Did you want Supplements with that?

None of this is meant as a guideline, and a fair amount is probably based on nonsense based on a mixture of so-called facts and myths I’ve found around the internet. I’m certainly no expert on diet or biology and I generally have only a vague understanding of things. For that reason I pretty much research everything I consider taking/supplementing, although that “research” might just involve watching a bunch of Youtube videos; I recommend you do your own research based on your own issues and symptoms – or even seek actual expert opinions – what may seemingly have helped me, may not help you).

Dietary supplements are substances [perhaps in pill-form] one might use to add nutrients to ones diet.

On this page about stuff I take:

  • Vitamin C
  • Kelp
  • Vitamin B
  • Iron
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Frankincense
  • Omega-3
  • There’s also a little interjection about Covid.

Basically, the notion is that our food (not that I know what you eat) is lacking in vitamins, whether it be fruit and veg, meat or eggs. Even so-called healthy foods, or home-grown stuff can be of varieties that have either been farmed on increasingly nutrient-deficient grounds, or from crop varieties that have been chosen for other reasons (such as flavour/sweetness, or pest resistant, size, colour) other than healthiness. Even “organic” or “pasture fed” might not be as good as you think.

Two different eggs in my sandwiches

Take the humble egg; you can do a test with these yourself – compare yolks: vibrant orange means more vitamin A (I believe), vs a pale yellow yolk.

With that being said, I’ve always thought “healthy food” was best and there a certainly more than a fair share of ailments that can be avoided, cured, or symptoms reduced by adjusting our diet. However, I gradually started to incorporate “supplements” into my diet to make up for any (supposed) shortfalls (especially where it seemed only expensive foods could make up for this), and this began with Vitamin C, but I now ingest a variety, and this I never planned. I therefore list below (pretty much for my own sake) what I take, why (although I have to ask Google to refresh my memory on this) and my experiences.

In fact, in some ways it might be that I am lazy with what food I buy (or just skimp on spending) because I believe I am making up for certain short-falls in my diet through the act of supplementation. Actual food is best (and I don’t include processed food in this) since how vitamins and minerals are in natural foods is complex, and I’ve come to learn that our bodies require that ‘complex’, not just one isolated vitamin here and there.

Vitamin C

This is where it all began. I came across videos calling this a wonder vitamin that we are all greatly deficient in and how we can potentially take massive doses to even cure things like cancer (their claims, not mine). I ordered a bulk load (as I tend to do with these things, because it’s more cost-effective that way) or the 1000mg variety and began taking them (in 2017 I believe). With all of these I observe dosage guidelines and start at a low level and monitor and consider side-effects.

As I gradually increased my dose (never more than one at a time, ideally with a meal, and spread out throughout the day) I noticed my stomach gurgling somewhat when I was up to around 4 tablets a day and I backed off. This was one of the things to look out for as a tolerance indicator. It was said that tolerance would typically vary; you begin with a lower tolerance, especially if you are otherwise well, but if you are using the supplement to overcome an illness then tolerance would typically increase. There were some seemingly crazy accounts of people taking huge doses when dealing with cancer for example.

These days I typically take just one tablet a day but sometimes a second one later on if I remember. If I’ve come down with a cold/sore throat/flu, then I would be sure to take more.

I later stumbled on Youtube video with a different take on Vitamin C supplementation and it explained how Vitamin C in its natural form is part of a vitamin complex and that the supplement is only one (ascorbic acid) of four parts. By supplementing in high doses you would be drastically putting this complex out of balance.

Kelp

I started adding sea kelp (in the form of tablets) to my diet also in 2017 for a source of iodine. As I recall I was trying to figure out (on my own rather than consulting a doctor) what was causing me fatigue; it seemed that my thyroid glands were somewhat enlarged and slightly tender at times when I thought about it and with these two symptoms iodine deficiency could have been the culprit.

I certainly still get fatigue, but I recognise a variety of causes and contributors (such as cycling or stress) and manage these in a variety of ways. However, I’ve pretty much stopped thinking about that thyroid issue; perhaps I’ve just taken away the worry that “my iodine levels might be low”. I think that too much iodine can have a similar effect on the thyroid as too little, so if I do have an occasional flare-up (which is rare), then I leave out the kelp tablet.

