by guest blogger Steph

Steph is maharani at Midlife Makeover Year, where she’s exploring new approaches to her health, diet, attitude, family life, and shoes, among other things. She is also one of my few commenters to refrain from mentioning w-bcam s-x, for which I will be eternally grateful. — mr

When I went on the Perfect Health Diet plan, I hoped to clean up my eating habits and address some of my thyroid issues through food choices. As it happens, the PHD plan is not just about food; there is actually a pretty aggressive recommended supplement plan. (Aggressive, that is, for me, as I’ve traditionally been a “multi-plus-maybe-some-vitamin-D” person.) Since the supplement plan didn’t involve drastically cutting sugar or giving up the fresh, hot gluten-filled rolls I was habitually baking for my family (as the food plan does, sigh), I did the pills first.

Because I was not expecting to get any bang for my vitamin and mineral buck, I didn’t watch for any reactions, good or bad, that I might have to this or that supplement. I didn’t take a scientific approach to starting on a new pill or capsule. I included each recommended supplement in my morning cocktail as it arrived in the mail. Pretty quickly (thanks to Amazon Prime), I had added the following to my multi-vitamin and 1000 IUs of vitamin D3: vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin K2 (100 mcg), copper (2 mg), chromium (200 mcg), iodine (500 mcg), magnesium (400 mg), and selenium (200 mcg).

Within a few days after I was on everything, I noticed a major change, not physically, but mentally — a major reduction in OCD symptoms and general anxiety. I was first struck while I was driving to the food store. I had a feeling of competence and ease. I was not gripping the steering wheel. I was, in fact, steering with one hand. This is not something I do. Generally, I drive waiting for an accident, acutely aware of my killing potential. But now I felt…not indifferent to others’ wellbeing, by any means, but as capable as the other drivers on the road.

This was strange! And it took a little mental work for me to accept that perhaps I felt like a competent driver because I am one, not because I was suddenly drugged and delusional.

A few days later, I began to feel that I was perhaps a bit too mellow. In poking around a little, I learned that the recommended dose for magnesium for women is 200 mg (400 mg is the recommended dose for men). Also, I have low blood pressure, and I was concerned that too much magnesium would lower it even more. So I bumped my dose down. That felt more natural.

Then, the real test: I had an upset in my personal life, the sort of thing that generally sets me off in a spiral of obsessing, “phoning in” my obligations to my sons, driving my husband crazy, clenching my jaw, eating obsessively, and just generally getting sucked into a vortex of negativity and pulling my family and friends down with me. Only I didn’t. I was upset for a bit, processed the situation, and moved on. This was major, and completely unexpected.

With minimal research (laziness being central to my character), I learned that many folks with OCD find symptom relief with selenium supplementation, so I’ve decided that this was likely key to my newfound mental health improvement. I’ve taken magnesium in the past with no reduction in OCD symptoms.

I may in the near future try eliminating selenium for a bit to see if my OCD symptoms ramp up. The trick will be finding a “good” time to invite that lovely obsessing back into my psyche.

If you grapple with OCD, you might want to give selenium a try. Note that too much selenium is toxic, so monitor your intake. And if you regularly eat Brazil nuts, you are already getting a big hit of selenium, so be careful.

I have since stopped taking the copper, iodine, and vitamin K2. My multi-vitamin already included the recommended amount of copper and I became concerned about taking too much. The iodine was making my thyroid feel “wonky.” I have since switched from sea salt to regular, supermarket iodized salt, and this is working better for me. I stopped the K2 after I developed a superficial blood clot on my leg. So far as I know, K2 assists the body’s clotting mechanism, but doesn’t cause blood clots. Nevertheless, I figure I probably clot OK on my own.

8 thoughts on “My experience with the Perfect Health Diet’s supplement plan”

  1. Hi Steph,

    I thought this was an opinion on the PHD diet, and it’s not.

