Are dietary supplements needed?


Presenter: Neal
Guest: Dr. Michael A. Smith
Guest Bio: Dr. Michael A. Smith is a graduate of the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center and completed his internship in internal medicine at the University of Utah.  His residency was earned in radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.  Before joining Life Extension Foundation, he worked in a variety of capacities for AstraZeneca including spokesperson for the company’s Phase – 3 clinical trials programs.  He also travels the United States presenting results to cardiology groups and university centers.

Segment Overview
Dr. Michael A. Smith talks about dietary supplements and how they are an important part of even the most healthy of diets.

Neal Howard: Hello you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us today. American’s been of upwards of 15 Billion dollars each and every year on supplements, not just the food that we eat or even medications, but supplements alone – that’s a lot of money to spend. Do we know what we’re buying, are we buying what we need to buy, are we basically getting our money’s worth? Our guest today is returning Dr. Michael Smith of Life Extension, also the author of the “Supplement Pyramid.” How are you doing today Doctor?

Dr. Michael Smith: Doing really good Neal. Thank for having me on your show.

N: Thanks so much for coming back. You know we were here talking before about your role as in life Extension Network. We also talked about one of your initial books that came out concerning disease prevention and treatment, your newly released book concerns supplements. Now our listeners are basically healthcare professionals but for those of us who may not know exactly what a supplement is, how do they differ from well over the counter medications or prescription meds?

S: Well supplements by definition are going to supplement what you would naturally find in food sources. So you’re talking about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, that’s how we define a supplement. If it’s found in nature, in food sources, and you put it in a capsule form, or a liquid form, or a powder form, that’s gonna be a supplement. That could be different from over the counter medications, I mean take your aspirins and stuff like that, those aren’t necessarily found in food sources, although they may come from natural sources. They’re not in something that you would normally eat or ingest, right?

N: Uh huh.

S: So you don’t really have to supplement them with your diet. So that’s all it is, it is just something that you would find normally in the food source that we know that at higher amount could help us. A higher amounts meaning, a higher than what the food source itself is giving us and that’s what supplements are.

N: So in my mind, I’m getting a picture of .. Do you remember the orange juice from concentrate, the frozen lumps of orange and you put it in a pitcher and then it expand into this deliciously juicy concoction? Is that what supplements are? basically a concentration of the nutrients that are found as you say in the foods that we would normally eat?

S: Yes. So, it means you know if you take, and if you’re eating a well balanced diet. So you’re getting your fruits, your vegetables, you’re getting some lean protein, you know some healthy fats. If you on a day to day basis you’re gonna get a certain amount of vitamins, and minerals, and antioxidants, and healthy oils from that diet. So a supplement would simply be in a sense, taking those same nutrients, concentrating them in a capsule and just giving you a little bit more. So you’re supplementing that healthy diet with a capsule, or a powder, or liquid, that simply increasing the amount of these important nutrients. And the reason we wanted to do that is, that what we would do is a there’s a couple of reasons. The first reason is, Neal, food today is just not the same thing it was even just a few decades ago. You know our soils back in the 1920’s, the 1930’s the United States Government took soil surveys and they deemed that our soils were nutrient poor back then, was that that mean? It means that the produces we’ve been making the fruits and the vegetables that are grown in these soils are also nutrient poor. And we’ve done nothing really to improve the health of our soils since then. So…

N: Well can I?

S: Go ahead.

N: Can I ask you a question? Okay now in the 20’s, if our soil was nutrient deficient as far back in the 20’s. Was there a time when we didn’t need supplements? I mean there are people now who their whole life is based on a healthy diet. What about those that of us that eat the most healthy of diets. Do we still need a supplement?

S: Good question. Yeah and I think the answer to that is ‘yes.’ In the first chapter of my book the “Supplement Pyramid” I lay out five scientific facts for why we need to take supplements.

N: Okay.

S: And so I talk about for instance the “poor soils” are the producing nutrient poor food, right, I talk about that. But there’s other reasons today that really make supplements important. For instance, look at the lives that we live today Neal, I mean we’re constantly on the go, we live in that 24hours information news cycle where we, with all of our smart phones and computers. I mean we have a constant access to people and you know it just changes the environment and how we live. We lived with a lot of chronic stress today, anxiety, mood issues, that’s something that we didn’t have, say 2-300 year ago. So maybe back 2-300 years ago, food was a little bit more nutritious because of the soil were better. But we also were different, we were living a different type of lifestyle. Look at environmental toxins. Did you know Neal that the EPA allows over 70,000 industrial chemicals to be in our environment through household products?

