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Banjo_Pickin_Appalachian_Wizar's avatar

Which vitamin supplements are actually useful?

Asked by Banjo_Pickin_Appalachian_Wizar (1201points) November 25th, 2015

So I’ve got really bad anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, chronic fatigue, and a bunch of other issues I’ve been dealing with for a log time. In a bid to help me out, my housemate has put me on a regimen of vitamin supplements. I’ve been on Wikipedia reading about various vitamins and it seems like every article is nothing but “vitamin whatever doesn’t actually do anything/there’s no evidence that vitamin take-your-pick actually helps with ailment whatever/vitamin whatchamacallit is actually toxic…” and so on. So my question is: are any vitamin supplements actually worth taking according to science? Or is Wikipedia just full of shit?

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14 Answers

Banjo_Pickin_Appalachian_Wizar's avatar

Log time, lol. Should have proofread! Grumpy fish gonna be mad!

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

I’m not a nutritionist or a psychologist or a doctor but: The most unhealthy people I know are all vitamin and pill enthusiasts. They manage their “levels” and take a pill for every symptom and then wonder why they still don’t feel good. My personal take is that I don’t need any pills. I don’t need any vitamins. Nature gives us all that when we eat healthy and exercise. Millions have been made by marketers who sell “health” in the form of a pill, or a dvd, or a “program”. I don’t buy it. I’m in pretty good health. I have no complaints. I have no issues.

Part of that is probably genetics but the fact remains that all my pill taking friends and family members are not in good health. I can’t say with any certainty that it’s because of the pills/vitamins.. but I can make an educated guess about their susceptibility to ailments.

Again, disclaimer, I don’t really know what I’m talking bout scientifically… but I think there is a great deal of un-researched, and undocumented proof in the pudding.

zenvelo's avatar

There have been studies out that most supplements are a waste of money, unless a demonstrated deficit has been shown through blood tests. A good well balanced diet of a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and some (not a lot) of protein will give you all the vitamins you need.

You would do just as well with yoga classes, as that (and many exercises) will relieve anxiety, S.A.D. and fatigue.

Cupcake's avatar

Vitamin D supplements plus a variety of colors of natural food. Probably omega-3 oils because the standard diet is sky-high in omega-6 and deficient in omega-3.

One major problem is that you have no idea what is actually in the pills, since they are not regulated by the FDA. They are not subject to double-blind clinical trials nor quality assurance that you are getting the “dose” listed and not getting a variety of filler crap.

marinelife's avatar

If you do your research on your conditions and you use medically sound double blind study results, you would be happier. You really should not put anything in your body without researching it and its interactions. Some vitamins can be bad. For example, men should usually not take vitamin supplements that contain iron.

For anxiety, your best bet would be a prescription from your doctor (usually an SSRI). Sometimes you have to try two or three of those before you find the one that works for you and has no side effects. If you don’t want to go the prescription drug route, you could try an herbal. I like Hylands Calms Forte, which will not be as effective as an RX, but it does take the edge off.

For seasonal effective disorder, your best bet is light therapy. Read how long per day, and get one of the special lamps (that is designed to mimic sunlight).

Chronic fatigue is probably best treated by your physician. Do some reading. You may have to adjust your diet, sleep patterns and activity levels.

Take care. Feel better. It is a long, slow slog, but feeling better is worth it!

filmfann's avatar

One of the supplements I take is 1500mg Glucosamine and 12mg Condroitin.
It helps with arthritis, and the pain I have in my back and knees.
I know it works. I can tell whenever I stop taking it (from running out). Additionally, my sister gives it to her dog, who is 16 years old, and after a week of it the dog will run and play, rather than laying down. Also, when she doesn’t take it, she can’t stand up to go to the bathroom, and she does when she takes it.

marinelife's avatar

@filmfann Yes, Glucosamine/Chrondritin have studies done that prove some effectiveness. I take it and give it to my elderly dogs (in the form of special dog treats) with noticeable results. Mostly because I. like you, have found that my pain increases if I go off of it. But it would only be helpful for those with joint pain not for any of the conditions that @Banjo_Pickin_Appalachian_Wizar mentioned. That’s why I said he needs to research his specific conditions (none of which would be helped by multivitamins necessarily).

zenvelo's avatar

Here’s an article on multivitamins I just got today.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I suggest having your vitamin D levels checked with a blood test and maybe even your thyroid since you said you’re experiencing really bad fatigue and anxiety.

