Help me find a mulitivitamin that I am not allergic to
October 24, 2014 8:03 AM   Subscribe

So far, the only multivitamin that I have not had a bad reaction to has been Apex Performance Multivitamin, which I last used 5 years ago. It appears to have been discontinued.

Prenatal vitamins cause me to loose the use of my legs. Many different brands and types of vitamins also cause this problem, on a lesser scale. I will be fine the first few days of use and then I will start to feel achy. Then, when I get up, one knee won't work, at all. It hurts and the muscles needed to move it or support it just go numb. This could be caused by a reaction to the binders used to put the vitamin together. I need the purest, most natural multivitamin on the market, that doesn't cost more than my electric bill. I am sensitive to many foods and chemicals so, the purer, the better, but it cannot have pineapple or beets in it. I have trouble with palm oils. I have trouble with citrus derivatives. I need a multivitamin!
posted by myselfasme to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With all due respect, why are you looking for a multivitamin if they cause problems for you? Most research suggests they have limited to no value for most people, and if you have a specific need or deficiency you need to address, it sounds like you're better off addressing it through diet. If that's the case let us know what it is and people can make more specific suggestions.
posted by brainmouse at 8:11 AM on October 24, 2014 [14 favorites]

Given your numerous sensitivities, it seems prudent to back up a little bit and consider whether a multivitamin is the best choice for you - in other words, when your body has issues with nine billion substances, perhaps the best supplement for you is NOT one that, by definition, contains nine billion substances (hence the "multi-" part).

Were I you, I would probably go to a decent GP (or, hell, even a walk-in clinic) and ask for some basic bloodwork - a CBC, a metabolic panel, ferretin levels, B12/Vitamin D levels, and so on. I am REALLY medically-prudent, but the nice thing about these tests is that they're generally of the "can't hurt, might help!" variety (unless you're needle-phobic!). This will help you suss out what supplements might provide the best bang for your buck, and allow you to seek out single-active-ingredient formulations with a bare minimum of ingredients... for instance, my Vitamin D supplement contains three ingredients.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:16 AM on October 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: B12 gives me a boost that I like, iron is necessary for my anemia, and, because I can't drink milk, a bit of calcium seems like a good idea. For the most part, I do okay with what I am eating but, every now and again, I feel like I need something that I am not getting, which is why the Apex was so wonderful. It isn't for every day, just for times like right now, when I'm dragging. I've tried just taking B12 but it was a store brand and the leg thing happened. I felt great for the first few days.
posted by myselfasme at 8:25 AM on October 24, 2014

As someone who is on a complicated (and doctor-authorized) vitamin schedule, I agree with the above: a multivitamin is going to cause more problems than solutions for you, especially considering multivitamins don't have enough of each individual vitamin to make up for an vitamin deficiency.

julthumbscrew's advice is what I did and the difference between taking vitamins I actually need vs. a multivitamin are basically the difference between doing nothing and doing something.
posted by griphus at 8:25 AM on October 24, 2014

You could try Platinum brand. They use oils (olive, primrose, flax...) and somehow put the vitamins in that liquid suspension instead of the typical binders. I don't know the chemistry behind it but you could try calling their customer service to see if they have the binding agents you are sensitive to. They also have calcium and iron. For example in the iron pill, the non-medicinal ingredients are lecithin, beeswax and olive oil. The capsule is made from a derivative of wood pulp, chlorophyll and water. That's it!

For calcium you could try tums. It's meant for heartburn but might not have those other binding agents. The peppermint flavor has: corn starch, mineral oil, natural peppermint flavour, sodium hexametaphosphate, sucrose, talc.

Also there is always liquid iron which is just in a mix of juice.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:06 AM on October 24, 2014

B12, iron, and calcium are all notoriously difficult to absorb.

You really should see a doctor and work out what you need and how best to get it.

Additionally, you can poison yourself with iron.

Just assuming you need vitamins and asking the internet which ones work for us seems less efficient than julthumbscrew's suggestion.

I take a specific brand of OTC iron. It's terrific - for me. But maybe it wouldn't work for you.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:22 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is my understanding that taking calcium and iron together can interfere with absorption. IANAD, but this seems to be supported by credible sources. (Heads up, first link is a pdf.) These seem to specifically point to calcium preventing absorption of iron, although I think at some point I heard about the converse effect as well.

I know this doesn't directly address your question, but since you mention your desire to get both calcium and iron, I thought this was worth mentioning, especially if you need to boost your iron because of anemia.

Have you consulted with your doctor about this specifically? Your response to the multivitamins (not being able to move your legs) seems like a pretty severe side effect and not something to take the internet's word for. Your doctor should be able to pinpoint which vitamins (if any) you are specifically deficient in and the most effective ways for you to get them.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:18 AM on October 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you know what you are reacting to? A reaction that severe requires medical investigation.

Data point: I'm allergic to cobalt, which is in multivitamins as methylcobalamine. So I don't take multivitamins. I took folic acid supplements when I was pregnant but that's about it.
posted by lydhre at 10:20 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

B12 gives me a boost that I like, iron is necessary for my anemia, and, because I can't drink milk, a bit of calcium seems like a good idea.

As noted above, taking calcium and iron together is essentially worthless, which is a good argument against multivitamins, since most of them contain both iron and calcium, thus will not give you the iron you need to treat your anemia. I am allergic to sulfur. Most iron supplements are sulfur-based. I used to be severely deficient in both calcium and iron. I have been around the block a few times on this issue. One of the things I do: I do not mix high iron foods with high calcium foods, especially when I have reason to believe I am deficient. So, I don't eat cheeseburgers (cheese = calcium, beef = iron), I don't eat baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese (my understanding is broccoli is a decent source of iron), etc.

I have read that "lack of milk = calcium deficiency" is essentially a myth. My vague, hand-wavy recollection (of a lot of years of reading up on this type thing because of my own serious health issues) is that some demographic (possibly Japanese) that consumes little or no dairy has lower levels of calcium deficiency than typically found in the American population where we down dairy like crazy. Given my own experiences with altering my diet to get healthier, I can well believe that it is far more complicated than just how much calcium you consume. If you do not have some other reason to believe you are calcium deficiency (like symptoms of deficiency or a diagnosis of osteoporosis/osteopenia et al), you should not bother supplementing it.

I have not taken a multivitamin in many years. At one time, I was on about $300/month of supplements. They were all individually chosen for a specific issue, researched for bioavailability and for ensuring they did not step on my toes in terms of my own allergies and other issues, and so on. I am not a fan of multivitamins, especially not if you have serious health problems.

Having said that, back when my sons and I were taking a lot of supplements (we take no supplements these days and just eat carefully), the only multivitamin I bought was Disney Princess Gummies. These were helpful for a time for my younger son when other multivitamins usually caused problems without really helping anything.

Of course, since you haven't specified (and do not appear to know) what ingredients are causing your issue, trying them is basically a shot in the dark.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:23 PM on October 24, 2014

If you're having trouble with B vitamins you may have MTHFR, which is easily diagnosed via blood test. Typically people with MTHFR will avoid cyanocobalamin, and will opt for methylcobalamin instead (or, any B's that are in cyano- form, with the methyl- forms being considered superior.

If you check out FB groups on the topic they frequently discuss the best brands of supplements.
posted by vignettist at 4:37 AM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

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