"The Soylent Killer"

Ran across this in my Google News feed today:

Responses to this ridiculousness?

The main part I’d like to see someone respond to is the “Let Me Break This Down For You” section. (In the hope that someone that reads her blog might see these accurate responses to her nonsense.)

  • Maltodextrin: Maltodextrin, the first ingredient on the list, is an artificial sugar that is derived from either wheat or corn, with corn being the standard in the United States. Unless otherwise specified, the maltodextrin is likely coming from GMO corn with all the associated health risks. What some may consider a winning point on maltodextrin is how absorbable it is (like straight glucose). And this is exactly the main problem — the sugars that absorb rapidly will also spike the blood sugar, increase insulin secretion, followed by a cascade of stress hormone release that all serve to increase inflammation in the body and reduce our capacity to deal with the world in a sane way. No joke. One of the best quotes I found about maltodextrin: “While wheat-derived maltodextrin may cause concern for individuals suffering from gluten intolerance, maltodextrin is such a highly processed ingredient that the majority of the protein is removed, rendering it effectively gluten-free.” Um. Great?

  • Crappy Versions of Synthetic Vitamins: The ingredients listed may technically meet 30% and 40% RDA levels, but are they affecting blood levels in our body? The forms of nutrients listed are the least absorbable and least bio-active, meaning, in plain English, the body won’t have a clue how to use them. For example, Soylent uses vitamin D2 (as ergocalciferol) which has poor conversion into the active form vitamin D in the body and studies have shown it be harsh on the kidneys. The active form of Vitamin D is actually D3 (cholecalciferol), which can be readily used. These isolated nutrients with low absorbability potentially become toxic to the organs that need to filter through this garbage, namely the liver and the kidneys. Much like Ensure, they are simply using the cheapest forms of each vitamin. You get what you pay for. If you are interested in learning more about the various types of nutrients that can be found in vitamins and vitamin enriched foods, click here and here.

  • Soy lecithin: Soy lecithin has been found to be extremely estrogenic. That means it functions like estrogen in the body and can cause hormonal imbalances. So while all these dudes are sipping on their Soylent while gaming, they could also potentially be shrinking their junk and growing breasts. It’s a thickening agent and emulsifier and, unless specified otherwise, it likely comes from genetically modified soybeans. GMO foods have been linked to allergies, liver problems, infertility and sterility, breast cancer, thyroid disorders, kidney stones and more.

  • Gum arabic: Gum arabic can cause gas, bloating, nausea and loose stools. It’s a stabilizer that’s used to give processed foods their long shelf life and is commonly used in soft drinks.

  • Vanillin: Vanillin is a cheap substitute for vanilla that comes from – wait for it – a beaver’s ass. Literally. As in, “the exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American beaver.”

  • Sucralose: Sucralose is not food. It is an artificial sweetener (read: fake chemical mess) with a looooong list of studies cataloguing its health risks. Here’s just a few: “In rats, sucralose alters the microbial composition in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), with relatively greater reduction in beneficial bacteria.” In that same study, researchers found that cooking with sucralose at high temperatures resulted in a potentially toxic class of compounds, and that sucralose may alter glucose, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) levels in both humans and rats. Researchers in this study dubbed sucralose “not a biologically inert compound.” No kidding. Read more on artificial sweeteners here.

  • Canola oil: Like corn and soy, canola oil is most likely genetically modified unless otherwise specified. When choosing your oils, you have to ask yourself — does this oil come from a naturally oily source? Olives, coconuts, butter — oily. Canola? Not so oily. That means a heck of a lot of processing needs to happen in order to turn canola into oil. Plus, a 2009 study found that canola oil shortens the life of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats. Not exactly something I would choose as my primary source of fat. This omega 6 oil is highly pro-inflammatory in the body.

  • Fish oil: I can support supplementing with high-quality fish oil for omega-3 benefits when it’s from a very clean and purified source, but just how high-quality is the fish oil going to be in a mass-produced beverage? We’re not sure which fish this oil is coming from, but we wouldn’t want to eat them. Rancidity amongst fish oil, even some quality brands, is very common. To avoid this, many commercial brands add more preservatives to lend some shelf life to an oil that is naturally sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. Think chemical fish juice storm.


