Here’s a roundup of the vitamin and mineral supplements that have had the most dramatic effect on my various health annoyances. After the recent media exposure on the Target/Walgreens/GNC supplements debacle, allow me to reiterate that I operate on the theory that nutritional deficiencies are often behind health issues and that correcting the deficiency can correct the health issue. Unfortunately, with a very few exceptions — ferritin, vitamin D, B12 if you know what you’re doing, a few others — there is no way to test for deficiencies except to try a supplement and see what happens. The medical establishment would love to have you believe otherwise, but alas, it is not true. And we won’t even get into the problem of gauging what a normal test result is, even if the test measures the nutrient level accurately.
See also two earlier posts on deficiency symptoms and reactions, here and here.
Calcium/magnesium: Caused a reduction in anxiety I hadn’t even realized I had until it disappeared. Big improvement in sleep, too. Big improvement in, uh, eliminational motility.
Folic acid/folate/methylfolate: My second experience with nutritional therapy, if you exclude the Flintstones vitamins of my childhood. (The first was during my grandfather’s vitamin C kick in the early 80s.) My mother, who flew every week for work, had discovered it got rid of restless legs within 30 minutes. I used it for the same thing for years, then switched to folate/methylfolate shortly after starting this blog, I think. I’ve found that if 800 mcg of folate doesn’t get rid of it in 20 minutes, it’s probably a B12 issue. If that doesn’t work, it’s a calcium issue. If my entire body is restless — arms, too — I know it’s a B12 thing.
GABA: Turned off overactive mind at night. Also helped tinnitus. After a while, didn’t have to take it anymore.
Hyaluronic acid: Improves maddening eye floaters in a few days. Improves eyesight in general as well. Makes my skin look better and my neck a whole lot easier to swivel around while reversing out of parking spaces.
Lactoferrin: Cleared up my sinuses. I want to say that regular iron supplements did the same but took a lot longer and without as pronounced as effect. In other words, iron deficiency can screw up your sinuses.
Methionine: Normalized horrific periods at doses of about 3,000 mg a day. Also made me look about five years younger, probably by vacuuming out my crappy liver.
Vitamin B6: This was my second success and pretty much got me started on the nutritional therapy road. If you’ve never had carpal tunnel syndrome, you have no clue what anxiety this can cause when your career depends on keyboard use. Later, much higher doses of the P5P formulation of vitamin B6 put a dent in my sugar cravings, improved my sinuses, and ended years of increasingly itchy skin. However, that might be a methylation thing more than a B6-specific thing.
Vitamin C: Big doses — we’re talking 2,000 mg three times a day — lowered my histamine levels and radically improved my mental concentration. After several months I didn’t have to take it anymore. Made eye floaters worse, though.
Vitamin D: Increased my nightly sleep from three hours to 5 hours, if only for five months.
Vitamin K: Like methionine, it normalized the god-awful menorrhagia I’d had for 20 years. Commenters on a paleo blog somewhere — Mark’s Daily Apple? — alerted me to its use for what I guess you’d call TMJ pain. About once a month I get the feeling that my upper and lower palates are collapsing inward. Weird. Vitamin K gets rid of it.
Image: Remix of 1952 Eames House of Cards by MRhea.
4 thoughts on “All the pills I’ve loved before”
I just found your blog. I love your tone, wisdom and generosity. Out of necessity, I’m an explorer too. Many of us with a possible vitamin dependency and not just deficiency are casualties of a medical system that puts little training into learning about energy metabolism.
Right now, I’m reaping some benefit from the B1 supplement lipothiamine. My most successful self hacks have come about in conjunction with considerations of my 23 and me genomic data.
Best to you
Thanks Robin. I have been meaning to check out the 23 and Me testing.
I found your blog because of a family issue with “Niagarhhagia” and want to thank you so much for putting your voice out there.
As a side note, though, I watch health technology developments closely, and you might be interested in a project I backed that does let you test for several deficiencies at home, a variation of UAV testing which is used clinically. It doesn’t do Vitamin K, but it seems to have most of the main deficiency targets. The project is the Vitastiq and it was on Indiegogo.
That looks very intriguing! Congratulations on getting funded. I will check it out as soon as I get my iPhone fixed.