The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements


Nutrition experts contend that all we need is what’s typically found
in a routine diet. Industry representatives, backed by a fascinating
history, argue that foods don’t contain enough, and we need
supplements. Fortunately, many excellent studies have now resolved the


I am a chronically stressed person and I feel I benefit from vitamin supplements (mainly B Complex ones and probably magnesium too).

I have found this article -->

Maybe vitamins are not needed by individuals living a rather non-stressful life but are needed for the rest?

Are people who take vitamins more prone to be the anxious types? Thus the ones who might need more vitamins? I would imagine that a good % of the soylent people are this kind of individuals.

Chronic stress (from work/education/demanding objectives) can be described as something that only modern humans suffer from; so vitamin supplementation might be essential since our diet can only cater for normal non-anxious state needs?

Just putting forward an idea… - would be interesting to discuss the nutrition need variances from this point of view…


It is very problematic. I haven’t seen the studies (gotta love articles that don’t post sources ;)) - but I can’t imagine these studies are high quality experimental (maybe they are though, but I am always suspicious of dietary studies). Questions to be answered:

1)What total intake of vitamins / minerals are we talking about in these studies?
2)Multivitamins only, which forms used?
3)Could it be an individual component in the multivitamin causing problems?
4)Are individual supplements different to multi’s?
5)Different brands of multis with different forms?
6)How controlled are the rest of the diets?
7)Type of studies, experiments or observational?
8)If you supplement only to RDA do you get problems?
9)The studies themselves, who funded them, who are the researchers, how statistically significant are the results?

Probably a bunch more questions. It smells a bit off to me tbh in the way the studies are being used, studies showing multivitamins caused problems in some circumstances therefore ‘supplements are bad’ kinda thing.

I would guess, we might be dealing with negative effects from over supplementation here (haven’t read studies, so this is complete guesswork)… I don’t think many people here would be surprised if that proved harmful however. It could even be certain forms of some vits are problematic. Perhaps multi’s are too crude?


Added question:
10) Time-of-day intake?
11) Multiple or single multivitamins all at once vs throughout the day? (I’m wondering how fellow DIYers handle this; I think most of us have agreed it’s better to mix it in as opposed to having a single pill in the morning / evening)

I have a very vague theory with no basis whatsoever (corrections are welcome), that those that take multivitamins in the first place are already consciousness eaters, and could be over-supplementing ( as @SaladFace points out).

Even without this, if you give a group of people that don’t regularly take multivitamins, without considering their day-to-day in take, it also seems likely that there would be cases of over-supplementing.


I don’t think it’s very credible that only humans with modern lifestyles experience stress. Wild primates still experience stress, for instance.


Not the kind of chronic stress modern humans experience… (i would guess)…


I would love to know what a “routine” diet consists of. Reminds me of the argument against the paleo diet that no two groups at the same thing. The same can certainly be said of modern humans as well.


Yep, entirely plausible theory.

Re stress, I think this is one of those things where the dose makes the medicine. Short term intense (omfg a lion, climb the tree or die) stress may be a positive thing as it would obviously help you survive (adrenaline) and might even provoke a hormetic response to make you a little bit stronger / faster next time. Long term chronic low level unavoidable stress is a much more sinister thing (elevated cortisol, brain changes etc, nasty shit).


Have you seen the videos of chimpanzees organizing raiding parties on other troops, stealing their food, killing the slow ones, and eating their victim?

We tend to idealize animals as living stress free lives, but that’s only because their concerns are so vastly removed from our own that we fail to consider them as stressful. Constantly having to search/be on the move for food, establishing territory, defending against predators, defending against competitors, competing for a mate, and eventually raising an infant and largely defenseless creature in a hostile environment. Every day. None of these require a ton of higher thought processes, but you can’t deny that they are stressful.


… what does this have to do with stress? Or was the thread hijacked?

Anyway, some light research returned this:

“…there are no known or described mechanisms of toxic effects of beta-carotene, no data from studies in animals suggesting beta-carotene toxicity, and no evidence of serious toxic effects of this substance in humans. In light of all the data available, an adverse effect of beta-carotene seems unlikely, therefore, this finding may well be due to chance.”


Many of the studies against vitamin/mineral supplements used dosing far over the published upper limits, and at least beyond the RDA. Most of the studies also have the subjects take the entire supplements, multivitamin or otherwise, all at once. I’m generalizing here but I don’t think I’ve seen a relevant study that didn’t do that.

That last fact is very relevant because of the oxidation paradox (which the article helpfully also refers to). You’ll do better to Google it on your own than I could do by explaining my superficial understanding or putting up links, but those vitamins have strong antioxidant effects. That used to be considered a “good thing”, since free radicals have been pretty well demonstrated to damage cell membranes and lead to cancer. But megadosing may swing the balance too far in the other direction:


I love this site. They do all the research and lay it out for you in layman’s terms.

TLDR: There is no evidence that vitamin supplements are either positive or negative for your health. The end.


There are several vitamins and minerals whose adverse effects from over consumption of supplements are not that much higher then the recomended daily allowance, as any responsible DIY Soylent maker knows. Some supplements offer Vitamin A doses that are known to cause birth defects. Manganese, Magnesium, Niacin, and Vitamin A are problem areas. Do your research. Professor Driskell (sp?) from the University of Nebraska has a great article describing upper limits of vitamins and minerals, and exactly which adverse effect might be experienced from exceeding the upper limit of supplementation. (Posted elsewhere on this site).

The idea of Soylent is to provide all nutrients necessary for human life. To state that supplements are neither positive or negative totally misunderstands the great experiment of soylent: can a young and active male use a chemically formulated liquid meal to meet all of his nutritional needs for an extended period of time? Failing to fully supplement a restricted diet such as this could have killed the experimenter. This is not about supplements in a balanced diet with overeating to ensure fulfillment of nutritional requirements.

Supplementation and liquid diets are old hat for the aged and dying. For the active and young, I believe this experiment is extraordinary.


I might add that Soylent is the most reasonable.

Ensure Plus and Ensure Complete come close but they’re loaded with sugar, while Soylent is focused on slow release carbs and low glycemic carbs - a pretty important factor for something that is to be consumed regularly.


thanks for this thread, guys.


No evidence that in a modern, well-supplemented diet, that they are either positive or negative for your health. My mother-in-law, in her first year of college, ate only toast and cocoa, being of the eating-disordered kind and having been forbidden both by her mother (who was nuts.) The resulting case of rickets got her scolded severely by the campus doctors, and a more rounded diet was prescribed.