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The Giant Vitamin Discussion

Turns out, that's a pretty good pun. See, it's going to be a giant discussion about all my vitamins, but some of the damned vitamins we'll be discussing are giant as well. Horse pills. You'd think in this day and age (where the phone in your pocket has more computing power than existed on Planet Earth when I was born) they could shrink down the size of these hot dogs they're calling vitamins.


Anyway, as someone who owns a place that provides IV vitamins, I get asked a LOT if I just get my vitamins via IV, or if I also take supplements. I suppose that Infuvite (a multivitamin by Baxter which goes in almost all of our bags) is strong enough that I could get an IV once a week and not have to mess with anything else, but there are a few things I like to have in greater quantity, and even for me (each IV costs us about what you pay, minus $40), that would get expensive in a hurry. So, yeah... I take an absolute nuclear crapton of vitamins. So I can tell people "check our blog" instead of having to go over them on the phone, I'm going to tell you what, and why. Then you can decide what you want to do for yourself.


I will tell you, a lot of this stuff is quite possibly worthless. My old man is an MD, and is one of the smartest human beings you'll ever meet. I once asked him about a few of these supplements and gave him a multiple choice answer: "1) Awesome. Really important to take. 2) Most likely useless but can't really hurt. 3) Potentially dangerous. Avoid." He answered "2" on almost every one of them. So there's that...


Even so, here's what I take, and why... Physicians and critics, feel free to respond to me and let me know what I'm doing wrong. ;-)



The whole rundown on an IV spa owner's daily intake
Now THAT is a lot of vitamins

So, I'm going to start from left to right, and let you know what, and why.


That first one is Focus Factor. I'm pretty sure this one is mostly a harmless scam. It's supposed to be a memory aid. I highly doubt it does much of anything. I get the Extra Strength because I'm a sucker for marketing. I'd rather take Prevagen, which I have a gut feeling probably does SOMETHING for you, but that crap is insanely expensive. Focus Factor has most of the same ingredients for a much lower cost. It's really more of a good multivitamin than a memory aid, but there are some cool things in it.


The only big study on Focus Factor was a self-funded study and you know that's 99.9% likely to be complete BS. The reason I take it is because it does have a few things (GABA, which has been shows in outside studies to increase a narrow-minded focus even though it makes switching from Task A to Task B harder - it's a tradeoff - DHA, which assists in your brain creating new neural pathways, L-Glutamine, which increases oxygen transfer and keeps the brain well-oxygenated - particularly important for current or former smokers, and a few other things that help with neuron coatings, neurotransmission, and things like seratonin levels).


It falls into the "can't hurt" category. I haven't noticed any big upswing in my memory or focus, but if nothing else it's a good placebo effect. I take this one in the morning, in hopes that it'll get me through the workday a little sharper.


The next is Glucosamine/Chondroitin.


This will be somewhat embarrassing, but honesty is the best policy.


My dog Campbell is a big boy. He's a 9 year old lab who isn't a lick overweight, and he weighs 125 pounds. He used to get up in the morning and go through this elaborate stretching routine before he was willing to go outside to go to the bathroom. Reminded me of my Grandpa sitting on the side of the bed for 10 minutes before moving. I myself used to do a bit of creaking and groaning before getting going.


So I asked the vet about it and she suggested I get him on these glucosamine/chondroitin treats and see if they helped at all.


I'll be damned if 4 or 5 weeks after starting him on these things he didn't start popping right up and wagging his tail and doing better. I mean no creakiness at all.


I also have pretty bad knees. I figured "what the hell" and gave it a shot. I'd seen a million commercials for the stuff, and anecdotally I'd seen it work. So, I take it every morning. Maybe it's psychosomatic, but it helps. I don't have near the creakiness I used to have.


D3 is next. I take that from about Halloween until around April or May, depending on the weather. Once it's sunny, I quit taking it. I play a lot of golf and do my own yardwork, so my body makes plenty from exposure to the sun. If you're over 50, especially if you're a woman, dark-skinned, or don't spend time outdoors, it's a good idea to take it year-round, but otherwise you can slack off on it once the sun comes out and stays out. Also, if you're taking calcium you have to take it because calcium doesn't absorb well without a healthy D3 level in your blood.


