How to avoid being intimidated by the wall of vitamin brands

When facing a range of recommendations, I seek to be armed with information

Jennifer van Amerom avatar

by Jennifer van Amerom |

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Sometimes while I’m waiting for my prescription, I find myself meandering through the aisles of our local pharmacy. At one point I found myself facing the wall of vitamin supplements. Rows upon rows of nondescript bottles greeted me, each distinguished only by a large letter on its front. The array felt overwhelmingly complex, leaving me perplexed amid the abundance of options and brands.

As I stood there, I couldn’t help but think of the periodic table from my chemistry class. Just as the letters on the table of elements hold significance when understood, so too do these vitamins, with their roles and interactions within the body.

It seems that everyone today has a recommendation when it comes to vitamin supplements, from doctors to other patients, even to the friendly school lunch lady who always greets me with the perfect cup of tea on Wednesdays when I teach. As a patient with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), I’ve been told to take most vitamins for various symptoms and general health and that no, a multivitamin doesn’t have everything I need.

At one point, it was recommended that I self-inject vitamin B12 to boost my energy level, which had dwindled. I’m not a fan of needles, but I gave it a try for several months before I finally quit the practice after feeling no change in my energy.

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Lessons from my experience

While navigating through this maze of recommendations, I’ve learned a few crucial lessons. First, it’s essential to recognize that while supplements can offer benefits, they may also interact with drugs. It’s vital to consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your routine, especially if you’re on prescription medication.

And one other piece of advice is clear: Not all supplements are created equal. Each brand has its vitamin makeup, so while one bottle may be cheaper, that might be because it doesn’t hold as much of the vitamin you want. Compare and read the small print.

I’ve reached a point where I’m tired of taking more pills every day, even if some are vitamin supplements. This exhaustion has led me to ponder whether we can get the vitamins we need from our food. It’s a valid question that deserves exploration.

Enter the role of nutritionists.

Working with a nutritionist goes beyond them simply recommending a list of supplements. Instead, they take a holistic approach to your health, addressing cravings, ensuring you’re getting enough vitamins, and more considerations. A nutritionist can help you optimize your diet to include nutrient-rich foods that provide the vitamins your body needs. That’s vital for patients who are already combating symptoms.

I’ve found it’s still important for me to consult with doctors, naturopaths, and any other holistic providers I’m working with, as I gain insights tailored to my specific needs and circumstances. They can guide me toward reputable supplement brands and help me navigate any potential interactions with medications, which gave me peace of mind when I started taking extra pills.

Ultimately, the decision to take vitamin supplements should be an informed one. For me, it’s about striking a balance between meeting my body’s needs and avoiding unnecessary pills. By seeking guidance from healthcare professionals and exploring the role of nutrition in my diet, I’ve embarked on a journey toward better health and well-being.

So next time you’re faced with a wall of supplements, remember: Knowledge is your most powerful tool.

Note: Neuromyelitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Neuromyelitis News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.


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