Do Vitamin C Supplements Prevent Colds but Cause Kidney Stones?

Do Vitamin C Supplements Prevent Colds but Cause Kidney Stones?
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What are the benefits and risks of taking vitamin C supplements?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Mainstream medicine has long had a healthy skepticism of dietary supplements, extending to the present day. “Enough is enough.” But, this commentary in the Archives of Internal Medicine argued we may have gone too far, as evidenced by our “uncritical acceptance” of supposed toxicities; the surprisingly “angry, scornful tone” found in medical texts, with words like “careless, useless,…indefensible, wasteful, [and] insidious,” as well as ignoring evidence of possible benefit.

“To illustrate the uncritical acceptance of bad news” [about supplements], they discuss the well-known concept that “high-dose [vitamin C] can cause kidney stones.” But, just because something is “well known” in medicine doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true. They couldn’t find a single reported case. We’ve known that vitamin C is turned into oxalates in the body, and if the level of oxalates in the urine gets too high, stones can form. But, even at 4,000 mg of vitamin C a day (that’s like a couple gallons of orange juice’s worth), urinary oxalates may not get very high.

But, you know, there may be rare individuals that have increased capacity for this conversion into oxalate, and so, a theoretical risk of kidney stones with high-dose vitamin C supplements was raised in a letter printed in a medical journal back in 1973. Okay, but when it’s talked about in the medical literature, they make it sound like it’s an established phenomenon. Here’s a reference to seven citations, supposedly suggesting an association between excessive vitamin C intake and “the formation of oxalate [kidney] stones.” Let’s look at the cited sources. Okay, there’s the letter about the theoretical risk—that’s legit, but this other citation has nothing to do with either vitamin C or kidney stones, and the other five citations are just references to books, which can sometimes be okay, if the books cite primary research themselves. But, instead, there’s like this circular logic, where the books just cite other books, that like cite that theoretical risk letter again. So, it looks like there’s a lot of evidence, but they’re all just expressing this opinion with no new data.

Now, by that time, there were actually studies that followed populations of people taking vitamin C supplements, and found no increased kidney stone risk among men. Then later, the same thing for women. So, you can understand this author’s frustration that vitamin C supplements appeared to be unfairly villainized.

The irony is that now we know that vitamin C supplements do indeed appear to increase kidney stone risk. This population of men was followed further out, and men taking vitamin C supplements did indeed end up with higher risk—confirmed now in a second study, though also of men. We don’t know if women are similarly at risk, though there’s now also been a case reported of a child also running into problems.

What does doubling of risk mean exactly, in this context? That means those taking like 1,000 milligrams a day may have a 1 in 300 chance of getting a kidney stone every year, instead of a 1 in 600 chance, which is not an insignificant risk—1 in 300. Kidney stones can be really painful; so, they conclude that, look, since there’s no benefits, and some risk, better to stay away.

But, there are benefits. Taking vitamin C just when you get a cold doesn’t seem to help, and regular supplement users don’t seem to get fewer colds. But, when they do get sick, they don’t get as sick, and get better about 10% faster. And, those under extreme physical stress may cut their cold risk in half. So, it’s really up to each individual to balance the potential common cold benefit with the potential kidney stone risk.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Mainstream medicine has long had a healthy skepticism of dietary supplements, extending to the present day. “Enough is enough.” But, this commentary in the Archives of Internal Medicine argued we may have gone too far, as evidenced by our “uncritical acceptance” of supposed toxicities; the surprisingly “angry, scornful tone” found in medical texts, with words like “careless, useless,…indefensible, wasteful, [and] insidious,” as well as ignoring evidence of possible benefit.

“To illustrate the uncritical acceptance of bad news” [about supplements], they discuss the well-known concept that “high-dose [vitamin C] can cause kidney stones.” But, just because something is “well known” in medicine doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true. They couldn’t find a single reported case. We’ve known that vitamin C is turned into oxalates in the body, and if the level of oxalates in the urine gets too high, stones can form. But, even at 4,000 mg of vitamin C a day (that’s like a couple gallons of orange juice’s worth), urinary oxalates may not get very high.

