CHEAP vitamins/mineral supplements: Are they worth it?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by dannybex, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    I've been finding some amazingly low prices on certain brands of supplements, but some prices are SO LOW that one wonders if they're filled with powdered sugar or flour...?

    Has anyone tried brands like Puritan's Pride, Swanson's, NSI, or Doctor's Best, and did they compare okay with more expensive supps?

    I'm on a really strict budget, so have to stretch my pennies as far as I can, but also can't afford to waste any money on worthless products.


  2. limbo

    limbo Member

    I was going to Swansons but my daughter went online and they are imported from China. So haven't checked out other companies but will. Today I have to crash, Too many days being busy.
  3. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    That's interesting. If that's the case, I'm sure a lot of the others are imported as well. Doesn't necessarily mean they're bad, but it would certainly explain the low, low prices...


  4. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    for more feedback. :)


  5. dannybex

    dannybex Member all for your replies.

    With all the outsourcing and changing world economies I guess it's not surprising to find that many supplement manufacturers would be getting their raw materials outside the USA.

    Again, that doesn't mean they're automatically bad, or filled with lead-based paint, but I guess the only thing to do would be to email or write the various companies (sigh...) and ask them.

    As for store-bought vits/minerals -- that's an interesting article. I've never been able to find a decent multivitamin, at least not for 5-6 years. There's something in them that I react too -- and with so many ingredients, who's to know where the reaction is coming from.

    I do try to avoid the "candy-coated" type that are filled with artificial colors, chemicals, and other solvents. That can't be good for us...

  6. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    I studied Naturopathy for two years, specializing in Nutritional medicine. I did not finish my degree, after finding out that the practice of Naturopathy is a felony in my state, but I do know a bit about this subject.

    Some types of vitamins are cheaper just because they are abundant or easy to manufacture, like Magnesium and B Complex. Some are expensive no matter what, like COQ10.

    One thing I would never do is buy anything in tablet form. They are very hard to absorb. Bioavailability aka absorption is the most important thing. If you currently have tablets, put one in white vinegar and see how much it has degraded after an hour. That is how much you are actually absorbing. You may be shocked. Stick with capsules or powder. I do not think liquids are worth the money, since you are paying for a lot of water.

    It pays to do some research about the form of the supplement as well....

    Using COQ10 as an example again, the ubiquinol form is no more expensive, but is MUCH more absorbable than the ubiquinone form and us the only form of COQ10 that raises blood levels of COQ10 by a statistically significant amount.

    Another one is vitamin B12. Cyanacobalamin is not nearly as absorbable as methlycobalamin.

    When taking Alpha lipoic acid you need twice as much as if you were to take R-lipoic acid.

    With magnesium, citrate is far better absorbed than the cheaper oxide, and all Magnesium is so cheap, you may as well get the better kind.

    Calcium is very poorly absorbed no matter what kind you get, so I'd go with the citrate form again to maximize it. Some forms can contain toxins, like oyster shell calcium.

    I also do not think anyone should take calcium in supplement form if they can avoid it. People with problems caused by calcium deficiency are very often not truly deficient...they are just depositing the calcium in the wrong places, like in their soft tissues and arteries and as bone spurs, rather than in their bones. This problem will only be made worse by taking even more calcium, and IMO, is best addressed with other bone builders like magnesium, boron, manganese and the all important vitamin D. if bone loss is severe, then strontium should be added and you maust take a minimal amt. of calcium when you take strontium. Strontium actually builds new bone, while the drugs just make you hold onto old bone, so your bones look denser but are actually more brittle.

    Speaking of vitamin D, take the D3 form, never the D2 form. Vitamin D fortified milk should be avoided for this reason, as it almost always has the inferior D2 form added. It's better to get some regular sun exposure (wihtout letting yourself get burned) or take supplements of 1-2,000 units daily.

    Here's another tip: Neptune Krill Oil is far more absorbable than fish oil, it does not cause the belching and reflux that fish oil can, and it works far better at normalizing lipid ratios. It is also a much smaller organism, and as such, is much less likely to contain toxic mercury.

    I agree about taking whole food products when you can. I use Greens First by Doctor's Nutrition, which is equal to ten servings of fruits and veggies daily and is all natural. It costs me $38 per month, but I know I will absorb it and it is delicious.

