Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Vitamin Diet: Recipes for Health

Nutrition is becoming an increasingly popular topic. I wind up in conversation about nutrition all the time - and I'm increasingly silent. I'm increasingly isolated by my point of view.

I'm turning 50 in March, and so many of my friends and family members take prescription drugs and/or supplements. This is what I want to talk about. They all want to talk about herbs and fruits and vegetables - about whether food is acidic or basic - sugary or salty - high or low in fiber - good or bad for intestinal bacteria - toxic or non-toxic. I want to talk about the pills.

I spend alot of time every day deciding what, how many, and when to take pills. I'm spending all this time worrying mostly about niacin, vitamin C, and ibuprofen. If I was taking other pills, I'd be worrying about them too. All the data says that the pills have a much bigger impact on my health than my choice of diet. I get plenty of side effects - especially from vitamin C and niacin - and I'd like to talk about them. But there is no one to listen. I'm expecting that as I grow older, I'll be taking more of more kinds of pills - pills that friends and family are already taking. I'm really interested in knowing what to expect - but no one is talking.

I'll do a little talking here. I'm in pretty good health now and most days I don't take any niacin pills. Instead I drink alot of dark roast coffee. I have never had a niacin side effect from drinking too much coffee. However, at least once a week I feel weak, or feel afraid of getting a cold, or just feel like I should be taking niacin because it will make me feel better. I take out a 500 mg time release niacin and chew off the end - probably around 40 mgs. With luck I get distracted and before I know it the work day is over and I never gave the niacin another thought. Other days I'll chew on the end three or four times until I've taken half the pill - 250 mgs.

More times than not, I suddenly become aware that I've taken the niacin. I find myself walking and talking faster, and with less inhibition - a little bit "wired". Sometimes, on top of feeling wired, I feel anxious. It's definitely a bad feeling - unlike the "wired" feeling which is sort of a good feeling. When I feel the anxious feeling, I regret having taken the niacin. That said, when I get up the next day feeling find and without a cold, I think to myself that if the niacin helped with that, it was worth the anxiousness.

I wonder how many other people deal with the anxiety. I wonder if it makes a difference whether or not I'm taking time-release or straight-release niacin. Just writing this makes me realize that I've sort of decided that chewing a time release tablet to get a "slightly" time-release effect is better for me than the other options. Well maybe... I generally take the niacin on a completely empty stomach. Maybe I should be taking it after a meal? There really are alot of options...

Factors A, B, and C formed the basis of modern nutrition. For the first time in human history, these super-important food concentrates are available to almost everyone, anytime, anywhere in America. You are empowered to find the optimal micronutrient recipe for your own health without worrying about calories. The best information you can get will be from friends and family with similar genetic backgrounds, so talking about your experiences and strategies - like you talk about food - is a worthwhile exercise.

If you want to increase the odds of living in the best possible health, there's much to gain and little to lose by using antibiotics and vitamins supplements and talking about it with friends and family.


At 11:25 AM, Blogger alexandra said...

I found your blog in the course of internet research for my little 3 year old boy. Born full term at a bit over 7 lbs, by 6 months he was below the weight chart and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis variant. Within a year the diagnosis was revised to simply failure to thrive. He went on an ng feeding tube at about 15 months and from then on has had issues with vomiting and refusing food (he says food hurts his tummy). We replaced the ng with a g tube last fall and are trying to wean him from it, but it has been a very slow process. He has a very pale face and dark circles around his eyes, but his allergy tests have been negative. He refuses to take a multivitamin, but is supplementally fed with a prescribed formula that is vitamin rich. Do you think that extra vitamin C would help him, and do you have any suggestions for a supplement that could be introduced through his tube (since i have low confidence that I could get him to eat it.)

At 6:44 AM, Blogger Steve said...


I'm so sorry about your son.

Yes I think extra vitamins will help.

The vitamins act slowly over time, so if you use the vitamins, you will never know for sure why your son got better, and this controversy will continue. In my mind, even if your son gets only a little bit better, the vitamins are well worth the effort.

Both vitamin C and niacin are highly water soluble. Just crush any supplement and stir into any liquid. In past columns, I think I recommended pudding or ice cream. For drinks, vitamin C tastes better in orange juice.

The special vitamin B1 (thiamine) supplement I recommend (TTFD), can be applied to the skin. It smells bad so few people want to use it that way. I rub just a pinch into the skin of my feet most mornings.