But, you know, there may be rare individuals that have increased capacity for this conversion into oxalate, and so, a theoretical risk of kidney stones with high-dose vitamin C supplements was raised in a letter printed in a medical journal back in 1973. Okay, but when it’s talked about in the medical literature, they make it sound like it’s an established phenomenon. Here’s a reference to seven citations, supposedly suggesting an association between excessive vitamin C intake and “the formation of oxalate [kidney] stones.” Let’s look at the cited sources. Okay, there’s the letter about the theoretical risk—that’s legit, but this other citation has nothing to do with either vitamin C or kidney stones, and the other five citations are just references to books, which can sometimes be okay, if the books cite primary research themselves. But, instead, there’s like this circular logic, where the books just cite other books, that like cite that theoretical risk letter again. So, it looks like there’s a lot of evidence, but they’re all just expressing this opinion with no new data.

Now, by that time, there were actually studies that followed populations of people taking vitamin C supplements, and found no increased kidney stone risk among men. Then later, the same thing for women. So, you can understand this author’s frustration that vitamin C supplements appeared to be unfairly villainized.

The irony is that now we know that vitamin C supplements do indeed appear to increase kidney stone risk. This population of men was followed further out, and men taking vitamin C supplements did indeed end up with higher risk—confirmed now in a second study, though also of men. We don’t know if women are similarly at risk, though there’s now also been a case reported of a child also running into problems.

What does doubling of risk mean exactly, in this context? That means those taking like 1,000 milligrams a day may have a 1 in 300 chance of getting a kidney stone every year, instead of a 1 in 600 chance, which is not an insignificant risk—1 in 300. Kidney stones can be really painful; so, they conclude that, look, since there’s no benefits, and some risk, better to stay away.

But, there are benefits. Taking vitamin C just when you get a cold doesn’t seem to help, and regular supplement users don’t seem to get fewer colds. But, when they do get sick, they don’t get as sick, and get better about 10% faster. And, those under extreme physical stress may cut their cold risk in half. So, it’s really up to each individual to balance the potential common cold benefit with the potential kidney stone risk.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Doctor's Note

Wasn’t that crazy ironic about the kidney stones? What a roller coaster!

What about intravenous vitamin C? I’ve got a whole video series on that:

If you’re not taking vitamin C supplements for pharmacologic effects, and just want to know how many vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables to eat every day, check out my video What is the Optimal Vitamin C intake?

Is there anything we can put in our mouth that really might help prevent colds? See my videos:

What are the most important things you can do to prevent kidney stones? Look no further than my video How to Prevent Kidney Stones with Diet.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

74 responses to “Do Vitamin C Supplements Prevent Colds but Cause Kidney Stones?

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  1. Very interesting! I have two OT questions.

    What’s the best way to alkalize water? The water coming out of my filter is acidic (5.5 or 6) and I need to bring it to 7 or 8 to help my urinary tract. Supplemental calcium gives me skipped heartbeats which though not harmful are annoying and unsettling. I’ve been using baking soda but that increases my sodium intake. I have low blood pressure so does that mean it’s OK to consume a teaspoon or half teaspoon a day of baking soda? Or is there a better way?

    Second, I read where a commenter on this site was saying that dairy was linked with all kind of positive outcomes like diabetes prevention, heart disease prevention, and lowering blood pressure. I found this link that mentioned that as fact: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20141205/dairy_diabetes_risk#1 I know sometimes the dairy industry funds skewed research like comparing people drinking milk to people drinking Pepsi/radioactive waste or something, but seeing WebMD treat these positive outcomes as an established fact has raised doubts in my mind about whether dairy is really as bad for you as I’ve thought. I think I’ve seen most of the anti-dairy videos on NF. How do you sort through all these opposing viewpoints and try to figure out whether or not to include dairy in your diet??