I think the next, Liver and Kidney Cleanser, is probably bunk too, but I drink probably just a touch more alcohol than I should. It's mostly just milk thistle (and I don't much believe in all that plant extract stuff), but it has a huge dose of B6 and an even bigger dose of B12. When you drink, your body burns through those two things in rapid fashion, and this really just replaces those. I certainly don't FEEL anything from this, other than a choking sensation when I swallow if because it's as big as a golf ball, but I know that more than two drinks really depletes the B vitamins in your system, so I take this stuff as a "just in case".


Next up on the hit list is Prostene. It's a prostate health deal that is really just lycopine (which is a good antioxidant) and saw palmetto, which I guess people have been taking for their prostate forever. Not that any of that applies to about 65% of our patients. ;-) When you're a dude and you're in your mid-50s, it's good to start thinking about these things.


B6 is in the rotation, even though I get a pile in my multivitamins. That one helps you convert turn food intake into energy, boosts your mode, it's absolutely critical for hemoglobin formation, and a million other things. You can get too much of it, but it's pretty unlikely. I take this 100mg pill in addition to the amount in the multivitamins, because I know I'm only absorbing about half of what I take. It's probably the most studied of all the stuff I take, and nothing about it isn't something I want. Immune system help and increased metabolic rates are part of it, and here's a real weird one for the ladies... it helps reduce nausea in the first trimester of pregnancy. If you're only going to take one of the things on this list, make it B6.


Selenium is another antioxidant. They relieve oxidative stress on your cells, and when you get older, that matters. It's another that helps boost your immune system, and researchers at Harvard (if you believe anything they say anymore) say that their studies have shown that it not only prevents cellular damage from oxidants, it helps improve your thyroid gland's functions and can help your body fight off some bacterial infections. I'm basically all about anything that keeps me from getting sick and keeps my thyroid humming.


Glutathione is the mother of all antioxidants, and it's great for your liver. A lot of people use it as a liver cleanse. Some of our patients get it added to the Rockstar when they have hangovers. Rachel swears it's the best of all our additives at making her feel better. I think of it as a Magic Eraser for your insides, particularly your liver. I take it every day because I'm not the world's easiest on my liver and it isn't in the liver support supplement I take in any real quantity.


A lot of people will tell you that strong antioxidants are the secret to anti-aging, but that's 99.5% horsecrap. They do reduce the stress oxidants put on your cells, and from that standpoint they probably do slow damage to your cells, but nothing is going to make you 25, unless you're 24 right now. Still, limiting damage to your cells is always a good idea, and if you're like I am, anything that helps your liver is a W.


I'm sure you notice that 325mg aspirin bottle in the back. I know that's too much, and a lot of people take an 81mg baby aspirin a day, but hear me out. I probably absorb half of that, so about 162.5 mg a day. That's a LOT, and you should NEVER take that much without a doctor telling you to do so, but we have a family history of throwing clots, no history of GI bleeds or anything like that, and I'm paranoid. I don't want a heart attack or stroke. No way, no how.


Speaking of... That's why I take CoQ10 (also called ubiquinone). It's actually the thing hospitals will pump into you after a heart attack. It's billed as a supplement to help with ejection fraction, etc., but that's not why I take it. What it really does best is aid in the creation of ATP. You can think of ATP as the fuel in your cells. It's basically a really lipo -friendly compound that acts as a sort of catalyst in electron transfers and sends juice into the mitochondria. Remember junior high biology when they told you the mitochondria was the "power plant of the cell"? That's what I'm looking for. A little extra heart attack prevention, and some added gumption in my cellular power plants.


The last (sort of) is a multivitamin called Alive Men's 50+. Honestly, I don't have any idea what's in it. I'm 50+, I'm sure I need a nice broad spectrum multivitamin, it's relatively inexpensive, probably covers whatever I didn't get in that giant pile of giant vitamins described above, from a reputable company, and it's a gummy. I hate all those damned pills so if I can find a gummy vitamin, it's on.


The other thing I do is drink a packet of EmergenC (or the Walmart equivalent depending on where we're doing the shopping that week) first thing in the morning. I prefer the raspberry if they have it because it has zinc and some B vitamins in addition to the vitamin C.


Is that too much? Probably. Am I wasting a lot of it? Sure. When I go to the bathroom around 10 in the morning it looks like Gatorade. Am I covering all my bases and making sure I get everything I might possibly need? Damned right I am.


So there you have it. I split them morning and night depending on what they do, take about half at 7 a.m. and the other half at 7 p.m., and if there's something I'm not getting in that giant pile of supplements, well, I guess I'll have to live without it.


And that's what a guy who can get all the vitamins in the world in an IV, and sometimes does, takes to keep his vitamin levels up to snuff.

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