DISCLAIMER: This is NOT medical advice. This is my experience taking vitamins and the consequent effects of taking those vitamins. Always consult your doctor before starting or stopping any vitamin regimen.
My alarm started blaring at 6am and I sleepily turned it off. I shuffled out to the kitchen to start my morning routine. Warm water with lemon. Green smoothie with maca powder, cacao powder and green food powder. A giant pile of enormous fish oil tablets. Iron tablet, multi-vitamin tablet. Magnesium because someone at the gym told me it helps with muscle recovery. Olive leaf extract and echinacea because I thought I was getting sick. I chugged back my gross smoothie and swallowed the tablets one after an another. For the next half an hour, my stomach would churn as the vitamins swirled around inside my belly. Sometimes, I’d feel ill for a good 20 minutes after taking all those tablets but I dutifully did it every morning because I thought it was necessary.
It actually wasn’t. I went on a trip overseas not long after starting this crazy regimen and I was away for two months. I didn’t take any of the vitamins with me because it would have cost a fortune in excess baggage fees so I just took a break. And you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. So when I got back, I finished off whatever I had left in the cupboard and carefully monitored my weight, sleep, moods and energy levels. After a month, there were absolutely no differences. So when all the vitamins ran out, I didn’t buy more.
I’ve long questioned the need for vitamins. I’m a fairly rational person but if a skinny blonde teenager on Instagram tells me that her washboard abs are due to her taking Insert Vitamin Name Here every day, I’m like ‘Shut up and take my money!’.
I’m very strict about my health and fitness routine but if someone offered me an easy way to stay fit and healthy without ever having to go to the gym or stop drinking wine I’d take it in a heartbeat. Who wouldn’t? That’s kind of what vitamins offer. An easy way to get a thing you’re not getting enough of. Which is great as some people really need them. Me? Not so much. Here are my thoughts on vitamins…
Tips for taking vitamins
- Never take more than the recommended dose
- Only take vitamins if your doctor recommends it
That’s it. The second rule is the most important. I’ve put myself on so many different vitamins because a health expert/model/some random person on Facebook told me to which is ludicrous. My new rule is I’ll only take a vitamin if my doctor recommends it. It’s a pretty solid rule.
On that note, here are some vitamins/health things I’ve stopped taking.
1. Green smoothies
Okay so green smoothies aren’t technically a vitamin but they’re in that health category. I’m not against green smoothies at all. They’re a fabulous way to get a hit of greens if you struggle to work them into your diet but a few years ago my blender broke and I didn’t replace it so I stopped having green smoothies and literally nothing changed. Not a single thing. Not my weight, not my blood tests, nothing. The thing is I kind of hate green smoothies. They’re quite gross, especially if you try to not have excess sugar like do so you go stingy on the fruit. It’s like drinking lightly banana flavoured spinach. When I was in the habit of having them, I didn’t think too much about it but when my blender broke, I was quite grateful not to have to drink them anymore and I wasn’t seeing any benefits anyway. My mornings are far less revolting now and I’d rather eat spinach in a salad than blended in a smoothie.
2. Fish oil
Fish oil had a massive moment circa 2009 and I started taking them (I have no idea why, but I did) and then I told my doctor I’d been taking them and he was like ‘Why? They’re for lowering blood pressure and cardiovascular health and you have perfect blood pressure and cardio-health. The benefits of them aren’t even proven to be effective in all people anyway.’ It was a very excellent point so I stopped taking them in 2010 and my blood pressure and cardio-health have remained excellent and I don’t have to choke those enormous pills every day. Why are fish oil tablets so big? Why?
3. Maca powder
I read on a health food blog I should start adding it to my morning smoothies so I did and nothing happened. Then I researched it and all the claims were quite wishy-washy and it was all about improving fertility and sex drive, neither of which were concerns of mine. It was expensive too so I stopped taking it. And surprise… nothing happened.
4. Generic women’s multi
I dutifully took a generic women’s multi for years and the same fish oil doctor told me to stop because my diet was good enough that I didn’t need to. He was right. I stopped and nothing happened.
5. Iron tablets
I had a doctor put me on iron tablets after I got a low blood test and I took for them for a while until I had more extensive blood tests and it turns out I have a weird storage issue with iron and my body can’t store excess iron. So I’d been taking these tablets and my body was like ‘Soz! We don’t have room for that!’ and I was literally peeing them straight back out again. How weird is that? So yeah, I don’t take those anymore because it was literally a waste.
6. St John’s Wort
It was recommended by a nutritionist for some light anxiety I was experiencing and it did nothing except maybe made me a bit sleepy.
I had lunch with some business ladies I’m friends with and they all ordered turmeric lattes. I ordered one too because I’ll try anything once and it was awful. Practically undrinkable. I asked what the point of it was and my friend said ‘It’s anti-inflammatory, improves your mood and gives you energy.’ I went home and researched it and it turns out the whole turmeric thing is EXTREMELY questionable. According to this study, it’s really hard for the body to absorb turmeric so it’s almost impossible for it to do any of the things turmeric lovers say it does. It won’t do you any harm at all, so if you like curry flavoured milk, go nuts on the turmeric lattes but they’re probably not doing anything for you health-wise.
8. Vitamin D
I was low in Vitamin D for years and took Vitamin D tablets to compensate. To be fair, they absolutely worked but I stopped taking them when I moved to a house that has windows and my Vitamin D levels are perfect. Yay for the sun!
9. Vitamin C
As a theatre kid, whenever you had a hint of a sore throat during production week you’d chow down on Vitamin C tablets to try to ward off a cold. I did this in a production of Grease I was in years ago. I was also on the pill at the time and for some reason, I got my period for three weeks straight. A sexual health nurse told me an excess of Vitamin C (like I’d been taking) can disrupt the effects of the pill. I was gobsmacked. To be fair, I was taking a shite tonne of Vitamin C because that’s just what you did and I had no idea it could affect the pill. I’ve never taken more than the recommended dose of any vitamin since then.
That’s not to say that these vitamins are terrible and worthless and no one should take them, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that you need to have blood tests done to check your vitals and have your doctor clock the effectiveness of these vitamins. If they’re not making a difference to anything, you don’t need to be taking them. Also in my experience, good doctors rarely prescribe vitamins unless they really have to.
Extra reading for the keen beans out there…
What about you?