Vitamins and supplements can do a good job at boosting your immune system but getting the right information on what to use, when and what dosage can be a mission. The Vitamin Expert answers some frequently asked questions.
Q: I can feel a cold coming on, and have been advised to "overdose” on vitamin C. My question is this: Can my body absorb all the vitamin C or is it a waste to take more than the recommended daily dosage?
Expert: Yes, this is often recommended, and does seem to be quite effective. However, you do need to be cautious and not take high doses for a long period of time. Some recommend 1000mg vitamin C every hour. It’s been proven that your body uses a lot more vitamin C when you’re coming down with something and/or when you have a bug, so the vitamins will get used up, although you probably would excrete some of it in urine too.
The normal upper level suggested is 2000mg, but you can go up to 5000mg daily if it’s only for a few days. Also, how much vitamin C do you currently take? If the answer is none, then 2000mg may be enough. Just break the tablets up & spread it over a few doses to make sure it’s in your system for a maximum, time span.
You should also get yourself some Echinacea (try Echinaforce, Flora Force or Solgar) as this also really boosts the immune system.
Q: I would like to know under what conditions a person needs monthly vitamin B injections. And if there is a side affect or withdrawal problems when they are late for their injection?
Expert: In my opinion, you only really need the injection if:
1. You are very deficient and need a rapid boost
2. You have a malabsorption syndrome that makes it hard for you to absorb B vitamins from food & /or supplements
3. Have had a gastric bypass or had your stomach or other parts of your digestive system removed due to cancer, injury, etc
There wouldn’t be side effects (other than the ouch-factor from the injection needle!), and no withdrawal effects. This is just a vitamin supplement, not a drug. You might feel more tired after you stop but this would be related to why you needed them in the 1st place – in other words: if you started having them because you weren’t getting enough B vitamins and were, therefore, tired or anaemic, and the reason for this deficiency hasn’t been or couldn’t be rectified, then you would return to feeling tired, which could then make you think it is a side effect.
For most people, a supplement should be fine – make sure it has all the B vitamins in it (many injections only have 1 or a few of them) as they work together to be absorbed & utilised. Further, a diet containing sources of B vitamins (fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, oats, wholegrains, etc) is important.
Q: I do not take any daily vitamins, can you please advise on what to take. I feel tired and sleepy during the day.
Expert: You do not say if you are on any medication or have any medical conditions, so I will assume that you do not. I will basically advise on fatigue:
It’s important to identify why you’re tired all the time. It can be, aside from a busy lifestyle that you are leading
a side effect of medication,
not eating enough,
eating too much ‘junk food’ (refined sugars, fatty foods, etc)
eating too little nutritious foods,
iron deficiency - can make you feel tired, weak, fatigued and even short of breath, and pale
- poor sleep
underlying infection that doesn’t clear up,
low thyroid function,
blood sugar imbalance, etc – the list is endless.
It’s best to ask your doctor to test your blood for iron and thyroid problems, as well as check your blood pressure and blood sugar (and insulin)
There are a few things that I would definitely recommend (take the first 2 together):
1. A high-dose vitamin B complex (e.g.) Vital Maxi B). B vitamins are extremely important for your nervous system to function correctly and for energy. If you are stressed you use up even more B vitamins than normal, so it is very important to take a supplement. Take 1 capsule daily after food. Most people will benefit from taking these all the time. Stress can definitely contribute to constant tiredness.
2. Omega 3 fatty acids (e.g. Vital Omega 3 Concentrate) are also essential for nervous system function. It is almost impossible to get enough of these in our diets these days, so it’s important to take a supplement. Take 1 – 2 capsules daily after food.
3. A multivitamin & mineral supplement, e.g. Vital Multitime Gold. This would be optional if you still don’t feel better with the above two.
If you’re iron deficient, you’ll need extra iron – you can take 1 Vital Iron Complex daily.
Sometimes people can feel tired all the time because they actually aren’t sleeping well. If this is the case, try putting 2 – 3 drops of Lavender essential oil (e.g. Burgess & Finch) on your pillow at night and/or in your bath before bedtime. Lavender oil is relaxing and lifts the mood and has been shown to help with sleeping.
A healthy diet is of the utmost importance when you’re feeling stressed out or constantly tired. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar levels balanced.
I understand it can be difficult these days, but try to set aside food for work, and make sure you at least have healthy snacks with you like seed bars, nuts & raisins, little yoghurts, etc.
Stress plays havoc with your blood sugar levels, and yet the more unstable the blood sugar is the more stressed you will feel: a vicious cycle.
Try to eat 3 balanced meals per day, and two snacks with some protein (nuts, yoghurt, cottage cheese, etc) and fruit. The nutrients in fruit and vegetables are needed for good general health.
Avoid drinking too much coffee (1 cup maximum) as caffeine raises blood pressure and heart rate, and drains energy over the long term, which worsens stress.
Avoid sugary foods, sweet fizzy cooldrinks and too much fried fatty food, as these are very low in nutrients, bad for general health and destabilise blood sugar.
Drink 6 – 8 glasses of water daily, as this helps keep you alert and flushes out excess stress hormones.
Exercise is also very helpful (even if you may not feel up to it at the time) – try yoga as this has been shown to reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being. Or take 5 minutes to stretch when you wake up in the morning, half-way through the day, and when you get home – breathe deeply while doing it as many people don’t breathe properly, causing tiredness. Walking also helps by getting the circulation going, giving you fresh air and improving sleep at night.
(Health24, April 2012)