Category Archives: Supplements

Deja Vu…

Strange deja vu moment today.

Back in September, right after my son had surgery, I wrote this post  about the government wanting to put restrictions on supplements.

And here we are again, shortly after his second surgery, and I get ANOTHER email request to take action and call government officials.

Clearly we need to stop the surgeries ūüôā

This is an excerpt I got today from a Know the Cause email, written by Doug Kaufmann:

“I’m concerned that we have a dilemma on our hands with the FDA accepting funds from pharmaceutical companiesthose whom they should be governing rather than commingling with. At the very least, this represents a blatant conflict of interest. At worst, I am concerned that this improper relationship between our FDA and the pharmaceutical companies may be one of the very reasons that our FDA is now considering imposing legislation against the freedoms we enjoy in health food stores…”

I’m¬†flabbergasted.¬† Why the FDA would want to partner up with the big pharm companies is beyond me. ¬†No wait.¬† I do get it.¬† I just don’t agree with the money-driven motive…

This is the way I see it….Big pharm companies are annoyed that they can’t patent (and sell at a ridiculously inflated price) naturally occuring supplements/minerals, etc. like Chlorella. So they partner up with the FDA, slip this government agency some $$$, and buying supplements (that these pharmaceutical companies can’t make any money off of) becomes¬†much more difficult. Does anyone else smell a skunk?

ANYWAY, there is a link to voice your concern: (scroll down to the¬†last paragraph right before the facebook¬†share button and click on that link…it’ll bring you to a demographic form and prewritten letter.)

BUT the comments are only accepted through tomorrow–Friday, 12/2/11. So please don’t save this for a better time. Take¬†2 minutes and do it right now ūüôā¬† This is a big deal!


Are Colds Inevitable?

Remember when I mentioned that I hardly ever get sick anymore?

I should have knocked on some wood.  I got a cold this week.

I didn’t actually get it, I received it. From the kind lady sitting next to me on my flight to Vancouver who liked to share her life story.¬† And her germs.¬† A big ol sneeze in my face.¬† Really?!

Anyway, the cold manifested itself¬†the day after I landed. ¬†Had I been at home, I have quite a few things I try when I feel like I’ve been exposed to cold germs or may be coming down with something:

The¬† supplements are all sitting in a clear storage box, standing at the ready, waiting to be used (which isn’t all that often).¬† And they usually dramatically help the situation and the cold doesn’t develop into a full-blown situation.

BUT, I was traveling and didn’t imagine the great need for cold remedies on a 4 day trip.¬† So they¬†were at¬†home. Useless to me.

When I went to the Canadian pharmacy, the only items I felt comfortable buying were Vitamin C and a small tube of Vaseline for my Rudolph nose.  And a bunch of those pocket-size Kleenix packages.

Had I been visiting for longer, I would have let the cold run its course.  But because my return flight was 48 hours later, I needed to speed up the process. (Have you ever flown with a cold? Wow, your ears feel like they just want to explode!)

So I turned to over-the-counter meds. Not my favorite option usually, but I needed relief.  Fast!

The pharmacist recommended Dristan¬†(Afrin), which I’m not usually a fan of (there’s a rebound effect with this medicine and it isn’t safe to take more than a day or two in a row), but desperate times call for desperate measures. I also loaded up on my vitamin C and oregano (since I never leave home without it!). My colds have a tendency to go deeper into my chest (perhaps because of my history with asthma?) and the oregano helps to prevent that from happening. It’s also an anti-viral, and colds are viruses, so it’ll help¬†clear it out faster¬†too.

I got home on the red-eye this morning. And the good news is that my ears are still attached to my body.  It was rather painful on the quick descent on the first leg, but then I took some Motrin and that seemed to help for the second leg of my journey.

So what’s the takeaway message here?

Prevention.¬† When you’re traveling, make sure¬†to wash your hands often (especially before eating or rubbing your eyes), and if you’re seated next to someone with an obvious cold, you might even move to a different seat if your flight isn’t full.¬† (I would have, but the plane was at capacity.)¬† And get plenty of rest before you go on your trip since a sleep debt is a contributing factor to how¬†well your immune system will react under pressure. ¬†(My sleep before the trip was average at best.¬† This, I’m sure, contributed to the severity of the cold.)

And next time I’ll bring my cold remedies. If I bring them I won’t need them. Kind of like an umbrella.

Oh.  And I will be practicing my dodge and duck reflexes to avoid this situation in the future!

Do you have any vitamins, supplements, remedies you use when you feel a cold coming on?


My Bare Essential Supplements and Vitamins

I am going on a trip.  On Tuesday.  To a different country! 

As I’m making lists of items not to be forgotten, I got a little stuck when¬†it came¬†to supplements and vitamins.¬† I don’t take any prescription medications for my asthma or PCOS anymore, but I rely on supplements and vitamins (and of course a healthy diet) to keep me healthy and strong. And I take more than most.