    I agree that many products contain allergens. I have to really watch the natural ones to avoid chamommile, alfalfa, dandelion, licorice root, siberian ginseng, ginkgo biloba, bee propolis, royal jelly, and a few others that I am either allergic to, or that raise my already high blood pressure.

    We use an NSI multi-vitamin from Vitacost, made esp. for those with heart issues. It is called Cardio-Lift and it has by far the best formulation I've ever seen, but I do wonder about the source and purity of the ingredients, since it is so reasonable in price, compared to other formulas with the same things in them. We take only 1/3 dose daily, since we can't afford anymore than that.

    It can be really hard to weed through all the info and figure this stuff out, and I wish you the best of luck with it. When in doubt, I would advise taking smaller amts. of supps. rather than mega-doses. Try getting most of your nutrition from foods, though I realize foods and soils are not what they used to be and you do need some supplementation.


  7. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    Thanks again for all your replies.

    Klutzo, very interesting you should mention calcium supps. I find that I can't take them at all without developing some sort of spur-ish problem. The best one I've found is calcium bisglycinate, but even that has d2 in it, rather than d3.

    Dairy is the only form of calcium that helps me, at least when it comes to night cramps. If I go for more than a day without it, I can guarantee I'll bolt out of bed with a strong cramp in my foot.

    As for the citrates, I think it was Cheney (who I usually don't agree with) that said that CFS/FM patients have a high level of citrate in their bodies, so I've avoided the citrates, except for a few years ago. I was certainly feeling better then, so perhaps I should try it again. It was a 1/1 ratio cal/mag.

    Also...I think part of my problem (and perhaps a lot of us) is I don't get even remotely enough vitamin K. It's difficult to absorb, but helps put calcium in the right place and supposedly helps draw excesses out of the wrong places (arteries). I'd love to find a study that backs that up however. And from what I've read, it doesn't INCREASE clotting, it balances or controls clotting.

    I have strontium, but just took it probably 7-8 times, then threw it in the closet. Perhaps I should give it another try.

    So complicated...


  8. Clay2

    Clay2 New Member

    I belong to Consumer Labs, an organization that tests supplements. It has helped raise my confidence levels.

    I rather suspect that the base materials for most of our supplements come from China now.

    The only thing I absolutely insist on spending a lot on is fish oil. I use a brand that is tested regularly by the international fish oil testing lab.
  9. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    Hi Danny,
    I am not sure what your questions seems as if you already know a lot, and have answered your own questions!

    I had not heard that Dr. Cheney said people with FMS/CFS have too many citrates. Thanks for telling me. My problem with blanket statements is that I see FMS as being a list of symptoms that can be caused by many problems, so what helps one may hurt another.

    I am also not convinced yet that FMS and CFS are the same thing. Back when I ran an FMS support group for ten years, I was convinced they were not the same at all, because I could easily spot the CFSers who sometimes came to the group, and their complaints were completely different. However, now I am just very confused about this issue!

    I do think stealth infections are usually the underlying cause, but there are several of them, and you can have them in different combos, along with differing reactivated viruses caused by the immune dysregulation they create.

    Using myself as an example, I have the stealth infection borrelia (Lyme) as my underlying cause, and it has made my immunity TH2 dominant, allowing reactivation of the HHV-6, CMV, and Coxsackie B3 viruses. My EBV has not reactivated...who knows why! Lyme is rarely just one is an infectious soup.

    CA Citrate seems to be helpful for my GERD. I tried Mg glycinate but with no improvement in results and it costs more than citrate and is not sold by the company I normally order from.

    Jamminhealth is correct that the CA should be taken at least a couple of hours away from the strontium. Dr. Teitlebaum says some recent research shows you can take the strontium every other day and it works just as well, so I've been doing that.

    Like you, I also get most of my CA from dairy, which is my main source of protein. I think I get plenty of vit. K, since I eat at least four cups of dark greens daily.

    Because so many of us have hypercoagulation issues, even though my coag panel was normal, I've been afraid of sups. with K in them, though I suppose I could always take Nattokinase again to feel safe, but it is very costly. Also, my DH has to be able to take the vitamin we choose, and he is on warfarin, so K is out of the question for him.

    Clay2 mentioned fish oil, which I agree is important, since most of us get way too may Omega 6 oils and far too few Omega 3 oils. The purity problem is eliminated, as I mentioned before, if you take krill oil instead. It also is much more absorbable and works better to normalize lipids. I also eat walnuts daily, which provide both Omega 3 oil and serotonin.

