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Ask Dr. Mike: Differences in Water Filters & Do You Really Need a Multivitamin?

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

I still don't understand why you push a multivitamin. You call it a foundational product in your book. But, if I'm eating all organic fruits and vegetables, I think it's overkill. You said in your book that our soils are poor, yet I purchase from a local farmer who takes care of his soil.

Dr. Mike thinks it's great that you are eating local, trustworthy, organic foods. In fact, he encourages everyone to buy local foods. However, In Dr. Mike's book, there's a part on ideal daily intake, which is based on a recommended daily intake. This was developed during WWII, when everyone wasn't getting enough nutrients. The current dosing system we use today is to prevent vitamin deficiencies.

Most food sources are pretty close to providing the ideal daily intake. Dr. Mike also notes that everyone's recommended daily intake should be personalized and different, because nutritionally, we are not all the same. If you feel you're at a point in your life where you don't need a multivitamin, that's fine.

Is there really a difference in water filters? For example reverse osmosis, higher pH, and basic ones? We get water from a well and my iron levels are high so we need a filter.

According to the Environmental Working Group, there's a list of water filters which the organization thinks are the best to use. For example, carbon filters are at the very top of the list. You might want to take a look at the site to better determine which filter is best for you.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.877.711.5211) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents: Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: February 24, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

It’s time to Ask Dr. Mike on Healthy Talk. Do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions. Just email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call: 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

I would love to hear from you. Give me a call. 877-711-5211 and you can also send your emails to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Next question. “I still don’t understand why you push a multivitamin.” Well, I wrote a book called The Supplement Pyramid and I consider a multivitamin a foundational product. As a matter of fact, they go on to say, “You call it a foundational product in your book, but if I’m eating all organic fruits and vegetables and a lot of them, I think it’s overkill. You said in your book that our soils are poor, yet I purchase from a local farmer who takes care of his soil.” That’s kind of how this person ended it.

Yeah. Well, okay. That’s awesome. I would encourage all of us to use local farmers and locally produced food. I think that’s a great way to eat and I do trust that produce better. You know, I think it is going to be more nutritious. So, yeah. That’s good that you’re doing that, but let’s just talk about something else in my book that I mentioned that you didn’t put here is this concept of ideal daily intake—the IDI—ideal daily intake. That’s a phrase that I just totally made up for the book, but it’s based on science. It’s based on the studies. So, we know that most of our doctors in this country, nutritionists, even most of the multivitamins on the market are based on a dosing system called the “recommended daily intake”, and “recommended daily allowance”. They are very similar dosing systems and basically they were developed during a time right after or during and right after World War II when people weren’t getting near enough vitamins and minerals, so the RDA and the RDI of say, something like Vitamin C, which is 50 mg, was set because that was the lowest level you could get and not get scurvy. So, the current dosing system that we continue to use today is really about preventing vitamin deficiencies. Well, here’s the interesting point about this. Most of the food sources are pretty close to providing the RDI and RDA. They also looked at the food sources. They said, “Okay. How much Vitamin C do I need to prevent scurvy and what do I find in most food sources?” The best answer that they came up with was about 50-90 mg. That’s for Vitamin C, the RDI. So, it was based on preventing scurvy and what they found in most produce, like an orange. So, if you eat an orange, you’re going to get a decent amount of Vitamin C and probably enough to prevent scurvy. So, that’s great that you’re going to the local farmer and I think that’s wonderful. And, by the way, if you think, in your particular case—because I’m all about personalizing regimens—so, if you think in your personal life that right now, the multivitamin would be overkill, that’s fine. I personally don’t think it is, but if you do, I’m not going to argue that point. But what I am going to say is, most of your organic, locally grown produce which is awesome—that’s how I want people to eat—is still not providing ideal doses of these vitamins. Now, let’s go back to Vitamin C, okay? So, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is between 50 and 90. That was developed in the 1940’s to prevent scurvy and that’s what you find in most fruits and vegetables that provide Vitamin C, right? So that way, if you eat an orange, you know you’re going to prevent scurvy. That’s kind of how they came up with that dosing system.

