What supplements do you take, if any?

by NancyLebovitz1 min read23rd Oct 201472 comments


Personal Blog

Since it turns out that it isn't feasible to include check as many as apply questions in the big survey, I'm asking about supplements here. I've got a bunch of questions, and I don't mind at all if you just answer some of them.

What supplements do you take? At what dosages? Are there other considerations, like with/without food or time of day?

Are there supplements you've stopped using?

How did you decide to take the supplements you're using? How do you decide whether to continue taking them?

Do you have preferred suppliers? How did you choose them?

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On the subject of supplements, has it struck anyone else how weird an alliance health stores are?

I don't know what it's like elsewhere, but the largest health retail chain in the UK is called Holland and Barrett. It caters to the alternative therapy and woo crowd. It caters to biohackers and allergy-sufferers and body-builders and hypochondriacs. It sells vegan cheese alongside giant cartons of whey protein.

These people are not natural allies. The one thing that unites them is their unconventional desire to either put a specific substance into their bodies, or keep a specific substance out of their bodies.

8NancyLebovitz6yI've been amused by the GNC (America) practice of having supplements appealing to different markets in separate alcoves-- there were (at least) body builder, new age, bargain, science (sciency?),.... I didn't check to see how many of their supplements were the same things in different packages in various alcoves. They had one additional clever bit-- the supplements had a life-sized silhouette of the capsule printed on the package so you could see whether they were a size you wanted to swallow.
1NancyLebovitz6yI just stopped by a GNC, and it's changed quite a bit. I remember GNC (some 15 or 20 years ago) as having a roughly equal balance of sections. Now it's predominantly for athletes and body builders. There's an herb section, and that's the last faint echo of New Age.
4skeptical_lurker6yThere's a wonderfully ridiculous shop in Brighton that takes this one step further by selling a mixture of health food, supplements and 'Legal highs'. I'm not sure how anyone thought this was a good idea - perhaps some people think that the anti-oxidants from a blueberry smoothie can counteract the damage done by fly agaric mushrooms?
2TylerJay6yThe funny thing is, they DO. Study showing vitamin C reduces most problems with MDMA: Sharankar 2001 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11170222] Graph of free radical levels in brain [https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/mdma/images/mdma_article3_chart1.gif] from MDMA + Vitamin C, MDMA alone, and controls from the study above (Sharankar 2001).
2skeptical_lurker6yFunnily enough I've seen that study before, in fact I used to give my friends vitamin C + 5-htp when they did MDMA. Which makes my previous comment rather weird now I look back on it. While fly agaric mushrooms are an exceptionally dangerous drug (but still legal, while the competitively safer psilocybin ones are illegal. Go figure.) it does seem somewhat plausible that vitamins could reduce the damage done. I think what I meant was that it won't completely eliminate the damage from a drug that dangerous. Moreover, while some people are aware of studies like that, it seems a little odd that there are enough health freaks who aren't put off by the drugs the keep the shop in business.
0TylerJay6yIt makes a bit more sense when you look at the rest of their behavior. People who take drugs (especially psychedelics) tend to look down on people who don't as being prudes, unenlightened, or just ignorant. When you look at it that way, drug-users and health nuts have something in common; they like to use their way of life to feel superior to other people. (oh, and make sure to only give 5-htp after the high wears off. Otherwise, you increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.)
0ChristianKl6y"it seems a little odd" should lead to noticing confusion and then updating your view of the world so that the world doesn't seem odd anymore.
0skeptical_lurker6yThings being odd certainly should lead to updating models, however, unless the models are perfect, things may continue to be odd.
0ChristianKl6yIn cases like this your models likely aren't build on peer reviewed research about the behavior of health freaks. Humans are very often overconfident. There no good reason to assume that your model is perfect.
2Emily6yI've noticed this too. I feel vaguely uncomfortable going in there and try to avoid walking past the homeopathy etc aisles for no reason that really makes sense. (Not a very common occurrence, but sometimes they do have that one specific thing I'm looking for!)
2ChristianKl6yI wouldn't be surprised if the LW population consumes more whey protein and more vegan cheese than the average person on the street.
8sixes_and_sevens6yWhen I hear about the exploits of other LessWrongers, I wonder if Less Wrong itself isn't also a very weird alliance we've simply gotten used to. I've been toying with writing a post on unlikely alliances and tolerance of deviant behaviour, but I figure if I wait long enough, Scott will write exactly the same post on Slate Star Codex, only much better than I could.
4Nornagest6yI expect Will_Newsome's post on taking ideas seriously [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2l6/taking_ideas_seriously/] might give you most of an explanation for that.
2sixes_and_sevens6yMy imaginary post would be about how Less Wrong celebrates deviant behaviour, ostensibly as a search process for useful life-enhancing interventions, but also because we just seem to like weird stuff and have complicated relationships with social norms. Other communities also like weird stuff and have complicated relationships with social norms. It's often different weird stuff and different social norms, but I wonder if there isn't room for something interesting to happen here.
2Lumifer6yWell, of course. Off the top of my head, we have here a mix of the x-risk people, EAs, the polyamory tribe, and a set of logico-philosophical puzzles geeks.
1Vulture6yNot to mention the bizarre political landscape.
3Nornagest6yAlong with more grass-fed beef, more raw milk, more coconut oil...

