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.
Dr. Michael A. Smith discusses the importance of choosing the right dietary supplements.
Neal Howard: Hello you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us today. Americans spend a huge amount of money each in every year, simply on dietary supplements. We spend a lot of money on the food that we eat, we spend a lot of money on the medications that we need to help keep us well. But just when it comes to dietary supplements $15B, that’s Billion with a B, is being spent each year by just Americans on dietary supplements. Our guest in studio today Dr. Michael Smith says that dietary supplements are an essential part of even the most healthy of diets. How are you doing today Doctor?
Dr. Michael Smith: I’m doing great Neal. Thanks for having me on your show.
N: When you were here before, we were talking about the “Supplement Pyramid.” It’s a book in which you explain how to build your personalized nutritional regimen. It was just released, it was expected to be released in the spring and right on time. It’s available either as an eBook or through the normal outlets and also at your website lifeextension.com Am I correct in that assumption?
S: Yeah, oh yeah it’s there too. It’s also at mysupplementpyramid.com.
N: Ah okay, mysupplementpyramid.com.
S: Yeah mysupplementpyramid.com.
N: The “Supplement Pyramid” is a book in which you talk about how to personalize not just to look at what’s on television or what you see hear on the radio and say “Oh I’m gonna get that. I’m gonna take that. It’s gonna do me good.” Each and every person is different. Our chemical makeup is different, our lifestyle is different, and our diet is different. How do we make the decision as to what supplement to take advantage of?
S: Yeah. You know before I answer that question, so you mentioned I think an important number that last year in 2013 we spent $15B in supplements.
N: Yes, right.
S: You see, well the council for responsible nutrition also estimates that about half of that, so we’re talking about you know $78B was spent on products people don’t need, which is not a good thing. And so I think you know providing that guidance, helping people to identify the best products for them is exactly what the industry needs right now. It’s what my book provides. So how do they do that? I mean how do we really go about deciding what is an appropriate supplement per person? You have to tell me your story, you know back when I was practicing medicine – I was an internal medicine in Dallas and Neal let’s say you came in to my office, complaining chest pain.
S: Before I did any physical exam, with the stethoscope. Before I did an EKG of your heart, before I did lab work, I would ask you a series of questions, right? When did it start? How does it feel? Does it a get worse with exercise? All that kind, is there a family history of heart disease? Do you smoke? Right. I would ask you these things and the reason I would ask those questions is it gave me a clinical history. It painted a picture of what was going on with that chest pain.
S: Well I thought, well that’s exactly what I need to do with the supplements. If I want to help you pick the best supplements or purchase the best supplements and not waste your money, what I need to do is I need to figure out a way to put you through a clinical history without actually be there, right? Because I can’t go, I can’t be in front of everybody. So what I came up with were health quizzes. I thought the best way for me to do this would be to ask the questions, but do it in a quiz form so I developed 16 quizzes and in this quizzes are everything that you would want. So there’s a heart quiz, there’s a brain quiz, there’s a cancer quiz, there’ a diabetes quiz, bone, joint, there’s a memory, I mean they’re all there – 16 quizzes.
N: Now if I can interrupt, are these quizzes that you take if you are already aware of these problems that you have and you pick which ever quiz is the correct one for you or do you take the quizzes and answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and then those answers determine or rule out all of these abnormalities?