I see from the beautiful photo that you get your son into the sunshine. Keep that up as much as possible.

There is probably enough vitamin A in your son's formula. So you are covered.

Your challenge is to find the right dose of vitamin C and niacin. I recommend starting with 3000 mg/day of vitamin C and 125 mg/day of niacin. You must feed the niacin in divided doses of 20 to 40 mg to prevent painful flushing. I recommend regular niacin in this case (not time release). Your son is still likely to experience a mild flush which can be prevented with extra effort if it turns out to be a problem. Please read my column on niacin side effects. The vitamin C is also best used in divided doses.

If you think you see positive effects at this dose, and no evidence of any harm, you can push the dose higher. Please don't hesitate to come back to the blog and ask as many questions as you want.

Good luck with your beautiful son.


At 7:25 AM, Anonymous moises said...

Lately you've been writing about antibiotics. I have tried amoxicillin a few times with no obvious benefit.

More recently, there's been mention in the popular press of recent research on coriander seed oil. I decided to try some. So far it has had a significant beneficial effect. It has solved my diarrhea problem.

I do not mind taking prescription antibiotics, when I can get a doctor to prescribe them for me. But it is much easier to obtain nonprescription products for me, and most surely, the majority of you readers.

I am curious if you have any thoughts about the antibiotic properties of coriander seed oil or other similar products. I would suppose that for most of them the research is inadequate, because the profit potential is minimal. But I hope that I am wrong.


At 1:38 PM, Blogger Mike F. said...


Hey, I hope this finds you well. I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. I have read a few entries, particularly about the niacin side effects that I found very helpful and similar to my own experience.

I have been taking niacin for the past year now, off and on, always in the instant release form. The dosage has typically ranged between 100mg-500mg. There were a few times I got it up to 3,000mg. But as you’ve already written, higher doses have come with an inevitable host of side effects, mainly in the form of excruciating stomachaches and pains. I was very shocked, but not too surprised, to hear about the yellow bile that came after vomiting. Although I haven’t gotten to that point, I am sure that at some point in the future I could experience that as well with continued high dosages.

I took niacin for the first time about two years back. After taking about a 200-300mg dosage, I experienced a flush like you wouldn’t believe! I was terrified and panicked. It was so frightening to me at the time that I actually chucked the rest of the bottle in the trash. Of course I look back now and just laugh at the whole episode because I know better! :)

But then about a year back I went to a new doctor at the Cleveland Clinic who turned out to be absolutely phenomenal! His name is Dr. Dhia Aldoori and he practices internal medicine. Over the past year, he has not only turned my health around, but also my Grandparents who now go to him too! He has written great health information on his own blog that he provides free to patients. Here is a link to the site: I think that you would find him most interesting because he advocates taking many of the same vitamins that you do. Be sure to read his ‘Chapter 3: Good Nutrition’ page where he lists what he advises taking, and at what dosages. He too is an advocate of taking niacin and thanks to him I’ve been taking it for about a year now, bumping up my HDL from ~40 to 51 now. Currently, I’m only taking 250mg niacin and it seems to be all that my body can tolerate.

I posted this message here because I especially found this entry to be most interesting! I can relate to you very much. While I’m half your age, much of my own time is consumed in researching, contemplating, and experimenting in taking vitamin supplements. My rationale is that I am trying to find that right things to take, in the right dosages, at the right times in order to help me not only be healthier, but also to live a better quality life in which I can function to the best of my abilities. I really feel you will enjoy reading my doc’s blog. Feel free to ask him questions and definitely let me know what you think after reading it. Thanks again and take care!


At 11:27 PM, Blogger andrea5 said...

Just have to say that it cracks me up that you get talkative and energetic on niacin. I feel high and it knocks me out. I get so relaxed I can only take it at night because it puts me to sleep, to an amazing night of sleep. I take between 500 and 1500 mg a day. I still flush even though I take regularly, it is lessened a bit, but if I skip even 3-4 days it is like starting over. But, that is okay because I love the heat of it and the prickles can annoy me, but not usually.
I take it because I worry I will have joint issues like my 70 year old father and I have wicked tennis elbow, which isn't a bone problem, but I want it to help anyway. So far, no go. And mostly because I love the sleep it brings.


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