I used Cronometer for about 6 months until I found a few variations of my weekly food intake that got me to average out to 100% of the daily micronutrients I wanted each day. It comes with the RDAs as preset thresholds, but you can modify your targets as needed. (I used Yvain's Word doc and some of the other submissions to the minerals contest to set better targets).
I eventually got it to the point where the only supplements I was taking were:

  1. 3.5g total ultra-high-purity, independently lab-tested EPA/DHA caps to get my n-6:n-3 ratio close to 1:1 (though that is now replaced with wild canned pink salmon 3x/week)
  2. A quarter of a low-dose chelated zinc tab (I was having a hard time getting 100% of from natural foods)
  3. The smallest piece I could possibly break off of the lowest dose tab of no-flush Niacin available a few times a week (This was the only B vitamin I couldn't get 100% of through natural food, but all available supplements were mega-doses)
  4. The RDA of Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) for a little while, until I decided I probably don't need it (Tocopherols only seem to occur in nature along with polyunsaturated fats, n-6 mostly, and since my diet was intentionally extremely l
... (read more)

Vitamin D, since sunshine is in short supply all winter where I live

Methylfolate (currently 5mg/day - due to MTHFR 677TT genes), which seems to improve my mood.

Vitamin D3 (5000 IU/day) - blood tests show that results in levels considered healthy.

Glutathione, Oxaloacetate, Aniracetam, and Calcium d-glucarate, mostly due to Dave Asprey's writings.

I just started the probiotic from General Biotics.

I occasionally take Kratom as a stimulant, rarely more than 1/4 teaspoon per day.

I've been taking 1mg of Melatonin most nights for the past couple of years to help regulate sleep. I started on 4mg, which worked, but discussion on LW suggested this was an unnecessarily high dose. I have noticed what may be a dose-response relationship, (4mg hits me harder than 1mg, but 1mg is sufficient) but can't rigorously substantiate this relationship.

I've recently (last couple of weeks) started 200mg of potassium supplements (potassium gluconate) on a daily basis. The bottle suggests taking them with food, so I do. My diet is probably not very pota... (read more)

0[anonymous]6yWhen do you take melatonin, and when do you sleep?
0sixes_and_sevens6yI have an alarm on my Fitbit that goes off at midnight. At this point I take the melatonin, finish up whatever I'm working on, clean my teeth, etc., and aim to be in bed by 12.15. I'll then read, with the intention of falling asleep at around 1am.
0Error6yI think I might try cutting my melatonin dose. I take 3mg to get to sleep, but only because it's the middling dose available at the store. Lots of people here seem to take less.
0Douglas_Knight6yExperiments show that 10 micrograms are sufficient to induce sleep, although maybe only if you time it right. But it's hard to find in doses smaller than 300 micrograms [https://www.amazon.com/Sundown-Naturals-Melatonin-300-Tablets/dp/B000GG2I9O/].
0RomeoStevens6yI cut the 300mcg into fourths for 75mcg.

I take vitamin D (4000 iu) and B12 (2000 mcg) in the morning, and melatonin (900 mcg) and magnesium citrate (400 mg) at night. They seemed to be the things that helped the most with my health and mood.

I've tried a really long list of things because of health issues, and stopped most of them because taking too many things is hard for me and they didn't seem to make a significant difference.

1rxs6yIs there a reason to take magnesium citrate at night and not in the morning?
1alexdewey6yIt helps with sleep, so I prefer to take it right before bed.
1Douglas_Knight6yWhy 900 rather than 1000? Do you have pills that size? Where did you find them? Or are you taking 3 pills, each 300mcg? If so, did you work your way up to 3 pills?
1alexdewey6yI just take 3 of the 300mcg pills. I tried them since a lot of people do much better with a smaller amount but it wasn't enough to take just one or two so I went up to three and I'll stick with that until I run out and then I'll get a more convenient size.
0ChristianKl6yDo you take B12 because you are a vegan, or regardless?
1alexdewey6yI take it because I have Celiac disease so I have a reduced ability to process it. I take methylcobalamin with methyfolate sublingually since that's the most bioavailable way.