Vitamin B

I’m not sure exactly why I started incorporating a “Vitamin B complex” tablet into my arsenal; I thought it was because I went lower-cab (from being pretty high-carb all my life previously) and I’d learned that can lead one to be deficient in B12. This doesn’t stack up now (in fact the opposite should be the case) as I consult Google, however some symptoms of B12 deficiency are “tiredness, heart-palpitations and shortness of breath, and pale skin”. I’m asthmatic so perhaps this is what my reasoning was for taking up this supplement a few years ago.

Iron

Being somewhat of a “cyclist” (I ride my bike most days), I’d come across on Youtube a video from “GCN” about how endurance riding and speed of recovery can be improved with plenty of iron, since iron levels can be pushed low with fatigue from sport.

I bought a tub of 14mg tablets (which I now see also include B12*) but found I can only used them in extreme cases, such as after a particularly long and gruelling ride. I also consider what foods I’m having after such a ride (I always focus on eating well), particularly what else I might be consuming which is already high in iron (spinach, turkey, pumpkin seeds, are typical ones for me). The reason for this consideration is that I found if I took an iron tablet when I wasn’t fatigued enough to warrant it (or I was getting enough iron from elsewhere) I was prone to developing heart palpitations. I think this is a good sign that my body manages its iron levels well (or I can’t tolerate much). I’m still on my original bottle of 90 tablets purchased in 2018.

*The doubling up of certain things can certainly happen when taking multiple supplements; they don’t only contain that one thing.

Vitamin D

At the beginning of 2020, still in the thick of winter, I’d noticed my mood was particularly prone to being depressed. Even though I try to maintain my cycling levels throughout winter and get out most days, I think my efforts had been somewhat slacker than normal that winter and I’d not maintained an adequate level of outdoor activity for my well-being and happiness. I therefore started supplementing Vitamin D.

I’m pretty well convinced that the Vitamin D tablets I’ve been taking do their thing. I typically only take them on grey days, mostly only if I’ve been stuck in all day. Just like with eating a variety of greens, getting outside for some actual fresh air and sunshine (even on dull days) is really the best approach.

I’ve also learned to only take on in the morning; I’ve taken one before bed and my stomach didn’t like that.

Zinc

I’ve written before about my anosmia; my lack of sense of smell. I came across the suggestion that low zinc levels could either be the cause/a contributor, or that supplementing it could help. I know my loss of smell isn’t complete, or permanent since I noticed my sense of smell greatly improved when fasting.

The idea with the zinc tablet was that I should place it on my tongue; if my zinc levels are fine then I should get a metallic taste in my mouth, and therefore supposedly I wouldn’t need to swallow the tablet – I don’t think the video I watched explained this. I couldn’t taste the tablet so I considered my zinc levels were indeed low. However, I continued to try this for days on end, hoping/expecting the tablet to do its thing and increase my zinc levels so at last I could detect that metallic taste. This has never happened. I also wonder if there is a particular place on the tongue where this would work best, since I know from school biology that different areas of the tongue detect different flavours (sweet, sour etc) but the video never touched on this either.

Perhaps the zinc tablets are duds. This could be said for any of these I take, particularly the Vitamin C or any of the other white-coloured tablets particularly which could be nothing more than “filler” (at best). [There is also a risk that the supplements you buy contain something harmful, so I would always consider my sources and reviews.]

[Covid]

Before I move onto my final two “supplements” (yes there’s more!), I wanted to add something about the zinc, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C since these have come up in topics about Covid-19 / SARS-CoV-2. It just so happened that I added zinc and Vitamin D to my arsenal at the start of the outbreak here in the UK, before I’d heard of any links. I was had already considered that Vitamin C might be the go-to vitamin for those “in the know” about high-dosing the vitamin when dealing with serious illnesses, such as cancer.

Since a healthy (i.e a good) amount of Vitamin D in the form of plenty of exposure to sunshine does wonders for the immune system and therefore be of high importance in dealing with a virus that “does a number on” said immune system, it should have come as little surprise (again to those in the know) that supplementing Vitamin D might be a strong consideration in either preparing to catch the virus or in tackling it.