Here is my bare essential list so far:

I am also bringing some supplements for blood sugar as my PCOS is usually under control at home, but I have less control over my diet when I travel, so better safe than sorry!

These are the ones I take everyday, without exception. (Except the oregano…those are on an as-needed basis.)¬† I feel GOOD on this particular regimen.¬† Along with my diet, these are¬†keeping me healthy as most people in my neck of the woods are starting to gets sniffles and coughs.

So here are some questions for YOU:¬† For those who travel (solely with carry-on baggage) with supplements/vitamins (not RXs), do you leave the pills in the bottles, or do you stick them in a ziplock bag? And what about the gelcaps? They’re technically liquid, so do you put them in your 1 qt liquid bag? What vitamins and supplements are you sure to have in YOUR suitcase?

Strangely, on airline websites, travel blogs, and other areas for information, this particular topic has varied answers, which surprises me since rules for travel these days are pretty strict.

Hopefully I can figure this out in the next 36 hours ūüôā¬†






But Supplements and Eating Healthy Are Expensive…

This is one of the primary reasons people tell me they can’t “do what I do.” But have you looked at what is costs to be in a hospital these days? OUCH!

I am going to attempt to show you there are ways to make your healthy living experience more manageable…

Let’s start with food:¬† Buy things that don’t come in a box.

Sounds too simple, but think about it.  The actual cardboard box costs money, but so do the pretty pictures and catch phrases that were paid for with a big marketing budget (not to mention the commercials to get that favorite cereal/snack/pizza box in your line of vision). These costs are factored into the price YOU pay at the register.

And things that come in boxes are PROCESSED, many times with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Box-free=Healthier. (Exception: my boxes of quinoa from Trader Joes…those are¬†healthy. I’m not fond of the loose bins where you can buy grains/nuts/spices…They are not emptied and cleaned out regularly and they aren’t all that sanitary either.)

So pick fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, meat, eggs, some cheese, etc…basically all the foods on the¬†perimeter of the store. They are healthier and aren’t marked up like the prepackaged items. I daresay if you do your “normal” shopping trip for the week and one with just these items, you’ll pay about the same.¬† The only big¬†difference is that you won’t have snack foods for the late night munchies ūüôā

If Whole Foods (or as many call it “Whole Paycheck”) is out of your league for everyday shopping (join the club!), try Trader Joes. My little sister, Megan, is a fellow blogger and pretty much talks about TJ like it’s a person, one of her favorite people ūüôā They have organic fruits and veggies (a package of organic carrots is .89), grass-fed beef (5.99/lb) and organic free range chicken and eggs, at a fraction of the price of WF.

And I don’t eat out¬†very much. Not only are restaurants marking up their prices on the food because of the exquisite recipes and delightful ambiance, but they aren’t usually using the quality of food that I eat at home (read: grass-fed, organic, etc.) A dinner out with my husband or a night of take out usually equals a weeks worth of groceries at Trader Joes. I’m a math tutor, so I know which¬†one makes more sense!

As for vitamins and supplements:

  • Online prices are usually much¬†lower than store prices, so use sites like to see if there are any discount codes for the stores that sell your supplements
  • Get the App “Scandit” and scan bar codes for your favorite supplements (or any product) and it’ll tell you where to find it for the cheapest price (I use this one for kids’ toys too ūüôā [FREE]
  • Join the Vitamin Shoppe¬†Healthy Rewards¬†Club¬†and get¬†money back each year to spend in the store [FREE]
  • Join Ebates (I LOVE Ebates) which gives you a % cash back¬†for shopping at 800+ stores (i.e. the Vitamin Shoppe is 6% back) and will tell you any discount/free shipping codes for each site (I’ve been a member for several years, and haven’t seen any downside or catch…just over $700 back so far!? But when the kids were little, I did almost all of my shopping online) ANYWAY, if you use this link, they’ll start you with $5 in your account (and give me $5 too ūüôā Everybody wins! [FREE]
  • Perhaps the wisest advice I can give is to do an assessment of the supplements and vitamins you’re currently taking (including ones you are thinking of adding to your regimen) and make sure you aren’t overlapping (which is not only expensive, but potentially hazardous to your health). ¬†Many multi vitamins or “combo” vitamins will give you enough of your daily recommended allowance…except with Vitamin D. They usually only have 400IU and as you can see from an earlier post, this is a vitamin you don’t want to skimp on.

So besides these ideas, I’d like to plant another in your noggin: Prevention is usually easier (financially, emotionally and physically) than curing an ailment.¬†¬†¬†Wouldn’t you rather pay a little more for better quality foods and supplements that you know¬†your¬†body needs than wait for the ball to drop on your health sometime in the future? YOU are the only one that can take care of your health. Be proactive!