I take fish oil (generic) capsules most days, for the usual reasons they're recommended. Zinc tablets when I'm feeling run down.

Perhaps not what you mean by supplements (in which case, apologies!), but If we're including nootropics, I take various things to try to extend my productive working day. I take modafinil twice a week (100mg in mornings), and try to limit my caffeine on those days. I take phenylpiracetam about twice a week too (100mg in afternoons on different days to modafinil), and nicotine lozenges (1mg) intermittently through the week (also no... (read more)

D3+k2, CoQ10, Magnesium citrate, Iodine, probiotics.

D3+k2 because the usual reasons, CoQ10 for the blood pressure effects. Magnesium citrate because it helps me sleep and avoid bruxis. Iodine because of the metamed paper results, probiotics to see if they help with skin condition.

0ChristianKl6yWhich ones? As you say you take it for a skin condition, do you take it orally or apply it directly to the skin?
0RomeoStevens6yOrally. I currently take primal defense ultra and AOR probiotic-3 (only US brand I could find with clostridium butyricum)

I eat curcuma as a spice (thus:low doses) regularly. As was discussed here this may have health benefits and I plan to increase the dosage.

I bought a potassium chloride shaker as discussed here but dodn't use it regularly yet.

I eat licorice sweets quite often. While this is not strictly a supplement I recently learned that it causes Reduction of Serum Testosterone in Men. I plan to measure my testosterone levels which I believe to be low and consider stop eating licorice for one month.

I take caffeine pills (200mg) whenever I have migraine because I disco... (read more)

1ChristianKl6yWhat holds you back?
1Gunnar_Zarncke6yBasically nothing. I don't use it as regular salt because of the different tast and just use it for soups and other food with more own taste - which I didn't have much chance to prepare since the shaker arrived.
[-][anonymous]6y 2

Creatine before intense physical activity.

Calcium for broken bones...

(No relation, I promise :P)

Shorty before bed:

  • 1mg melatonin
  • 150mg magnesium citrate

After morning coffee:

  • 1 large fish oil pill
  • 3000 IU D3
  • 1 CDP Choline (leftover from see below)

Discontinued due to lack of noticeable effect:

  • Rhodiola rosea
  • Vitamin K
  • Pramiracetam
  • Aniracetam
  • Oxiracetam
  • Noopept
  • Zinc
  • Caffeine pills
  • L- Theanine

I take 10 000 units of Vit D each day. Partly because I'm a pasty nerd who never goes out and partly because large doses are anecdotally helpful for mood.

I take around 1.5mg of melatonin each night. Would have preferred 1 or less but it's too difficult to find them in smaller quantities so I make do with halving 3mg tablets. When I take them I find it significantly easier to get to sleep.

1twanvl6yWikipedia lists the safe upper limit of vitamin D [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_D#Upper_intake_levels] as 4000 IU (100ug), so taking 10000 could be unhealthy.
0erratio6yThanks for the concern. My understanding is that the established recommendations for the vast majority of vitamins are highly conservative and that I would have to more than double my intake before I would be in any actual danger: Evidence here [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypervitaminosis_D#Recommended_supplement_limits]

The only one thing that really helps is modafinil daily. 200 mg about 3 hours after I wake up.

I also take alpha lipoic acid as I think it "might" make me feel better but I am really not sure.

Vitamin D, 5000IU daily, year-round. (My latitude is about 38.85 oN, but I think I'd be taking it even further South).

Perhaps once ever 2-3 days I'll also take B6/B12/Folate.

I don't take a multivitamin because I don't want excess Vitamin E.

ETA: Forgot to mention that I add crushed flaxseed to my yoghurt.

[-][anonymous]6y 2

One multivitamin, usually a generic Men's Health tablet.

I take them because my family's diet is mostly grains, meat, and dairy and does not reach all of the necessary nutrients. I continue taking them so long as my personal accounts of nutrient intake show a deficiency in what they provide.

I do not. I take generics because I have found no evidence against them or in favor of brands.

[-][anonymous]6y 1

One multivitamin in the morning whenever I remember to, mostly as a kind of safety net so that I don't need to worry about my diet too much in order to avoid deficiencies.

