Vitamin Supplements Worth Taking

Vitamin Supplements Worth Taking
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There are two vitamins not produced by plants that may require supplementation.

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In terms of longevity, there’s one last supplement to consider: Vitamin D. Who votes shorter life? Who votes the same life expectancy? Longer life? Vitamin D seems to be the only supplement that can actually make us live longer.

Before we start the next round, I want to note the two vitamins that we can’t get enough of from a healthy diet, and vitamin D is one of them. Vitamin D is made mostly by animals, such as yourself—when you’re exposed to sunlight.

The tiny amounts added to cow’s milk or soy milk isn’t enough for optimal health. There are only two ways to truly get enough—sun or supplements, and it depends where you live.

Basically, no matter how long you sunbathe nude in December and January—in our nation’s capitol, for example—the sun’s rays are at such an angle that we don’t make any vitamin D. So, the latest science supports supplemental D during the winter if you’re above LA/Dallas/Atlanta—or, for anyone, anywhere, any time not getting enough sun.

All right, it’s time for a lightning round question. Before I give you the question, I’ll give you the answer. Anyone?

Okay, the question is: what is the only other vitamin not made by plants? Vitamin B12. It’s not made by animals either, though. It’s made by little microbes, bacteria that blanket the earth. These bacteria grow in the guts of some of the animals people eat, and so their bodies can be sources of B12 for those eating animals.

We likely used to get all the B12 we needed drinking out of mountain streams or well water, but now we chlorinate our water supply to kill off any bacteria. So, we don’t get a lot of B12 in our water anymore; we don’t get a lot of cholera either! So, that’s a good thing.

But in our sanitized modern world, studies continue to show that those eating plant-based diets are simply not getting enough vitamin B12. Is this really a problem? Let me review the medical literature on B12 deficiency just over the last year. 

Keep in mind that it’s so easy to get B12, from either B12-fortified foods or supplements. But like everything else, you actually have to do it.

This young vegetarian woman’s toes turned purple. You can develop a polymorphic maculopapular lesion.

Her vitamin B12 deficiency cause her nails to turn black, and her hair to turn white.  She was given some B12 and you can see where her hair started to grow back normally. B12 also evidently makes you put on lipstick?

But you can suffer cognitive decline, or become suicidally depressed because of B12 deficiency, as this 23-year-old lifelong vegetarian did.

This 38-year-old vegan was misdiagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, and institutionalized because of the hallucinations and psychotic delusions triggered by his B12 deficiency.

As bad as all these examples are, though, these folks were just hurting themselves.

But not taking vitamin B12 during pregnancy is inexcusable. It can cause infantile seizures, for example.

Vegan babies should be a lot of things, but floppy is not one of them. It is these negligent vegans that led this year to an official pronouncement from the European Society for Pediatric Nutrition: “Infants and young children should not be fed a vegan diet,” they wrote. Now, what they should have said is, make sure vegan kids get their B12. I mean Dr. Spock even told us to raise our kids with no meat, no dairy.

And the B12 recommendation probably goes for everyone, not just those eating plant-based diets. New studies on the bioavailability of B12 suggest that animal products are not great sources after all. Less than 4% of the B12 in scrambled eggs, for example, is actually absorbed, according to these new studies.

In fact, in modern society, only those eating fortified foods, like breakfast cereal or supplements, seem to getting enough for optimum health. So, there’s been a renewed call for all grain products in the U.S. to be fortified with B12, like they already do in Israel—which could mean that by law, all bread, all pasta, would have to be enriched with B12, and then, hopefully, we’d never have to hear cases like this again.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

In terms of longevity, there’s one last supplement to consider: Vitamin D. Who votes shorter life? Who votes the same life expectancy? Longer life? Vitamin D seems to be the only supplement that can actually make us live longer.

Before we start the next round, I want to note the two vitamins that we can’t get enough of from a healthy diet, and vitamin D is one of them. Vitamin D is made mostly by animals, such as yourself—when you’re exposed to sunlight.

The tiny amounts added to cow’s milk or soy milk isn’t enough for optimal health. There are only two ways to truly get enough—sun or supplements, and it depends where you live.

Basically, no matter how long you sunbathe nude in December and January—in our nation’s capitol, for example—the sun’s rays are at such an angle that we don’t make any vitamin D. So, the latest science supports supplemental D during the winter if you’re above LA/Dallas/Atlanta—or, for anyone, anywhere, any time not getting enough sun.

All right, it’s time for a lightning round question. Before I give you the question, I’ll give you the answer. Anyone?

Okay, the question is: what is the only other vitamin not made by plants? Vitamin B12. It’s not made by animals either, though. It’s made by little microbes, bacteria that blanket the earth. These bacteria grow in the guts of some of the animals people eat, and so their bodies can be sources of B12 for those eating animals.

We likely used to get all the B12 we needed drinking out of mountain streams or well water, but now we chlorinate our water supply to kill off any bacteria. So, we don’t get a lot of B12 in our water anymore; we don’t get a lot of cholera either! So, that’s a good thing.

But in our sanitized modern world, studies continue to show that those eating plant-based diets are simply not getting enough vitamin B12. Is this really a problem? Let me review the medical literature on B12 deficiency just over the last year. 

