There is no value in multi-vitamin supplements

July 2012

Despite numerous research studies, none have shown that taking any single antioxidant or vitamin can replace the combination of natural phytochemicals in plant foods.

I once walked into a pharmacy to look at the vitamin E supplements. All the vitamin E supplements that I found contain only alpha-tocopherol. This is not natural as whole food contains other compounds, such as alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocotrienol. Health benefit of alpha-tocopherol is still controversial at this point; it may even be harmful.

Alternatively, there are whole food supplements for consideration. They are derived from whole food, meaning that they contain the whole spectrum of Vitamin E compounds and no chemical compound. They do not congest your digestive system; on the other hand, there are reports about this problem with the use of commercial vitamin E supplements. (Note: Such whole food vitamin E is available at my clinic.)

In a recent study on a large cohort of post-menopausal women (161,808 participants), it was found that overall, there is no association between multi-vitamin use and risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The study provided clear evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers or cardiovascular diseases (Neuhouser et al., 2009). However, a diet high in phytochemicals present in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Herbs that contain concentrated phytochemicals are even more effective in preventing chronic diseases such as cancer and heart diseases.

Reject synthetic-based, or isolated, vitamin and mineral supplements. Please choose those that are sourced from whole and raw food sources. Otherwise, you may risk vitamin toxicity. The best source of vitamins and minerals is fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. The spelt grain contains all the nutrients you need to sustain life. Compared to other grains, spelt is especially high in minerals such as potassium and selenium, and anti-cancer nutrients. It is the most digestive grain compared with oats, wheat and rice. Good digestion is the first key to health. You have to eat it to experience it.

For these reasons, I am not a fan of any synthetic vitamin supplement and I do not prescribe them for long term consumption. (I prescribe only for short term deficiency correction.) You do not need an isolated vitamin C supplement; what you need is: eat more organic apples or vitamin supplement that is derived from whole food such as Emblica officinalis in Phytolec™. You also do not need denatured food like soy isolate that is present in many health food products and vegetarian meat substitutes.

As a registered and professional herbalist/naturopath with the National Herbalists Association of Australia, I receive updates on the latest, science- based and reliable information on naturopathy and herbal medicine. I study the research papers and peer through the experts’ reviews regularly. This is one of the ways I can best help my patients – by knowing the latest reliable treatment. For example, I do not prescribe red yeast rice for high cholesterol, as it was found to work like the drug statin. The holistic approach to treatment is preferable, and measurement of inflammation markers is more effective in detecting cardiovascular risk level rather than cholesterol level.


Pax (Peace)
Sebastian Liew, MNHAA (Australia)
Neuhouser, M.L., Wassertheil-Smoller, S., Thomson, C., Aragaki, A., Anderson, G.L., Manson, J.E., Patterson, R.E., Rohan, T.E., van Horn, L., Shikany, J.M., Thomas, A., LaCroix, A., Prentice, R.L.(2009). Multivitamin use and risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease in the women’s health initiative cohorts.  Archives of Internal Medicine, 169(3), 294-304, doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2008.540. Retrieved from
Copyright ©2011-2012, Sebastian Liew Centre Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.
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The information contained in this diary is for educational purpose only. We encourage our readers to seek out a competent health professional for any treatment required. We do not take responsibility for the use of information contained in any article published in our journal or diary by the reader. We do, however, caution readers of possible unintended consequences of self–medication, and that the consultation of a competent health professional is always advisable.

About Sebastian Liew

Matthew Wood, the renowned American herbalist described Sebastian as ‘one of the most unique and talented practitioners of natural healing and herbalism.’ The New Paper (Singapore) called Sebastian Liew 'The Medicine Man'. Indeed, Sebastian is a qualified and registered Medical Herbalist (accredited by the National Herbalists Association of Australia), with a Master's degree in Herbal Medicine from the University of New England, Australia. He is the first medical herbalist in Singapore and is known to popularize phytotherapy (Western herbal medicine), European traditional medicine, and St Hildegard medicine (Germany) in Singapore and probably in Asia. Sebastian has 20 years clinical work experiences and treated numerous patients with different medical conditions from all age groups in his Singapore clinic. Sebastian authored the book, Leaf to Life: The Natural Approach to Slow Down Aging and Living a Healing Life, which set the fundamentals for healthy aging and the prevention or treatment for almost all diseases. Please visit website
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