

  • c4brian

    I couldn’t find any videos on this topic surprisingly, but a wonderful piece of advice would be knowing what specific line items to request when getting blood work done. Do they report things like omega 3 / omega 6 ratio? Do I have to ask specifically for vitamin D? Do I need to get fasting bloodwork, or non-fasting? I need a cheat-sheet to hand the doctor or lab.

    • payoung

      Some of these are things that most docs do routinely and some are not. I think it’s a good idea to go in to the doctor with a list and inquire if he/she is planning to do any of these tests. If not I would request them. Most reasonable docs will go ahead and order them if you request them. If not then it may be time to start shopping for a new doc. There are tests for omega 3/omega 6 but a regular family practice doctor may be more reluctant to order those as some are not comfortable interpreting the results. A cardiologist should be quite comfortable interpreting them though. As a last resort, there are direct labs online such as anylabtestnow.com or directlabs.com who do labs direct to the consumer. I do recommend caution when using these labs though since you won’t have the benefit of having a doctor to help you interpret and make recommendations based on the results.

  • Elmer Fittery

    I believe for a person to obtain the proper amounts of nutrients ( c, d, b12, etc) you must determine the amount of the nutrient found in the blood by testing your blood. After you know the test results you can adjust your intake up or down. The problem with this is you have to get your doctor to approve your blood tests (NOT EASY). Another problem is knowing what the OPTIMAL blood level of the particular nutrient is. I believe research at University of California shows that 70 to 100 millimoles/decileter of vitamin d is optimal.

  • How do you get enough omega-6 if you eat no oil, HFPB? I add flaxseed to get enough omega-3 but frequently seem to be low in omega-6 according to cronometer.com.

    • Thea

      Sarah: Are you eating whole grains? If you follow Dr. Greger’s recommendations, your diet would include 3 servings a day of whole grains (such as barley, brown rice, quinoa and millet). I recently looked up the omega 3 and omega 6 content of barley recently and there is a lot more 6 compared to 3. (You can see the fat content of a cup of barley on the following page. Just scroll down to the relevant section. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5678/2)

      Dr. Greger also recommends about 1 serving of nuts (1/4 cup whole nuts or 2 tablespoons nut butter) a day. Most nuts have WAY more omega 6 over omega 3.

      I think that including grains and nuts in your diet is a way to balance out the omega 3 and omega 6s ratios. It’s kind of funny that you are having trouble getting enough omega 6 since most people have the opposite problem. While no problem is good per say, it feels to me like you must really be on the right track.

      One question I have is: Why do you think you do not have enough omega 6? I know that cronometer measures nutrients in your diet, but I’m wondering if cronometer is specifically telling you that you are not getting enough omega 6? Or are you assuming so based on some kind of formula?

      • harelb

        Hi Thea, if I can jump in and my situation might be different than Sarah’s but, some of us are wondering about not percent omega 6 but absolute amounts because a) following both Dr. Greger and others I am trying to eliminate or strongly cut down on extra virgin olive oil – the only oil I use -and to get from whole foods only b) in the 1990s I hurt my health living on a near-zero fat diet (my too high triglyc. and my too low HDL got better when I added vegan fats/oils and I know exercise helps too but we’re focusing on diet here) and c) I’m probably ok since I do enjoy raw almonds, but what amount of almonds per day (in grams, say) will get the minimum (not percent but absolute amount) to have enough mg of omega 6?

        That’s my main question but I also wonder out loud whether we need to emphasize nuts more loudly because if we are moving people away from adding any and all oils, those who eat vegan and eat nothing but grains, fruit, and veg and no nuts (and no seeds) I suspect may not get enough fat to avoid too-little fat (as I say, some may dispute that one can damage health from too-low fat but my 1990s experience suggests it’s not as impossible as some may think!) if one has no nuts, no seeds, and no oils, just veg/fruit/grains. Anyway is there a simple “X grams per day” of almonds (I’m allergic or dislike most other nuts) that will rise mg of omega 6’s (and hopefully, total fat) to above some (pretty low I admit) min threshold and up into the safe and even Health zone of enough of those good fats? Thanks!