Keep in mind that it’s so easy to get B12, from either B12-fortified foods or supplements. But like everything else, you actually have to do it.

This young vegetarian woman’s toes turned purple. You can develop a polymorphic maculopapular lesion.

Her vitamin B12 deficiency cause her nails to turn black, and her hair to turn white.  She was given some B12 and you can see where her hair started to grow back normally. B12 also evidently makes you put on lipstick?

But you can suffer cognitive decline, or become suicidally depressed because of B12 deficiency, as this 23-year-old lifelong vegetarian did.

This 38-year-old vegan was misdiagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, and institutionalized because of the hallucinations and psychotic delusions triggered by his B12 deficiency.

As bad as all these examples are, though, these folks were just hurting themselves.

But not taking vitamin B12 during pregnancy is inexcusable. It can cause infantile seizures, for example.

Vegan babies should be a lot of things, but floppy is not one of them. It is these negligent vegans that led this year to an official pronouncement from the European Society for Pediatric Nutrition: “Infants and young children should not be fed a vegan diet,” they wrote. Now, what they should have said is, make sure vegan kids get their B12. I mean Dr. Spock even told us to raise our kids with no meat, no dairy.

And the B12 recommendation probably goes for everyone, not just those eating plant-based diets. New studies on the bioavailability of B12 suggest that animal products are not great sources after all. Less than 4% of the B12 in scrambled eggs, for example, is actually absorbed, according to these new studies.

In fact, in modern society, only those eating fortified foods, like breakfast cereal or supplements, seem to getting enough for optimum health. So, there’s been a renewed call for all grain products in the U.S. to be fortified with B12, like they already do in Israel—which could mean that by law, all bread, all pasta, would have to be enriched with B12, and then, hopefully, we’d never have to hear cases like this again.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

121 responses to “Vitamin Supplements Worth Taking

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  1. What about Vitamin A? I quote:

    “Researchers at Newcastle University in England, led by Dr. Georg Lietz, found 47 percent of volunteer group of 62 women carried a genetic variation that prevented their bodies from effectively converting beta-carotene into vitamin A.”

    If this is the case, it implies nearly half of vegan women do not have the enzymes that convert carotenes to vitamin A – should we be concerned? Do some people simply require this vitamin preformed (or by supplement)?

    1. I assume you’re talking about this study? That was over ten years ago. According to a review published last year, “Methods to assess the bioavailability and bioconversion of provitamin A carotenoids have advanced significantly in the past 10 y….” Though the conversion is not as efficient as we used to think, there is no need to consume preformed vitamin A according to the Institute of Medicine. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to beta-carotene containing foods! That’s one of the reasons I recommend we eat dark green leafy vegetables every day.

  2. Hi Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for creating this site. It is very much appreciated.

    I noticed the bottle of Vitamin D in this video was Vitamin D2. I have read that D3 is the better source for us(colecalciferol). Can you please clarify?

    Many thanks,

    1. Such a good question. Taken daily in doses under 2000IU, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) appear bioequivalent (meaning they both work just as well in your body). However if your physician suggests you take large intermittent doses (such as 50,000IU weekly, then D3 is probably superior).

      1. My understanding is that currently vitamin D2 is the only FDA approved version available by prescription in the 50,000IU doses. I was diagnosed as being deficient in vitamin D and have been taking this form for awhile. Now I take one every two weeks, except when I harvest D from the sun. I don’t know if you can get this amount in non-prescription versions. I am successfully maintaining my D levels using D2, and because I’m a wfpg vegan I am happy to have a non-animal source.

    1. Hello Dan!
      I have studied nutrition extensively and can answer your question.
      Firstly, a variety of plant foods have significant sources of b6 and therefore is unnecessary to supplement.
      Regarding b12, you can find rather high doses in supplements, some containing %5,000 to %16,000 of your daily value. Its of no concern though to worry about getting too much. If you take one of these supplements once a week it will suffice since what you cant use is simply peed out. Also note that vitamin b12 is used every day in extremely low amounts so once a week will replenish your supply.
      Regarding vitamin d, you should take 2,000 – 4,000 IUs of Vitamin D2 or D3. I take a deva 2,400 IU vitamin d2 supplement. In experiments, these two types of vitamin d proved to be nearly equivalent so do not concern yourself with what type of vitamin d as long as you get it. Just note that vitamin d2 is vegan but there is a new vitamin d3 derived from mushrooms that is also vegan.

    1. There are some vegan-friendly foods that are fortified with Vitamin D such as breakfast cereals and soy milk. Make sure to check the nutrition facts on the food label. But remember if you live in an area where you may not be getting enough sunlight, or if you don’t get enough sun exposure, fortified foods may not be an adequate source of vitamin D. As the video mentions supplementing with vitamin D might be a good idea. You might also be interested in this video, http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/vitamin-d-pills-vs-tanning-beds/, comparing two Vitamin D sources. More information is also available on NutritionFacts.org regarding vitamin supplemention which you may want to check out (since not all vitamin supplements are beneficial) such as this short one http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/are-vitamin-c-pills-good-for-you/ ,which mentions vitamin D along with E, A and C. Hope this helps. Good luck!

    1. After being absorbed in the small intestine & circulated by the blood, Vitamin B12 is stored throughout the tissue of animals – including the liver. Luckily as we have seen by this video, we don’t need to depend on animal products for our Vitamin B12!

