How do I start a vitamin regimen?
July 29, 2007 10:39 PM   Subscribe

How do I start a vitamin regimen besides a one-a-day?

I was at my local CVS the other day, and looking through their enormous selection of vitamins. I don't take vitamins every day, and I'm wondering a few things. If people swear by their vitamins, what other supplements they take (like fish oil) and what brands are recommended or what do I look for?
posted by yakuza to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, kind of depends on what you think you need vitamins/supplements for, yes? You wouldn't take a joint care type of supplement if your joints where in good working order, for example. I think your question is too broad to answer without more information.
posted by edgeways at 11:31 PM on July 29, 2007

Just some food for thought: homeostasis still applies here. Your body will, in general, try to get rid of any excess vitamins/minerals/supplements that you ingest that it does not need, and will metabolize/inactivate/excrete anything that it doesn't have use for. One of my pharmacology professors said that Americans make the most expensive urine in the world.
posted by gramcracker at 11:31 PM on July 29, 2007

I take 1 children's chewable - the ones I take have the same vitamin & mineral recipe as Adult Centrum. The chewable makes it far less likely to upset my stomach. The multivitamin is to ensure I get all the vitamins I need. I try to eat well, but the multivitamin is insurance.

I also take two supplements that were suggested when I started marathon training - 3-6-9 Flax/Omega capsule and a Glucosamine / Chondroitin / MSM supplement for my joints. Lots of people feel fish oil is better than flax. However I found the fish oil supplements gross.

One way to start is to look at your health, diet, fitness and lifestyle. If you see areas that aren't very healthy you can ask for knowledgeable advice on how to proceed. Your doctor or pharmacist, are probably safe bets for good advice.
posted by 26.2 at 11:57 PM on July 29, 2007

Don't take vitamins. Eat properly.
posted by public at 1:27 AM on July 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

I use 'Eat Drink and Be Healthy', from the Harvard Medical School, as my nutrition bible. Their advice echoes what's already been offered. Your best bet is to get a generic store version of the one a day multivitamin and mineral supplements that meets basic guidelines, just as a cheap insurance policy in case there are any small deficiencies in your diet.

Anything else is likely to be very expensive, and shoot straight out of your system when you pee.

The only other thing I take is omega 3 capsules (fish oil ones) so I get plenty of that, even though I'm an oily fish fan. It does seem to have helped both my joints and my mental state.
posted by dowcrag at 1:32 AM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go for the scientific approach. Monitor your food using some software which can keep track of RDAs and intake, and supplement those things which you're not getting enough of. I've just started doing this, but I suspect it is better than taking random supplements for the sake of it.

I'd always been of the opinion that by eating a low fat high vegetable brown bread and muesli yogurt weaving hippy diet I would be getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals from food. Well, it's health food, isn't it? I've been disabused of this opinion since I started tracking my diet using fitday. After a month or so of logging my food it became clear that even in the long run I was slightly low on zinc, vitamin K, calcium and iron. So I've started supplementing using a multivitamin and a calcium tablet (supermarket own brand). This means that the things I was getting enough or more than enough of (A,C,D,E, the B group) I get 300% of some days, but it would appear that you need to get much more than that to overdose[1] and you can't store the water soluble ones anyway.

[1]5 or 6 times the RDA for the most dangerous ones, 200 or more for the others source: some dodgy webpage.
posted by handee at 2:29 AM on July 30, 2007

In addition to a basic multivitamin (which I consider insurance against those days when my diet is crap), I supplement with fish oil (like others above), but I also take a vitamin D tab. There's some recent research indicating that D in amounts above the current RDA may have a significant effect in lowering one's risk of colon and breast cancer, and for those of us who are also trying to limit our sun exposure (sun being a major source of D), supplementation seems like a good bet.
posted by Kat Allison at 5:16 AM on July 30, 2007

A good B-complex vitamin is good for anyone.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:37 AM on July 30, 2007

I used to work for a health food store and learned that the best thing to do is to take a multi vitamin that requires to be taken 2-3 times a day. One-a-days, which are usually in horse-sized tablet forms, are filled with saw dust in addition to the nutrients. They have to fill it with saw dust to get the chemical compounds to stick together in that form.

The best thing is to get a capsule vitamin that you must take once in the morning and another some time during the day. An additional one before bed would be great. The reason for this? It is because in one one-a-day multivitamin, you have the complete package of all the nutrients. The issue, your body doesn't need all the nutrients at the same time, it needs it THROUGHOUT the day.

For example, a one-a-day has 1000mg of calcium. You are required to have 1000 mg of calcium per day, but you take this one-a-day in the morning. Your body does not need the full 1000 mg in the morning. So you take the vitamin and your body only needs 300 mg of calcium. Well, your body can't do math nor can it store the remaining 700 mg somewhere for later consumption, so it disposes it. And you lose the 700 mg you could have used for the afternoon.

If you were to take a vitamin throughout the day, one that had, for instance, 250 mg of calcium per capsule, you would provide your body with 250 mg of calcium in the morning and it will absorb all of it. Then another 250 mg of calcium at lunch and it will absorb that full amount. And so on.
posted by dnthomps at 12:06 PM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

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