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    1. Andrea: To keep urine alkaline,
      1. minimize animal proteins.
      2. Eat a lot of plant foods, especially vegetables. Here’re some plant foods that increase the urine pH a lot: spinach, raisins, dried figs, ginger, lemons, limes.
      As for making drinking water alkalizing, squeeze a wedge of lemon or lime.
      If you must take a supplement: potassium citrate.




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    2. There is a nutritionfacts video on making alkaline water by adding some baking soda to regular water, and health benefits of the resulting carbonates are mentioned along with a safe dose.




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      1. Thank you so much! Found it easily based on what you said: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/alkaline-water-a-scam/

        I’m so surprised that a question so specific had already been answered in a video :) Great news all around as it seems baking soda probably doesn’t raise blood pressure the way NaCl does anyway. It really does help my symptoms of interstitial cystitis so I’m very happy that it’s safe to add baking soda to drinking water.




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        1. Andrea, I watched a documentary a few months ago by an Irish woman who cured her painful and longstanding interstitial cystitis through medically supervised water-only fasting at TrueNorth Health Center. She waited several years to make the film, and was still well. You can have a free talk with Alan Goldhamer, who started TrueNorth and still runs it, with 30 years of safely supervising patients through water fasting.

          I can’t remember if you are the same woman I mentioned this to a few months ago, and can’t water fast because you’re breast feeding. If so, it would still be worth talking with him to see what else you could do.




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    3. It raises lots of doubts in my mind about who Web MD is beholden to because an awful lot of their info is questionable from personal experience!




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        1. Joe F: We’ve been promised improvements to the forum system when the new NF site is released. I think the new site is going to be coming out relatively soon. (though I don’t know for sure) As frustrating as the current system is, my plan is to try to be patient and see what happens. Let’s re-evaluate after the new site is rolled out. Fair enough?




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            1. Harriet Sugar Miller: I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I can say that I specifically included this point in my very long list of problems with wordpress. Hopefully this is one of the features that can be fixed.




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            2. Harriet Sugar Miller: I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I can say that I specifically included this point in my very long list of problems with wordpress. Hopefully this is one of the features that can be fixed – along with allowing someone to opt out of being followed of course.




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              1. Thea, thanks for helping with the Disqus issue. I contacted Nutrition Facts IT myself, as you once suggested I do with another, unrelated matter, and the staffer explained the effort to move away from Disqus was prompted by a constant deluge of spam. Which we never see, of course, since Nutrition Facts staff diligently removes it.

                When the new site arrives, we will know whether all or most of the issues have been taken care of. Since I have worked both sides of IT management– as administrator and user– I am sympathetic to both. For any staff trying desperately to ready a new site for launch, all the while maintaining normal operations under intermittent drizzle of user complaints, must be especially trying.

                Parenthetically, I am also trying to contact Disqus staff, as well, to see what measures they suggest Disqus sites use against spam. All this, of course, without mentioning Nutrition Facts.




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                1. alphaa0010: Thanks for sharing that information. It’s very interesting, because one of my complaints/frustrations about wordpress is that wordpress invited a 10 fold increase in spam over what we got with disqus–at least as near as I can tell. We have so much more SPAM under wordpress that I can no longer filter SPAM posts in order to catch the good posts which get caught by accident. Also, as near as I can tell, both systems seem to have about the same number of misses in terms of letting SPAM go through. Disqus already has a pretty good SPAM filter in place from what I saw. Maybe staff were manually catching spam before I saw the posts? That’s not what I understood was going on, but maybe I missed something.

                  SPAM issue aside, thanks for your post. Your patience and understanding as we try to work with this new forum system is greatly appreciated. I, too, am maintaining high hopes that the wordpress issues will be worked out. I’m just sitting tight for now.




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    4. Drink juices, especially celery, carrot, wheatgrass, lettuce. Hell, any mix of vegetable and fruit with the lean to vegetables to avoid blood sugar spikes. Eat plenty of high water content fruit and veg and you will not be thirsty. Don’t drink water from the tap. You should not need to. If you want a hot drink , warm a juice or there are all sorts of good herbal/green teas out there.




