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Ask Dr. Mike: Arsenic in Your Wine, Capsule vs. Gummy Vitamins & Why Do Your Hormones Decrease with Age?

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:

Is the amount of arsenic found in some wines dangerous?

Yes, arsenic is a poison that can kill you. However, it would take A LOT to do so. Unfortunately, arsenic is found everywhere in water and food. In fact, some states allow 10 parts per billion of arsenic in the water for you to drink. The good news is that these amounts in the water, food and wine are very small and won't cause any damage.

Are gummy vitamins as good as capsule vitamins?

Yes, gummy vitamins are just as good as the capsule in the sense that you're getting the same minerals and vitamins. However, what could be different is the dosage of each mineral and vitamin. Dr. Mike suggests to be careful of the artificial sweeteners and artificial coloring that are included in the gummy vitamins.

You often say things like hormones and antioxidants decrease with age. Why is that? I feel like doctors and nutritionists say that so I will buy their products.

Hormones and antioxidants do decrease with age; that isn't a lie. As you get older, the cells within your body become damaged and don't function as well as they did when you were younger.

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 (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 26, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

You're listening to RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike on Healthy Talk . Call or email to ask your questions now. 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.

DR. MIKE: So, I'm part of the California Wine Club. I do enjoy wine. I don't drink a lot but, you know, especially on the weekend some nice red wine or something is really awesome. There was a story that came out and I saw this. Now, I saw this before this listener's question and it had to do with, I guess, some of the California wineries. I'm not going to get into names. That's not important. They're being sued because some third-party lab in some other state decided to test some of these wines and they found arsenic. (ahh!) And, of course, then the media picks it up and it's all over. "There's arsenic in your wine." And I saw it. Listen, I'm going to tell you the truth about this in a moment. But here's the question and when I saw this I said, "Oh, yes. I have to do this question today."

"Is the amount of arsenic found in some wines dangerous?"

So, there was a little bit more to the question but that is the gist of it. Is the arsenic found in wines dangerous? You know arsenic is a poison and it can kill you.

Yes. But it takes a lot. I mean, a lot of arsenic over a long period of time to kill you and cause sickness. In large doses over an expanded period of time, you can get brain disorders, cancers and, as I said, death. So, yes, arsenic is bad. It's a poison, but it takes a lot and here's the thing about arsenic. It's everywhere. Arsenic is found naturally in our water sources. It's found in food.

I mean, arsenic, even though it's a poison, it's found everywhere. It's ubiquitous in food and water and it takes a lot. So, as a matter of fact, knowing that most states in their water supply, they allow 10 parts per billion of arsenic. So, what that means is, let me put it this way, for every 1 billion part of water you will have 10 little itsy, bitsy parts of arsenic. Ten parts per billion is considered 100% absolutely safe when it comes to water and

I agree. It's fine. So that's the first thing to understand about arsenic it's ubiquitous. It's all over the place but the good news is, it's in such small amounts and so dilute that and it really doesn't affect us that much and even the water has it.

Okay, so now, if you look at the amount of arsenic that is found naturally in wine, it can range anywhere between 5 parts per billion all the way up to 200 parts per billion. Now, I'm going to tell you right now, even at 200 parts per billion it's perfectly safe. It's not going to do you any harm. Don't listen to other websites and other crazy people out there telling you even just 1 part per billion is bad. That's just not true. As a matter of fact, the International Wine Standards allows 200 parts per billion. Canada, allows 100 parts per billion in their wine.

It turns out that the amount of arsenic found in the California wines was less than the Canada standard. I could have told you they were going to find some arsenic in the wine. It's not just cheap wine. It's just because it's in the water. Rice has arsenic. Why? Because rice is pretty much grown in water. So, don't freak out about this. Enjoy your glass of wine. You're fine. It's okay. Dr. Mike said so.

Matter of fact I'm going to go home and have a nice glass of red wine tonight. Relax. I'm not going to worry about the arsenic. Okay there you go, next question.

"Are gummy bear multivitamins as good as capsules? Other than taste that is? Thanks, Carrie."

So, Carrie, you like the taste of gummy bears? Are they as good? So, I have to ask the question, Carrie, what do you mean "as good"? I mean we have to define that a little bit right? In terms of vitamins and minerals, yes, they're just as good as capsules and you should be getting all the basic vitamins and minerals, so in that sense, yes, they're just as good as capsules.

But, maybe when we talk about dose, well, maybe they're not as good. I would actually have to look at which product you're taking which, by the way, this is a movement in the industry--looking at ways of formulating multivitamins and supplements, in general, so that more and more people will consume supplements. Not everybody likes powders or capsules or tablets, so gummies are something that a lot of companies have looked into.

Gummies, in terms of just giving you the vitamins and minerals, yes, they're just as good as capsules. But then, the next question is, "Are you taking a gummy product, Carrie, that has the right amount of vitamins and minerals? Is it dosed properly?" Well, that I don't know. I need to know what one you're doing. So, I really can't answer that but what I have found is that many of the gummy multivitamins, that is, some of the really big brands producing are still under dosed. But so are their capsules.

Anyway, that's just how they make their multivitamins, they just underdoes everything. The one thing I would caution you when you do a gummy based product, is be careful about the artificial colors. I mean, why do you want to do a supplement that's supposed to help with your health but do it in a form that gives you artificial stuff like colors and sweeteners. So, make sure that they are coloring the gummies and sweetening the gummies with all-natural things. Make sure you read the label.

Don't assume that. Some of the big brands out there are kind of notorious for using artificial gunk, so be careful with that. I think overall gummy bear multivitamins are fine. I think most of them are a little low dose but as long as it's natural coloring and natural sweeteners, I don't have a problem with it. I was just at, not this past year but a year ago, I was at the Expo West. It's the largest industry conference that we have out in Anaheim, California. And at least a year ago, it's kind of funny. There are like multiple levels at the convention center and in the basement is where they put, at least right now, all the functional food and stuff like that because it's not quite as popular as all the other supplements.

So, on the basement level I was walking around and there was a whole aisle of companies who are developing natural coloring and natural sweeteners that can be used in gummies and they were pretty good. So, just watch the sugar content. Make sure there is no artificial stuff and you should be okay Carrie.

Okay, next question. I think I'm okay on time. Maybe not, but...

"You often say things like hormones and antioxidants decrease with age. Why does that happen? Sometimes I feel like doctors and nutritionists say that so they can sell me a product."

You know that's good question. The reason I can tell you hormones decrease and antioxidants decrease is because I've seen the studies showing that is the case. When I develop a product or Life Extensions develops a product where we want to replace an intrinsic antioxidant or replace a hormone, we have these studies called "proof of concept" studies showing you that, yes, at your age you're lower in DHA or you're lower in glutathiones, so we need to replace that.

So there's proof of concepts studies showing and backing this up. Why does this happen? Why does your body stop making hormones and antioxidants? Because as you get older, the cells that produce them become damaged. They become dysfunctional. That's just part of the aging process. They're not functioning at an optimal level. So, replacing hormones and antioxidants is, in my opinion, very important as we get older. I can back that up with these proof of concept studies that we use when formulate a product.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.