    Before reading the Jaminet’s book I was supplementin with all the supplements you took. I too have a tendency for low blood pressure but find a lot more comfortable when having doses of 1000 or even 1.500mg of magnesium per day, which is perfectly safe, as I researched before taking them. Unfortunately many issues where still there. That’s why I did all the dietary changes suggested in the book, after just one week I feel great.

    By the way the Jaminet’s do not recommend multi vitamins, they actually advise against them as they have too much of several vitamins that can be bad for health, like folic acid, and too little of the important ones, a reason why I take all my vitamins separatedly. They recommend 1 gram a day of vitamin C, not 500mg. This said, they say that the supplements together with the diet are designed to have the adequate proportion of nutrients, and as that they are supposed to complement the amounts taken with food, so only supplements without the proper nutritious foods and with malnourishing foods like sugar, can generate an imbalance.

    Good luck,

  2. I was wondering why copper was recommended?

    A google search on copper and adrenal burnout/fatigue will suggest that copper is the last thing anyone should take, especially alone, when one is trying to calm down and relax.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi, Kelly!

      In the PHD book, they discuss the heart benefits of copper. I never noticed any fatigue or burnout on copper – that’s not to say it wasn’t there.

      I’ve since discontinued the copper because someone I trust – I think Anthony Colpo? – wrote against supplementing copper – I think in his book Fat Loss Bible.

      When I started the PHD plan, it felt good to put myself in the hands of someone – to just let the Jaminets (the authors of the book) tell me what to do. And as I wrote, I was not expecting to notice any mood benefits from supplements, so I was pleasantly surprised. But as I’ve since learned (and this blog so wisely demonstrates), ideally, supplement plans are individualized. I guess it’s kind of like how we’re all guided by our parents when we’re young, but then we really have to figure things out for ourselves. I was revisiting my childhood for a bit, I suppose.

      I’m grateful to the Jaminets for getting me on the supplement wagon.

      Good luck with whatever health issues you are working on!

  3. Steph

    I take a lot of omega 3, this started some years ago to help with some chronic neck and shoulder pain. At the time I read a book by Dr Barry Sears, that recommended 5-7 grams per day for pain relief. For me that works out to 4 teaspoons of Carlson’s Fish oil – which while a bit more expensive is batch tested and certified for heavy metals and pesticides. This combined with gluten free and some daily exercises (mainly pushups) and my back and neck are great after many years of problems. Most people see benefits with a lot less. Fish oil can easily oxidize and go rancid so I keep in refrigerator. I have also had fish oil tablets go rancid long before their shelf life date expired.


  4. John, how do you do your omega 3 fats? (I should be better about fish, and Paul Jaminet scared me off fish oil supplements, though perhaps I should revisit.)

  5. Steph

    The gluten connection seems to impact on many levels. If you search “gluten sensitivity” a lot more information becomes available. Eliminating gluten can be very helpful on a lot of seemingly unconnected health issues. Literature I have read indicate supplements with b vitamins, Magnesium, selenium and omega 3 fats important to the gluten sensitive. Going gluten free can be an important step, but not the whole story.

    I think in time as you get further into your personal health research the DNA analysis will be something you will want to do. It is though just a guide on what may happen. It can be a very useful tool in helping you shape dietary and lifestyle changes.

  6. John, I’m glad you have found improvement with selenium, too! Interesting what you say about being gluten challenged – some months after starting supplements, I got off gluten and have seen improvements in other areas that appear to be autoimmune-related (thyroid, eczema, and some arthritic discomfort). So great, what we can do with just some cheap supplements and dietary tweaks.

    I’d not heard about 23 and Me. I think I’m still a bit too neurotic to consider poking around a DNA test…

  7. I think you are on to something with the selenium connection. After including selenium supplements in my diet I have also notice a calming and simplification to my normal mental “ruminations” and my normal background sense of foreboding. Literature searches I have done indicate low selenium are classic for the “gluten challenged” . On a personal level I got a really good steer via DNA analysis from the 23 and Me folks. Most of my genetic health risks had links back to gluten and celiac. Hope you continue to enjoy good “vibes”


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