    2. Liver has higher concentration of vitamin B12 than other organs. This is also the case about vitamin D, A and E, up to that point that eating liver of certain animals can be toxic or even lethal (e.g., seal, polar bear).

    1. You can get too much vitamin D; since it is a fat soluble vitamin it can accumulate in the body to toxic levels. If you take significantly more than the RDA (which most agree is too low at 400 IUs daily) it may be wise to get your blood levels checked after supplementing for a few months. At doses more than 10,000 IUs daily there may be an increased risk of kidney stones. In the Nutrition Facts video 4,000 IUs daily in winter is mentioned; I think the chance of toxicity is unlikely at this dose. There are anecdotal reports of vitamin D supplementation preventing or reducing colds in winter. I know of two randomized studies that did NOT show vitamin D reducing upper respiratory infections ( Epidemiol Infect. 2009;137(10):1396 and J Infec Dis. 2010;202(5)809 ).

      1. I would look into that some more, what exactly constitutes a toxic dose of vitamin D has yet to be
        determined. Though it is possible this amount may vary with the
        individual. In fact latest studies show the toxic levels to be actually much higher.Published cases of toxicity involve intake of ≥ 40000 IU (1000 mcg) per day. In two cases an intake of over 2,000,000 IU per day. This over-dramatization of the toxic effects of vitamin D can only do harm scaring people away.

      2. Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D. says in his book, The Vitamin D Solution, that while we can get sunburned from too much exposure to the sun, we cannot get too much vitamin D from the sun.

  3. It was recommended to get cyanocobalamin but those are supplemented with folic acid which we shouldn’t be taking. I like taking it daily so I’m looking for 250 mcg. Is there a brand of B-12 that anyone likes?

  4. What foods/protocol can reverse gray hair (or revert gray hair to original color); what foods/protocol can revert hair thinning/balding? ( I saw 4:13 in this video, and was curious if there are other suggestions).

  5. Hi Dr. Greger,

    I just watched your newest video and it was fantastic as usual. The segment about the adult requirement of 2000 units/day for Vitamin D was interesting and helpful. Can you please tell me what a child’s requirement is likely to be? We have a three year old.

    Thank you,

    Stacia Mesleh

    1. I’m so glad you’re finding the videos useful. The official (Institute of Medicine) recommendation for those over 1 year of age is 600 IU a day of vitamin D. In two weeks I’m going to be rolling out a series of vitamin D videos from my volume 6 DVD–stay tuned! (if you can’t wait, I have a special holiday sale on my Latest in Nutrition DVDs–all proceeds to charity, of course).

    1. not all mushroom are high in vitamin d. The ones sold commercially that have been “UV’ed” typically have 200 iu’s per serving (from what ive seen from white button mushrooms to contain). Dr. Greger recommends 2,000 IU’s per day, so you would need to consume a lot of mushrooms, which isn’t a bad thing. But take note that you should always eat your mushroom cooked to avoid the toxic substance Agaritine.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/resolving-the-vitamin-d-bate/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/toxins-in-raw-mushrooms/

  6. Does suntanning und a suntan bench promote the body’s production of D2? (1-2 times suntanning, approx. 5-10 mins per go)

  7. Hi Dr. Greger, 
    I really enjoy your videos and have learned so much. As a result I am following a vegan diet. I eat beans, tofu, and vegetables regularly, but my soy milk doesn’t say if it is fortified or not. I am trying to figure out all the vitamins like D and B12 that I may need to supplement with but find it confusing and hard to bring everything together. From what I read it seems iron and zinc supplements are necessary too. Should I talked a multivitamin that has all of these, or get separate supplements, and what brand?

    Thanks for your assistance,
    Karen

  8. Hello Dr, Thanks for the Video. I live in SF Bay Area and I am a native from India so should I take 4000 IU of Vitamin D2 or more?

    Also for B12 There are some articles about Methylcobalamin being better but than cyanocobalamin
    http://www.naturalnews.com/032766_cyanocobalamin_vitamin_B-12.html

    Can you please recommend? Also if you think cyanocobalamin is bad can you please update your site to have B12 recommendations for Methylcobalamin just for the benefit of community.

  9. Fortified foods like cereal and almond milk use unmethylated forms of b-12 which contributes to b-12 deficiency in folks like me with an mthfr defect. It is supposed that 40% of the population has this defect, so fortifying cannot be the answer for us.

  10. Upside down mushrooms soak up Vitamin D too! :-) So if you do this then you will also get lots of vitamin D too! :-)

    1. You really think turning bacteria upside down makes them produce vitamin D?

      I think a few biology classes on your part are in order here.

      1. Arjan: Mushrooms are a fungus. And yes, turning them upside down helps them to make the vitamin D. Check out the following link and notice the paragraph that I highlight below.

        http://www.fungi.com/blog/items/place-mushrooms-in-sunlight-to-get-your-vitamin-d.html
        “Here is a simple experiment we did one summer afternoon in Kamilche Point, Washington. We compared several forms of organically grown shiitake mushrooms, which had starting level of 100 IU/100 grams. We compared the vitamin D levels of three sets of mushrooms, all from the same crop. The first was grown and dried indoors. The second set was dried outdoors in the sunlight with their gills facing down. The third set of mushrooms was dried outdoors in the sunlight with their gills facing upwards for full sun exposure. The most vitamin D was found in shiitake dried with gills up that were exposed to sunlight for two days, six hours per day. The vitamin D levels in these mushrooms soared from 100 IU/100 grams to nearly 46,000 IU/100 grams (see chart). Their stems, though, produced very little vitamin D, only about 900 IU. Notably, vitamin D levels dropped on the third day, probably due to over-exposure to UV.”