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      1. Thanks Gillian — I do keep reading that I shouldn’t need to drink much water, but I do get really thirsty. I’m breastfeeding a baby and exercise a lot, maybe that’s why. I don’t own a juicer and green smoothies make me feel dizzy and sick so I’m afraid vegetable juice might as well. I don’t know what’s going on with that but I did read several commenters on the green smoothie videos say the same thing. I wish they didn’t make me feel bad because I feel like I’m eating as many high water-content vegetables as I have time to chew in a day already.




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        1. Hi, Andrea. I am Christine, a NF volunteer moderator. There is a lot of misinformation out there about nutrition. Please do not ignore your thirst. If you are thirsty, then you should drink water. Particularly because you are active and breastfeeding, your fluid needs will be increased. I hope that helps!




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    5. Thanks so much to everyone who replied to my questions! I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner, had a busy day. But I really appreciate people taking the time.

      I guess since dairy is known to trigger type 1, and is involved in causing some cancers (which are worse than diabetes) then I just have to assume that there’s something wrong with these studies, without knowing what.

      Thanks again!




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    6. Here is a study that show butter and cheese associated with doubling the risk for developing diabetes: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2017/02/15/ajcn.116.142034

      After multivariable adjustment, participants in the highest quartile of updated intake of saturated and animal fat had a higher risk of diabetes than the lowest quartile (HR: 2.19; 95% CI: 1.28, 3.73; and P-trend = 0.01 compared with HR: 2.00; 95% CI: 1.29, 3.09; and P-trend < 0.01, respectively).

      Interestingly, they mentioned that full fat yogurt was associated with lower risk. My personal thoughts are that yogurt active culture maybe a factor but animal fats (including those in yogurt) do raise the risk. Similar to a Mediterranean diet where it is better than S.A.D. but still can be improved upon by going to W.F.P.B. diet. just my 2 cents.




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  2. Hi Andrea
    To answer your second question you look at the science. What a commentator states is unimportant unless he/she is backing up the statement with science. You said you have watched the videos on dairy. Now click on the sources linked to each video. Were they good science? If you are unable to distinguish good science from bad science you will then need to determine if you trust Dr. Greger. Does he have credentials required to determine if the science is good or bad?

    So that is how you do it. Good luck.




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    1. Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I definitely do trust and respect Dr. Greger – of course. Who wouldn’t? :) I just felt confused bc I also normally trust webmd.

      Thanks




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      1. The link you posted Andrea has no mention of any scientific study whatsoever that i can see. No links to papers, just a mention of something published once in a journal – once again with no link to it.

        Does that not ring alarm bells to you?

        Michael links every study he mentions so if you want to do further research it is very easy to.

        The other thing about the link you posted is that it keeps saying dairy lowers your risk of T2D but does not mention what it was comparing it to. If they were comparing it to a wholefood vegan diet i’m absolutely certain that it would not. And not one single mention of the risk of developing T1D from dairy. Big alarm bells ringing in my ears just looking at that page, no wonder they didn’t link to the actually studies they mentioned.




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      2. Andrea, If you have any reservations about whether or not dairy is safe, you can watch many videos by T Colin Campbell on Youtube to learn about his extensive research at Cornell over 40 years or so, showing how dairy stimulates cancer growth. That’s enough for me!

        In fact, I had the experience of being treated for breast cancer, only to have it grow back quickly after adding cheese back into my diet. That was seven years ago, and I’m fine now, but I’m avoiding dairy!




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        1. What an interesting and powerful story. I thought I’d mention that we need to remember that cheese is concentrated milk. It takes two gallons of full-fat milk to make one pound of cheese. And given that cows are pregnant (which means lots of estrogenic hormones in their system) when they produce milk and also given that rGBH (bovine growth hormone) is given to the US Dairy cows, . .. how can we wonder if we are going to grow cancer (which we know is uncontrolled growth of cells). Consuming milk, cheese, ice cream, etc (dairy) is consuming growth factors, growth hormones, estrogens, etc. . .. and then we wonder why we’re growing cancer. Thank you for sharing that powerful anecdote.