However, what about today? You know, 2015? We are very blessed in this country where we don’t have to worry so much about scurvy. There are some people that do and we need to address hunger in this country better, no doubt. But, most of us, thank God, don’t have to worry about scurvy. So, what about all the other health attributes of Vitamin C. You know? Like anti-cancer, cardiovascular health, immune support. What type of dosing do I need to achieve those benefits? Well, that’s where I came up with the ideal daily intake. I went into the science. I looked at the cancer studies of Vitamin C. I looked at the cardiovascular study of Vitamin C. I looked at the immune studies with Vitamin C and what you overwhelmingly find is a dose range of about 500 mg to 2000 mg of Vitamin C to obtain those benefits. That’s far beyond 50 mg. That’s far beyond just preventing scurvy. You know, we’re taking Vitamin C into a whole new level of health, okay? And, that local farmer is not producing a serving of an orange that has 500 mg of Vitamin C. They’re just not unless they’re totally genetically modifying it, which we don’t want, right?

So, there you go. So, I go back to my point that I still think, even in a situation where you are personally taking care of your food sources, you’re buying from local farms—that’s great. You’re doing organic, you’re getting your full servings of fruits and vegetables. The question is, how much Vitamin C, for instance, is that actually providing you? It’s probably not providing you the 500 mg which is where all of those other health benefits begin—the ideal daily intake. So, my case is, we still need a multivitamin. Okay. But if you don’t want one, that’s fine. You’re doing great. But, that’s just giving you my two cents in all that. So, I do think a multivitamin is essential today. One last little point about this, too. We have to look at the environment we live in. You know, it’s toxic. I mean, we are asking our internal organs to function in an environment that is saturated with industrial toxins and pro-oxidants, pro-inflammatory compounds, compounds that act like estrogens in our body from pesticides and all this kind of stuff. We are asking the human body to thrive, we’re asking our bodies to function at an optimal level, in an environment that we’ve never experienced before as humans. Again, I think it’s just another need for the foundational products that I talk about in The Supplement Pyramid--a multivitamin, CoQ10, Omega-3 oils, probiotics. I mean, those are foundational products and it’s not just about poor soil. It’s not just about sick food chains. It’s really also about the environment we live in. So, I stand by those foundational products.

Okay. So, I went way longer on that one. Real quickly. I don’t think I have time for this water filter one. Well, I’ve got a couple minutes my producer just said, so here’s the question. “Is there really a difference between water filters? Like reverse osmosis, higher pH and basic ones? We pull water from a well and my iron levels are high, so I definitely need a filter.” So, that is important. We’ve got to watch. Iron is a strong pro-oxidant, speaking of the environment. We need a little bit of iron, but we don’t need to be supplementing with it. We don’t need extra iron from our water, so that’s good that you recognize you need a filter. I’m not a water filter expert. I do a very basic Brita water filter. It works fine for me, but I did go to help answer this question, to the Environmental Working Group where they’ve kind of listed out what they think are the best types of water filters. Of course, activated carbon is at the top. Next came what is called a carbon block filter. This one I wasn’t familiar with. Carbon block filters contain pulverized activated carbon that is shaped into blocks under high pressure. And, it apparently works pretty good, but not as good as the activated carbon filters. Then there’s the granulated activated carbon filters that they don’t have enough information on yet, but they look promising. Ceramic filters. These have very small holes throughout the material that blocks solid contaminants such as cysts and sediments, but they’re not all that great at removing chemical contaminants. Then, there are the deionized filters. They rank them about the same level as the ceramic filters. Then, you have distillation filters which come last. So you know what? The Environmental Working Group still ranks activated basic carbon filters as the best ones. So, there you go.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I’m Dr. Mike.

Stay well.