If you are super-sensitive to a supplement, it might be available in another form.
If a trashed liver, freaked-out nervous system, or fried digestion makes you super-sensitive to various supplements, you might try another delivery method or formulation.
These are the ones I know about, although I do not have experience with all of them. Let me know if there are others. See also the post on badly-designed supplements.
8 alternative formulations
Lactoferrin instead of iron
This doesn’t seem to require as much processing by the liver. However I tried to use it to raise really, really low iron levels and it didn’t work. It’s possible it just takes a lot longer.
Beef spleen supplements instead of iron
Worked like a charm for me after decades of failed attempts using iron.
Magnesium spray or epsom salt baths instead of magnesium
Absorb it through the skin and bypass those pesky organs.
P5P instead of vitamin B6
You’ll read all over the place that 1 mg of P5P equals 50 mg of vitamin B6, but that never helped me at all in figuring out dosage. Nor did taking a small amount of P5P make the rest of the (regular) vitamin B6 dose work better.
A vitamin D lamp instead of vitamin D supplements
Some experts are adamant that tanning beds should not be used to raise vitamin D levels, but a few say it’s perfectly fine.
Citrulline instead of arginine
Low-oxalate dieters will be familiar with this one. Some people who react badly to arginine do better on citrulline.
Niacinamide instead of niacin
If you can’t stand the flush, or have had too many embarrassing moments caused by misjudging the timing of the flush, use niacinamide. However, I think this form does not have the cholesterol-lowering effects that plain old niacin does.
Authia cream instead of thiamine
This topical application reeks of garlic, but if you’re desperate, you’re desperate. Some users say that taking 10 mg (10,000 mcg) of biotin solves the odor problem.
What’s available in injections
Injections are also available, vitamin B12 being the most common. I’ve also heard of vitamin B6 injections. Traditional doctors will in dire cases give iron injections to patients not responding to iron supplements, but you might end up with a little gray dot on your arse for the rest of your life. The B12 injections are very easy to do yourself — you don’t need to find a vein, just a well-padded area. I found it very difficult to find an alternative practitioner who would give me the high dose I wanted, though.
Intravenous (IV) treatments are pretty much the arena of alternative medicine clinics. Usually a whole mess of other nutrients are also included in the drip. Vitamin C is very popular with this application. I had several IV treatments of thiamine, but it turned out not to be any more effective than the tablets for me.
Absorption through the skin
DMSO is a chemical available at health food stores that will carry anything it’s mixed with through the skin. So far I’ve heard of it being used to deliver vitamin C and B12 transdermally, but there might be others. I believe you have to be careful with preparation to avoid absorbing any random insect parts or dirt. And that is the sum total of my knowledge on DMSO.
The content on this page was first posted in August 2013 and updated in April 2023.
Image of geisha by Kris Barnes.