        • Thea

          harelb: I don’t know that I have a definitive answer for you, but I have some thoughts that may help.
          First, note that 1 tablespoon of almonds has 1085 mg of omega 6. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3086/2 There are 4 tablespoons in 1/4 cup, Dr. Greger’s daily recommendation for nuts. So, 1/4 cup of almonds has 4340 mg of omega 6. Meanwhile, 1 cup of hulled barley (which is 2 out of the 3 servings) is 1838 mg omega 6. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5678/2
          So, now your question is, how does all that stack up to how much omega 6 we need? I don’t know a definitive answer, but here is how I tried to puzzle out an answer for you: From what I remember (off the top of my head, which may be wrong), women need about 1.1 g (note: units in paragraph above are mg) of omega 3 a day. And if you will pardon the ratios for a moment, if I remember correctly, the ideal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 (depending on who you talk to) ranges between 1:1 and 1:4. This means that if you really need 1.1 g omega 3, then you need between 1.1 to 4.4 g omega 6. Even if you didn’t eat a single additional omega 6 morsel than the two foods listed in the paragraph above (1/4 cup almonds and one cup barley), that’s about 6.2 g omega 6, more than enough. All of which shows to me that it is easy to get enough omega 6 on a whole plant food diet, especially if one is following Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen.
          I have another track to take to try to get at another part of your question, which talks about a “health zone” which I presume you mean an amount of fat that is above and separate from a minimum amount of fat. From what I have seen, I don’t think the majority of people’s experience mirrors your own, but of course I believe you when you talk about your experience. And I have seen a few others on NutritionFacts who report similar experiences with lower fat diets. Thus, I would suggest that there might be some play in how much fat a person needs in her/his diet. (Not as much play as the Atkins or paleo people would have us believe, but still some play.)
          Dr. Greger does not recommend that people stress about macro nutrient percentages (I could probably find that page for you if you want), and I tend to agree. But to try to answer your question, let’s try to figure out what percentage of fat a healthy diet would include. Let’s start with the traditional Okinawan diet, a diet that has produced some of the healthiest people on the planet. There was a study of thousands of Okinawans. I don’t have the reference with me right now, but I can get it if you want. If memory serves, the Okinawan diet was less than 10% fat. People who have successfully been following (thriving on) a whole plant food diet on this site tend to report 10 to 15% fat in their diet when they track it through cronometer.com. Brenda Davis, a well respected RD and promoter of plant based diets and who once did a guest blog here on NutritionFacts, has proposed on page 60 of her book, Becoming Vegan, that vegan diets between 15 to 30% is a good goal. But depending on your situation, (such as dealing with obesity or some diseases), Brenda says you should aim for the low end of that range. And given that T2 diabetes is a disease of excess fat, my personal opinion is that 30% is way too high for most people. This gives you the idea of the “play”/range of fat that might be optimal for you. I think 10 to 20% is probably best for most people, the exact amount being best for a person depending on their particular situation.
          Putting it all together: If you absolutely must put a number on how much omega 6 fat would be ideal for you (as opposed to focusing on whole foods as Dr. Greger and others recommend), you could figure it out this way: a) how many calories a day you think are good for you?, b) what percentage of fat you think is ideal (perhaps aim for 15%)? and then using cronometer. com, c) make sure that when you eat 15% fat in a whole plant food diet with no oils, the amount of omega 3 and 6 in the diet meets or exceeds the 1.1 and 4.4 g numbers listed above and which have appropriate ratios to each other. If so, then that amount of omega 6 would be the right amount for you.
          Is this a more satisfying answer? What do you think of that logic?