N: 70,000?

S: 70,000. So think about. So even if you’re eating a healthy diet and it’s balanced and your exercising, and you’re getting good sleep, you’re doing all this right stuff, just by living today. Living in this toxic environment, that’s another reason that I believe that we do need to take supplements. So you look at our lifestyle, you look at the environment, and then you add in the fact that food today is just not the same it was a few decades ago based on the amount of nutrients. Yeah, I really think supplements are important for all of us.

N: Okay. So I’m convinced that supplements are necessary part of even the most healthy of diets. And I also understand that the soil was better before and our lifestyles are different. We’re running basically to and fro, you know as the information, ease of information. And as you said there’s so much out there, there’s the internet, we have television, we got radio, and we’ve got magazines.

S: We never turn things off, do we Neal? (Chuckles)

N: So with all of this, with the thing bombarded with all of these choices, when it comes to supplements specifically, how do we make that $15B correct choice? What supplements do I need?

S: Yeah. No, that’s the big question isn’t it? You know it’s a good thing that the supplement industry has grown leaps and bounds that we have so many products that we can offer people. But it’s kind a down side too because there’s so many products out there, people don’t know what to do. And that’s why I really wrote the book beause I think it’s time to provide that guidance that people are looking for. You know I’m gonna tell you a little story here, in a sense well my book, I wrote the book for my sisters.

N: Alright.

S: Because I think that they represent the two basic types of supplement consumers out there. I have one sister that watches all the shows, watches Dr. Oz, you know listens to radio, health radio. And she takes everything, hoping that something works for her, right? I mean she doesn’t really judge it, she does it its sounds good, she takes it. She has a kitchen cabinet Neal if you open up the cabinet door, the drawer I mean it’s just covered in products. That’s not good. But on the other hand, I have another sister who understands the need for supplements just like what we went over, yet she takes a very generic multi vitamin. I think the first one she found off in the shelf of her favorite store and thinking that’s enough and that barely scratches the surfaces. And I think my sisters represent kind of those average consumers. Now the fact that my sisters don’t listen to me because I’m their younger brother, that’s a different story (laugh) but…
N: The usual story.

S: Yeah, the usual. I’m trying there, I’ve sent them my book, I haven’t really heard anything from them. But what I wanted to do was to help people avoid those extremes. And the only way we can do that is we need each person besides taking some core foundational supplements and I think there’s four products that we all should be doing. Once we have those four foundational products going which make the base of you supplement pyramid, it’s called the foundational level. Once we got those going, what we need to do is we need to identify our issues. And that what I mean by issues I’m talking about risk factors. I’m talking about family history, personal history, things you’ve gone through, things you’re going through. We have to take, we have to paint that picture, all those things that we’re doing with. Once we know that, once you and I can interact in a way where I kind of know the things that you’re going thru Neal, the things you need to focus on. Now I can align you up with the supplements base on solid research, that are most likely going to help you. I did that by developing health quizzes. I have 16 health quizzes in the book and these quizzes cover everything from your heart, from your brain, bones, hormones, cancers, it’s all there. You simply answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but in a sense what your doing is kind a like you coming to my doctor’s office and I’m taking a clinical history in a way – you answer yes or no, you get a score for each quiz. Once I have your score, that’s score reflects a certain amount of risk. Once I know that risk, now I can line you up with the supplements that are gonna help you the most. So personalizing it, really is about telling your story and you tell your story to me by taking these quizzes.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio today taking with Dr. Michael Smith of the Life Extension Network. His latest offering is the “Supplement Pyramid,” how to build your personalized nutritional regimen. We’ve been here in studio today talking about how nutritional supplements are a necessary part of even the most healthy of diets. And also we’ve been talking about how the “Supplement Pyramid” can help someone to actually personalize their regimen of supplement intake and not just go willy nilly based on all the choices that are out there in the supplement world. It’s been great having you’re here with us today Dr. Smith.

S: Thank you, I appreciate it.

N: Great. Transcripts of this program are available at and also at

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