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What do you take? A poll.

It’s been awhile since we had a poll.

I’m just chewing on a Vitamin C and wondering how many of us take supplements.

Me, I take a multi-vitamin, plus Vitamin D (to prevent cancer), and calcium (to prevent osteoporosis). I just added a few chewable Vitamin C tablets to the regime (for stress).

Throughout my life I’ve occasionally taken vitamin supplements regularly, but for the most part I haven’t bothered. I’ve never detected, during any of my vitamin kicks, any difference in my health or mood. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all a big scam. (I don’t think it is. But wouldn’t it be nice to actually feel better for all the stuff we’re taking?)

My GP is a huge proponent of Vitamin D. She says that living in Canada, we could lie outside naked all winter and still not absorb enough Vitamin D from the sun. She says the research shows it plays a critical role in preventing cancer. She’s been telling me this for years, but I only started taking it regularly after I got cancer. Naturally.

Speaking of naturally, what about herbal remedies, like Ginkgo Biloba and St Johns Wort and so on? Do you take any of those? Do you think they work?

(If you’re reading this from a feed reader or email, you’ll need to click on over to to use the anonymous polling booth.)

21 comments to What do you take? A poll.

  • I regularly take selenium, vitamin d, vitamin E, and cranberry extract. I’d take Vitamin C, but one of my indulgences is top-notch orange juice in the mornings and a bit of an addiction to minneolas, so I figure I’m getting enough vitamin C to keep everyone but Linus Pauling happy.

    The other vitamins are additions after I had the bout of bladder cancer four years ago. Jesus, almost four years now. Wow. My dad has a number of cancers, and I think a reasonable approach to these supplements is unlikely to hurt and may help.

    I don’t know if anyone else is like me, though, but I have to say that I’m turned off quickly when I start delving into “alternative” or “natural” health content. The attitude often seems to be that everything in conventional medicine is a conspiracy and a scam. I’m too naturally moderate to buy that.

  • Simon Singh wrote an excellent book looking at the evidence for efficacy of various ‘alternative’ treatments, including supplements: Trick or Treament? The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine.

  • Milan beat me to the punch. I’m pretty sure St. John’s Wort has been proven to have no appreciable effect compared to placebo.

    My eyes skipped straight to the poll, only to find no option for me (“yes, I occasionally take vitamins”). Then I read your post and realized you fit into this missing category, too!

    – RG>

  • I take Flintstone vitamins.. yes I’m 30… but here’s my logic. I was taking an “adult” vitamin.. but I kept forgetting and my vitamins kept expiring. Then one day I was at the store and saw the Flintstone vitamins and remembered their deliciousness. I compared the content to the Jaimesons I was taking an two Flintstone vitamins are roughly equal to one Jaimeson. And I actively seek the Flintstones out because of their fun shape and tasty flavour.

    I also occasionally take B6, but that’s only when my carpal tunnel is acting up. I was working at a craft show and got talking to the lady in the booth beside me. We were taking about carpal tunnel and crafting, and she said she was supposed to go for surgery,it was a few months before the date and her doctor suggested she try some B6 as it helps some people – apparently it helps with the blood flow or something – I can’t remember. She never ended up going for surgery, so I thought I’d try it and I find it helps

    Both my dad and Dave take Glucosamine for their knees and both have had marked improvement.

  • Jenny

    I started taking vits just before I got pregnant – prenatals, you know. So now I just keep taking those. My son is 4.5 mos old, so I suppose I’ll switch to a regular adult supplement when I wean him… or maybe Flintstones! Good idea!
    I have also heard about the vit D research. I should ask the pharmacist if my prenatal has much D in it. Northern MN gets a little more sun than S Canada, but not much!! :)

  • I take magnesium to stave off migraine headaches and have found it to be the one thing that always makes a difference in the frequency and severity of the headaches. My magnesium pills also have calcium (which appeases my doctor who thinks that being vegan means my bones will turn to dust any many now) and vitamin D which helps with absorbtion.