          • harelb

            What an extensive response, thank you
            Thea. I just want to clarify two things first..For one thing I don’t
            want to give false encouragement to the Adkins type so when you say you
            compare me to others who don’t do well on “lower fat diets” I think I
            *DO* well on what I’d call “lower fat” diets, just not on what I called
            near-zero or ultra-low. Maybe I should have clarified I’m a 20+ year
            vegan who eats mostly unprocessed and minimally processed foods, cooks
            home meals etc. So while I don’t want to completely discount people who
            say they don’t do well on “lower fat” diets, I’m not one of them.

            vegan whole food minimally processed and throwing out the oils (if you
            don’t get to eat a half avocado or more many days a week) is indeed a
            very to ultra low diet depending on whether one skips nuts and seeds
            entirely or not…Back then I had much less to no nuts/seed and no oils
            either..so very very low oil/fats. I’d be happy to email you 19 blood
            test results from early 1990s to 2015…they bounce around a lot, yes,
            but still there’s a pretty clear before and after, that matches the very
            same 1-2 year time when I started adding avocado, olive oil, and later
            nuts, to my diet. It’s pretty stark…a “before” and an “after” are not
            hard to discern.”After” Trigly ranges 72 to 182 for example over 7 blood
            test 1999-2015 recorded in that text file right from lab printouts.

            1994-1999 in 10 blood tests ranged from one “outlier” low for me of 111
            and one 191, and the rest (another 8 readings!) being in 300s, 400s,
            500s two in 570s, and one reading of 685 for triglyc…Compare that to
            the 7 blood tests 1999-2015 with the HIGH being 182..night and day.
            Don’t want to get this too long so won’t look against at HDL but recall
            also notable change. I have LDL and VLDL and total chol for many, but
            not all, and didn’t look carefully since those were not “bad” in the
            “before” period; issues were high trig. and low HDL…still today
            somewhat but far less so than my early days. How many other things have
            they cahnged recommendations sinc e1990s? a lot actually! Remember when
            they told us “monounsaturated” was “ok-ish” and “polyunsaturated” was
            “awesome! by far better!” ?

            It’s too bad this still isn’t
            automated so it takes fanatic record keeping typing it all in as I have,
            some day it will be automatically online one hopes (we’ve been promised
            this technology for many years) so without such dedicated habits
            someday everyone will be able to say: “Computer, show me the last 15
            years of HDL in a graph with key points labelled” and then start to
            cross reference with dietary changes.

            Second about ” If you absolutely must put a number on how much omega 6 fat would be
            ideal for you (as opposed to focusing on whole foods as Dr. Greger and
            others recommend)” I am absolutely wanting to know whole foods based just to know the amounts of whole foods…

            done detailed tedious hand calculations of 5 day averages for myself
            for protein, calcium and iron, and other than calcium where I decided to
            make changes, going by feel has been fine. I have been too busy or too
            “lazy” to do the same for fats, but I can tell you it’s low fat now and
            was crazy-low in early to mid 1990s. I have to find the time to hand
            measure now, and/or, find the time to do the whole cronometer
            thing..maybe someday..!

            Thanks to you we can do this
            calculation..since I needed still more conversion help from what I knew
            (number almonds, and grams) to info you kindly looked up (1/4 cups
            and/or tablespoons) but how does this look Thea:

            Using http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2

            cup how many grams? If we can trust that website the answer depends on
            form:For 1cup ground or sliced (95g and 92g) is a different answer from 1
            cup slivered (108g) and 1 cup whole:143g.

            Now Blue
            diamond natural almonds serving size says “1oz, 28g, about 24 nuts” and I
            have counted enough times to know that my average to be sated ranges
            16-24 almonds.

