Vitamins and supplements



  • "There can be no harm in taking too many vitamins". False

On balance, the best quality research shows that beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E may increase mortality risk, but vitamin C and selenium need further study.

Wall Street Journal published in March 2006 a controversial article titled The Case Against Vitamins ("Recent studies show that many vitamins not only don't help. They may actually cause harm."). The article is no longer completely available online on WSJ's site but several mirrors exist. See also this rebuttal from a vitamin reseller.


The precise definition of one IU differs from substance to substance and is established by international agreement for each substance. There is no equivalence among different substances; for instance, one IU of vitamin E does not contain the same number of milligrams as one IU of vitamin A.

Daily Reference Intakes

These are the daily Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for males, recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board, the Institute of Medicine and the United States National Academies. (Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences.)

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Intakes for Individuals, Vitamins
Life Stage Group Vit A (µg/d)1 Vit C (mg/d) Vit D(µg/d)23 Vit E(mg/d)4 Vit K (µg/d) Thiamin (mg/d) Riboflavin (mg/d) Niacin (mg/d)5 Vit B6 (mg/d) Folate(µg/d) Vit B12 (µg/d) Pantothenic Acid (mg/d) Biotin (µg/d) Choline (mg/d)
Males 19-50y 900 90 5* 15 120* 1.2 1.3 16 1.3 400 2.4 5* 30* 550*

NOTE: This table (taken from the DRI reports, see presents Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) and, followed by an asterisk (*), Adequate Intakes (AIs). RDAs and AIs may both be used as goals for individual intake. RDAs are set to meet the needs of almost all (97 to 98 percent) individuals in a group.

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Intakes for Individuals, Elements
Life Stage Group Calcium (mg/d) Chromium (µg/d) Copper (µg/d) Fluoride (mg/d) Iodine (µg/d) Iron (mg/d) Magnesium (mg/d) Manganese (mg/d) Molybdenum (µg/d) Phosphorus (mg/d) Selenium (µg/d) Zinc (mg/d) Potassium (g/d) Sodium (g/d) Chloride (g/d)
Males 19-30 y 1,000* 35* 900 4* 150 8 400 2.3* 45 700 55 11 4.7* 1.5* 2.3*
Males 31-50 y 1,000* 35* 900 4* 150 8 420 2.3* 45 700 55 11 4.7* 1.5* 2.3*

NOTE: Vitamin D and Calcium intakes are subject to change pending study results to be published after May 2010:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest released a guide in 2003 on how to pick a multivitamin. Their recommendations, combined with the DRI above from NAS, are presented in the section below.

Daily Recommended Intake: NAS vs. CSPI

  • Vit. A: 900 µg = 3000 IU (agreement); "1 IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 μg retinol, or of 0.6 μg beta-carotene";
    • CSPI: maximum 2,500 IU of retinol or 15,000 IU of beta-carotene; "Too much retinol (listed on labels as vitamin A palmitate or acetate) may increase the risk of hip fractures, liver abnormalities, and birth defects. Beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, doesn't cause those problems". Note the lack of distinction between Retinol Activity Equivalents and Retinol Equivalents (see first footnote in the NAS table)
  • Vit. C: 75mg for women, 90mg for men (agreement)
  • Vit. D: 5µg = 200 IU (NAS), up to 400IU (CSPI), 600 IU, or 800 (Life Extension). Subject to change after May 2010, pending the results of an Institute of Medicine committee study on the Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium).
  • Vit. E: 15 mg = 10-15IU ("1 IU is the biological equivalent of about 0.667 mg d-alpha-tocopherol (2/3 mg exactly), or of 1 mg of dl-alpha-tocopherol acetate"); CSPInet: 33IU, max. 200
  • Vit. K: 120 µg (agreement)
  • Thiamin: 1.2 mg (agreement)
  • Riboflavin: 1.3 mg (agreement)
  • Niacin: 16 mg (agreement)
  • Vit. B6: 1.3 mg (NAS), 1.7mg (CSPI). "high doses found in some multis are harmless [...but not] more than 100mg"
  • Folate: 400 µg (agreement)
  • Vit. B12: 2.4 µg (agreement); "Vegans (who eat no meat or dairy) also need to take B-12"
  • Pantothenic Acid: 5 mg; CSPI: "Ignore. You’d have to eat a bizarre diet to run short"
  • Biotin: 30 µg; CSPI: "Ignore. You’d have to eat a bizarre diet to run short"
  • Calcium: 1000 mg (agreement). CSPI: "doses of 2,000 mg a day or more may increase the risk of prostate cancer; A day's worth of calcium won't fit in most multivitamins. So if you don't eat three or four servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, or calcium-fortified orange juice every day, take a 300-mg calcium supplement for each serving you miss.". Subject to change after May 2010, pending the results of an Institute of Medicine committee study on the Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium).
  • Chromium: 35 µg for men, 20-25 for women (agreement); CSPI: 120 µg is safe.
  • Copper: 0.9mg (agreement); CSPI: 2mg is safe but "The National Academy cut copper from 2 mg to 0.9 mg (900 mcg)"
  • Fluoride: 4 mg; CSPI: no recommendation
  • Iodine: 150 µg; CSPI: ignore
  • Iron: 8 mg for men (agreement): CSPI: 0 to 8 mg; 18mg for premenopausal women
  • Magnesium: 400 mg; CSPI: 100 to 350 mg (more from supplements may cause diarrhea); Daily Value (including food like whole grain breads and cereals): 420 mg
  • Manganese: 2.3 mg; CSPI: ignore
  • Molybdenum: 45 µg; CSPI: ignore
  • Phosphorus: 700 mg; CSPI: "Unnecessary. The less you get in your multi, the better. Too much may impair calcium absorption, and we already get more phosphorus than we need from our food."
  • Selenium: 55 µg; (agreement); max. 400 µg
  • Zinc: 11 mg men, 8 mg women (agreement)
  • Potassium: 4.7 g; CSPI: ignore and eat fruits and vegetables
  • Sodium: 1.5 g; CSPI: no recommendation
  • Chloride: 2.3; CSPI: ignore