    [This Message was Edited on 06/22/2008]
  10. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    Clay2 -- if you belong to Consumer Labs, can you tell us how they rate the companies I've listed, or if any of them are on the "do not take" list?

    Klutzo -- here's the first quote I read attributed to Cheney:

    "Cheney says that the elevated citrate level lowers the level of 2,3 diphosphoglycerate (2,3DPG), which in turn makes it harder for haemoglobin (Hb) to give up its oxygen to tissue cells."

    But then also just found this, not attributed to Cheney, but perhaps explains the high citrate levels?:

    "There is an abnormally high build-up of lactic acid in the cells of CFS patients. Scientists already know that if mitochondria can't function properly, pyruvate is converted to lactate acid and other organic acids. This explain the intracellular acidosis and extracellular alkalosis found in CFS. Alkaline blood in CFS inhibits oxygen transport to the mitochondria. Glutathione reduction in CFS induces an increase in citrate levels, which can inhibit 2,3 DPG. A deficiency of 2,3 DPG leads to a reduction of oxygen to the mitochondria."

    So...perhaps this is why undenatured whey helps some patients???


  11. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    I take 20 grams of whey protein every morning in a shake, mixed with Greens First, natural apple juice, water and creatine (3 X wk.).

    I take 2,500 mgs. of L-glutamine in water on an empty stomach, mixed with my Samento for Lyme, 30 mins. before the whey protein shake, to raise my glutathione. I am also hoping to cure a precancerous growth in my stomach. L-glutamine is very good for restoring both bowel and gastric mucosa to normal, and it raises hGH as well. It can heal a leaky gut as well as raise glutathione.

    I add a teaspoon of creatine to my whey shake, on the 3 days per week when I exercise, to help my exercise intolerance and muscle loss. It has eliminated my lactic acid post-exertional pain and spasm completely and dramtically increased my exercise tolerance.

    Example: Before starting creatine a month ago, I had spent about 12 years lifting weights, but could never do more than 16 bicep curls without bursting into tears from pain. It had taken me 2 years to slowly work up to a mere five minute workout that I could stand to do without suffering awful muscle spasm that would come on later on after I rested (this is known as the gelling effect).

    Within 3 weeks of starting a modest dose of creatine, far less than bodybuilders take, I could easily do 50 bicep curls with no after effects. I can now keep going all day and can do more than one exerting thing in the same day. For example, I could never have done an hour of exercise AND a week's grocery shopping on the same day before. In fact, I could rarely drive to the grocery store at all. Now I can do it easily on most days.

    I posted about this on my thread "Creatine Is Amazing". Rich Van K, whom I greatly respect, says he does not think creatine will help most CFSers, and he may be right, esp. if CFS and FMS are not the same. I do not meet the older, stricter criteria for a CFS diagnosis. The newer criteria is so loose that virtually all FMSers like me will meet it, but I feel the older criteria correctly separated the symptoms from the signs by which the two differ, and should have been kept.

    I just wonder if my taking all these things has been why I've had so much improvement in my FMS that I take nothing at all for pain. (The Lyme keeps getting worse and has almost destroyed my pancreas, for just one example).

  12. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    I've thought about trying creatine off and on over the years -- I've been sick for about 10 years, and disabled, can't work, for about six (ALREADY!) -- but I was always worried about the reports that creatine can cause or worsen cramping.

    I've had muscle twitches and cramping off and on -- it had stopped for 2-3 years -- but now it's bad again for the last 6 months, no matter how much cal/mag or WHATEVER I've tried.

    And the thing is, my feet, where almost all the twitching takes place, are the part of my body that gets the most 'exercise' as I have no car, and have to walk to the store, etc. And lately they've been very painful, very "tight" feeling and acidic feeling.

    So...I'm wondering if it might help me too. So when you say 'spasm', was it a kind of twitching (fasiculations) or an entire muscle group spasming at once?

    I would LOVE to be rid of this post exertional pain and twitching. Or at least reduce it. Even though I've been disabled for quite awhile now, it's just been the last six months where my ability to walk has been curtailed big time.



    I'll try and find your other thread...
  13. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    How do you know that lyme's is 'destroying your pancreas'? And what are you doing to fight that? Just curious...I'm not too lyme-literate...