            1/4 cup would be 143/4 = 35.75grams by their estimate

            How many almonds? (35.75/28)*24 or about 30.64 almonds, a third of an almond shy of 31 almonds.

            a lot to eat in a day…but if it gets over 4gram omega 6then getting
            1.1-4.4 grams isn’t too bad. That leaves mostly to worry about just

            you said you could be wrong about needing 1.1 grams of omega 3’s (I
            weigh about 135, 5’8″..though I did have unwanted weight loss down to
            close to 120 once..they ruled out cancer and I’m back to mid to upper

            b) That 1:1 to 1:4 ratio is pretty wide…but this isn’t to complain that it’s wide but to ask a question – could it be that 1:4 is closer to optimal for one level (X) of, say, omega 3’s and that 1:1 is closer to optimal for another level, Y, rather than “The Truth” being some unknown number in that range that applies to all (absolute) levels of either? Maybe if one fat level is on the higher end then one ratio will do, but if it’s at the lower end, a somewhat different ratio?

            That aside, your info was a great help to get me to the calculation I made above to get at least a sense in #almonds/day :-)

          • Thea

            harelb: Thank you for your reply. It always makes me feel so good to know that I have helped someone!

            There are a few follow-ups I wanted to give you based on your reply to me.

            1) you wrote: “issues were high trig. and low HDLL…still today somewhat” I agree that a high trig number can be concerning, but I wouldn’t worry about a low HDL number. Low HDL is a natural progression of a healthy diet and not a good indicator or risk anyway. Dr. McDougall has a great article on this topic. Also, here is a recent study that addresses this topic: “Protective Effect of HDL Null if LDL Levels High: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol may not protect against heart disease if low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides (TG) levels remain high, according to a study published online in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Researchers monitored cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease risk for 3,590 participants from the Framingham Offspring Study. The authors conclude that high LDL and/or TG are more predictive of heart disease risk, regardless of HDL.”
            FROM: Bartlett J, Predazzi IM, Williams SM, et al. Is isolated low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol a cardiovascular disease risk factor? New insights from the Framingham Offspring Study. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. Published online May 10, 2016.

            2) you wrote: “If we can trust that website” If you look at the bottom of the Self Nutrition nutrition pages, they tell you the source of the data. I believe it is all or mostly from the USDA database that everyone uses. That doesn’t necessarily make it accurate. But I think it is as accurate as we can get.

            3) you wrote some question/concern about where I got the 1.1 grams for omega 3 number. I got it from what I remember from a talk from Jeff Novick (a famous RD) from a talk called: From Oil To Nuts (https://www.amazon.com/Oil-Nuts-Essential-Facts-Oils/dp/B003UYAQIY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1464819387&sr=8-1&keywords=from+nuts+to+oil ). I did some quick research and you can find a similar recommendation on this page: http://goodfoodproject.net/home/resources/what-the-experts-say/what-the-experts-say-oils/ says, ““According to the National Academy of Sciences, adequate daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids is 1.1 grams for women and 1.6 grams for men. This translates to between 1-3% of our daily calories or about ¼ to 1/3 of a teaspoon a day! Not very much at all and easy to attain with even the most basic plant food based diet.” Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD” I don’t know who Mathew Lederman is nor how accurate the quote is, but I believe that these are the numbers that I got from Jeff’s talk.

            4) What is the correct ratio of omega 6 to 3? Could it depend on the situation? You raise a great question. I’m not an expert and haven’t done a extensive amount of research on this topic. However, I did a little research after seeing your question and came up with the following quote, which I found interesting and thought you might also:

            “Most of the studies used in the BMJ review do not address the omega-6–to–omega-3 ratio. There is evidence that a 4:1 ratio is required for maximum benefit for cardiovascular disease and less than 2:1 to have any effect on cancer. This is almost impossible to achieve with our diet today (Canadian guidelines are currently 6:1). An excellent book, Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Ratio: The Scientific Evidence, reviews this.5” from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1783729/

            Again, I hope these thoughts prove helpful. Best of luck to you!


    My daughter just turned 12 months. So now we switch to cows dairy whole milk according to AAP guidelines. I’d like to give her a plant based milk instead. Do you recommend almond, or soy? She eats a well balanced diet, but I need a milk with protein, calcium, and fat. Thoughts? Thank you!

