What makes Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live Formula Unique
By Joel Fuhrman, MD
Since most people’s diets are not ideal and
individual absorption and utilization varies from person to person, it
makes sense to recommend that all people take a high-quality multiple
to assure most favorable vitamin D, B12, zinc, iodine, and selenium
status, to name a few.
Even if your diet is ideal, some people require
more of certain nutrients than others. For example, it is not uncommon
for some people to need extra vitamin D, or extra B12, even when their
diets contain typical amounts of these vitamins. This is especially
true regarding vitamin D because of the depletion of the atmosphere’s
ozone layer and subsequent increase in skin damage from the sun.
Because of this, many people practice sun avoidance and wear
sunscreen, which decreases their vitamin D production.
I also took into consideration my recommendation
to avoid all salt added to food. Salt is iodinated, making it the
primary source of iodine in most people’s diets. Therefore, a multiple
will assure adequate iodine intake in those who avoid adding salt to
Are there any problems with taking supplements?
The main problem with taking a typical
multivitamin is that it may expose you to extra nutrients that you do
not need. Sometimes too much of certain nutrients can have toxic or
harmful effects. For example, I do not recommend taking supplements
that contain vitamin A, isolated beta-carotene, or iron, because there
are risks associated with consumption of these nutrients above what we
receive in our diet.
Ingesting vitamin A or beta-carotene in
isolation—from supplements, instead of from food—may interfere with
the absorption of other crucially important carotenoids, such as
lutein and lycopene, thus potentially increasing cancer risk.1
The precursor to vitamin A, beta-carotene once was
regarded as a safe and beneficial antioxidant and even recommended as
an anti-cancer vitamin, but it has recently been shown to increase the
risk of certain cancers when administered as an isolated supplement.
Scientists now suspect that problems may result when beta-carotene is
ingested without other carotenoids that would have been present had it
been ingested from real food. Beta-carotene is only one of about 500
carotenoids that exist. Beta-carotene supplements are poor substitutes
for the broad assortment of carotenoid compounds found in plants.
Why did researchers think that beta-carotene had
such a powerful anti-cancer effect?
They had found that populations with high levels
of beta-carotene in their bloodstream had exceedingly low rates of
cancer. Recently, it was discovered that the reason these people were
protected against cancer was because of hundreds of carotenoids and
phytochemicals in the fruits and vegetables they were consuming. It
wasn’t that beta-carotene alone was responsible for the benefit; it
was merely that it had served as a flag or marker for those
populations with a high fruit and vegetable intake. Unfortunately,
many scientists confused the flag for the ship.
In Finnish trials, those using beta-carotene
supplements failed to prevent lung cancer, and there was actually an
increase in cancer in those who took the supplement.2 This
study was halted when the physician researchers discovered the death
rate from lung cancer was 28 percent higher among participants who had
taken the high amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Furthermore,
the death rate from heart disease was 17 percent higher in those who
had taken the supplements compared to those just given a placebo.3
Another recent study showed similar results, correlating beta-carotene
supplementation with an increased occurrence of prostate cancer.
As a result of these European studies, as well as
similar studies conducted here in the United States,4
articles in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute,5
the Lancet,6 and the New England Journal of Medicine all
advise people to stop taking beta-carotene supplements.
How have supplement manufacturers responded?
As a result of these studies, I expected many
manufacturers to drop beta-carotene from their vitamins and substitute
plant-derived carotenoids, but it never happened. This is one of the
reasons I felt impelled to design my own formula.
Are there any other problems with standard formulas?
Yes. Since beta-carotene gets converted into
vitamin A by your body, there is no reason why a person eating a
reasonably healthy diet would require any extra vitamin A. The
ingestion of extra vitamin A (retinyl palmatate) may be even more
risky than the ingestion of supplemental beta-carotene.
There is solid research revealing that
supplemental vitamin A induces calcium loss in the urine, contributing
to osteoporosis. Too much vitamin A is known to be toxic to the liver,
and to cause birth defects. The most common effect of toxic doses of
vitamin A in animals is spontaneous fracture.