    And finally, I DID find a site that claims that NSI supps are great. Not sure about the source...and can't seem to find a way to email the author, but here's the link:
  14. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    Hi Dan,

    1. What I call muscle spasm is a pressurized tightening, like a rubber band pulled to it's most extreme. It is a pressure so bad that it actually raises my blood pressure to a dangerous level if it occurs in my chest muscles. It is a hardening, so the muscle will not move properly. The only twitching I have is in my right eyelid and occurs when I have not slept well.

    2. I have had no cramping from creatine, but remember, I am not taking nearly as much as bodybuilders take.

    3. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but if your feet hurt a lot on the bottom, if they feel sometimes as if you are walking on just bones with no padding, then you may have Bartonella. This is one of the most common coinfections with Lyme Disease, and you can also get it from cats, if you are a cat person like me.
    In people with normal immunity it is just cat scratch fever, but in those with compromised immunity it is a dangerous, long-term infection that needs long term treatment with certain antibiotics.

    4. Re: My pancreas. I had all the symptoms of gallbladder disease, and 80% of Lyme patients lose their gallbladders (Lyme loves cholesterol, so it hangs out in the GB a lot and some of the ABX used in Lyme, like Rocephin, hurt the GB). However, my GB tests kept coming back negative. Meanwhile, I was unable to eat and losing 5 lbs. per week. I had already been taking enzyme supplements for over ten years due to poor digestion, which is common in Lyme, due to sympathetic dominance in the ANS, so I thought nothing of it. (The parasympathetic part of the ANS controls digestion).
    A special test showed I had very small stones in my GB and they took my GB out. However, the symptoms all came back the first time I ate a high fat meal. These symptoms included all the symptoms of fat malabsorption, so I had fecal fat testing done, which confirmed severe pancreatic insufficiency.
    This disease is incurable and irreversible, and is normally caused by alcoholism, but I am a lifelong teetotaler. The #2 cause is small gallstones blocking the ducts, so enzymes back up and devour the pancreas. I had already had symptoms of maldigestion for ten years, and by the time you get symptoms, over 90% of the pancreas is already destroyed.
    The ten year survival rate is 45%, and I have already had it longer than that. It gives me a 60% chance of getting brittle, injected insulin dependent diabetes, and an increased chance of pancreatic or peritoneal cancer.
    A very low fat diet plus prescription enzymes with all meals and snacks, a PPI to help boost the enzymes, supps. of fat soluble vitamins, B12 and calcium, due mostly to the increased risk of bone fracture from taking the PPI, and complete abstinence from alcohol can greatly help my odds.
    Of course a low fat diet is not really healthy, and my skin is so dry already that I look ten years older. The enzymes don't really work all that well either.
    A CT scan with an infused contrast medium, along with fecal fat tests before and after taking enzymes are how this dx is confirmed. There is also one sx that distinguishes this from all other causes of malabsorption, ie. a clear oil slick that floats on the surface of the water in the commode. I hope that answers your question.

    5. Thanks for the good info on NSI vitamins. I was not happy with their basic probiotic, as it did not culture, making it useless, so I got suspicious of their other products. However, there was a very small amt. of probiotics in that product, only 2 million organisms, so they probably all died in transit, which means they really should not sell it.
    I now culture one capsule from all new batches of any probiotic I buy, since the heat here in Florida can kill them off before they arrive at my mailbox. Now I also make sure I buy one with at least 15 billion organisms at time of manufacture.
    I just read Mike Adams article at the link you provided and came back to edit and add that I disagree with one thing he said. In most people, spreading a multi-vit throughout the day like he advises is good, but not in people who already have trouble sleeping and get almost no deep sleep, like FMSers do. B complex, green tea, and a host of other ingredients can keep you awake at night, so I would spread my multi between breakfast and lunch, but not take it at dinner or bed time.
    I appreciate his saying that NSI is the best quality for the price. That was the conclusion I came to long ago, after much research, which is why we take them, but I also wish he had not just reviewed the ingredients and price of the vitamins....
    What is really needed is an independent lab verification that the capsules actually contain what the label says they do. If you have seen the research on this, you have no doubt been shocked by how much scamming is going on, due to the complete lack of regulation. Many random tests have shown that a large number of supplement products do not even have any of the named product on the label inside them!

    [This Message was Edited on 06/23/2008]
    [This Message was Edited on 06/23/2008]
  15. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    Hi Klutzo,

    I'll reply as you did, to make it easier for both of us.