    • Thea

      KELLY: The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) has some great info on raising healthy kids. Here is their main families page. Scroll down to the Nutrition section. http://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm I particularly like this article: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.htm and this one: http://www.vrg.org/family/tips_for_young_vegans.php If you aren’t familiar with VRG, they are a very well respected and well researched source of information. I believe that Dr. Greger has also recommended that site before.
      Another source of great information for raising healthy kids is the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) site. http://www.pcrm.org/solr/kids
      To specifically address your question about non-dairy milks, almond or soy should work very well. But if you can help your daughter develop a taste for soy milk, that could be particularly beneficial at this age. NutritionFacts has a video around here somewhere which talks about how eating traditional soy products (traditional = products like soy milk and tofu rather than say fake meats) regularly at an early age is particularly beneficial in preventing breast cancer. (This is not the info I was looking for, but it is all I can find right now and is generally relevant: http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/09/18/can-eating-soy-prevent-breast-cancer/ ) And here is a video which specifically addresses the benefits of soy milk: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-effect-of-soy-on-precocious-puberty/
      If GMOs are a concern for you, just get an organic soy milk. And if calcium is a concern for you, then get one fortified with calcium. NutritionFacts has another video that talks about how calcium from non-diary milks are absorbed by our bodies just as well as calcium from dairy milks – as long as you remember to shake the container. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/calcium-absorption-soy-milk-versus-cow-milk/
      Does this help?

  • Phung Dang

    What should I eat to promote faster hair growth? What should I eat to improve my height without consuming cheese?
    thank you

  • KWW

    At age age 64. taking once a week sublingual 2,500 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin, as I am now doing, appears sufficient.. My question is, should I switch to daily 1000mcg (ug) cyanocobalamin at age 65?

  • oceanfrontcabin

    Dr Greger: I’m currently listening to “How Not to Die.” Why am I listening? because my second embolic stroke has robbed me of a great deal of my eyesight. After the first stroke, in 2010, I had no side effects because the clot ended up in a part of my brain, the function of which, is so far unknown. My thinking said the reason the clot traveled the maze of vessels in my brain without being stopped is because my no-added-fat whole foods plant-based diet allowed my vessels to be clear.
    My vessels are clear, my lipids are 126 CHOL/90 TRIG/68 LDL/40 HDL, my hsCRP is 0.5, HOMO is 7.8. I walk 3-7 miles a day. You make it sound so easy, but I strictly follow the Esselstyn diet and have been low fat plant based since 1999, but I’ve had 3 TIAs that I know of and 2 embolic strokes. Do you have any other suggestions for me? I’m game for anything.
    You are definitely one of my heroes. I’ve appreciated many of your lectures at McDougall Advanced Study Week-ends. I’m very sad to be missing this upcoming one in September.
    Jill Princehouse


      since they are still taking patients, i think it would be in your best interest to make an appointment and a trip to visit either dr esselstyn or mcdougal without delay.

      im kind of in the same boat but need a plant based endocrinologist and probably will travel half the southern states to go to one i’ve decided on, about 950 miles.

  • Louise Comfort

    Please help. So difficult to get through the options. What Brand of Omega 3 long chain should I take? Or if you hesitate to recommend a specific brand, maybe you can just tell me what brand you personally take, and then I can go from there. :)

    • Thanks for your question Louise.

      I do not think any registered health professional will specifically advise you on a certain brand but if you look for them in Amazon for example, there are lots of them:

      See here.

      Just make sure that these are in line with the recommend dose and are from an algae based source to avoid contamination issues (which is quite a problem in Fish Oils).

      Hope this answer helps.

    • Thea

      Louise Comfort: One of our well respected forum participants did some research once and found out that the majority of algae-based omega 3 pills are all made in the same small number of facilities. In other words, it really doesn’t matter what brand you buy. So, get one that is in your price range and has a pill size that you like etc. And of course, as Darchite says, pay attention to the dose so that you are getting the amount that you want.
      One other factor you may want to look out for is whether the pill contains only DHA or DHA and EPA. You can see on this page: http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/ that Dr. Greger recommends getting a pill with both. I’ve seen some commercial brands in the past that only had the DHA.