        Hope that helps.

        1. Very thorough answer, thank you for taking the effort of writing it. Informative.

          This explanation actually makes a lot of sense thrue the action of exposing a vastly larger surface area to uv radiation.

          This is off course something else completely to just simply turning mushrooms on their hoods and expect vitamin D to appear as if by magic. What I took from reading the OP.

          But tnx Thea, good stuff!!

  11. What about DHA? Since DHA only comes from fish (and some sea vegetables) shouldn’t we vegans be concerned with getting enough? Another thing is that I think I’m not getting enough calcium, what sources do you recommend for those? I’ve been taking a supplement for that as well and would like to cut down on those supplements.

  12. Sounds like a well researched video. Glad to see the (verily unregulated) multivitamin craze (funded by big pharma) isn’t being embraced by sensible Vism. As a new vegetarian mindfully moving toward veganism, i still eat vegetarian dairy products and local, “free range” eggs, so I don’t think I need to be concerned about B12 supplements yet. I’m due for a physical soon…are there tests I can request to confirm I have ample, complete nutrition?

    1. I supplement for vitamin B-12 because I do not want to increase my blood cholesterol by regularly adding animal proteins to my diet. That is part of the reason I eat vegan. The other reason is that eating animal protein increases pain and inflammation in my body, which is even more noticeable since fracturing my lumbar spine.

  13. Dr. Greger, the video does not tell me what would be a safe daily dosage of Vitamin B12. I recently heard a radio show which suggested to me that I might be taking too much (1000mcg). Would appreciate clarity on this important matter.

  14. I would rather eat savoury nutritional yeast (tastes good) as a whole food rather than a supplement and the brand I have is lotus and one teaspoon is 500% of your daily b12 plus heaps of other b group nutrients as well.

    1. I give my kitten nutritional yeast to coat her certified organic kibble every day as a way to reduce fleas. She loves it and has zero fleas.

      The container I use is 10 years old and has spent most of its life in the freezer. Does anyone know if Kal brand is genetically engineered to resist Roundup?

    2. But you don’t mean to suggest that nutritional yeast naturally contains B12, right? It only contains what is added to it, since nutritional yeast otherwise contains none.

  15. Hello Dr. Michael Greger! Are the B12 supplementation and B12 fortified foods really the only safe vegan ways to get that vitamin? Isn’t yeast a good source of B12? Much people who thinks they are omnivore says the only way to get it is by eating animals… some admits we can take it by fortified foods (sometimes forgetting about supplementation too but, anyway…) and a few people talks about yeast, spirulina…
    Well, my doubt is: if yeast is a good (and natural) source of B12, since they and bacteria are the only ones who truly produce it, it is our natural way to get B12, isn’t? It makes me confused because supplementation and fortified foods actually are not natural sources, if we look closer, up because:
    1) Men has to produce it (it isn’t naturally present in nature);
    2) Their production is not sustainable because of the plastic/glass bottles and all the artificial things used to its production and transport, so it has an impact in nature (significant or not) ;
    3) The reason of the cheap production of cyanocobalamin is its (little) content of cyanide.
    I am on the 10th grade, and, my school’s biology manual says yeast are present in places rich in sugars and on the peels of juicy fruits such as red grapes, what lets me pre-conclude that eating those fruits is the natural way to us to get B12.
    Can clarify my doubt?

  16. thank you for all your info!! my question is, if i cant find b12 in pill form but i have found it injectable,- bottles of 1000mg,is that ok?¿ thank you

  17. Are there any other supplements that you recommend for vegans or any lab tests that should be done to check for deficiencies ? In the past (in your video about a 40 year old vegan dying from a heart attack), you also recommended DHA for pregnant breastfeeding women and recommendations for vegans including calcium, iodine, iron, selenium, zinc, and omega 3s (from flax seeds). The flax seed supplementation seems rather easy, but the other minerals may be more difficult to regulate. What do you think of the over the counter vegan vitamin supplements such as “Deva”?

  18. Supplementing all bread (in Australia, don’t know about the US) with folate dramatically reduced incidence of birth defects in children. I think mandatory grain supplementation with B12 would be a good idea considering that it is getting harder and harder for anyone on any diet to meet their requirements.

  19. Loving all your videos. This one came just in time for me, as I’ve recently been diagnosed as D deficient (21.5 on my blood work, with a bare minimum of 25 recommended, and 50 even better). I’m a no-oil vegan and already take B12. Recently I read that we should always take D3 with K2. Leafy greens aren’t enough, as the K1 in them doesn’t easily convert to K2 in the body. I have found a supplement that provides d3, k2, calcium and magnesium. But the calcium makes me nervous, given recent studies. Any ideas?