    I also take B12 now and again because there’s a lot of hoopla out there about vegetarians not getting enough of it in their diets. I haven’t ever really noticed a difference one way or the other, but I still take it as a better-safe-than-sorry measure.

    When I think I’m getting sick I load up on the vitamin C (and try to eat lots of garlic). I should probably take that regularly, at least through the winter, but I often forget or run out and put off getting more.

  • I am a bit skeptical about vitamins too because I’m not sure there is a lot of long term scientific evidence showing their benefit. But some of the new Vitamin D research is startling, and I recently bought a combined calcium/Vitamin D supplement. The only problem is I keep forgetting to take it, so it probably isn’t doing me much good at the moment.

  • Bob, that’s how I feel too – it probably won’t hurt and it might help prevent a recurrence. Congrats on the four years.

    Milan, I’ll go read that. Thanks.

    RealGrouchy – you’re in one of the “no” categories, because you don’t regularly take supplements. (Whereas I currently do take them regularly…)

    Valerie, you might as well do what works for you, right? (I bought the chewable Vitamin C because they’re yummy, which means I’m more likely to take it several times a day.)

    Jenny, it’s unlikely that any multi-vitamin has enough vitamin D in it. I’m taking about five times as much as is in my multi.

    Jennifer, I was having weird B12 readings for awhile. It kept spiking and plummeting. My hematologist thought it was strange, but he never did figure it out.

    Finola, I take enough pills now that I need one of those days-of-the-week flip-top pill-sorter things. It actually works well in that I never forget to take my pills anymore, and I never forget whether I’ve already taken them or not.

  • I use herbals before pharmaceuticals most of the time for me and the kids. I swear by raw garlic during cold and flu season. Oil of Oregano too. I take the kids multivitamin – yummibears (they’re gummi bear like) and chewable vitamin c, rose root, and a mineral supplement that it in a vinegar (it’s herbal and vegan but I have taken one in the past that had bones in it too).

    I drink a lot of herbal infusions (nettle, red raspberry leaf, rosehip and comfrey, lemonbalm). I see herbs and wild foods as part of my diet more than as supplements, but I do take them because of my particular health issues.

    I’ll look at the vitamin D now too. I should be taking a B complex too, I’m on an acid blocker and I’m not going to be absorbing b vitamins from my food as effectively. I just keep forgetting to buy one.

  • I noticed the “regularly” word after I submitted my comment.

    I used to take iron supplements, then they moved it behind the counter at the pharmacy. They said that sometimes too much iron can cause the same symptoms as too little, so they moved it behind the counter to intercept people like me who were self-medicating. Good that they did.

    – RG>

  • gc

    I’ve been taking a multivitamin for the past year and more recently I’m taking Vitamin D once a day as well. I don’t feel ANY differences though. Whenever I took Vitamin C for any length of time and then stopped, I would promptly get a cold… EVERY time.

  • Gillian

    I take a MV, calcium, omega-3 and D. Vit D does seems to be important, for a lot more than cancer, and the low intake seems to extend about halfway south into the US. Yeah, you add up what’s in your MV, and in your calcium, then add on. The dosage keeps getting increased, and almost everybody is recommending at least 5x the dose recommended by Health Canada.

  • Convivialiddell

    I’m not a vitamins/supplements kind of person. I think it’s because my parents never gave me supplements as a kid. My boyfriend, on the other hand, eats vitamin C gummies like they’re candy. Granted, they do taste like candy….. >.>

  • Liquid B complex and fish oil (plus vitamin D added) and calcium. Ladies, you are FOOLS if you don’t take calcium and D, you need both of them for strong healthy bones. The liquid form is better in terms of absorption…

  • Arden

    I’m pretty sure St. John’s Wort has been proven to have no appreciable effect compared to placebo.