  • Louise Comfort

    I would like to confirm, the science says Do not take a Calcium Supplement? Just get it from Whole plant sources?

  • Louise Comfort

    Thanks a million.

  • Jackie

    The Diva brand DHA supplement you reference on one of your videos has 200 mg per dose. Makes it tricky to get 250 mg. Any thoughts?

  • Alejandra Parra Cárcamo

    Dear Dr Greger, the 2000IU of vitamin S you recommend are weekly? or daily? Do you recommend any supplement brand? Thanks!

  • Nicole Barrak

    Hello , I m diagnosed with hashimoto. Does boosting my immunity by eating or drinking certain food will make my case worse ? Every doctor I ask try to ignore the question while my problem is an immunity issue. Thank you

  • Daniel A.

    Is there any problem with radium in Brazil nuts?

  • Stella

    Dear Dr. Greger,
    Many thanks for your book “How Not to Die”!
    I started reading it right after it was delivered. In “Supplements” ( page 408) you recommend to buy cyanocobalamin
    type of Vitamin B12. While trying to find the right brand I encountered into many comments glorifying methylcobalamin.
    Do I miss something?
    Thank you in advance,

    • Cody

      Hi Stella, I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. I am glad you are enjoying “How Not to Die”. Methylcobalamin is under-researched, and one study shows that it did not reverse the vitamin B12 deficiency for at least one subject. This leads to concern over whether the methylcobalamin source of B12 is effective for only some people. Therefore, the science today currently suggests that cyanocobalamin is the most reliable source to date.

      • Stella

        Thank you very much. I appreciate such a fast response.

  • Michael

    So does this mean that you need to eat flax AND take omega 3 supplements?

  • Fridolf Pierrot

    Me essential tremor seems to have increased Allot after taking dha &
    epa algea oil supplements. Is their a connection ? is their harmane in alge oil ?

  • Christina Palmer

    Hello! I love your videos and articles and often refer my patients to your site and your book.

    I wanted to ask you about probiotics and if you would add that to this list? If so, do you have a specific recommendation for these?

    Thank you for all your work!
    Christina Palmer

    • Joan_RN-Educator

      Christina-Glad you’re finding NutritionFacts.org helpful. Regarding probiotics, Dr. Greger has several videos about their use. Please check out “http://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-the-common-cold-with-probiotics/” You’ll find several other videos on probiotics listed below this video.

  • ScottTrimble

    I recently got a copy of How Not to Die and was just skimming through it. In the section on Alzheimer’s, you mention arterial plaque as a possible contributor. I recently read another article (or three) asserting that some in the medical field were beginning to conclude that it is related to (caused by?) insulin resistance, and calling it “type 3 diabetes” (and thus, more a result of sugar and refined carbs than about fats). Not that this this would alter your recommendations about how to eat in order to minimize the risk and/or abate the effects, but I was just wondering if you knew of any evidence to support this idea, or if it might have just been junk science aimed at promoting animal-based foods.

    • Thea

      ScottTrimble: You wrote, “…beginning to conclude that it is related to (caused by?) insulin
      resistance, and calling it “type 3 diabetes” (and thus, more a result of
      sugar and refined carbs than about fats).”

      I’m with you right up until you blame insulin resistance on sugar and refined carbs. It turns out, insulin resistance is a problem of fats getting inside the cells. When that happens, the cell gets blocked up, and the insulin can’t do it’s job of getting the glucose into the cell. You will learn more about this phenomenon in How Not To Die, but you can learn more about it right now if you want with this NutritionFacts video: What Causes Diabetes http://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-causes-diabetes/

      Bottom Line: Eating sugar and refined carbs are not healthy, but they are not generally the cause of diabetes/insulin resistance either.

