Ever wondered about which supplements medical doctors take for their own wellbeing and which ones they avoid? In this video, Sumit Mehrotra from Wellkasa, talks to Donald I Abrams, MD, Integrative Oncologist, to learn about the vitamins, minerals, and supplements that Dr. Abrams takes. See this informative 10-minute video to learn about the dietary supplement regimen of Dr. Abrams, what he takes, why and how frequently.
Multivitamins – to take or not to take?
Multivitamins are supplements that contain multiple vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. They can also contain herbs and other ingredients. Dr. Abrams recommends that we get our nutrients from food, and he follows his own recommendation. However, he acknowledges the need to supplement specific vitamins particularly as we age.
When it comes to multivitamins, he does not include them in his supplement regimen. He shares his history of smoking and acknowledges the increased risk of cancer when taking vitamin A, or it’s precursor beta-carotene, as a former smoker. He also points to research on vitamin E intake which found an increase in prostate cancer risk. As a result, he stays away from multivitamins as most usually contain these 2 vitamins as common ingredients. Additionally, he does not recommend multivitamins to his patients unless they have broad dietary insufficiencies.
Vitamin D – an essential vitamin to supplement
Dr. Abrams shares that vitamin D is likely decreased in people who are over 50, overweight, or have more skin pigmentation. He has also noticed that many cancer patients are vitamin D deficient. People with low vitamin D are at a greater risk for cancer, and people with cancer and who have low vitamin D levels don’t do as well as cancer patients with normal levels of vitamin D. Additionally, vitamin D is important for immunity. Therefore, he supplements his regimen with regular intake of vitamin D. Learn more about vitamin D here.
Vitamin C – for immune, stress and healing support
Vitamin C is good for the immune system and is a good stress management vitamin. Vitamin C is also good for collagen support and wound healing. Dr. Abrams recommends that patients getting surgery take vitamin C for two weeks before and after the surgery if they aren’t taking vitamin C regularly. However, many people take significantly more than 240 mg per dose, which is the maximum that the average human can absorb in a single dose. So, people taking vitamin C in gram amounts are leaving most of it in the toilet. Dr. Abrams includes Vitamin C in his regimen but with caution on the dosage. Learn more about vitamin C here.
Vitamin B12 – Use for brain and nervous system support
Vitamin B12 is important for the brain and nervous system to function well. Dr. Abrams is on a presciption antacid, which many people take to neutralize the acid in the stomach and relieve heartburn and indigestion. The absorption of some key nutrients, however, require acid. As antacids can jeopardize the absorption of vitamin B12, he supplements his regimen with vitamin B12.
Calcium and Magnesium
Dairy is a major source of calcium, and calcium is essential for bone health. Dr. Abrams does not include dairy in his diet and hence sees the need to supplement. However, he recognizes that too much calcium supplementation in men can lead to aggressive prostate cancer and additionally, calcium can constipate. So, he supplements with 300 mg of calcium, which is a much lower dosage than what he recommends for his female patients, and he combines his calcium with magnesium. He finds that a 2:1 calcium to magnesium formula is best to use for bone health support and for protection against colon cancer. See this product at Wellkasa.
Zinc and Selenium – sporadic use for immune & prostate support
Zinc is good for prostate health, collagen support, and wound healing. Zinc is also good for immunity. Selenium has a very narrow range of safe doses and has been associated increased the risk of diabetes and prostate cancer, so he avoids selenium supplementation. Instead, Dr. Abrams recommends eating one Brazil nut a day, as it gives all the selenium we need for a daily requirement.
Medicinal Mushrooms – mix it up for multiple wellbeing needs
Dr. Abrams has deep expertise in Medicinal mushrooms, and he uses a variety of them in his regimen. Turkey tail for immune enhancement, Cordyceps for energy and Lion’s Mane for brain and nerve support. In addition to mushrooms, he also uses a refrigerated probiotic occasionally for microbiome support. Learn more about Dr. Abrams’ insights on medicinal mushrooms from a previous Wellkasa video and blog here.
Supplements for Arthritis
Dr. Abrams has osteoarthritis of small joints in his hands and feet. He uses Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate combination for joint support. For joint swelling flare-up, he finds turmeric or curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, and black pepper to be highly effective for himself. Dr. Abrams cautions on use of black pepper with pharmaceuticals as black pepper may increase absorption and lead to absorption of greater amounts of the pharmaceutical and possibly increased toxicity.. Lastly, he also uses fish oil for its anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties.
Supplements for Sleep
For sleep support, Dr. Abrams usually chooses a different supplement each night from a menu of melatonin, magnesium, and botanicals. He believes that the body does not like to see the same supplement every day and when there are evidence-informed alternatives for the same wellness need, one may consider mixing up the use. Additionally, he says that blue light in electronics can shut off body’s natural production of melatonin, so Dr. Abrams avoids electronics use close to bedtime.
Finally, Dr. Abrams recommends stopping the use of supplements on the last 4 days of every month to give the body a chance to reset and so the body doesn’t become resistant to any supplement.
See the full video below.