Pills, Pills, Pills: A Post About Supplements

I really have taken my supplements for granted over the years, and who could blame me?  There have been times when I was taking 40 – 60 pills per day! That is enough to turn anyone off pills, even supplements.  I choked them down with water (and soda) for years until I discovered that drinking fruit smoothies helps them to go down easiest.  So now, I drink smoothies like 3 times a day.  They taste pretty good, even better when I don’t have to make them 😉 (thanks family). 

The great thing about smoothies are that they are super healthy if you use fruit and a little protein (I think hemp and pea are best, and I avoid whey at all costs…..but that’s another blog post altogether.)  It’s easy to start adding sugar and fat to smoothies (think yogurt, milk, protein powders, honey, etc.) which quickly erodes their nutritional value.  In fact, most conventional recipes include ingredients that simply negate the benefits of drinking smoothies. For a healthy person, they may be ok, but not for us.  Our nutritional needs are a bit different.  I personally only include fruits, veggies, a small amount of flax-seed and hemp protein in most of my smoothies. The fruit makes it sweet enough, and the flax and protein helps it stick to my bones.  I don’t need to eat as much throughout the day because my smoothies are enough to keep me going.  Mind you, I am no athlete, nor am I a tall person, so I really don’t need a lot to eat and feel healthy.  Anyway, this post isn’t about smoothies so let me get to it already…..

Supplements!!!

I don’t care what the big-pharma funded sources say, supplements are good and they do work.  You just need to be selective in the supplements you use because they aren’t all made the same.  Loose regulation of vitamins makes consumer knowledge imperative when purchasing.  Companies can and do make false or misleading claims about what their products can and will do.  They can add all sorts of fillers and ingredients that they don’t necessarily need to disclose and they aren’t always very honest about the effectiveness, purity, or origination of their active ingredients.  Conditions are improving, but the market is so huge that navigating it can be overwhelming.  How do you know what is good and what is crap?  Well, first and foremost, it is up to us to arm ourselves with as much information as possible so that we can make the absolute best decisions with regard to our health.  And, don’t allow the “loose regulation” talk stop you from trying supplements. Remember, the FDA regulates and approves all sorts of things that aren’t fit for human consumption. Any way you slice it, we as consumers and patients are pretty much on our own in the healthcare and wellness minefield.  However, there is hope! Education is the best defense from those snake-oil and kidney-killing-pharmaceutical mines. =)

Perhaps in my next life I will be a doctor, but unfortunately I think that boat has sailed for me this time around.  That said, please know that my information is just that: information.  I cannot and do not claim that anything I say will effectively treat or cure anyone and I do suggest that you talk with your healthcare professional about any supplements you take, especially if you are already taking prescriptions.  Supplements don’t always mix well with prescription drugs for some reason (lol)….once in a while their combination can cause death, so be sure to find out all you can before adding supplements to your daily cocktail of pills.  Even though they come in the shapes of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, vitamins aren’t candy, and should not be taken lightly. 

Whole foods are best, sure, but with autoimmune disease, your gut usually isn’t working to its potential, so your body needs the extra help supplements should give. 

My Favorite Vitamin Brands

If you have been following my blog, you know that I am partial to Metagenics brand supplements.  It may have a bit to do with the fact that it is the brand that I am prescribed in the study that I am in, but in all fairness, I have taken a lot of different supplements by a lot of different brands.  It’s true.  I was once a regular at our local Vitamin Shoppe; the employees all knew me by first name. I have also tried Kirkland, Centrum, GNC, Trader Joe’s and most of the brands carried by Super Supplements and of course, The Vitamin Shoppe, and I can safely say that none of those brands came close to the difference I have felt while taking Metagenics brand.  I do not make any money by saying this, nor do I receive any kind of incentive to promote Metagenics, it is just my honest experience.  That is not to say that the others aren’t any good.  Anything that is free of fillers and that makes a physical difference in the way you feel is good.  I should mention as well that Metagenics aren’t your typical supplements you buy at the store, you should, in most cases have them prescribed by a doctor or dietician.  Metagenics are nutraceuticals; they tend to be made with higher grade ingredients than average.

Another favorite is Douglas Labs.  Their products are very similar to Metagenics and I have noticed that when Metagenics is unavailable for whatever reason, it is the brand my doctor will turn to next. Maybe it’s a commission thing that my doctor has with Douglas, but I am not terribly worried about that because I feel the difference when I take the products he prescribes.  If you do not believe me, then I highly recommend trying a round of your store brand vitamin for three months and then switching to Metagenics or Douglas for three months and feel the difference for yourself =).

Poppin’ Pills: My Daily Pill Fix

Currently I take….

My favorites, my anti-inflammatory/anti-pain pills:

  • 2  Metagenics Inflavanoid Intensive Care 3 x day
  • 1 Metagenics Kaprex 3 x day
  • 1 “magic pill” 2 x day (sorry, it’s currently in development, but it is the best defense in pill-form I have against pain)
  • 2 scoops Metagenics Ultra-InflammX Powder 2 x day

My others that help a lot too…

  • 1 Metagenics EPA-DHA (AKA fish oil) 2 x day
  • 1 Metagenics D3 5000 (vitamin D) 1 x day
  • 1 – 2 Metagenics Metagest (digestive enzymes) 3 x day
  • 1 Metagenics Metazyme (digestive enzyme) 3 x day
  • 1 Fortify (probiotic) 2 x day (I buy it fresh and keep it in the door of my freezer where it won’t freeze, but stay fresh.  Nothing more wasteful than buying “dead” prorbiotic).
  • 1 Metagenics EstroFactors (hormonal balance) 3 x day
  • 1 Metagenics Thyrosal (thyroid support) 2 x day

Yes, that is a lot of pills, but to me it’s worth it. If I start to have problems with my stomach, kidneys or liver, I will reconsider the number of pills I am taking, but I have been taking a large quantity of (high quality) supplements for years (under the supervision of a doctor) and have had no problems.  If anything, my health has improved. 

Remember when you are shopping or even when you are prescribed supplements, make sure to read all the ingredients.  Many brands, even the good ones, will include ingredients or derivatives of common allergens such as gluten, dairy, and soy depending on the supplements purpose.  Vitamin B-12 often contains gluten, so be careful all my gluten-free friends.  Avoid supps that contain many inactive ingredients, they are usually just fillers.  You get what you pay for in many cases, but not all.  Remember, knowledge is power! =)

Resources: 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ConnieTorres
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 20:31:18

    I’m so happy you chose this topic to discuss! I took vitamins for years with little or no effect. When my naturopath prescribed Ultra Preventive X, which is a multivitamin (Douglas Laboratories) and Metagenics EPA-DHA (Fish Oil) both to be taken at each meal, I felt so much better, had so much more energy and my hair got really thick and nice. Foolishly I didn’t replenish my supply when I ran out so, I’m back to where I was. I just placed an order for a bottle of both multivitamin and fish oil – back on the horse, back to nice hair and more energy.

    Reply

  2. ConnieTorres
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 20:38:07

    …and I take vitamin D and will forever.

    Reply

  3. Christine Thornton
    Sep 28, 2010 @ 19:53:19

    This was SO informative & useful! I will be starting some of these supplements!

    Reply

  4. Jen McC
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 00:47:58

    Wow, nice post. I am a young woman suffering with RA and have taken things into my own hands (with no support or doc ) unfortunately. It is blogs like yours that give us hope and keep people like me going! My blog is http://www.jensrajourney.blogpsot.com

    Thanks for your post, I will visit this blog a lot!!

    Reply

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