The Importance of Buying Quality Supplements

Prior to when I began this nontoxic journey in 2012 and added several vitamins to help relieve my hypothyroidism symptoms, I didn’t think it mattered much which brand of vitamins I bought.That is, until I went to buy some vitamin C at a big box retailer and noticed a suspicious ingredient: sodium laurel sulfate! In case you don’t know, sodium laurel sulfate is a cleansing agent used to cut through grease in things like shampoo and cleaning products.  What the heck is that doing in a vitamin?  Not something I want to ingest!  Seeing that on a label for a vitamin was eye-opening.

From then on, I vowed only to buy quality vitamin supplements. Here are a few brands I feel good about recommending.

  • Now Solutions – their supplements are free of unnecessary ingredients and most are also free of many common allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, etc. Now Solutions also has a wide array of vitamins, minerals and herbs and they are sold in the most bio-available form. Prices are reasonable – although a bit higher than the junk that sits on the shelf of many big box retailers. But, remember if it’s not in a form your body can use it’s a waste of money anyway. Most of the vitamins I buy are made by Now Solutions. They also have great personal care products!
  • Solgar – another quality supplement brand. They are made in the USA, in bio-available forms, and free of many common allergens. A bit more expensive than Now Solutions, but easier to find in my area, and they have a great selection of all types of vitamins, minerals, etc.  I buy mine at Vitamin Shoppe
  • Central Market – this is a brand that is available in limited markets (I believe only in southern United States). It’s available at HEB and Central Market stores. Before we moved away from Texas, many of my vitamins and supplements were made by Central Market. They are free of unnecessary chemicals and many common allergens. Many of the supplements are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans, too.
  • Puritans Pride – value vitamin brand that also sells some snacks, personal care, and beauty items. Great if you want to buy in bulk. There’s almost always a deal that saves you money the more you buy. Because I take so many different vitamins and supplements and we don’t have a huge pantry, I stopped ordering from them as much due to our limited storage space. I still recommend using them if you have the room to store the bottles, because they offer great deals and sell high quality vitamins.

Once again I want to throw this out there:  none of these companies paid me to say these positive things about them.  If you’re going to take supplements, make sure you do some research buy the most bio-available form of the vitamin.  Otherwise your body won’t be able to use it and you will be wasting your money.   Of course, you always want to make sure to talk to your health care provider prior to taking any supplements.

I hope you found this helpful, and as always, thanks for reading!

Not All Vitamins are Created Equal

Prior to when I began this nontoxic journey in 2012 and added several vitamins to help relieve my hypothyroidism symptoms, I didn’t think it mattered much which brand of vitamins I bought.That is, until I went to buy some vitamin C at a big box retailer and noticed a suspicious ingredient: sodium laurel sulfate! What the heck is a surfactant doing in a vitamin?

From then on, I vowed only to buy quality vitamin supplements. There are a few brands I feel good about recommending.

  • Now Solutions – their supplements are free of unnecessary ingredients and most are also free of many common allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, etc. Now Solutions also has a wide array of vitamins, minerals and herbs and they are sold in the most bio-available form. Prices are reasonable – although a bit higher than the junk that sits on the shelf of many big box retailers. But, remember if it’s not in a form your body can use it’s a waste of money anyway. Most of the vitamins I buy are made by Now Solutions. They also have great personal care products!
  • Solgar – another quality supplement brand. They are made in the USA, in bio-available forms, and free of many common allergens. A bit more expensive than Now Solutions, but easier to find in my area, and they have a great selection of all types of vitamins, minerals, etc.  I buy mine at Vitamin Shoppe
  • Central Market – this is a brand that is available in limited markets (I believe only in southern United States). It’s available at HEB and Central Market stores. Before we moved away from Texas, many of my vitamins and supplements were made by Central Market. They are free of unnecessary chemicals and many common allergens. Many of the supplements are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans, too.
  • Puritans Pride – value vitamin brand that also sells some snacks, personal care, and beauty items. Great if you want to buy in bulk. There’s almost always a deal that saves you money the more you buy. Because I take so many different vitamins and supplements and we don’t have a huge pantry, I stopped ordering from them as much due to our limited storage space. I still recommend using them if you have the room to store the bottles, because they offer great deals and sell high quality vitamins.

Once again I want to throw this out there:  none of these companies paid me to say these positive things about them.

Are Your Vitamins Causing Side Effects?

Shortly after lunch one day in mid-October, I noticed a tingling and itching on my scalp, and my face and elbow felt hot.  When I looked in the mirror my cheeks and the skin around my elbow was red, and I had hives on my arm!  This has NEVER happened to me before, so my husband took me to the ER.  By the time a doctor became available, everything had cleared up.  They diagnosed it as an unknown allergic reaction and sent me on my way.

A week later around the same time of day, the tingling/itching scalp returned, along with skin redness on my cheeks & elbow area.  It cleared up fairly quickly, so I didn’t give it much thought.  Until it happened again the next Friday!  It couldn’t have been something I ate, because it was a different meal each time with no overlapping ingredients!  I hadn’t changed my routine – so what caused these mysterious outbreaks?  Then I realized that each time I had one of these “reactions” they occurred within 2 hours of taking my vitamins.  Since food was an unlikely cause, I suspected the supplements.

According to the book, The Vitamin Cure for Women’s Health Problems, “stress really takes a toll on your body, and as it does so, your need for certain nutrients increases” (pg. 87).  It stands to reason that I don’t need as many vitamins now that I’m unemployed as I did when I was commuting and working at a stressful job.

So I researched side effects of every supplement I was taking.   As it turns out, multiple vitamins were likely contributors.  According to WebMD excess selenium can cause facial flushing, excess vitamin E (300-800 IU daily) can contribute to certain types of stroke, and excess B6 can cause tingling, brain and/or nerve problems.  In light of this I decided to stop taking Vitamin E (I was taking 400 – 800 IU daily), extra B6 (already in my B-complex), and reduce the amount of selenium I take from 400 mcg to 200 mcg.  These changes were implemented over two weeks ago, and I haven’t had any issues since.  If the reaction happens again, I promise I’ll update this post!

Even though they’re necessary, it’s important to make sure you’re taking vitamins in the right amount.  Your body’s needs will be different from mine, and they will change depending on what’s going on in your life.  Use my experience as an example.  I took mega doses of vitamins for two years before I began to experience side effects, six months after my stress level dropped dramatically!  The takeaway here is that you should periodically re-evaluate your vitamin needs.

Vitamins/Minerals I added

After being unable to get answers from my doctors as to why I was still feeling terrible even though my blood work “normal”, I decided to research which vitamins/minerals I should to take to support thyroid function.  Once I felt I had enough information, I checked for interactions with medicines/vitamins/food before adding to my regimen (I was already taking a multivitamin, calcium, fish oil & B Complex).  I also made sure to buy high quality supplements free of gluten, dairy, soy & unnecessary additives.

What I started taking to support thyroid function:

  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, E (I recently learned I was taking too much D so I eliminated it)
  • Minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Iodine, Copper, Chromium Picolinate
  • Other: CoQ10, Glutathione, 5-htp
  • Tea with Ashwaghanda (an Ayurvedic herb that supports both thyroid and adrenal function)

You may notice I didn’t note how much I’m taking of each.  That’s because there is no “right” amount – it will vary by individual.  After about four weeks of taking these additional supplements, I noticed that I had more energy & less severe issues with ovulation, PMS, and menstrual pain.

I will discuss these in more detail as I write more, but for now my intention is to give you an overview of the changes I implemented.  Please note that these things did NOT replace my thyroid pill, but they helped improve my symptoms.