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          1. Actually, the cheese I was eating was English and I believe they weren’t using the growth hormones that are so freely used here. I don’t know if they were milking pregnant cows or not. The EU seems a bit more humane than the USA when it comes to our food supplies. Poor cows, being treated like machines.




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            1. livewire ,regarding your comment that you don’t know if the cows were being milked while pregnant , I can assure you the cows were milked while in calf , no matter where in the world you find milk cows . Cows normally have a calf every year , the gestation period is 9 months , the cows are then dried up about 2 months before the next calf , although it is not unheard of to milk the cow up until 2 weeks before she has the next calf .
              I like hemp milk myself and I’ve never really tried any of those vegan cheese,s .




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              1. Hemp milk? What are your sources of information on that product? There is a (slowly growing) movement in this country to bring back hemp cultivation, once saluted by the Founding Fathers as almost a patriotic duty of every American. We are not likely to find a better endorsement than that, although I await further information on its nutritional benefit.




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      3. Andrea, I understand and appreciate the confusion about dairy (milk, cheese). The Dairy industry does a masterful job, just like the cigarette companies, of developing marketing strategies that confuse the public – including physicians who receive NO appreciable nutrition education. (my Aunt was a cardiologist – no nutritional training).
        As others have commented, I think you have to decide which sources you trust to make your determination. As a scientist myself, I prefer science-based sources like this one because all of the research is cited for us to view ourselves if we would like. And this site is not selling anything. WebMD doesn’t sell anything either – except advertising space all over their site. WebMD is also a medical-based site which, by virtue of being AMA connected and sponsored, is automatically controlled by Big Pharma. One must absolutely understand that connection to make one’s decision about whose information you trust. Big Pharma provides diabetes drugs to treat diabetes, both type I and II, which we know, now, can be connected to the consumption of dairy. We know that full fat dairy is a huge source of both fattening calories and cholesterol (remember, cheese is full-fat, concentrated milk). I could go on, but you’ve already watched Dr. G.s videos on dairy so you know the arguments.
        Let me just throw this thought into the mix: if one were to just look at the entirety of the situation intuitively i.e., should one consume dairy?, let me suggest that you review in your own mind how many mammals you can name that consume milk of any species after infancy? Think of whales (mammal), giraffe’s, elephants, gorillas, chimps, deer, elk, antelope, dog, cats, lions, tiger, and bears (oh my! :-). Think of hamsters, guinea pigs, marmots, boars, kangaroos, meerkats, sheep, pigs, horses. How many of these mammals do you know of that continue to nurse milk after infancy – of ANY species? How many of these species do you know of that nurse at the breast of other animal species (provided their own species is available)? The answer is none. No mammal needs milk of ANY species after infancy. And what we are finding out, as the science collects, is that consuming milk of other species is not good for us. Milks contain growth factors (ESPECIALLY cows milk which has bovine growth hormone ADDED ADDITIONALLY ) to it. And what is cancer? Cancer is abnormal cellular growth. While I am not charging that all cancers are the result of cows milk in adults, we are clearly seeing that some cancers of the breast and prostate are very much highly linked. There is more information on milk at PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) :
        http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/health-concerns-about-dairy-products
        Let me finish with sharing with you that, at 64 years of age, female, post menopausal, I stopped drinking milk in my teens, and stopped with cheese shortly thereafter. My BMI is normal (21.3), no diabetes, no osteopenia or osteoporosis (yes, I’ve had a bone scan) and taking no drugs for any disease. WFPB eater for 9 years now. Never going back.
        I throw my hat into the ring with Dr. G.




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        1. Yes, that all makes a lot of sense to me. Although it’s depressing to contemplate that link between the pharmaceutical companies, the AMA, and this type of info that appears on WebMD. Thanks for your long comment.




