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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Supplements, Schupplements

I admit: I'm weirdly interested in the color of my pee. Always have been. And, come on, you can admit it here: You are too.

We all feel like good little hydrators when we note that our urine is basically a match for the water in the toilet bowl, and we've all noted the bright yellow pee first thing in the morning, or when we're dehydrated.

For me, for the past few months, I have been strangely entranced by what I refer to as the "prenatal vitamin pee." It occurs about 30 minutes after ingesting my monster prenatal vitamin (seriously, it feels as though it's the size of a T-Rex egg), and I can't help but wonder a bit about all the nutrients I'm potentially flushing down the toilet.

I have always had a contentious relationship with vitamins: I HATE swallowing them. I gag every time, and especially in my first trimester, I had to time them for just the right period of day -- otherwise, they were certain to make a re-appearance in the toilet, and I don't mean in the form of expensive urine. But, of course, it's advisable that pregnant women (and women who are trying to get pregnant, as well as breastfeeding women) take their prenatal vitamins. And, for me, with both my current pregnancy and with Norah, I was also prescribed an omega-3 vitamin, which is truly "the gagger" of the two. It's advisable because studies have conclusively shown benefits in the consumption of increased levels of iron, folic acid and omega-3 for both the mother and the development of the infant.

But, what about all those other vitamins that are a part of the prenatal, and which haven't demonstrated diddly for effectiveness? Am I peeing away just as much as I would with a regular multivitamin?

It's been demonstrated by THE INTERNET that a person only digests about 10-15% of the nutrients in a multivitamin (the problem isn't in the vitamins and minerals themselves, but in the method of delivery -- the body simply can't absorb those amounts in that way), and most doctors and dietitians say that supplements are just providing you with "expensive urine." And if you eat a sufficient number of calories and varied food, supplements are, essentially, a waste of money and gagging. Most people are better off spending their money on food, not supplements.

But, is this true for prenatal vitamins as well? I don't know. And certainly I don't want to experiment by not taking them, but I can't help but ponder, especially when I see that yellow vitamin pee, how much my gagging through these horse pills is necessary. Plus, in my professional research (i.e., Wikipedia), I have found nothing pertaining to prenatal vitamins except the authoritative directive of: TAKE THEM OR YOUR BABY WILL GROW UP TO BE A TERRORIST.

So, what are your thoughts on vitamins and supplements? Do you take a multivitamin? Are you enchanted by the color of your urine 30 minutes afterward?

23 comments:

Jamoosh said...

I don't take vitamins or supplements or powders or any of that hoo ha. My theory is that if it is not contained in beer, my body doesn't need it.

Xenia said...

I always want to take a daily multivitamin, but I usually forget.

Interesting fact I learned from Oprah & Dr. Oz is that if your poo is ever white it means there's no bile in your digestive tract. Freaky, huh? Never seen that before so I guess I'm doing just fine. :)

TNTcoach Ken said...

Ha, What about the smell when you know that your vitamins are being flushed down the toilet????

nrmrvrk said...

I take a multi daily but I split it in half and take half after breakfast and the other half after dinner. I take 1000 IU of vitamin D 2x/day as well. I try to take fish oil every day but I'm out currently.

I don't care about the color but notice it once in a while

Nobel4Lit said...

I take a multi, but this is usually at night, so I don't notice anything. However, if I take it during the day, I also see most of it going down the toilet. Worse, if my stomach is empty, I'm headed for barfsville.

Sadly, I think I need them, because I slacked off big time for a while and started feeling weak in every way. I don't eat perfectly and don't trust myself to do so...

Crafty Jogger said...

There are SO many problems with contamination (metals, corticosteroids, stimulants) in the vitamin/supplement industry. I think it's really sad! It's like a giant scam.... people are spending extra money to get organic produce, giving up their favorite foods to "eat clean", and then completely un-doing all of that expense/sacrifice with the contaminants in their protein powders and supplements.

Contamination aside, there aren't many experiments showing true advantages to taking these vitamins (for the average person).

Some interesting articles:
Neuhouser, M. L. et al. Arch Intern Med 2009;169:294-304. - Hazard ratios for death in multivitamin users

http://www.annals.org/content/142/1/I-40.full - taking vitamin E increased subjects' all cause mortality risk ratio.

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/302/19/2119.abstract - b12 and folic acid supplementation was associated with increased cancer risk.