  20. Please give me a tremendous help!

    I have 60 years and I need to try to have a reasonable life.

    My question is about supplements that I take, everyday:

    – Astaxanthin 5mg,

    – Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) 100mg

    – Gingko Biloba – standardized extract (24mg Gingkoflavona glycosides and terpenes lactones 6mg), and

    – Coenzyme Q10 100mg.

    Is correct consuming these supplements? Or am I just spoiling the money and health?

    I also use other substances which are foods, not supplements, like Tumeric Curcumin, currently in capsule, 50mg (95% curcuminoids), but I will go to consume it in biological powder.

    I am thinking consume Peruvian Maca powder, bio, because, also, I suffer from erectile dysfunction after I get widowed, in August 2013.

    I appreciate with all my heart your possible help.

    I have published your work on social networks and will continue to do so, with all my enthusiasm.

    My thanks for the good you do to all people who have a little common sense in his head.

    Thank you so much.

  21. I have 60 years and I need to try to have a reasonable life.

    My question is about supplements that I take, everyday:

    – Astaxanthin 5mg,

    – Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) 100mg

    – Gingko Biloba – standardized extract (24mg Gingkoflavona glycosides and terpenes lactones 6mg), and

    – Coenzyme Q10 100mg.

    Is correct consuming these supplements? Or am I just spoiling the money and health?

    I also use other substances which are foods, not supplements, like Tumeric Curcumin, currently in capsule, 50mg (95% curcuminoids), but I will go to consume it in biological powder.

    I am thinking consume Peruvian Maca powder, bio.

    I appreciate with all my heart your possible help.

    I have published your work on social networks and will continue to do so, with all my enthusiasm.

    My thanks for the good you do to all people who have a little common sense in his head.

    Thank you so much.

  22. Hi Dr. Greger,

    I am eating a whole-foods plant-based diet but am unsure whether it is balanced and sufficient enough to get all nutrients and vitamins. Would you recommend taking a multivitamin? Also, would you recommend taking a prenatal vitamin before and during pregnancy? If not, what supplements do you recommend during pregnancy and how much of each? Would you recommend the same while breastfeeding?

    I have been looking everywhere for an answer but cannot find a satisfying one that answers all aspects. Since your videos are always spot on, I thought you would be the one to ask.

    Thank you so much!

  23. Dr. Greger, My thumb nail grows with a split and the corners of my mouth are raw. Am I deficient in B12, D or what? Thank you for your wonderful videos and articles and hopefully the answer to my lack.

  24. So other than B12 and Vitamin D all other vitamins are useless does this include Co enzyme Q!0? With depleted soils and chemicals how can we get the nutrition needed as organic is not always avaiable?

    1. I would say we need clinical data on them and even then I am not sure “whole-food” supplements can trump real, whole, plant foods. Just my take. Thanks for asking, Jordan.

  25. Can my well water be lab or otherwise tested for B12? In this part of the country, a large part of the rural population drinks from their own wells. We also often drink from springs-I know where all the good springs are for my extended rides.

  26. Lynn Perkins

    Apr 15, 10:35 AM

    Since I’ve been eating the plant-based, whole food, Forks Over Knives way, I believe my hair has gotten curlier! It has always been thick and healthy but has now developed a lot more curl. I’m 67 years old and don’t know what changes may be natural with age and what may be nutrition related. More natural curl?

    1. Healthy diet with the right amount of protein and minerals have been known to promote skin, hair and nail growth so you may be onto something!

  27. I’m wondering if there is a specific food or vitamins that help nails. I’m 67 and female. The past two years my nails have become a mess. They break easily and have changed in appearance. They have long lines.

    1. Dr. Greger has a page on skin health. Typical nutrients that aid nail growth are protein, B vitamins, and other minerals. I do not think supplements are needed, but a healthful diet chalk-full of fiber, adequate protein, and vitamins/minerals is suggested. I can add a list of foods high in these nutrients if that is helpful? Thanks for your post, Evelyn.

  28. Hi Everyone, I would much appreciate your help with a hair loss issue. Young woman in 20’s, at least half of my hair fell out and keeps falling out since going vegan several years ago; it’s so much thinner, dull, crazy split ends and breaks easily; my nails became brittle and have ridges. No weight loss, actually some weight gain, regularly active, supplement with D3, B12, and Iodine. I’ve been coming across a lot of testimonials of people losing hair after going vegan and regaining hair health after including meat again. I’m worried. I don’t want to start eating animals, but I’m at a loss how I can help it. Appreciate your suggestions, thank you!

  29. In your book, you are against most supplements such as Vitamin C, because they do not contain the other substances that your body needs to process Vitamin C. However, you advocate for B12; what makes B12 different?

