mineral tablets and headaches
October 15, 2007 3:56 AM   Subscribe

Multivitamin tablets with minerals give me a headache. Is there a way around this?

I'm a vegetarian on the go etc. Taking a daily multivitamin tablet is a good idea. Multivitamins are OK, and don't give me a headache, but the ones with minerals do. Is there a way around this? I've tried taking half a tablet a day, which I guess is better than nothing, and didn't get a headache.

Yes, a well-rounded diet should mean I don't need a tablet like this (apart from B12) but I've made my choice, OK? I'm looking solely for answers to the question here, and not any other advice. Thanks.
posted by deeper red to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
I don't have an answer, but I have a similar problem. As soon as I start talking multivitamins and mineral supplements, I get headaches and my pee turns fluorescent yellow-green. I'm interested to see if anyone has an explanation.
posted by tehloki at 4:06 AM on October 15, 2007

If I were you, I'd give up the multivitamin and drink Silk, a sweetened brand of soy milk that's fortified with several vitamins, including B12. (You'll get all the protein-goodness of soy with it, of course.)

Then I'd make up for the other vitamins, minerals, and calcium with healthy amounts of leafy green veggies, like kale, and legumes and whole grains.

With a diet like this, there's no way in the world -- unless you have a pre-existing health problem -- that you can be deficient in any of the vitamins and grains that you need.
posted by Gordion Knott at 4:17 AM on October 15, 2007

Have you tried taking them before bed? I know that for a lot of pregnant women who have a hard time keeping multivitamins down during first trimester, that's the first recommendation. You might also try a liquid-based multi. After that, Gordion Knott's approach of upping your dietary intake of the vitamins you want would be my approach (or upping them enough that perhaps you can take a B12-only instead of a multi).
posted by cocoagirl at 4:29 AM on October 15, 2007

I find B vitamins make me really nauseous unless I take them with a good-sized meal. Try taking it in the middle of dinner - that makes the problem go away for me.
posted by GuyZero at 7:26 AM on October 15, 2007

second taking it with food.

A vitamin is a pretty disgusting thing for your stomach to digest. A lot of people have stomach aches, headaches, and the like from having vitamins on an empty stomach.

When I worked in the vitamin biz I told people to take it with food and that was the end of their problems for the vast majority of them.

It doesn't even have to be a full on meal. But, a slice of bread or a piece of fruit will help those vitamins slide right down.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2007

Is there anything different between the vitamins besides the minerals? Have you tried other brands?
I've recently developed a few food intolerances and vitamins have been one of the hardest things to find which match my criteria. Maybe there's something in the vitamins with minerals that you're reacting to (headaches are a very common reaction).
posted by moonlite at 9:22 AM on October 15, 2007

This may sound odd, but I've done well with kids' vitamins/minerals. Yep, the animal-shaped chewy kind. The doses are smaller, so you wouldn't need to cut tablets in half. Check the total quantity of each component, so that you're getting appropriate quantities.

On preview: I was going to ask about taking them with food vs. without, but people beat me to it.
posted by bassjump at 11:17 AM on October 15, 2007

Nthing the "take it with food" idea. As for the yellow/green pee, after taking a generic multivitamin (even those 2 dose a day kind) your body doesn't absorb everything, and a fair amount of it is excreted. Happens especially if you take them not so often.
posted by eralclare at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2007

I suspect the two different kinds of multivitamins have another difference besides mineral content: the type of vitamin B-3 they contain.

Straight niacin can cause extremely unpleasant flushing, heating, vasodilation and itching. However, B-3 activity can be had from "Nicotinamide [which] lacks the vasodilator, gastrointestinal, hepatic, and hypolipemic actions of nicotinic acid or niacin. As such nicotinamide has not been shown to produce the flushing, itching and burning sensations of the skin as is commonly seen when large doses of nicotinic acid or niacin are administered orally." I would attribute your headache to the vasodilating properties of niacin

So I am guessing the mineral pills have straight niacin, and the one's without minerals have nicotinamide, but there may be good reason for this since nicotinamide could possibly act as a chelator and interfere with the absorption of minerals or vice-versa, or both:

Nicotinamide may act as a chelating ligand and forms a five membered ring in which the NH group of the amide provides a lone pair of electrons ...

And since I am here, I would guess your lifelong illness is some form of delayed and perhaps ultimately incomplete myelination. The motor nerves of the legs take a long time to myelinate completely in everyone because of their length, and there are many conditions which can slow this down even further. The delay you showed in learning to walk along with the muscularity of your thighs (if I interpret you correctly) make me think you had one of them.
posted by jamjam at 4:00 PM on October 15, 2007

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