A few other things have been causing me look at supplements, and this thread is making me seriously consider developing a regimen. I'm not sure where the best place to start is. On an intuitive level, there are a few supplements that seem like they would be common sense for me:

  1. Melatonin - I just started working a shift schedule, 7 day shifts / 4 off / 7 graveyard shifts / 2 off / 7 evening shift / 1 off. It seems common sense that melatonin would increase quality of sleep, which is a large problem with the rotating sleep schedule. I see one of the result
... (read more)
3TylerJay6yI would recommend Melatonin over Valerian root. The reason you don't sleep during the daytime is hormonal. Hormones are entrained by light/dark cycles, meal patterns, and exercise. Melatonin is the hormone your body produces to make you tired and to go to sleep. When you're exposed to high-energy visible light (blue is the primary culprit, followed by green) your body does not produce melatonin. When that light goes away, your body starts producing it again. However, just blacking out your room is not usually enough to make you sleep during the day because of the natural entrainment of sleep patterns; Your body produces melatonin not just when it's dark, but when it is used to going to sleep. Melatonin supplements basically let you circumvent that whole problem because you don't have to wait for your body to produce the melatonin. Once your'e asleep, your body's natural systems take over, continuing to produce melatonin, regulating your sleep-stages, and basically allowing you to sleep normally. Valerian root is a GABA-ergic compound (specifically, a GABA-a receptor agonist, like benzodiazepines, ambien, and alcohol) which means it does not function on your melatonin pathways, it's a sedative. Alcohol and Benzos are well-known to disrupt your sleep cycles and to favor deep sleep over REM sleep which makes it less restful and can lead to dependence. You can also end up with a glutamate-rebound effect that wakes you up when your body overcorrects after the valerian wears off. Basically, you should think of Valerian as a GABA-ergic sedative/hypnotic drug like Benzos (xanax, ativan, valium, etc.) or alcohol, not as a supplement. Just because it doesn't require a prescription does not mean it is not a drug. If you can't tell, I'm not a fan of Valerian. I'm personally pretty sensitive to excitatory rebound effects, but I definitely got them from Valerian. I would definitely recommend staying away from that stuff. Regarding your other points: First of all, as a vega
1Baisius6yThanks for such an in-depth reply. I'm a vegan for ethical reasons. I'm not rigid about it, (the bean burgers I mention contain small amounts of eggs, for example) but I definitely watch which animal products I consume. If there weren't healthy ways to get something critical, I would probably make an exception. I tend to believe that there is a vegan substitute for just about anything, however I'm open to be proven wrong. I just set up a Chronometer account, that seems like a good service. Is there a way to put exact recipes in? I put in my breakfast this morning, which was some leftover homemade bread I made last night. Chronometer said that "homemade bread" had a gram of trans fats in it, which I doubt is accurate. I would suppose that there is high variation in nonstandard food items, and I'm hoping there's a good way to address this.
1TylerJay6yYou're welcome, I'm just glad you found it helpful. And yeah, Cronometer is great. You can add both custom foods and custom recipes. Just click the "Foods" tab at the top and you can create a recipe. I have some of the things I make pretty often in there, like certain smoothies and other things that I always use the same proportions of. You can also create custom foods if the brand of some product you buy has a very different nutrient profile from their defaults, you can enter it as a custom food (though you will often miss out on some of the micronutrient data that they have, so be careful with this, or copy the micronutrient info that you don't know about product from one of their default database foods). Similarly, if there are duplicate records for a certain food you want to use, try looking at a few different ones to see which one has the most complete micronutrient data, then make sure you use that one. And the Profile tab lets you set your targets for macro and micronutrients. That's really all you need to know. With this, you can find out for yourself if you might be getting too little or too much of anything and then experiment with different interventions. I would recommend making sure you don't forget to track any fats or cooking oils you use. That way, you'll know if you're getting too much omega 6. The preset allowances for n-6 are probably too high. I encourage you to do your own research on the subject, but my personal recommendation is to try to keep your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio under 4:1. (Keep in mind only EPA and DHA count towards your n-3 number. "Other" omega-3s are only 3% bioavailable) Again, let me know if you have any questions and good luck!

I take iron (I'm pretty careless about what dose I grab) to control anemia, and vitamin D (gelcaps because Dr. My Uncle told me they're better, 5000 IU/day because a blood test showed me D-insufficient on a lower dose). You're supposed to take iron with food but I don't get the stomach upset problem if I just take it before bed and it's easier to remember that way. I don't care about brands qua brands, although I'm probably influenced by packaging when there are several options within my parameters.

For a while I took magnesium to see if that would help reduce fasciculations. It didn't help so I stopped when I ran out. I think that's the only one.