      So, I think this new understanding of Alzheimer’s, both from How Not To Die and from the other sources you are hearing, all goes together rather than being a contradiction or new problem for plant based diets. Make sense?

      • ScottTrimble

        Yes, thanks. I will skip to the diabetes portion of How Not to Die to get the deeper explanation, and I’ll check out that video, too. Thanks again.

  • c_ward

    In a separate post, you provided a recommendation on exactly where and what to buy for a B12 supplement. Could you do the same for your “250 mg daily of pollutant free (yeast- or algae-derived) long-chain omega-3’s (EPA/DHA)” supplement recommendation? I have searched many online stores and am more confused than ever about which one to buy. Many thanks!

    • George

      Can you post here the link to the post saying where to buy B12 supplement from? I couldn’t find it.

  • Vicente Francisco

    Hi there. The vitamin D recomendations (2000 IU in my case) are daily?

    • Joanne B, RD

      Yes, those are Dr. G’s daily recommendations, 2000 IU from Vit D3 (also called cholecalciferol).

      • Vicente Francisco

        Thank you very much!!

  • Berend

    What to do with a baby when the time of breastfeeding is over. Ho much b12 is recommended to give in a supplement.
    I use 500mcg of spray every two days,and the wife uses it every day because she is breastfeeding the little one.
    (our baby is just 13 days old :) )

    • Thea

      Berend: Good for you for thinking ahead! Congratulations on your 13 year old.
      See if you can get your hands on a book that Dr. Greger recommends called Becoming Vegan, Express Edition. The book contains a chapter on specifics for feeding children. And at the back of the book is a chart of specific nutrients (including B12) that humans need at various ages. That should answer not only your B12 question, but any other nutrient questions for infants as well. Good luck.


    • Cody

      Hi Berend, I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Ideally, babies should be exclusively breastfed for about 6 months (perhaps besides vitamin D supplementation). In the next 6 months, soft foods can be slowly introduced. At one year or later, depending on maternal preferences, babies can stop receiving breast milk and continue to be exposed to new foods. During this process, babies should be weaned off of the breast milk. I encourage you to check out the American Academy of Pediatrics for their recommendations and answers to FAQs here: https://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/faqsbreastfeeding.html

      Also, Dr. Greger’s current vitamin B12 recommendation based on the science is to take 2,500 mcg of cyanocobalamin once per week. To see more about vitamin B12, search the NutritionFacts.org website or check out this video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/vitamin-b12-recommendation-change/

  • G.

    The Webpage http://veganhealth.org/articles/everyvegan states that a dosis of 10 mcg a day is sufficient to meet B12 requirements and I have seen some articles stating 25 mcg should be sufficient.

    Is there no consensus in the medical community on this issue or is this info outdated?

    best regards

    • George

      I’d say this page is a reference for dr G supplements recommendation, so I’d say what you find here is the most recent info dr G could find, and in this sense, it is up to date. More on B12 can be found at http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cheapest-source-of-vitamin-b12/ . Regarding daily dose, even the page you referenced, says “recommendations for B12 intakes vary significantly from country to country”. I’m no expert, but it seems there are more opinions, dr G recommends 4-7 mcg/day absorbed B12 (but as you would see in the link I provided above, in order to absorb that quantity, you have to take a supplement containing a much bigger quantity of B12).

  • George

    A whole plant based diet can create some deficiencies, and dr G listed in this article the nutrients we should pay attention to, and if the case, we should take some supplements.

    On the other side, in other videos I saw remarks about how useless, or even dangerous supplements can be, or that the nutrients from supplements may have the opposite effect of eating the same nutrients from food, and the fact that is very difficult for the producers to extract, put into a pill, and save the synergistic action of the nutrients that otherwise are found in natural form in food.

    Isn’t it suspect that the exact nutrients that may be deficient in a whole plant based diet raise no problem for the producers to put them into a pill, and taking that pill doesn’t cause any side effects, or any smaller effects comparing to the natural form of these nutrients?