    1. Okay, so your spasms are different than mine. Mine are exactly like the ones you get in your eyelid. Plus lately some numbness, but that comes and goes. And mine get worse the more I'm on my feet, and I've been on my feet way too much the past six months since I haven't had use of a car.

    2. Good to hear that you haven't had cramping. That's why I'm hoping perhaps the creatine might help with my twitching, because they're basically tiny cramps!?

    3. My feet do feel as if I'm walking on bones with no padding, but I think that's because indeed, that's almost literally true. I'm very thin, about 10% under my body weight, and have lost muscle the last 2-3 years. I went to see Amy Derksen, a protege of Deitrich Klinghardt, one of the country's top lyme docs, and tested negative for lyme. When my twitching and numbness got worse, her ART testing suggested it was a viral infection, but I think the ART testing is somewhat disputable, even though Klinghardt developed it.

    Anyway, I did have a cat until four years ago, but really don't have the majority of the symptoms that I googled. My feet can kind of have that tight burning feeling, but it's more towards my toes, and hardly ever in my heels -- more like a neuropathy, that of course can have so many different causes.

    I went over recent lab results, because my hemoglobin, hematocrit, etc., have been low for years, but not OFFICALLY low. You know, "low normal", so according to my doc, "everything's normal". Well, just as my "d" levels weren't normal (which she claims I "taught" her about 2 years ago), these recent tests results are actually indicative of anemia, according to the Anemia Council, even though the lab she used said they were within the normal range. I wrote her a letter asking for her advice/comments...haven't heard back yet, but am taking some iron and copper (and eating more red meat).

    But thanks for the info on Bartonella. It sounds horrible, and very difficult to get rid of, at least until the immune system is stronger.

    4. That is very troubling about your pancreas. I too have weak digestion, but mainly due to very low stomach acid. I take enzymes off and on, but HCL pretty much with every meal. I wonder about my pancreas, but apparently so far so good. Definitely no pain. And several stool tests have shown normal fecal fat results, when I'm off the enzymes.

    I read about some ayurvedic herb that is supposed to help regenerate the pancreas...just a second, I'll look it up.'s supposed to help regenerate the beta cells that secrete insulin, so not sure if it would be helpful for you or not. Anyway, it's called Gymnema Slyvestre. ???

    5. Totally agree on all your points. One suggestion re probiotics. Have you tried Custom Probiotics? They contain like 65 BILLION organisms per capsule, and I believe they ship w/dry ice or some sort of frozen packaging. Also VSL#3 -- very expensive (A friend paid for 3 months of it for me -- but it was definitely delivered in cold packing, and contains 450 BILLION organisms per envelope. It has been shown in studies to help digest gluten, and fight off certain bugs in the intestine.

    Okay, I'll shut up. Hope some of this is helpful...we've kind of gotten off topic! :)

    Take care,

  16. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    Hi again Dan,
    I am a big fan of taking more magnesium for twitches, esp. at bedtime to help with sleep. I think Mg should be taken to bowel tolerance, and in divided doses throughout the day. I am not discouraging you from trying creatine...I think it's a good idea. But, I would take more Mg too, unless you are aleady taking it to bowel tolerance, or 1,200 mgs. daily, whichever comes first.

    If someone who studied under Dr. Klinghardt says you are negative for Lyme, that is pretty reliable, except to the extent that negative tests do not prove much. A trial of ABX to see if you herx is much more reliable. I am assuming he used the IgeneX lab, though even that is not foolproof. I am also suspicous of ART. My TCM doc uses AK, which I am also suspicious of.

    I am very glad you do not have Bartonella. If you had the Igenex panel, that should have been included, but sometimes they only test for Lyme, when they should be testing for Lyme, Babesia, Erlichia and Bartonella.

    I did take an expensive Probiotic a long time ago that was delivered packed in ice. It was made by Metagenics. As long as it cultures well, I think that is good enough, and the ones I use now culture very well without the extra price. I have to watch the money I spend. My last gastric biopsy showed more acidopholous than the average person.

    I am also glad your fecal fat was normal. If you really want to get to the bottom of gut function, I would suggest a CDSA test.

    I have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, not endocrine pancreatic insufficiency, so my insulin function is OK, at least for now. Alcoholics are more likely to have trouble with the insulin making part of the pancreas. I have heard of that herb, and will keep it in mind if I do develop a problem, thanks.


    [This Message was Edited on 06/23/2008]