    1. Steven: That’s a *great* question. B12 comes from bacteria that lives in the lower intestine of mammals (thus is highly present in feces). Those particular bacteria are so far down the track that our bodies do not absorb it. In addition to feces, B12 can also be found in dirty water (where we could also get cholera) or dirty vegetables (where if not washed, one could get food poisoning such as salmonella). In short, B12 is a problem for modern humans because we live in an unnatural world (also known as: sterile/clean). B12 is essential and if we aren’t going to get it from unsafe sources in our diet, we have to get it from a safe pill. That is a brief summary. To learn more, check out these NutritionFacts pages and let me know if this helps:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/08/25/vegan-b12-deficiency-putting-it-into-perspective/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/12/18/the-vitamin-everyone-on-a-plant-based-diet-needs/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/b12/

  30. I am thinking about taking ginkgo biloba to help with tinnitus. Though I am not aware of any scientific studies that support its use. A number of people report improvement in their condition after taking ginkgo biloba for 8 weeks. Do you know anything about this or can you suggest diet changes other than lose weight and stop consuming caffeine that might help. Thanks

  31. Love you, Dr. Greger, and I watch all your vids. Very factual. But… I just realized who you remind me of when you speak- Steve Guttenberg from the movies. Hey, it worked for him too! Thanks.

  32. What are you guys thoughts on Andrew Sauls research and results with high dosage of vitamin supplements like Niacin, E and C?

  33. What about some studies that seem to prove that integration might not be effective, because vitamines should not be separated by the original compounds (I recall some statements about fat, for instance). Thank you.

    1. BB2: Dr. Greger has another series on vitamin D coming up in about 5 videos. And it looks to be a nice long series with 5 or 6 videos judging by the titles. Maybe your question will be answered soon I the daily videos.

    1. Thanks for your question Andrea.

      Glad to hear you are making the right choice but I think this transaction should be done with all the appropriate support for a successful journey. Hence, I’d really recommend you read the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine “Vegetarian Starter Kit“. There is a specific chapter for children, please find all the information on the document as it’s very well presented too.

      Hope this answer helps.

    2. Andrea: I think you already got one reply to your post. I can’t remember what it said, but I wanted to share one of my favorite sources for information about feeding vegan children. The Vegetarian Resource Group is highly respected and researched and has even been spoken of highly by Dr. Greger. They have a whole section on vegan kids:
      http://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm
      .
      The article I recommend starting with is:
      http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php
      .
      Have fun!

  34. If you’re vegan for health reasons rather than ethical reasons, then couldn’t we just eat meat say once a year, to supplement these two vitamins?

    1. Caroline, that is not vegan. Veganism is not a diet, it is a way of living justly and compassionately. That would not be a vegan diet, that would be a mostly plant based diet. And did you not watch the video? Eating meat even everyday may not have very good bioavailability of B12 let alone enough for your body to store for a year, that’s just ridiculous. If you even tried to eat enough animal flesh to supply your year’s B12 needs, you’d keel over because your heart would stop. Finally, the only reason the animals you eat have B12 within their flesh in the first place is because THEY are given supplements. Most animals do not graze but are fed grains (GMO grains at that). If all the animals who are force bred by humans for “food” grazed, the earth wouldn’t last a day. And what is the end plan? The global world eats plants 364 days a year and on the 365th there is one concentrated blood bath? And since the animal agriculture industry is a business (a business and holocaust), who would be paying to lock up, store, and “sustain” these animals for that one mass slaughter? There is only one logical (among other things) answer here.

      1. Also, why would you want to ingest something so unhealthy when you could simply take an all natural B12 supplement once a week? And more importantly, why would you want to take someone’s life who didn’t want to die when you have zero need to?

  35. Hi Dr. Greger,

    Thank you so much for this gift of a website. Really appreciate all your hard work, time and effort that goes into keeping the public informed. Such a treasure trove of priceless information!

    Can you confirm whether or not a Centrum or One-A-Day Men’s vitamin would be a sufficient way for a vegan to get the vitamins/minerals he needs, including B12 and D? The vitamin landscape is so confusing to me, and I want to be sure I’m getting what I need, but not overpaying for it.

    Thank again!

    Phil

    1. Thanks for your question.

      I am not sure whether or not Centrum One A Day is suitable for vegans, I could not find the reference online. Most multivitamins are not suitable for vegans, it has to be written on the label – especially those with Vitamin D3. I suggest taking an individual supplement of only B12 and another for vitamin D. This way you are not ingesting any other vitamin or mineral that you do not need.

      Hope this answer helps.

  36. I find it so wrong that grains could ever be forced to all be fortified, that is just not right. How about instead, doctors start telling their patients that B12 supplements are essential? What, there’s not enough money in it like there is in fish oil? Because everyone under the western sun believes they should be taking fish oil. So why the hell isn’t everyone aware that they should be making sure they’re getting adequate levels of B12 and educated on the means? Oh but no, let’s not actually treat people like sentient beings capable of actual thought… no no, lets just inject their freaking bread. Sorry but that is wrong, it should be a choice where someone gets their B12 and when. There are more natural forms and I highly doubt they’d be injecting grains with the better forms but rather the synthetic crap many of us like to avoid. That is just wrong and that is not how problems are solved but rather masked. They already fortify crap with calcium, vitamin d, folic acid, etc. and yet there are still major deficiencies. How about getting REAL and respecting peoples’ rights at the same time. Maybe if the world wasn’t run by how much money someone can make, actual education might be available to more than just those who look for it. And yes there will always be people who are lazy and careless about their health, that shouldn’t mean the many have to have their grains violated because of them. Education first, then see how far that gets us. Personally, I think it’s getting us far thanks to people like Dr. Greger. What holds people back is the corporations that have so much to lose and gain by hiding information and creating misinformation paired with a public created to be docile and lazy.

