FAQ: Should I take vitamins?
I receive a lot of emails and Facebook messages about vitamins. People are confused about whether or not they should be taking them and if so, which ones and how much? Here’s what you need to know:*
A gastroparesis-friendly diet, regardless of how well-balanced, is likely to be lacking in a variety of important vitamins and minerals. In addition, impaired digestion can lead to reduced absorption of certain nutrients within the GI tract. For these reasons, I typically recommend that GPers use supplements to enhance the nutrition they receive via their diet.
Please remember that when introducing new supplements it’s important to try ONE at a time. Wait several days, keeping track of any new or changing symptoms, before introducing the next product. This is the only way to determine exactly what does – and doesn’t – work for you.
There are a wide variety of manufacturers and formulations for each vitamin/mineral listed. It may be necessary to experiment in order to find the one that’s best for you. Keep in mind that chewable, sublingual and liquid formulations are often better tolerated than tablets. You may need to start with a smaller dose than recommended — some is always better than none.
Multi-Vitamin/Mineral – Supports Overall Health & Nutrition
- Helps to fill in the nutritional gaps of a typical gastroparesis-friendly diet.
- Formulation should contain: vitamins A, C, D, & E; niacin; folic acid; B6; B12; pantothenic acid; thiamin, riboflavin; calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
- Children’s chewable tablets or gummy vitamins are often well-tolerated. Look for a product that does not contain artificial dyes, sweeteners or flavors.
- While some products may be more complete than others in terms of the vitamins/minerals included, what matters most is that you can take it consistently day in and day out. If you find a less complete formula that you tolerate, that’s better than the perfectly complete formula that you don’t. Again, some is better than none!
- Take with meals to prevent/minimize stomach upset and aid in absorption.
- Note: formulations containing iron may exacerbate constipation. Men and post-menopausal women are unlikely to need supplemental iron.
- I use: VitaFusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins (settles very well; I can take these every day) or Kanga Vites Childrens Chewable (more complete but sometimes upsets my stomach)
Vitamin D – Supports immune function; Necessary for calcium absorption; Deficiency is indicated in over 20 common diseases
- Fat soluble — must be taken with a meal containing dietary fat for proper absorption.
- Look for a supplement containing Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2, which is found in many D-fortified foods and dairy products, is not well-absorbed and is minimally effective.
- Typical dosage: 1,000-2,000 IU per day, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
- A 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D blood test is recommended to determine your current level of Vitamin D.
- I use: Carlson Ddrops.
Vitamin B 12 – Essential for proper nerve function; The “energy” vitamin
- Primary dietary source is animal foods; vegetarian diets are deficient in Vitamin B12.
- Impaired absorption and/or depletion is common in those who use acid suppressing drugs, including H-2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, or those who take Metformin for type 2 diabetes.
- Deficiency symptoms include: fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, heart palpitations, bleeding gums and mouth sores, nausea, poor appetite and diarrhea.
- Available via injection from your doctor or as sublingual tablets.
- Typical dosage: 25-100 mcg/day
- More info from Dr. Andrew Weil.
- I use: Superior Source Women’s B Complex (While these are sublingual, I swallow them because they taste horrible. They don’t upset my stomach as much as other B complexes though.)
Magnesium – Essential for proper functioning of nervous, muscular and cardiovascular systems; Natural laxative
- Deficiency symptoms include: anxiety, insomnia, irritability, muscle weakness or cramping, Restless Leg Syndrome, and irregular heartbeat.
- Avoid magnesium oxide, which is not well absorbed. Magnesium citrate is well absorbed and readily available.
- Typical dosage: 400 mg per day; if your stools become loose, decrease dosage. Those who take a calcium supplement should take half as much magnesium as they take calcium in order to prevent constipation.
- Note: if constipation is an issue, doses as high 1,000 mg are considered safe and may help to regulate bowel movements.
- I use: Source Naturals Magnesium Malate.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Reduces inflammation; Necessary for proper brain function
- Omega 3s are essential fatty acids, which means our bodies cannot make them — we must get them from our diet or supplements.
- Signs of possible deficiency include excessive thirst, frequent urination, and dry hair and skin.
- Typical dosage: 2 grams of a formula that contains a combination of DHA and EPA. (You may not be able to tolerate this much; some is better than none!)
- Vegetarian formulas made from algae may be easier to digest than fish oils.
- More info from Dr. Oz.
- I use: NutraSea + D (I add1/4 teaspoon to smoothies).
*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Not all supplements are appropriate for everyone and other supplements, such as calcium and iron, may be necessary for some gastroparesis patients. Please consult your doctor for specific recommendations.
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