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        2. Hi Rachel,
          I am over 70 years old now and have suffered with mental illness Depression etc ever since a child, There have been times when i have felt better, these where when i had to have tests done for intestinal and sugar issues etc, So i had to fast and also take a substance to clear out anything within me before the tests where done and i felt really great until i began to eat again, The decline in mental and physical well being was within an hour and although i have tried to alter my food intake by having more veg and some fish, i still have butter on my wheat – gluten and milk free bread but i also have cheese which helps slow down the small amount of sugar from jams causing problems, I have tried to do my best to help my gut to work best for me but as yet no real benefit, do you think the cheese and butter could be the real issue here after all these years, I see you say you are a WFPB eater could you explain to me what that means and if this would help me, Thank you Ray. raymondpayne@msn.com




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          1. Raymond Payne: I’m sure Rachel will respond to you if she sees your post. In the meantime, I thought I would offer a bit of information:

            WFPB: This stands for Whole Food Plant Based diet. This is generally the diet that Dr. Greger recommends here on NutritionFacts. There are various ways to learn about this diet. One way is to get Dr. Greger’s book How Not To Die and check out part 2 of the book for a detailed look at the Daily Dozen. You can skip the details and get a free Daily Dozen phone app. Also, the following page gives you a general idea of what would be in the diet and what would not be in the diet: http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/

            NutritionFacts has covered the topic of depression and mood on several pages. I’m hoping that the information on this site will be helpful to you: http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=depression&fwp_content_type=video

            Also, I heard a speaker in 2015, Neil Nedley, who has a facility that helps people with serious depression and other mental health problem. “Neil Nedley, MD, directs the world’s most comprehensive program for depression and anxiety recovery, utilizing nutrition and lifestyle modalities to alleviate these mental illnesses.” One of the main components of the program is to get people on a WFPB diet. Nedley has some books and DVDs if you wanted to learn more without going to his facility. Here is his website: http://nedleyhealthsolutions.com/index.php/about-nhs

            Best of luck to you.




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            1. Hello Thea,

              Thank you for your reply, I did have Dr Greger’s book but i gave it to a dear old saint who was suffering with cancer as i knew her needs where greater than mine, When i did have the book i was not able to have the time to take in what was written before i passed it on so i will look again on Dr Greger’s site as money is a constraint to us all, Thank you again, Ray.




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              1. Raymond Payne: An idea for you: I don’t know what country you are in, but in America, a lot of libraries seem to be carrying Dr. Greger’s book.

                Also, there is a free program on line called the 21 Day Kickstart program. (Dr. Greger also recommends this program.) The 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.
                http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome/
                (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
                At the end of the program, you will have a very good practical knowledge about how to eat healthy.

                Just some ideas for you.




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        3. Thank you for the very informative post. Its only been a year since I headed down a WFPB diet, (triggered at the time by a kidney stone and its symptoms). Its a slow process ridding my family’s diet completely of dairy and but we’ve reduced it down to an occasional bit of goat yoghurt and even less often some goat cheese. I understand the logic and rationale behind not eating dairy as adult humans…or not eating the milk of other species, but I’ve chosen what I’m hoping is the lesser evil with goat diary (until we can remove it completely). Its encouraging to get on here and learn from Dr Greger and the many other members who contribute.




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    2. The commentator is Pete Granger, he has been backing up everything he says with tons of studies and no one has been responding to any of it. I figured there would be people getting misled by it. All the big science guys that might have responded to Granger have left this site because of the change from disque.




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        1. Also, in commenting through WordPress instead of Disqus, commenter’s names have changed. I always used my name before, Rebecca Cody, but now I’m called Livewire, the username I gave when I signed up for the site.




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      1. Yep, I think that’s who I saw referencing studies in favor of dairy. I’ll keep following the comments on vids when I can and hope one of the scientist types gets a chance to refute :)




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  3. I think the solution to this conundrum is simple: make sure you get plenty of vitamin C from whole plant foods and you won’t need to worry about kidney stones or vitamin c deficiency




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  4. I value C ingestion for oral health and take 1g every other day. I too developed kidney aches which never became acute unless I raised to 5g fighting an infection. Solution: I added daily 500mg of magnesium and the kidney issue disappeared. Most digestible is Mg citrate or an amino chelate formulation. Many foods are rich in Mg and a Epsom salt bath results in enough uptake that you can taste it. Remember to hydrate sensibly.