I think if you have a special condition: e.g. pregnancy, lactose intolerance, family history that puts you at risk for something, super weird diet, then you should take vitamins for that special condition. However, I don't think people should be taking a giant handful of vitamins, plus protein powders, etc.

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Don't take supplements - yes all things that come out of my body really intrigue me.

trifitmom said...

very inteteresting as i just have started taking a brand (i won't put on b/c i don't want to be salesy) but i have been impressed with the stuff i am taking. lots of research behind it, no vitamins are NOT governed by FDA - you really should be having a food based vitamin AND the type i take have patented release system.

they do a little test where you put the vitamin in water and see how long it takes to dissolve...mine takes 10 minutes , other good name brands took over hour and still were not as dissolved. i think the vitamins and supplements are important. even if you eat the best you could, you still are not getting everything you need.
for prenatal i would find it really important. and yes i am curious about pee color, even my kids !!!

if you are interested in the brand i am using....you can contact me.....

Adam said...

My pill taking abilities are FAR superior to yours!

Jan said...

I take supplements just so I can be entertained by the color of my pee~ hehe. I also take the big horse pills just so I have another excuse to have that absolutely huge smoothie every morning to wash down the gag inducing mega pills.

In reality, I know I don't get all the vitamins I need everyday, so I feel the supplements help.

Running Kiwi said...

No supplements, no vitamins ... and I never get sick. My five children very rarely get sick, they're all top of the class students, sporty (now I sound like I'm bragging ;)) ... me NOT giving them Omega 3 doesn't seem to have harmed them. As for prenatal, here in NZ the only thing they advised us to take for years was folic acid, which I did, plus a bit of iron some of the pregnancies - its only the last few years they've pushed a "whole" prenatal vitamin. I'm a big believer in vitamin D being the key - we're an outdoors family in an outdoor country and I reckon that extra vitamin D has a lot to do with the healthiness :)

Crystal said...

I can only take multivitamins at night. If I take them in the a.m. or at lunch, they will be coming back up. I do take B6 and B12 every morning though with no issues (thyroid helpers).

Marci said...

I take a multi, vit D, and calcium. My multi includes an omega.
I do notice I feel better when I take my vitamins.. but maybe its a placebo effect?

lee said...

I hate swallowing pills too. I have a very hard time doing it. I have to swallow them dry. If there is water in my mouth, I just swallow the water. When I was a kid, I used to take allergy medicine and my mom put it in applesauce.

teacherwoman said...

Interesting. I still take my multi vitamin, vitamin D, omega-3 fish oils, and glucosamine and I can tell the difference, so I keep taking them!

Lisa said...

i take my share of expensive urine supplements.

and i happen to know that the extra vitamin B that you are taking is most likely the cause of the bright yellow pee. don't ask how i know this... ;-)

i'm on antibiotics and mine is turning a strange color with a weird almost green tinge.

Marlene said...

Definitely guilty of checking out that fluorescent post-Vitamin urine. I do take a multi daily, although I have often wondered the same thing.

Carly said...

I can never get myself to take a them on a regular basis so I have quit wasting the money on them.

Her Name Is Rio said...

Prenatals are helpful in preventing neural tube defects in baby if taken before and during the early stages of pregnancy. I think vitamins absorbed from food is best, but if I'm not eating what I should, then there's a role for them. Woludn't recommend mega doses- there is such thing as too much of good thing.

James said...

I don't take vitamins. I used to when I was little, but I think for someone with a well balance diet, it's not necessary. On top of that, most Americans consume too much food and probably are getting plenty vitamin nutrients, unless they live on nothing but junk food. As for prenatal vitamins, I don't see how it could hurt and better safe than sorry right? I too am intrigued with pee color. It's a good indicator of hydration.

Nicole @ "Haute Runner" said...

I take a multi vitamin for women just before bed so I have no idea what my pee looks like 30 minutes later. Maybe that's why it is such a bright orange/yellow in the morning. I thought it was just dehydration but now you have me thinking...

Agate Lake Girl said...

I take a few vitamins. Basically the ones that don't make me gag. (Thank god I found fish oil in mini soft gels!)

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem taking pills but my lazy ass just doesn't like it. I found at Target gummy prenatal vitamins. I also take mine at night so I have no idea what my pee looks like!