  37. Is it safe to take a B12 supplement? There is an article in The Atlantic today stating studies have show B6 and B12 supplements cause cancer in men. Specifically, lung cancer!

    1. Hey,

      yes, it’s safe to take a B12 supplement. Please note that more than 3,200 of the men involved in the study were current smokers, 139 of whom already had lunch cancer. Also the D’Ambrosio, of Dietetic Directions and spokesperson of Dietitians of Canada, said this: “The researcher I would say is a low-grade cohort study, and again we’re at no place to state that vitamin B12 or B6 causes lung cancer,” so don’t smoke and don’t exceed dose 20 miligrams of B6 and 55 micrograms of B12 per day and you should be fine :) High doses of B6 should be avoided anyway, since they could lead to nerve damage. So it may be similar to betacarotene. Betacarotene increase the risk of getting lung cancer if you are a smoker. Yet we don’t consider betacarotene to be dangerous.

      1. Thanks, Adam for the quick response. I currently use a B12 spray that is 1000mcg for a 2-spray dose. I believe this is in line with Dr. Gregor’s recommendation. How do I reconcile this with your 55mcg daily recommendation? Also, I did not read the study, only the article, so I appreciate the efforts of those, like you, who have read the study. The article mentions the smokers (doesn’t try to hide that fact) and mentions that the smokers’ rates of lung cancer were even more increased relative to the nonsmokers. The non smokers still showed increases, just not as bad as the smokers. Furthermore, the article mentions the study using doses consistent with typical supplementation. It goes on to say that while these doses are high, this is what is most commonly used. Thanks again.

  38. My question is about B12 supplements and lung cancer. There is new study (Aug. 2017) in The Journal of Clinical Oncology (http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.2017.72.7735) showing a high correlation between men who take large doses of B6 and B12 in supplement form and much higher-than-normal rates of lung cancer. Yet most of what I read on this website says excessive B12 is harmless and passes through the body. As a vegan, I am taking B12, usually in a multivitamin, sometimes as a direct supplement, but I’d never paid much attention to the dosage. Since NutritionFacts claims it evaluates all studies, do/will you have any comment on this one?

  39. Regarding B12, if the water in my house is from a well (so it’s not chlorinated) would it have any B12? and also does fermented food (since they have bacteria) provide any bioavailable B12?

    thanks so much!

    1. Hey Maria, thanks for writing! Water, whether it’s from a well or other sources, is NOT known to be a source of vitamin B-12, unless it’s vitamin-fortified water. Fermented foods also are NOT known to be sources of vitamin B12. For people eating vegan diets, supplementation is an absolute necessity!

      1. A couple weeks ago there was that article published, I believe in the Atlantic, saying that b12 and b9 supplementation were linked to cancer, particularly lung cancer in men. Anyway, I posted a question and there were a couple responses that pointed out possible flaws in the study. But I still think further clarification is needed. I did not see dr. Gregor nor any of the most respected experts and Nutrition address the subject neither here nor elsewhere.

    1. Leah,

      You’re correct it’s a bit of a short sighted assay as with current knowledge we do see the need for B-12 in the average vegan. You might note the comment by the researchers: ” vitamin B12 intervention may prevent depressive symptoms in specialized populations”, report the researchers. However, better -designed trials are needed to delve into these issues.”

      There are many both vegan and non-vegan individuals who would benefit from additional B12 and active forms of folate. If you’re on a PBWF diet please add some additional B12 and vitamin D to your diet in addition to addressing any other individual nutrient needs.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

      1. Thank you for your reply. The title of the article makes a vegetarian diet seem dire so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something since I already take B12, D3 and folate.

        You all do a fantastic job of moderating this site and distilling the research. I was wondering if there might be a section of the site that could be dedicated to popular media pieces. Kinda like http://www.snopes.com/

  40. My family is now completely vegan and we have a 6-year-old daughter. I’ve seen many articles about B12 dosages for adults, but does anyone know how much B12 (in mcg) children should take?

    Thanks!

  41. Hi Michael,

    The average adult needs 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 per day, which calls for 2,500 micrograms of B12 once per week. Children 4-8 years need 1.2 micrograms, so about 1,250 micrograms (or half of what an adult would take) of vitamin B12 should be sufficient for your daughter. 9-13 year olds need 1.8 micrograms of vitamin B12, so when she reaches that age, you would have to do the math accordingly.

    I hope this makes sense! Best wishes on your family’s health!

  42. I would like to know what the suggested dose would be for a child and also a teenager? That would be for the vitamin D, B12, and the omega.

  43. Hi I’m a moderator with NutritionFacts. By the time a child is about 8 years old or 80 pounds, we typically stop using pediatric doses in healthcare. A teenager for all intensive purposes is an adult body size and can be dosed as such.

    For Vitamin B12- this is what the NIH recommends:
    https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

    American Academy of Pediatrics recommended daily intake of vitamin D in infants, children, and adolescents is 400 IU.

    The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences for children ages 2 to 3 recommended ALA intake is at least 400 mg per day. For children over 4, the recommended dose is at least 600 mg per day.