I’ve been deficient (not low) in D for a long time, developed anxiety and then my doctor finally put two and two together and tested my thyroid because of my anxiety. She said that’s one way, for some people, that a thyroid problem manifests – which I’d never heard before. But sure enough, my thyroid was messed up. Ask your doctor what other vitamin deficiency might cause fatigue, then ask for your levels to be tested.

If you come back really low or deficient in any of them, ask for a prescription (D3, specifically, if you need D – because the other form doesn’t work). Otherwise, you don’t know exactly what you’re getting, or how much.

If you decide to take D3, don’t take it in high doses unless you know your body actually needs it, because it can absolutely cause problems.

Good luck! Let us know if anything works for you.

funkdaddy's avatar

Vitamin definition, from Wikipedia as well

A vitamin (US /ˈvaɪtəmɪn/ and UK /ˈvɪtəmɪn/) is an organic compound and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts.[1] An organic chemical compound (or related set of compounds) is called a vitamin when the organism cannot synthesize the compound in sufficient quantities, and it must be obtained through the diet

So you need to add them all somehow. The disagreement seems to be whether your normal diet provides enough and whether a vitamin will help with a specific condition.

For science to say something definitively helps with a condition, there has to be a general consensus. That’s a pretty high bar. Honestly it’s the same with the theory foods or diets will help with conditions.

So I think doctors take two routes generally. Start simple with lifestyle changes or go straight to a proven medicine. Teddy would probably start simple. Every doctor seems to agree diet and exercise are important, are you doing everything you can there?

Hope you find something that works for you, sir.

dappled_leaves's avatar

You might find last week’s Fifth Estate episode helpful (Fifth Estate is sort of like our equivalent of 60 Minutes). The description on the show’s webpage:

“As many as three out of four Canadians use natural health products. From herbal remedies to minerals, vitamins and other supplements, it’s a billion dollar industry that includes everyone from Big Pharma to Mom and Pop operations. They’re products packed with promises, but what’s actually in the bottle? Could we be taking too much? And could they actually be harmful to your health?”

Lawn's avatar

Hypericum perforatum

“A 2015 meta-analysis review concluded that it has superior efficacy to placebo in treating depression; is as effective as standard antidepressant pharmaceuticals for treating depression; and has fewer adverse effects than other antidepressants.”

May also want to skim these on Wikipedia…

The neurobiological effects of physical exercise.

Omega 3 fatty acid

Hypovitaminosis D

Research on meditation

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Banjo_Pickin_Appalachian_Wizar Something I forgot to mention, which genuinely helped with some of my anxiety and also helped me sleep is this tea. I was skeptical, but it really does work. Passion flower has been used for anxiety for quite a while and there have been actual studies done that test the efficacy of it for such purposes.

However, just be sure to talk to your doctor about using it if you already take anything for sleep (not recommended to mix it with any other sedative) or anxiety and remember to stop using it weeks in advance if you ever have to be put to sleep for an operation. But overall, it’s perfectly safe as long as you don’t overdue it and I highly recommend it for relaxation.

Edit: @Lawn has a good link about the meditation! Highly recommend that, as well. Try quietly listening to this music if you’re feeling really anxious. It, apparently, is considered to be one of the most scientifically relaxing songs in existence. Just don’t drive and listen to it. Works really well for me.

Also, here’s some information about passionflower form WebMD if you want to read more about it.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Banjo_Pickin_Appalachian_Wizar You’ll want some of this Be sure you get the super D, regular cod liver oil does not have enough vitamin D. A couple of spoonfuls a day and you’ll probably see some results. There is evidence to support these supplements. While I have been in an anxiety free period I still take the stuff when I remember to. Do see a doc periodically and make sure your D level is in the optimal range. It definitely took the edge off when I had anxiety.

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