Tag Archives: supplements

Do We Need Supplements Because Our Soils are Depleted?

In my recent review of The Blood Sugar Solution, I noted the numerous supplements recommended by Dr. Mark Hyman: between 11 and 16 supplements.  And one of those supplements is a multivitamin/multimineral supplement that has 20 or so different components.

One reason we need the supplements, according to Dr. Hyman, is because the soils in which we grow food over the years has been depleted of minerals and other basic plant building blocks.

I know one doctor who told his patients the same thing while selling them over-priced supplements straight from his office.  According to the reviews of Dr. Hyman’s book at Amazon.com, Dr. Hyman sells supplements at his website.  The guy’s got an impressive marketing machine!

So is there any truth to the “soil depletion” argument for supplements?

Not much, if any, according to Monica Reinagel.  She reviewed the topic in 2010 at her Nutrition Diva blog: http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/are-fruits-and-vegetables-getting-less-nutritious.aspx.  I trust Monica.  In the same article, you’ll find links to her opinion on whether organic vegetables are healthier and worth the cost.

I’ve not done a comprehensive review of the soil depletion issue myself.   It’s quite a difficult area to research; try it and you’ll see.  The Soil Science Society of America, founded in 1936, sounds like a great place to find the answer.  No such luck.

The U.S. is a huge country with lots of different soil types and usage histories.   Soils in one field may be depleted in certain components whereas the field across the road may be quite rich.  Soils are not static.  Farmers are always making amendments to the soil, either with fertilizers or other additives, or by rotating crops.

Wouldn’t you think farmers, whether small family units or huge corporate enterprises, would do what’s necessary to keep their soils productive?

Another way to look at soil depletion would be to look at the nutrient content of the plants and animals that depend on soil for life.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture did that in its 2004 publication, “Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Suppy, 1909-2000.”  This paper includes 10 vitamins and nine minerals.  For the boring details, see   http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/publications/foodsupply/foodsupply1909-2000.pdf.   Some excerpts:

Levels for most vitamins and minerals were higher in 2000 than in 1909.

Levels for vitamin B12 and potassium were lower in 2000 than in 1909, but over the series, met or exceeded current recommendations for a healthy diet….

The authors attibute lower potassium availability to lower consumption of plant foods, especially fresh potatoes.  I’m increasingly interested in the possibilty that low potassium consumption may contribute to heart disease and premature death.  But that’s a topic for another day.

I’m skeptical about claims of widespread soil depletion in the U.S. as a cause of food supply degradation.  Supplement sellers are sure to disagree.  To be sure you’re getting the nutrients you need, eat a wide variety of foods.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The American Council on Science and Health has a brief article on whether everybody needs a multivitamin/multimineral supplement.

New research is questioning the benefits of taking supplemental vitamins and minerals, suggesting that, for the general population, such supplements may actually pose more risks than benefits.

Click for the full article: http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsid.3067/news_detail.asp

PPS:  Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute published a long article on the multivitamin/multimineral supplement issue.  It seems fairly balanced to me.  The Institute notes the 2006 National Institutes of Health assessment that we have insufficient evidence to recommend either for  or against such supplementation (Annals of Internal Medicine, 145(5), 2006: 364-371).  Nevertheless, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends supplementation as “insurance.”  You know, just in case.


Filed under Supplements

Recommended Supplements for the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

I’ve finalized—at least for now—the latest supplements for dieters on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, and tinkered with the original plan: Version 2.0 is published.

Daily supplements:

  • 1 or 2 plain Centrum multivitamin/multimineral supplements (two if over 250 lb or 114 kg)
  • Magnesium oxide 250 mg
  • Calcium carbonate 500 mg elemental calcium  (500 mg twice daily if over 250 lb or 114 kg)
  • Extra vitamin D to reach total of 1,000–1,200 IU (each Centrum has 400 IU)
  • Potassium gluconate 2,750 mg (450 mg elemental potassium) or Morton Salt Substitute (potassium chloride) ¼ tsp (1.2 g)
  • If prone to constipation: sugar-free Metamucil powder 1–2 rounded tsp (5.8–11.6 g) in water
  • At least three quarts or liters of water

The published version 2.0 of KMD has a misprint: “1,000–2,ooo IU of vitamin D.”  Should be 1,000–1,200 IU.  I’ll fix it soon and label it version 2.1. 



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My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Day 33 + Magnesium Review

CB022214Weight: 159 lb

Transgressions: 12 oz  of 7-Up carbonated beverage

Exercise: none


I accidentally drank a 7-Up at the hospital physician’s lounge: the diet 7-Ups were right next to the regular 7-Ups in the refrigerator.  It had 39 g of carbs, all sugar of course.  I didn’t realize what I’d done until too late; the texture finally gave it away.  I rarely drink 7-Up in any case.  My favorite diet soda is Fresca.  Nothing wrong with 1-2 daily for most folks.  If I were going to cheat on purpose, it wouldn’t be with soda pop.  Snickers bar is more like it!

My nutrient analysis of the un-supplemented Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet suggests that it may be deficient in magnesium.  Here’s a summary of magnesium physiology from UpToDate.com and Medscape:

Role of Magnesium

Influences properties of cell membranes.  Helps regulate other mineral levels: sodium, potassium, calcium.  Works with enzymes, particulary in energy production.  Helps with protein production.  Most of our magnesium is in our bones.


Leafy greens, nuts, legumes, animal proteins.  [All but legumes are on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.]

Effects of Deficiency State

Abnormal EKG (an electrical tracing of heart activity).  Abnormal heart rhythms, especially ventricular arrhythmias.  Weakness, convulsions, loss of appetite, low blood levels of calcium and potassium, seizures, apathy, delirium coma.

Causes of Low Magnesium

Gastrointestinal or kidney losses: vomiting, diarrhea, diuretics, genetic disorders, several kidney-toxic drugs little used in the general population, small bowel bypass surgery, inability to absorb from intestinal tract.

Miscellaneous: marked dietary deprivation, diabetes, alcohol abuse, high blood calcium levels, ketogenic extremely high-fat diets used to suppress epilepsy (usually in children: up to 10% have low magnesium).


Hmm…, causes of magnesium deficiency include …ketogenic extremely high-fat diets used to suppress epilepsy…  The ketogenic anti-epilepsy diet may be even lower in carbohydrates than is the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, so fewer leafy greens (and nut-free?).  Since I don’t treat children with epilepsy, I haven’t done much research into the anti-epilepsy ketogenic diet yet. 

One Centrum multivitamin/multimineral supplement contains only 13% of the recommended “% Daily Value” of magnesium.  Might be a good idea for KMD dieters to take an additional magnesium supplement, probably available over-the-counter at pharmacies, supermarkets, or health food stores.  Or get a blood level of magnesium drawn periodically.



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Filed under My KMD Experience