    NurseKelly
    Moderator

  44. This is the only video I could find on fingernail search. My two thumbnails are developing horizontal ridges along the nail bed. I have looked it up and see that it can be anything from a nutritional deficiency to kidney or liver disease. I have been whole food plant based for nine months. Supplementing B12 1000 mcg daily, and D3 15,000 daily. Eating a smoothie daily that has many berries and other fruits, spinach, kale, carrots, flax, mineral water, coconut water, carrots, and lemon. Eating steel cut oats daily, a big spinach salad with beans, fruit, sweet potatoes, dates, dressing made with strawberries for vitamin C. Soy milk daily. Coffee daily. Broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, brussels daily. Some kind of starch with dinner like, noodles, corn, sprouted whole grain bread, potatoes, or corn tortillas. Eating beans every night with dinner and every day with lunch. That’s two cans per day split between three of us. DHA daily. Nascent iodine daily. Been supplementing Biotin 5,000 daily sometimes.
    I haven’t felt totally good. I am very very sold out to this. It is so.easy and wonderful, but, I have headaches and my nails are doing this weird horizontal Boes Lines type thing. Only thumbs. I haven’t dropped hardly any weight. Don’t have much to loose, but I thought I would really feel great by now, but I don’t. My husband has dropped weight and both my husband and daughter are feeling well and good. My daughter has gained a few pounds instead of getting thinner, which is discouraging. I am trying do do this percectly. Please, someone help me tweek what I may be doing wrong. I wonder if I need K2-mk-7 with vitamin D, as I have read this is important. Also, we have not consumed more fat besides flax in the smoothie and the fat that is in the soy milk daily. We eat four Brazil nuts a month, and have had a dinner out about three times of pasta and bread, which probably had higher fat than we eat at home.
    Thank you for any thoughts.

  45. After eating a wholly plant-based diet, I developed angular cheilitis (which appears to be common among us plant eaters) and hope to see that Dr. Greger addressed this common ailment in the plant-based community.

  46. Love this site! Thank you for all the great videos.
    I started taking a b12 supplement about 3 weeks ago, and since then I’ve been so hungry constantly.
    I know I’m getting enough calories. I’ve never really been someone who gets hungry, I can go a whole day without eating.
    But now I need to eat all the time, I cook 3 times a day and snack in between. I also have excess saliva making me swallow more and making me more hungry.
    I constantly feel full and hungry at the same time :(

    Any advice? I don’t want to leave the supplement but I’m going to eat myself poor.

    1. Dear Minette,

      yes, that’s normal after taking B12. What about lowering the dose? You can try to take 2,500 mcg cyanocobalamin once each week, or 250 mcg daily of supplemental cyanocobalamin or servings of B12-fortified foods three times a day, each containing at least 25% U.S. “Daily Value” on its label. You can also try to take whole B-complex (B12 with other vitamins) preferably with natural folate, not folic acid. That may help, too.

      Health Support Adam P.

      1. Thank you so much for responding Adam. I live in South Africa and a lot of options here are very limited, but I’ll see if I can find a lower dose of b12 :)

  47. Could you please tell me the best vegan suppliment brands here? B12, D2, Calcium, Magnesium, K, Zinc, Omega 3

    Is there a vegan option for the bone health instead of animal collagen? My joints are very noisy but not yet painful. I am a 41 year old vegan woman.

    Thank you!

  48. Dr. Greger,

    I have recently started taking lysine supplements for cold sore treatment. Are there any harmful side effects from supplementation that I should be aware of? Is it safe to take L-Lysine daily?

    Thank you so much!

  49. Hi I’m a RN health support volunteer. Thanks for your question.
    I would probably not recommend this supplement. Dr. Greger, with the exception of a few, recommends avoiding supplements. They are poorly regulated and can be harmful
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dangers-of-dietary-supplement-deregulation/

    Lysine is an amino acid that is found in may healthy plant based foods: Tempeh, lentils, black beans, Quinoa, pistachios, pumpkin seeds. If you are eating a healthy diet like Dr. Greger’s daily dozen, you should have no need to supplement this amino acid.

    You might like this video Dr. Greger has about cold sores:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-boost-your-immune-system-with-wakame-seaweed/

    A strong immune system may be the best way to boost immunity and prevent viruses like the ones that cause cold sores:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/08/21/what-to-eat-to-boost-immunity/

    NurseKelly

  50. Has anybody tried this multivitamin Paradise Herbs ORAC Energy Earth’s Blend One Daily Superfood Multivitamin. Dr Greger I would highly appreciate your take on this. Thank you so very much.
    Blessings from Arctic Norway

  51. The notion that feeding yourself a nutrient with the assumption it will then be incorporated into your body is a false premise. Its the same logic as thinking that if you’re pulling a wood block with a string, that you can then turn around and push on the string to move the block. As I’m sure you’re aware, it won’t happen. The same thing occurs with collagen: just because you eat collagen does not mean it will be incorporated into your collagen. Its actually unlikely at best since collagen is simply a protein made up of amino acids that will be broken down into the component amino acids in your stomach. Keep in mind that collagen is animal protein. There are no plant sources for it, and animal protein consumption is found to increase premature death and disease in many many clinical studies. Optimal health can be obtained by eating a varied, unprocessed, whole food plant based diet. Becoming “more optimal” by taking unproven supplements is kind of like trying to go north of the North Pole. It can’t be done.

    Dr. Ben

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