S: Well, the answer to that is both. So there are some people when they get the book Neal, instead of doing all 16 quizzes they might already know that they have a cancer issue, there’s heart disease issue, and there’s a neurodegenerative issue, and there’s Alzheimer’s in their family. So there are some people who are gonna focus on those three quizzes – the heart, the brain, you know whatever the one that I mentioned. So they’re gonna focus on those quizzes and see where they fall, what kind of score they get. There might be some other people though who just want to forget all that and just take the quizzes and see where everything falls for them. You really can do, you could do it either way. The book actually is broken up when it comes to this part of the pyramid which I call the “Personalization Part,” the book actually breaks it up into two parts. The first part is what I call an inventory, this is where you simply just put a check in the box next to a series of diseases that I list. Whatever you’ve checked, let say cancer runs in your family Neal and you check the cancer box, you definitely want to take that cancer quiz then, right? Because that’s in your inventory, it’s something that you do, you’ve dealt with, or family member has dealt with or maybe based on your occupation either maybe you deal with chemicals and stuff – you want to definitely take that cancer quiz. Maybe you don’t, maybe for you, you don’t put a check next to heart or brain because you might have issues there, maybe you don’t need to take those quizzes right away. That’s totally up to you how you want to do it. But the quizzes themselves will tell you whether or not you haven’t have a potential risk in that area, even if you didn’t think. So I do encourage all the readers to eventually take all the quizzes because you might think, “I don’t have a heart issue.” But you go through the quiz – the heart quiz – and you got a score that shows actually you have some moderate risk, that you may not have ever known because it’s the quiz that brings out those issues with that you might that you might not think are heart issues that really are. So I do encourage everybody to take all 16 quizzes. Now back to the story, so what I did each quiz is easy to answer. They’re just “yes or no” question, but each question within a quiz really represent a certain risk factor. Let’s say you’re taking the heart quiz, I have questions about cholesterol, inflammation, smoking, weight, exercise, those are all in there and each question is weighted. Meaning if you smoke, that’s one of the worst thing you can do for your heart, right? And so that question if you say ‘yes I smoke,’ that question has a point value that’s higher than, say, you don’t exercise enough. So each question is weighted differently as well based on how severe it is as a risk factor. So by the time you complete all this question and you tally up your score, that score is a really good indication of whether you need to be worried about your heart. The higher the score you need to be worried, the less the score you don’t. Once I know your score, the total score for that quiz, now I know where you fall in as far the risk goes for your heart and then I can line you up with the supplements that work. So within the quizzes themselves, I build in the severity of each risk factor. As you just answer yes or no, it’s’ actually tallying up risk for you, which is really as a doctor that’s how I do everything. Everything is based on statistics, based on risk, whether you need to worry about your heart or not and the quizzes take care of that for me when you develop your score.
N: Now as we wrap up, I’d like to ask a question with nutritional supplements being as controversial as they are with many physicians claiming that they’re useless, not necessary. You’re a clinician, you’ve practiced medicine, once you determined that you’ve got the right supplement and you personalized your regimen – if I needed to take say two capsules a day, is that going to be the same for the next person that comes into your practice? Maybe they’ll have to take four or maybe one every other day. What about the quantities?
S: Well that’s a good question. Yeah, yeah no that’s a good question. That’s a question about dose. Now in the way I would answer that again, it depends on what your score is. Like for let’s go back to the heart quiz, this is a good example. If you score now out of the total points in the heart quiz, I think it’s about 15 points. If you score let’s say about 5-6 points on the quiz, that’s a moderate risk for developing some heart issues. One of the core supplements I’m then gonna suggest for that moderate risk category is pomegranate extract. However, if you score say a 5 you might just do one pomegranate extract, of say 200mg a day. But if your score is a 6 or 7 I might actually suggest a couple pomegranates because you’re getting a little bit higher on that list. So you’re right, it’s not just the supplement, it’s the correct dose and how often you should take it and that’s covered in the book as well. There’s an appendix specifically at the back of the book that will describe to you what the average dose range is. And if I say you need a pomegranate and the average dose range for pomegranate is 2-400mg, the higher you scored on that quiz, the higher your gonna probably want to be on that dose range. So that is built into the system.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been a pleasure having in studio today with us Dr. Michael Smith of the Life Extension, also the author of the “Supplement Pyramid.” We’ve been talking about how similar to prescription drugs, one size never fits all. It’s up to us to tell our healthcare professional what’s actually going on with us to be truthful as we can so that they can recommend the correct supplement and the correct doses. It’s been great having you’re here with us today Dr. Smith.
S: Thank you Neal. I appreciate it.
N: Transcripts of this program are available at hpr.fm and also at healthprofessionalradio.com.au