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Rethinking Supplements??

We know that it's generally healthier and safer to EAT your vitamins and minerals via a multi-colored array of whole plant foods. As John McDougall, MD notes: flooding the body with isolated, concentrated nutrients creates imbalances, increasing the "risk of disease and death." Thus, for years I've been taking only two supplements: B12 and D3. But, a post by Dr. Michael Greger gave me pause:

Vitamin B12: The RDA is only 2.4 mcg/day; I've been taking 1,000 mcg, twice weekly, of sublingual methylcobalamin [a natural source of B12]. I was surprised that Greger recommended "at least 2,500 mcg of cyanocobalamin," a synthetic derivative of B12. However, Matt Lederman, MD (who did the "supplements" lecture for my plant-based certification) and Dr. McDougall both recommend methylcobalamin B12. I'm sticking with this form. But, as Greger recommends, I now take B12 every other day and on an empty stomach.

Food sources for B12 include fortified cereals and plant-based milks, as well as nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast full of B vitamins; it's yellow, flaky, and with a nutty, cheese-like flavor. Use it as a cheese substitute on pizza, pasta, potatoes; binder in veggie burgers; popcorn flavoring; and dairy-free sauces/cheeses, such as:

Creamy Cashew Nut Cheese from Deliciously Ella

Ingredients: 1 c. raw cashew nuts + 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast + 1 tbsp. tahini + ¼-½ c. water + juice of 1 lime or lemon + salt/pepper to taste

Directions: In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients until creamy. Adjust water for desired thickness and texture.


Vitamin D3: 2,000 IU's daily is recommended. Food sources include fortified plant-based milks, juices, and cereals.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Greger recommends 250 mg/day of pollutant free (yeast- or algae-derived) long-chain omega-3’s, i.e. vegan source of DHA. Joel Fuhrman, MD, also recommends an algae-based DHA. I now take 250/mg of DHA daily. [Do stay away from fish oil supplements; you don't want to ingest the mercury and other pollutants in fish.]

Food sources include ground flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, tofu, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cauliflower, and the spices basil, oregano, marjoram, and cloves.

Mixed Berries Jalapeno Chia Spread from Lulu Cooks and Tells

6 oz blackberries 8 oz strawberries 2 tbsp bottled jalapeno slices juice of ½ lemon 6 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp chia seeds salt to taste Place ingredients in blender; pulse until fine. (by Lourdes Herold @ Lulu Cooks and Tells)


Calcium: Greger recommends at least 600 mg daily via eating plant foods, including dark green leafy veggies. Other food sources of calcium include: fortified non-dairy beverages, tofu, sesame seeds, dried fruit, and legumes. Following are two 'calcium' recipes from Brittany Jaroudis, local plant-based cook and blogger. (You can watch Brittany cook on her YouTube channel.)


Iodine: Sources include ...

  • Iodized Salt. When buying iodized salt, look at the labeling. Know that sea salt does not necessarily contain iodine. Also, most salt in packaged foods is not iodized.

  • Sea Vegetables. Seaweed probably is the most popular. Greger cautions against eating kelp (too much iodine) or hijiki (high arsenic levels). I use Eden Foods Organic Seaweed Gomasio ($2.99 at Vitacost). I sprinkle it on salads, in soups and dressings, and on popcorn.

p.s. If taking synthroid medication for hypothroidism, it's recommended that you wait four hours after taking it before eating soy products (soy may impair the body's ability to absorb thyroid medication).


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