1Matthew_Opitz6yVitamin D and omega-3 fish oil daily. Melatonin when needed (a couple of times a month). Evening primrose oil occasionally.
[-][anonymous]6y 1

Every Day: Melatonin, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Bacopa.

Every 4 days (rotation): Caffeine, Nicotine, Ritalin, Nothing

I should probably be more thorough about Quantifying this stuff. I don't take Vitamin D or Magnesium because I measured a deficiency, they're just the two most common deficiencies in the developed world and it seems like I may have some of the symptoms of deficiency

Vitamin D3, aniracetam, creatine monohydrate, fish oil, modafinil (as needed), and caffeine (as needed). And melatonin 30 minutes before bed.

ETA: I used to take green tea capsules but I noticed they absolutely killed my appetite.

B12, Zinc, Fish oil, D 5000mcg, Phytocort (for asthma), Tribulus, DHEA (cream application).

I usually eat before them to help with absorption and not to get sick because they can sometimes rile my stomach.

I take this attitude towards supplementation. You have to do what works best for your body and you have to do what works best and gets results. It takes time to experiment and see what kind of result you get. I found the daily multivitamin was useless so I ditched it and changed up my diet a little.

I've recently been looking into nootropics and other brain supplements. I've come up with this "stack".

1 = one pill at standard dosage

2 fish oil caps / 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil 1 Uridine 1 Phosphatidylserine 1 B-complex 1 Alpha-GPC : choline source (optional) 1 Acetyl L-Carnitine : choline source and antioxidant 1 Alpha Lipoic Acid : antioxidant

NGF + BDNF increasers: 1 lion's mane 1 ashwaganda 1 bacopa 1 curcumin 95% (tumeric) 5% piperine (black pepper)

I use a joint iron/B12 supplement every couple days (I'm vegetarian). I started taking it a few years ago because I was very pale and low in energy, and it's helped a fair bit on those counts.

I took melatonin for most of a year, until one month ago I forgot my supply at home, when I came back to uni at the end of summer. My sleep has been disrupted a lot, but this coincided with a flare-up of Crohn's disease which was mainly responsible, so it's hard to assess how much worse my sleep is without the melatonin, although I definitely plan to resume taking it.

I take generic equivalents of the vitamin drink Berocca, plus iron and vitamin D to fill in the gaps and because deficiencies of those are common in people with Crohn's. I also take cod liver ... (read more)

0[anonymous]6yThe Crohns flareup and the Melatonin may be a causal relationship. Melatonin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and Crohns is exacerbated by inflammation.

I regularly take melatonin to help sleep. I'll occasionally take magnesium or multivitamins if I'm feeling deficient but that's kind of a subjective thing.

I supplement with vitamin B12 since I'm a vegetarian and it doesn't naturally occur in plants.

On the topic I would be interested in how many people who take a multivitamin take one with Chromium and Manganese as Louie Helm recently argued against that.

1Douglas_Knight6yLouie makes two claims. One claim is that for virtually all people, more chromium and manganese is bad. Quite plausible. But he also makes a much stronger claim that these and selenium, molybdenum, and iodine (?!) are not part of natural biochemistry, and so there is no such thing as deficiency. Even if we cannot identify the particular pathways where they go, it is easy to study deficiency in animals. Humans might have different biochemistry, but the prior is that it's all the same. Manganese and selenium deficiency are common diseases of sheep, thus subject to extensive study. They cause clear deleterious effects of commercial import. Farmers routinely replicate the experiment by treating only part of their herd, to confirm the diagnosis. Molybdenum deficiency is much rarer. Chromium deficiency is only observed in artificial environments, and Louie cites a paper [http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00775-010-0734-y] disputing previous experiments inducing it. Edit: actually, maybe manganese deficiency is pretty rare in livestock, though it does happen. But induced deficiency has clear effects, like miscarriage.
1ChristianKl6yThere also (3): The reason that most scientific trials of multivitamin supplements showed no health benefits is that they contained chromium and manganese. If that's true most of us should get a chromium- and manganese-free multivitamin supplement.

I think a poll might be more useful than people just posting their lists: [pollid:791]

Comment with others and I'll add them.

EDIT damn, doesnt let you do multiple options - Just choose the one you think is most effective?

0NancyLebovitz6yYou might want to do your poll as a discussion post, especially if you can find a site that supports a good format. You can get "check all that apply" polls if you have a paid Live Journal account.
0FiftyTwo6yI've made a quick and dirty survey through google forms [http://goo.gl/forms/HXJ9GZEGW8] all responses are anonymous and publicly visible
0NancyLebovitz6yYou need to include "doesn't take supplements".