Yellow urine is caused by undigestible Vitamin B. Use the sublingual form to digest it. 6


Life Extension Mix Tablets

  • extensive research

Men's One-A-Day

  • + 400 IU Vitamin D (100%)
  • - 80% thiamin (B-1)
  • + 100% riboflavin (B-2)
  • - 80% niacin (B-3)
  • + 150% vitamin B-6 (3mg), < 100mg max. dose
  • + 300% B-12
  • + 150% E (45 IU)
  • + 100% folic acid
  • + "90 mg of vitamin C, which is the new recommended level for men"
  • - 3500 IU Vitamin A, more than the Upper Limit at
  • - Vitamin K only 20mcg of 120mcg recommended by CSPinet
  • magnesium: 120mg
  • Iron 0
  • - chromium: 120mcg = 100% but way over CSPinet's recommendation
  • - copper: 2mg; relic dosage since before NAS cut the recommendation to 0.9mg
  • selenium: 105mcg
  • zinc: 15mg


Designed by RevGenetics based on user feedback. Released in October 2010.


The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults: 8 mg/day for women and 11 mg/day for men. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults is 40 mg/day. Zinc is better abssorbed in picolinate form than as zinc citrate or zinc gluconate7, and best absorbed in zinc glycinate form.

Zinc deficiency

Many symptoms can be attributed to zinc deficiency, including hair loss, growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, diarrhea, loss of appetite, eye and skin lesions, weight loss, taste abnormalities, delayed wound healing, and mental lethargy.
-- Medpedia - Zinc deficiency

The Wikipedia entry on zinc deficiency mentions effect including hair loss, skin lesions, diarrhea, wasting of body tissues, acne (rarely recognized), malfunctions in eyesight, taste, smell and memory, anorexia, cognitive and motor function impairment (in children), diarrhea, pneumonia and dysmenorrhea (severe uterine pain during menstruation).

PubMed studies list zinc deficiency diseases and deficiency effects.

Zinc testing

existing tests are so poor [...]

"Zinc deficiencies have been somewhat under the radar because we just don't know that much about mechanisms that control its absorption, role, or even how to test for it in people with any accuracy," said Emily Ho, an associate professor with the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, and international expert on the role of dietary zinc.
-- Science Daily, 2009

As of 1979, measuring zinc deficiency via taste acuity seemed dubious:

At the moment, few conclusions can be drawn about the relationship between zinc deficiency and taste acuity. Perhaps other aspects of the gustatory sense, such as taste intensity perception or taste preference, will prove to be more reproducibly related to zinc nutriture than is the taste acuity threshold.
-- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 1979

As of 1989, the situation is still unclear:

There is no accepted, reliable test for nutritional zinc status. [...] The ZTT (Bryce-Smith) has been suggested as a simple and sensitive means of detecting zinc deficiency. A colourless 0.1% solution of zinc sulphate is tasted, responses recorded on a taste scale of 1-4 (1=negative, 2=slight, 3=strong, 4=powerful/unpleasant).

RESULTS: TABULAR DATA, SEE ABSTRACT VOLUME. [note available] CONCLUSION: If the ZTT can be confirmed as a marker of zinc deficiency it would provide a simple clinical means of assessing the need for zinc supplements in AIDS patients.
-- Evaluation of the zinc taste test (ZTT) in AIDS patients

As of 1993, for pregnant women,

Accuracy of zinc taste test in individual cases ranged between 70 and 100 percent. On the whole, zinc taste test was well correlated with serum zinc level, and provides a fair idea of zinc deficiency.
-- Zinc taste test in pregnant women and its correlation with serum zinc level

But then again in 1993,

As part of a double-blind randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of 20 mg of zinc supplementation during pregnancy, 494 mothers were enrolled at booking. [...] Zinc supplementation did not affect their taste as assessed at the end of pregnancy.
-- Failure to taste zinc sulphate solution does not predict zinc deficiency in pregnancy

Non-specialist sources claim that the "zinc taste test" is a better alternative to blood tests:

Unfortunately, the commonly performed blood and serum zinc tests are not considered very reliable; serum and blood levels of this mineral can appear perfectly normal even when your cells are crying out for zinc.