I’ll start off by commenting on the vanillin comment. From Wikipedia on Castoreum:

“In the United States, castoreum is considered to be a GRAS food additive by the Food and Drug Administration.[10] It is often referenced simply as a natural flavoring in products’ lists of ingredients. While it is mainly used in both foods and beverages as part of a substitute vanilla flavour,[11] it is less commonly used as a part of a raspberry or strawberry flavoring.[12] The annual industry consumption is very low, around 300 pounds,[13] whereas vanillin is over 2.6 million pounds annually.[14]”

This is the actual compound that comes from a beaver that the article refers to. Note that it contrasts it with vanillin. From the Vanillin article, in the chemical synthesis section:

"Vanillin was first synthesized from eugenol (found in oil of clove) in 1874–75, less than 20 years after it was first identified and isolated. Vanillin was commercially produced from eugenol until the 1920s.[27] Later it was synthesized from lignin-containing brown liquor, a byproduct of the sulfite process for making wood pulp.[9] Counter-intuitively, even though it uses waste materials, the lignin process is no longer popular because of environmental concerns, and today most vanillin is produced from the petrochemical raw material guaiacol.[9] Several routes exist for synthesizing vanillin from guaiacol.[28] "

Naturally, vanillin comes from plants:

“Natural vanillin is extracted from the seed pods of Vanilla planifolia, a vining orchid native to Mexico, but now grown in tropical areas around the globe. Madagascar is presently the largest producer of natural vanillin.”

Strike one.

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Couldn’t possibly care less if anything in it is a GMO. Over 20 years and HUNDREDS of PEER reviewed studies have deemed GMOs no less or more harmful than not GMOs. Sorry, I cant take anything anti GMO wackos say seriously.


A majority if not all these topics have been covered extensively elsewhere in the forums. I would encourage you to look around before starting yet another thread.

This is a rabid anti-soylent article. She pulls no punches and even though I’ve only skim read it, seems to check no facts.

Then again Soylent is a direct threat to her business.

And notice how she has what could easily pass for a DIY soylent recipe in the end.


Mmmmm, beaver ass juice.


I noticed that too. Hers is “natural” though. (rolls eyes)

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There are no valid statements in the break down section. She seems to have briefly skimmed over the vanillin wikipedia page in order to find some incriminating information about vanillin. If her goal had been to fairly and honestly assess Soylent then she probably would have found the information that Michael Slosson pointed out earlier which completely contradicts her ridiculous statement about vanillin being extracted from beavers. I’m confident that the rest of the points she made were drawn from similar efforts. She even tries to claim that GMOs cause everything from breast cancer to kidney stones which is simply not true.


While most of what she’s written here is bunk, I’m not sure she’s entirely off-base when it comes to D2 vs D3.

On a related note, I was a bit disappointed to see the official Soylent is shipping without any K2 (which plays a biological role significantly different from K1 and effectively synergizes with D3).


The article, more than anything else, is pushing FUD.
(Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)

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Soylent needs powdered beavers as main ingredient. That would be very natural base. Non GMO beavers.


HAHA, I didn’t even notice she’s a “Nutritionista”!

I think that is a disqualification right out the gate… I call foul.


She needs to go take some college courses. After checking some of her ‘sources’ it is clear that either she A) did not read the material or B) did not understand the material and drew a conclusion other than what the author/s stated, C) wrote the article herself D) article was written by another lay person. Pay her no heed, as she clearly doesn’t really know anything.

@QuidNYC Vitamin K2 is synthesized from Vitamin K1. From what I understand of the material, Vitamin K2 may be synthesized at the rate it is needed, and on amount of K1 present.

As an added bonus, the site comes up as a red flag on Web of Trust*.

*: WOT is subject to abuse as any other user-based rating site, but I found it interesting nevertheless.


@Matt88 – Take a look at “Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study.”

Those with the highest third of dietary vitamin K2 intakes in the study were 52 percent less likely to develop severe calcification of the arteries, 41 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and 57 percent less likely to die from it. By contrast, intake of vitamin K1 had no effect on cardiovascular disease outcomes.