The surprise came with mentions of Zinc though and I leaned more about this from news about the virus and how a particular drug was necessary to enable zinc absorption.

So, it was somewhat fortuitous I suppose, that at the start of the outbreak taking hold here I had just put in my order for both Vitamin D tablets and Zinc. It’s probably somewhat late in the day to be talking about this now, but when I caught the virus I made sure I was taking these things daily, along with doses of Vitamin C (as I would have if I’d have been battling with a cold or sore throat). I don’t know what effect these had or if they aided/assisted me in any way. Experiences with the Virus vary (which is why I never wrote about it at the time), and this was just my own experience and how I dealt with it.

Frankincense

Yes, that stuff that’s mentioned in the Christmas Story, it turns out, is an aid to Nasal Polyps. Not heard of that. I hadn’t either until I got talking to a client of mine who had similar symptoms to what I was experiencing with regards to “a blocked nose”. It’s not that the nose feels blocked, but rather, like it closes up (either one nostril or the other) and I can’t breath through it. Again, I’ve never been diagnosed for this, in fact my client had the exact nose spray treatment I used to receive as a child for my hay-fever. As I researched the issue it seemed to me that perhaps the nose spray was a possible cause for the Nasal Polyps-like symptom. With that I came across Frankincense Resin which comes from tress in a far off land.

At first it’s a crunchy gritty bland substance that I put a pinch of in my mouth and begin to chew. As saliva mixes with it it turns into a kind of chewing gum (although still quite bland). Since my symptoms come about (typically and noticeably) when I lie down in bed at night, if I get an inkling this is going to be the case I chew on this stuff while I do my usual routine of reading a book for a while.

I’m not sure it helps that much, and it may be that my problem might be that I’m having an allergic reaction to my bed covers (feathers, detergent or dust mites) and that this will continue to occur more or less until I resolve that issue, but it seems that even if it’s not the Frankincense itself that is working to alleviate the symptom, or it’s the very act of chewing the substance that’s sort of massaging my face and helping to de-restrict my nose.

Omega-3

I should have probably added this supplement to my diet a long time ago. The health benefits are widely known and widely published so I’ll not add them here, I’ve also not been taking these tablets long to notice anything.

As with all of these supplements I’m convinced that (unless they’re duds!) that while effects or benefits aren’t always noticed soon after incorporating them into a diet, the long term and cumulative effect should be beneficial. In addition to these things there are a variety of other substances we can add to our diets that can benefit us in the long run, like sea salt, or turmeric (to name but a couple that I add in). Benefits and experiences of each certainly vary and I think it’s important to first focus on diet and healthy routines and then consider incorporating in things where deficiencies may lie… and do your best to monitor the effects.

The final piece of advice about taking supplements, is to take them in the morning* so you can notice any effects thereafter. And take them with food*. Don’t think more is better or try and rush the process of gradual absorption; certainly start on a low dose.

*Unless guidelines say otherwise.

A particular downside to, and issue I have with, taking all of these supplements is that they all come in plastic:

Anyway, I hope this page of insight has been of interest. Feel free to share your experiences or routines below. I’ve come to think I’ve turned into my grandparents as I always remember having breakfast with them and seeing their little rows of pills next to their cereal bowls!

5 comments

  1. If you ever get to understanding why either one nostril or the other closes in bed I’d like to know the answer. With me, its always the one lowest down, i.e if lying on my left side it’s the left one. When I turn over it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to clear and then the other one closes.

    • I noticed just this past week that when I went to bed and lay on my left side I stopped being able to breath through my left nostril. I turned over and it eased and, at least for that evening the right one remained clear. There can be conditions I believe (like Nasal Polyps) where the nasal passage is particularly narrow, perhaps an increase in blood pressure, first from lying down, and then further from lying on one side closes the passage completely.

      • There’s a breathing cycle, not just at night, which prefers one nostril, then uses both, then the other, then both again, and so on. It’s probably just more noticeable when you’re lying down in bed.

  2. I’ve always taken a multi-vitamin for women and 500mg of vitamin C with lunch. When the pandemic began I added a second dose of 500mg vitamin C with my afternoon snack.

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