Various zinc taste tests are described online: most reliable, citing Bryce-Smith, Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre,, The common procedural elements are:

  • procure the test solution - zinc sulphate (heptahydrate) in purified water, at a concentration of 1 gram/liter. A recommended brand is Thorne Research.
  • hold solution at room temperature for two hours if removed from a fridge
  • do not smoke, eat or drink for one hour before the test, to not affect taste
  • place 5-10 mililiters of solution in mouth and hold for precisely 10 seconds, then spit it out
  • taste indicates, roughly:
    • no special taste during the full 10 seconds - major zinc deficiency
    • no immediate taste is noted, but after a few seconds a slight taste develops (dry/metallic/mineral) - important zinc deficiency
    • a definite taste is noticed immediately, but not strongly unpleasant - slight deficiency
    • a strong and unpleasant metallic taste is noticed immediately - no deficiency

Best zinc supplements

Zinc should be taken "at a time when there is little or no calcium in the stomach". is aware of this,

Certain nutrients may also inhibit zinc absorption, including calcium, soy, manganese, copper, and iron.

but somehow their comparison of zinc supplements (requires subscription, last update 2009-06-16) mentions nothing about calcium being present as an ingredient in 11 of the 19 reviewed supplements. ConsumerLabs also doesn't mention the study showing better absorption of zinc picolinate9.

Of the 19 zinc supplements tested by ConsumerLabs, only two are zinc picolinate and (allegedly) do not contain calcium:

  • Country Life® Zinc picolinate 25 mg - I bought a bottle, and in actuality, it does contain 20mg of Calcium Triphosphate, which neither ConsumerLabs, nor their own website lists.
  • Karuna® Zinc Picolinate 50 mg. Its ingredients mention 25mg of zinc and ConsumerLab did not perform a "break-apart properly" test on it. According to their Amazon product page, the supplement "should not be taken for more than one month w/o supervision because it contains no balancing copper". Karuna sells Zinc Picolinate Plus 60C, which includes copper: "ZINC 25 mg (picolinate) COPPER 2.5 mg (amino acid chelate)". I ordered a bottle and there is no calcium listed among the ingredients.

If taking zinc for extended periods of time, look for zinc gluconate, because it has the lowest cadmium levels.


The summary is that Bioforte is the least expensive Resveratrol supplement with plenty of antioxidants. It will help you to maintain total supplement maintenance, and after taking it for about 2 weeks your body will adjust to it. If you discover that you are creating too much gas, you can switch to the combination of Transmax BioQuench & BioSpan.

Other information about Biotivia and Transmax can be found at the URL above. The source is one David Noble, 66, who claims to greatly enjoy the benefits of Resveratrol and is a Transmax distributor.

Froogle search for Country Life zinc picolinate. At the time of this writing, the least expensive seller of both Country Life zinc picolinate and (Thorne Research) zinc sulfate was (coupons may be available).

How to take zinc supplements - read the page from "Grade four response" onward.


  1. As retinol activity equivalents (RAEs). 1 RAE = 1 µg retinol, 12 µg β-carotene, 24 µg α-carotene, or 24 µg β-cryptoxanthin. The RAE for dietary provitamin A carotenoids is twofold greater than retinol equivalents (RE), whereas the RAE for preformed vitamin A is the same as RE. ↩

  2. As cholecalciferol. 1 µg cholecalciferol = 40 IU vitamin D. ↩

  3. In the absence of adequate exposure to sunlight. ↩

  4. As α-tocopherol. α-Tocopherol includes RRR-α-tocopherol, the only form of α-tocopherol that occurs naturally in foods, and the 2R-stereoisomeric forms of α-tocopherol (RRR-, RSR-, RRS-, and RSS-α-tocopherol) that occur in fortified foods and supplements. It does not include the 2S-stereoisomeric forms of α-tocopherol (SRR-, SSR-, SRS-, and SSS-α-tocopherol), also found in fortified foods and supplements. ↩

  5. As niacin equivalents (NE). 1 mg of niacin = 60 mg of tryptophan; 0–6 months = preformed niacin (not NE). ↩

  6. ↩

  7. Barrie SA, Wright JV, Pizzorno JE, Kutter E, Barron PC - Comparative absorption of zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate in humans, 1987. [^zinc_glycinate]: Robert A DiSilvestro and Melinda Swan, [Comparison of Four Commercially Available Zinc Supplements for Performance in a Zinc Tolerance](Test, Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2008. ↩

  8. Science Daily, 2009 ↩

  9. Barrie SA, Wright JV, Pizzorno JE, Kutter E, Barron PC - Comparative absorption of zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate in humans, 1987. [^zinc_glycinate]: Robert A DiSilvestro and Melinda Swan, [Comparison of Four Commercially Available Zinc Supplements for Performance in a Zinc Tolerance](Test, Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2008. ↩

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