Tuesday, January 5, 2010

S is for Supplements, D is for Debate

So what do you think about dietary supplements?

I was never a fan of vitamins. Once I outgrew Flintstone’s Chewables I really didn’t want to be bothered choking down the horse pills that pass for adult vitamins. I took pre-natal vitamins prior-to and during both of my pregnancies. They smelled awful and contributed to my morning sickness, but I managed to get them down because they were ‘doctor-recommended’ and ‘FDA-approved.’ [More about those two frightening catch phrases in later posts, I promise.]

After my gestating days were over, I gave up on vitamins and supplements, figuring they didn’t really offer much benefit, but now I’m finding a lot of research that tells me otherwise.

A few months ago, in a somewhat knee-jerk response to the swine-flu panic, I started taking Vitamin D and Vitamin C supplements. I’m extraordinarily wary of the H1N1 vaccine and the media hype about swine, bird and other forms of influenza, but I do want to boost my immune system any way I can. I picked up some vitamin D capsules [small and easy to swallow, that’s always a plus] and chewable vitamin C.

I haven’t gotten a cold so far this season [fall/winter]. And I do feel a might more energetic. I’m not pushing vitamins here, mind you, but after reading so much about the widespread vitamin-D deficiency we suffer from here in the US, I’m beginning to think it’s something to be even more concerned about than swine flu.

Vitamin D is reported to support bone and colon health, boost the immune system and provide some measure of protection against certain forms of cancer. We don’t get enough because we don’t spend enough time outside in the sun [thanks to ozone depletion the sun is now bad for us] and we don’t eat enough D-containing foods.

The benefits of vitamin C are widely known, chief among them support of the immune system.

Do you think an increase in C and D intake can have a significant effect on your health? Have you found the benefits of vitamins and/or other dietary supplements to be downplayed by doctors or overstated?

I’d love to hear your opinions.


  1. Interesting post. I actually noticed a huge difference in my DH's memory when he started taking a fish oil supplement his doctor prescribed, so I do believe that there's some help amid all the hype.

  2. I've been reading a lot about fish oil - that may be my next endeavor. I could certainly use a boost in memory, if only so I can remember to take my vitamins.

  3. Fish oil and memory - I used to take fish oil, then was told I shouldn't because of one of my bleeding disorders, and my memory really has gotten bad - I wonder if there's a connection?

    I do know that when Robby was anemic, starting him on a basic adult multivitamin fixed it. I'm sure he didn't eat any differently, and we didn't give him iron pills specifically. So I'm guessing there must be something to it. If a generic multivitamin can do that, how much better must the name brands be? (At least, that's what the name brands want you to think... ;) )


  4. That's another good topic - what brands of vitamins can you trust? Are you better off buying off the shelf or getting a prescription for vitamins from a doctor? What makes one type better than another? Good questions for my future FDA post.