This finding alone raises a major red flag contradicting the assumption that humans have the capacity to convert K1 to K2 at levels adequate for optimal health.

Dietary K2 is also at least three times more effective than K1 at activating proteins related to skeletal metabolism (see Schurgers et al., 2007)

On top of this, data from the EPIC-Heidelberg study suggest that dietary K2 reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent (whereas K1 has no effect).

All of these data points are inconsistent with the notion that K2 is extraneous, or fully synthesized as needed.

As far as my own health is concerned, I agree with Chris Kessler that K2 deserves to be regarded as an essential nutrient in its own right.


Few issues with your logic. If you have a 5% chance of cancer, would a 35% reduction in risk be worth it? That’s 35% of 5%, or 3.25%, NOT -30%. Your first article targets the elderly. meaning they already have other issues and that their intestinal bacteria are already dieing out.

Your second article has a section where it was filed as an advertisement, just FYI. That article seems to me to point that vitamin K2 may only be produced at sufficient levels when it is needed. i.e. after an injury, and supplements for those with diseases that negatively affect coagulation. (from Shurgers)

Obviously, a large study in patients on oral anticoagulant treatment is needed to demonstrate the safety of even low doses of MK-7 in this population. Until that time, we propose to use an upper safety limit for intake of 50 μg/d for long-chain menaquinones (including MK-7) in patients on oral anticoagulant treatment.

They even hint that a higher Vitamin K2 level could be bad, so I’d say leave it as is until more is known. I would not be surprised if there is a study linking vitamin K2 production to injuries or to amount of vitamin K1 intakes

The random quote you found from a hematology journal is written in reference to patients on coumadin (“oral anticoagulant treatment”) and suggests (quite understandably) that more data is needed on how MK-7 acts as antagonist to that drug (as all forms of vitamin K do).

Insofar as I’m recommending a form of K2 (i.e., by putting it in a recipe), it’s MK-4, which your article says is more closely similar to K1 in physio-chemical terms (and would represent similar risk vis-a-vis coumadin).

While your concerns about coumadin antagonism are no more warranted for MK-4 K2 than they are for K1, they stand in a curious contrast to your summary dismissal of a study that “targets the elderly.”

I am well aware of how to understand risk reduction in the context of baseline risk. The data points I’ve offered (none of which you’ve actually refuted) are relevant not simply because they suggest benefits X or Y, but because they all point to differential mechanisms of action between K1 and K2, and amount to evidence that human conversion of K1 to K2 is likely inadequate to ensure optimal human health in the absence of dietary intake of K2.

And as for it being “worth it” – D3/K2 supplementation costs between $0.02 and $0.05 per day. That’s a pretty small downside, particularly since you’ll be hard-pressed to find evidence of any other downsides to MK-4 supplementation.

I agree with Quid on this one… How small the reduction is… if it’s a health benefit with no downsides at the right amount… then it should be added.

edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBs-E0o2zjg interresting talk about vitamin K from 2009 here, figured I would look into it some more after Quid mentioned it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ePU5NiRDSM this guy talks about it too… but it seems he is also trying to sell it :smiley:

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In fact, tissues that accumulate high amounts of MK-4 have a remarkable capacity to convert up to 90% of the available K1 into MK-4.[9][10]

From Wikipedia and another forum post. It sounds like a major issue is with vitamin K1 absorption (somewhere I read its not easily separated from plant matter), in which Soylent’s version may be more readily absorbed.

The so called data points you offered are for those who are at risk, either suffering from a disease, injury, high risk, or old age (which increases many potential risk factors). I haven’t read anywhere were these where done on healthy individuals (but then I feel like I’ve been staring at text all day and its starting to blur) and how they benefited from increased intakes.

@Tordenskjold thats the question though isn’t it? Is there a health benefit for increased vitamin K consumption (for already healthy individuals)? Although since there doesn’t seem to be (insofar) a negative impact in increased vitamin K consumption, they may in future blends, add additional vitamin K, and other vitamins as more about our human condition is understood. Until then, I don’t know what sort of repercussions they would face if they went over the USDA recommended amounts (government agencies can be fickle).