    From what I understand it’s one of the few herbal remedies that can have an effect. It seems to only work on minor-moderate depression, not major depression.

    I do think that there are some “natural remedies” that do work, but I think the vast majority out there are complete hooey, and like Bob I resent the attitude that modern medicine is a scam or conspiracy.

    I eat really badly, so vitamins are necessary for me. I’ve been y taking the Centrum Select 50+ chewables, even though I’m only in my 20s. I think I’d prefer the flinstones though, because these only come in one flavour, and it’s pretty chalky! 😛

  • Mudmama, you’re my herbal expert. Do you think herbals are as effective as pharmaceuticals for most ailments? Also, why do you think you should be taking a B-complex?

    Grouchy, I’m low on iron but I have a friend who has genetic hemachromatosis, which is the opposite problem. He can’t get rid of excess iron, so it just builds up in his system. He had lots of problems before it was diagnosed. Once they diagnosed it, he went for weekly bloodlettings and that helped a lot. The excess iron was destroying his life.

    GC – you can keep yourself from getting a cold by refusing to get it, even after Vitamin C. I firmly believe this.

    Gillian, what is the omega-3 good for? Maybe I should be taking that, since I don’t eat much fish.

    Convivilidell – it might be an age thing too. When I was young, I didn’t take vitamins. I guess I was happier in general with my health than I am now, so didn’t see any reason to try to help it along. Now, I need all the help I can get.

    Kim, you’re 29, right? At 29 I don’t think I was as kind to my future old lady self as you are.

    Arden, I take those ones too. I like the fact that they’re chewable. I like the taste, but GC finds them too chalky.

  • Nancy

    My father-in-law had hemachromatosis. It seemed amazing to me that the treatment was to donate blood regularly.

    I apparently only have the mental capacity to remember to take one supplement a day. For a while I took calcium, during another period I took a multivitamin, at the moment I take zinc.

    Vit D is not such a concern for me, living in Australia. Although there has been a really strong push here to cover up in the sun and wear sunscreen, and now they seem to be finding that those recommendations may have gone too far. Kids at school were not allowed out on the playground at lunchtime unless they had a hat, but I believe now the rule only applies during the summer terms.

  • Because of the losec I’m taking for my ulcer I’m not breaking down food as effectively and the B vitamins are not being absorbed from food as well as before.

    Yes I think there are many herbals that work as effectively as pharmaceuticals. But I also think that if you are going to use herbals you need to change the way you approach “medicine”. There are plenty of herbs that act as specifics for ailments, just like there are pills. Like pills they tend to be powerful and have some side effects. So if you are planning on using these powerful herbs work with an herbalist. But there is another way, there are tons of gentle supportive herbals that work slowly over time that if you incorporate into your life in herbal infusions, vinegars, foods that help with preventing disease as well as treating it. If you use them you can’t always expect a quick fix, but you also can self treat.

  • I rarely take vitamins…mostly because I never remember to take them. Then this year I’ve been feeling so crappy/unwell and my GP tells me I’m in “great health”. So, I decided to see a Naturopath. I’m not sure if I believe in this alternative regimen but I am going to give the vitamins/supplements a try, for a reasonable amount of time. It has only been a week and I do not feel any better…we’ll see. :)

  • zoom – in my case, I think the iron supplements I had been taking were the cause of the excess iron. As for my various problems (esp. drowsiness), I think that’s mainly caused by stress and an inconsistent diet and sleep schedule.

    mindful – I have the same problem, I asked my GP about my chronic fatigue and she said “Maybe it’s just you”. If I wanted to press the issue, I’d look for a different M.D., though.

    – RG>

  • I’m late contributing to this discussion, but I wanted to share what my dentist told me: Don’t eat chewable vitamin C because it will erode the enamel on your teeth.

    Michael Pollan (“Food Rules”) suggests being the type of person who takes supplements, but save your money. I take supplements because I don’t think food is as nutritious as it used to be.