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  5. Since Greger has cast doubt on the safety of taking algae omega 3 supplements insinuating that they may harbor some kind of blue green algae toxin then HE IS OBLIGATED TO TELL US THE BRAND AND HOW MUCH OMEGA 3 ALGAE SUPPLEMENT HE TAKES PERSONALLY.




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    1. John Axsom: I’m not sure if you saw that someone replied to your earlier post on this topic. I’ll repeat in case you didn’t see: The algae based omega 3 supplements come from golden algae, NOT blue-green. So, there is no doubt on the safety of those supplements. They are fine, and you can use whichever brand you prefer.




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      1. I completely support nutritionfacts in their decision to stop supporting disqus due to the comment site’s sudden use of ads. I do miss being able to upvote good comments like this though and being able to track and search comments easier. Here’s to hoping we find a good replacement for disqus even if it’s a tweaked WordPress comments.

        +1, good comment Thea




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        1. Ryan: Thanks so much for the personal feedback!

          Also thanks for the comments about the forum. I went to the disqus site and they say that non-profit sites can opt out of the ads. So, maybe it is just a matter of making sure they understand what kind of site we are? I agree that the ads were a serious problem and that the lack of the upvote is a constant irritant. We have great comments here that I would like to upvote often!




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  6. john axsom, you saw the explanations in the comment section of the last video on this topic http://nutritionfacts.org/2017/02/21/foods-linked-to-als/ that repeatedly that distinguishes clearly between blue green algae, and the golden algae grown in tanks used to produce the vegan omega 3 supplements. Totally different. The golden algae used for omega supplements does not have the potential for toxic risk that blue green algae does. Perhaps reviewing the videos about the topic would be helpful ? http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=blue+green+algae&fwp_content_type=video




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    1. Yes, I understand. But I WANT to know the brand that Dr. Greger uses. Just because you buy something in a health food store does not make it safe. Just because it is brown vegan algae supplements made by BRAND XXX does not necessarily make it safe. I want to take the brand that Dr. Greger takes. That’s all. I figure he is going to be 100 percent sure of what he takes is not going to hurt him. So, again, what brand does Dr. Greger take?




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  7. I am sensitive to commercially made Vit C. or ascorbic acid in food. It is because it is not the whole molecule of Vit C. I have not taken Vit C for years and I never get a cold. I do it lots of fruit and veg, though (and a bit of meat.)




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    1. What are your symptoms of vit. C sensitivity?
      In my case it’s pain and joint inflammation. I’d say arthritis but that seems so weird – vit. C should cure arthritis, not cause it.
      Also foods high in vit. C showed a similar action – at least so it seemed but in case of vegetables like peppers it is also possible that spicy taste is the culprit (not the vit. C per se).
      And so recently I’ve found that I have gastritis (tissue samples were taken and the results prove that it indeed is gastritis).
      After nearly a month of treatment with supplements (which I chose correctly by accident and quite miraculously at the same time) I am getting better and I can eat a few foods that were previously out of the question.




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  8. I couldn’t find a relevant video on this question: Is there any known adverse effects to eating crickets (or other insects)? As crickets are high in vitamin B12, and humans likely had bugs in the “ancestral diet,” I’m wondering if there has been any significant research done showing harm or help from eating crickets/cricket flour. Also, switching to vegan soon (thank you for your nutrition videos–very compelling)- how much B12 should a vegan woman supplement with a day?




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  9. I am one of those people who had multiple bouts of kidney stones before I made the connection with isolated C supplements. Another issue I have, which apparently others have also, is when I take D3 I get really uncomfortable pains in the area of my kidneys the following day, which freaked me out because it felt similar to the beginning of a stone passing. I didn’t make the connection right away with the pills, but when I did I stopped them, and felt better. I had to know if it was a fluke, so some time later I tried again, and same result. Thinking maybe it was just the past experience with the vitamin C that might have had that mental/somatic link, I had to google it to see if anyone else ever had an issue and there were plenty, but most were told it was a coincidence, which strikes me as hollow because the symptoms were very specific and the association was clear. I can’t seem to find an explanation, but l would love to know the connection?