In humans, excess vitamin A is potentially a
problem, even in ranges not normally considered toxic.7 One
study found that subjects with a vitamin A intake in the range of 1.5
mg had double the hip fracture rate of those with an intake in the
range of .5 mg.8 For every 1 mg increase in vitamin A
consumption, hip fracture rate increased by 68 percent. Physicians
don’t permit expectant mothers to take more than 5,000 IU’s of vitamin
A (retinyl palmatate) because too much vitamin A has been linked to
birth defects. These are some of the reasons why—for years—I have
recommended supplements with the lowest possible dosage of vitamin A.
recent study warns of the increased mortality caused by excessive
Is vitamin A still included in most formulas?
Yes. In spite of a huge volume of solid
information documenting the deleterious effects of vitamin A, it is
still impossible to find multiples without it. That is why it was
important for me to recommend a multiple that included a wide range of
natural, plant-food carotenoids (containing the entire family of
carotenoids and not just beta-carotene). It was important for me to
create a multiple with no isolated vitamin A.
What about vitamin C? How much is too much?
The current popularity of high-dose vitamin C
supplementation is a possible concern. Researchers at the University
of California found that men who took 500 mg of vitamin C daily had
thickening of their arterial walls 2.5 times greater than men who did
not take the supplement.9 Increased arterial thickening
increases risk of hypertension and heart disease.
Keep in mind this is only one study. Hundreds of
others have shown benefits of supplemental vitamin C for those on the
vitamin C deficient diet that the vast majority of Americans eat.
Other studies are needed to confirm these findings. However, healthy
diets are already rich in vitamin C and contain over 500 mg just from
their food. Since people on healthy diets need so little extra, I have
included only 50 mg of vitamin C in each of my tablets.
Is excess a problem with any other nutrients?
Nutritional immunologists have shown that nutrient
supplementation beyond what can be obtained from the diet is often
necessary to optimize immune function, especially in the elderly.10
The downside to supplementation has been the potential risk present
from consuming too much of certain nutrients. These include B6, iron,
vitamin A, and beta-carotene. Iron is an oxidant and can contribute to
infection and even increase heart attack risk. It only should be taken
as a supplement when a deficiency exists, which is almost always due
to blood loss.
Care to avoid consuming too much of certain
nutrients is just as important as too little. I frequently find that
patients who take an assortment of nutritional supplements consume
potentially harmful levels of iron, vitamin B12, and even selenium or
zinc. I designed my own multiple with special care to avoid issues
from too much of potential risky nutrients, while utilizing quality
whole-food, plant sources of those nutrients that offer nutritional
insurance. It is unique for what it contains and for what it does not
Because of these features, Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat To
Live Formula is an excellent prenatal vitamin as well. It also is
designed so an elderly individual with increased vitamin D needs can
take three or four a day (instead of two a day) and still not be
concerned about the toxicity issues from too much of certain
Do vegetarians have any special nutrient needs?
A total vegetarian (vegan) diet is deficient in
meeting the nutrient needs of most individuals for vitamin B12. If you
choose to follow a vegan diet, it is essential to consume supplemental
B12. My multiple supplies the extra B12 and vitamin D that vegan
patients almost always need, while still maintaining the vegan purity
of the product. This was not easy. I was extremely careful and
diligent to make my supplement totally vegan because I have become
aware that the vast majority of supplements advertised as vegetarian
or vegan are not vegan. For example, the vitamin D in most "so-called"
vegan supplements is made from sheep wool fat. Similarly, many
supplement ingredients use fish emulsion as a stabilizer. The
documentation of ingredient sources and methods of manufacturing was
Can supplements make up for an unhealthful diet?
It is critical to recognize that all dietary
supplements are supplements to and not substitutes for a healthful
diet. To the extent that they offer some people the confidence to eat
less wholesome vegetation, they are hurtful, not helpful. The point to
be emphasized is that supplements alone cannot offer optimal
protection against disease, and you cannot make an unhealthy diet into
a healthy one by consuming supplements.
My Eat To Live supplement is the only one I know
that has been designed to be gentle on the digestive tract,
non-stimulating, and formulated to be added to a relatively healthy
diet. It was not designed to take the place of healthful eating.