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How do you know a supplement is working?

Christina Cowell

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I live in England and the NHS docs won't get into this whole supplement thing. I can't afford to go private on a doc or tests. A year ago I did have some tests done and met with a naturopath while I was visiting home (USA). She put me on several things. We did do some email consults and in the end I got to the supplements I take now: Vit D, B Complex, D-Ribose and IsoCort. I also decided to use Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil because all the Paleo gurus seem to really like that. I did a W30 in June, ate mostly Primal in July and am currently doing a W90 (on day 20), drink water kefir and kombucha and eat fermented pickles.

Here's the problem I'm having: I don't feel much different on the supplements as I do off them. And, they are a huge monthly expense. So, I'm wondering if I should stop taking everything and add things in one at a time (one a week? One a month?) and see if it makes a difference? Are there any I should take no matter what, even though I don't notice a difference? I'm also thinking about adding MCT oil for energy as I have Chronic Fatigue, Adrenal Fatigue and am Hypothyroid. Thoughts?!

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If you get 20-30 minutes of good sun exposure per day, you can skip vitamin D that day. Your skin makes vitamin when exposed to good sunshine. If you don't spend time in the sun, you really, really need the vitamin D. You would not feel anything if you stopped taking it, but your health would erode and you would be setting yourself up for problems years into the future.


A B-complex vitamin can be useful, but if you eat red meat regularly, you are likely to be okay on B vitamins. However, I eat lots of red meat and still had a blood test come back saying I needed more B-vitamins and my doctor recommended a B-complex. Apparently, getting older means you don't absorb vitamins as well. Unfortunately, you are not likely to feel anything in this regard. I did not notice a problem when I was not supplementing with a B-Complex and I have not noticed any changes since starting.


I don't know anything about D-Ribose and IsoCort. 


Instead of taking fish oil, I eat oily fish no less than every other day - salmon, sardines, tuna, herring. I mostly make salmon salad with canned fish, but eat others occasionally. 


Oh yeah: How do you know a supplement is working? You generally don't. You take it and hope for the best. And credible research is raising questions about whether supplements are doing any of us much good. There are some situations where blood tests can show meaningful changes, but I don't think you can get blood work for everything you might take.

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Can you supply the amounts of each in mg? and the manfacturer? 


I definitely supplement, the FCO is great due to the Retinol:


In the Journal of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, Jeyakumar et al. published the results of anearly 3-months intervention with a vitamin A-enriched diet (129mg vitamin A/kg diet) on visceral obesity and insulin sensitivity in 50days old obesity prone (WNIN/ob strain) rats:


"Compared to stock diet-fed obese rats, vitamin A-enriched diet fed-obese rats had reduced body weight gainvisceral adiposity and improved insulin sensitivity as evidenced by decreased fasting plasma insulin and unaltered glucose levels."




High intakes of vitamin A, retinol, and provitamin A carotenoids may reduce the risk of gastric cancer.





Our results indicate that both the total intake of vitamin A and retinol could reduce breast cancer risk. However, associations between other vitamins and breast cancer seem to be limited.




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