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Monday, October 29, 2012

37: Serious About Supplements

If you saw the number of supplements that Greg and I have in our kitchen cupboard, you’d probably think it was ridiculous. Many people are still of the mind, “I don’t need to take vitamins and minerals; I get everything I need from my food,” but we stopped believing that a long time ago. I know that if you read my articles, you could easily think that iodine is the only supplement I take, but I try to cover all my bases.

My nutrition regimen morphs as I go on learning. A few years ago, I was faithfully using a good quality all-in-one vitamin-and-mineral supplement by a company called Adeeva, at a cost of about $30 for a one-month bottle. They are available in most health food stores; also online, where you can buy several at a time and save a little. A product like this is a good place to start for those who are overwhelmed with the thought of trying to figure out exactly what they need. (I don’t recommend using the complexes marketed by the big pharmaceutical companies: often the forms of vitamins they use are not fitted for our bodies, plus there are tough coatings on the caplets to extend shelf-life, so absorption is poor.)

This particular supplement that I was using contains Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, biotin (generally classified as a B-complex vitamin), D-pantothenic acid (B5), calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, chromium, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, citrus bioflavonoids (essential if Vitamin C is to be fully metabolized and utilized by the body), lycopene (an antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes and certain other fruits and vegetables their color), and lutein (a plant carotenoid deficient in most western diets; important in eye health). This is a good pedigree and contains fairly generous amounts.

However, I still needed to take extra calcium and magnesium, because I’ve learned over the years how much I need, so I had to buy those separately. The citrate forms of these two minerals are well-absorbed. I’m currently using Jamieson brand: inexpensive but effective, and available in large chain stores. (Magnesium in particular is so important, yet there is wide-spread deficiency of this mineral. It promotes heart health, calm nerves, better sleep, regularity, and all kinds of other things. Try to see that you get at least 400 mg per day.)

Then I recognized a greater need for vitamin D and bought that separately, to boost my intake from 400 IU to anywhere between 2000 and 6000 IU, depending on the time of year. (If you find yourself prone to depression during our long dark winters, try upping your D intake. Seasonal affective disorder: they don’t call it SAD for nothing! It’s believed to be caused by lack of natural sunlight on the skin, which is how we normally get vitamin D.)

Then a couple of different practitioners told me I needed to increase to 3000 mg of Vitamin C a day, first for some issues with platelets and white blood cells, and then for the voracious need of my adrenal glands.

And I needed to buy some salmon oil too, so that I was getting my essential fatty acids. (Buy wild salmon oil; farmed salmon is raised in questionable conditions and given antibiotics.)

As I got into taking iodine, I found out that it works hand in hand with selenium for a healthy thyroid and also to keep heavy metals moving out of the body. My supplement contained only half of what I needed. So I bought some of that and increased my dose to 200 mcg a day. (You can take up to 400 mcg a day of selenium.)

My adrenal issues also demanded 800 IU of Vitamin E, not just the 400 I was getting, so I bought some of that. I learned, too, that many brands of Vitamin E are in the form of “d-alpha-tocopheral.” It is the most inexpensive to manufacture and therefore the most profitable. However, what we need (especially with adrenal issues) is a “mixed tocopherals” form of E, containing also beta, delta, and gamma. I checked my bottle of Vitamin E and, happily, found it was “mixed.” That’s what my mother would call better luck than good management.

I buy most of my vitamins at Nutter’s (Leduc and Wetaskiwin readers may appreciate this tip): they have a great selection and the prices are good, especially on the last Tuesday of every month when everything is 20% off. That’s where I buy my psyllium husk too—an easy way to be sure you’re getting enough fibre. I take a tablespoon in juice every morning, and it really gets the job done. (Sorry!)

As you can easily understand, I eventually dropped the “all-in-one” supplement from Adeeva. But it’s a great place for you to start if you need a new health regimen. That brand was available at Nutter’s, last time I checked, and it’ll be discounted $6 on “Power Tuesday.”


  1. I'm glad you mentioned the poor absorption rate of many big brand multi's. In my opinion Nutrilites double x is a perfect place to start, the rate of absorption is incredibly high.
    Corrie R

  2. Do you know how to measure absorption rates? I'd live to learn how.

  3. what kind of iodine do you purchase and where do you purchase it as well? I'm in the Wetaskiwin area. Thanks for all your great articles.

    1. Hi Donna

      What I buy for iodine is called Lugol's Solution. It is available (since I seem to have created a demand for it!) at Window on Nutrition, just up from the library. They keep a good supply on hand. Value Drug Mart also tries to keep a bottle in inventory.