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  10. What about calcium supplements and salivary duct stones? I have had problems with salivary duct blockage due to stones and a couple of infections resulting.

    I was taking calcium supplements because my doctor felt it was important for a post menopause woman to help protect bones. I decided to stop taking the supplements to see if there was any change in the incidence of stone formation.

    Since stopping the supplements I have not had another problem with swelling or infection. I can’t find any information to back up my belief that the calcium supplements were contributing in the stone formation. I do have a low bone density according to a scan taken, so I am concerned about possibly making it worse by not taking calcium supplements. However, I don’t want to go through another episode of salivary duct stones.




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    1. Faith Eldridge: I’m not an expert, but I have a few suggestions for you. I recommend reading a book called Building Bone Vitality https://www.amazon.com/Building-Bone-Vitality-Revolutionary-Osteoporosis-Without/dp/0071600191/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488290594&sr=8-1&keywords=building+bone+vitality . That book will help put the issue of calcium into perspective. You may decide you don’t need the supplements?

      Of course, you need enough calcium in your food. Dr. Greger recommends 600 (I forgot the units) per day. That can be achieved through eating the right kinds of foods. Two suggestions for making sure you get that 600 is: 1) use the free website cronometer.com to plug in your foods and then learn how much calcium is in it. You can then figure out how to tweak your daily diet. 2) get a reference book called Becoming Vegan, Express Edition (authors of whom have been guest bloggers here on NutritionFacts) which has a section on calcium and sample meal plans.

      My third recommendation is to find a talk about bone health from Dr. Klaper. I don’t have a link handy, but the suggestions in the talk are extremely helpful, including how to get the right kind of exercise. Note that none of my ideas involves taking a supplement. :-)




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    2. You need to find further sources of information? Too much calcium is a no-no. Magnesium is more important. Vit K keeps the calcium in your bones. Strontium should help. Avoid Big Pharma’s crap. Do something now…while you have a chance to avoid the typical loss in height. My 93 yr old mother has become a hobbit…of course she raised 6 kids.




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      1. Thanks Fred. I am going to continue to research and follow through. I think that 93 is a wonderful accomplishment, even if there is some loss of height. My best to your mom.




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  11. Hello this is a bit off topic but… I’ve been using your daily dozen app for a few months. I wonder if you could update/develop the app so that people can add extra fields to it – such as meditation or green tea or garlic or nutritional yeast or vinegar or whatever it might be that they want to add to their day to day regiment. I love the app but wish I could add things to it. Thanks!




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    1. Which videos and what browser and OS are you using?

      Do you have scripts blocked?

      Works for me, always has. I use Mozilla/Linux and lots of add-ons to limit the extra strings attached by most sites.




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  12. I have been taking 30 grams of vitamin-c supplements for 30 years. Not only do I not have any problems with kidney stones, and/or urination. But I never get sick and I am 75 years old. My physician tell me my blood work is like a man more than 20 years my junior ! I should also tell the reader, I work out had, in a gym 7 days per week, for a full hour, and I eat 2-3 pounds of raw fruits and vegetables per day. Of course I do not smoke, drink hard liquor, and only eat red meat maybe once every 3-4 months.




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  13. Hi – Love the videos – I watch them most days! I have been vegan for 12 months – feeling awesome.
    Just wondering when Dr Greger, or for that mater anyone making a recommendation for RDA of an essential nutrient,
    for example 2000IU of Vitamin D per day, should there not be a sliding scale for the amount required by a given individual relative to their body weight?
    Some people weigh 40kg, some weigh 3 times that – does not logic dictate that perhaps the lighter person would needs one third of the amount?
    I have seen recommendations quoted as an amount of whatever nutrient per kg or pound of body weight.

    Kind Regards




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