I’ll step down now from my soapbox ūüôā Happy shopping!

What’s your best tip for saving some $$ in your pursuit of good health?

I Wish the Government Would Stay Away From My “Medicine” Cabinet!

Sorry for the hiatus…my little guy had surgery on Friday and we were (kind of still are)¬†knee-deep in recovery ūüôā

When I resurfaced and checked email, I found this article from Dr. Mercola:

Apparently the FDA wants to ban supplements.

Personally, I don’t appreciate it when people I don’t know tell me what to do, especially when it comes to my health. And when I have successfully treated my ailments (including¬†a biggie like asthma), I am not only scared that I won’t be able to take care of my health but worried/annoyed that others won’t have the same opportunity to help themselves to better health.

So, I’ve made my voice heard. I’ve contacted my local representatives and hope that many (many) others will as well.

There was a very similar scenario back in 1994.  The people rebelled and contacted their local officials and the FDA backed off. Until now.

Will you sit back and do nothing? Or spend 5 minutes¬†contacting your representatives? At the end of the Mercola article, there is a link to find your representatives’ contact info, talking points and even an email template (although rumor has it calls and faxes make the most impact). Let’s¬†work together and make them back down AGAIN!

If for no other reason, it’ll put a damper on this blog! Without supplements to test out, you’ll be reading 101 blog posts about different broccoli preparations¬†ūüôā

The Benefits of Astaxanthin

I have a confession to make.

I can’t actually pronounce Astaxanthin.¬† I sound a bit absurd¬†going into the Vitamin Shoppe and babbling syllables over and over again until one of the staff shushes me (nicely, of course) and points me in the right direction.

Sure, if you’re looking at the word, you can slowly sound out the syllables (“as tuh xan thin”). But I don’t usually shop with note cards.

ANYWAY, here’s the scoop.¬† Astaxanthin is a dye naturally made by marine algae.¬† When salmon,¬†shellfish and flamingoes eat this algae, it gives them their pink color.

Studies show that this supplement:

  • Can cross the blood-brain barrier (getting through the layer of cells around your brain and flushes toxins which contribute to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and lupus)
  • Can improve eye health and slows¬†macular degeneration
  • Is anti-inflammatory
  • Is a powerful¬†antioxidant
  • Increases strength and endurance
  • Boosts immune system
  • Reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Can help carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
  • Can ease allergy symptoms
  • Has no known side effects
  • Acts like a natural sunscreen

Since astaxanthin is fat soluble, it must be taken with a meal (that includes fat) so your body will absorb it.

If you’re re-evaluating the supplements you’re taking, ask your doctor if this one would be good to add to your regimen.

But remember that without changing your lifestyle and diet, you won’t be able to reap the full benefit of added supplements ūüôā

One of THE Most Important Vitamins

Did you know that when you have healthy levels of this vitamin, it’s virtually impossible to get a cold or the flu…and with even higher levels, it can potentially prevent and treat cancer and heart disease?

Can you guess what it is?

Nope, not Vitamin C.

Not Zinc either (zinc is actually a mineral, so not in the running for this contest).

It’s Vitamin D.¬† Surprised?

Vitamin D is vital for a healthy immune system, calcium absorption, regulating inflammation, and decreasing the risk of chronic disease.

There have been studies that link these diseases and medical issues with a Vitamin D deficiency:

  • Parkinson’s
  • High blood pressure and arterial stiffness
  • Cancer (and research has showen that cells are killed by high enough levels of Vitamin D)
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Ricketts
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Type 2 Diabetes (and studies show that infants who get Vitamin D supplementation¬†reduce their risk by 80%¬†of developing Type I diabetes over the next 20 years)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Colds and¬†flu

The good news is that with adequate levels, many conditions will improve.  But just because this is a remarkable vitamin does NOT mean it has super-hero abilities.  If you have some of these very serious issues and think a bottle of Vitamin D will make you 100% well, remember that there are other factors that need to be addressed before optimal health is achieved.

Your diet. Clean it up! ¬†No sugar (feeds cancer cells) or¬†flour (turns into sugar when metabolized). Cut down on your sodium intake and eliminate artificial sweeteners. You can read more about the diet that I subscribe to here. And exercise. ¬†Exercise affects every system in your body, helps to build muscle, manage weight, releases a “feel good” hormone.

The next step is to get your Vitamin D level checked through a blood test.  There is a specific test that you should ask your doctor for (it has become the standard test for many physicians, but always good to ask).  It is 25(OH)D.

Here are the appropriate levels of Vitamin D according to Dr. Mercola:

  • <50 ng/ml¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Deficient
  • 50-70 ng/ml¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Optimal
  • 70-100 ng/ml¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Treat cancer and heart disease
  • >100 ng/ml¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Excess

Mine was 17. (No wonder I could catch a cold just by¬†watching a Puffs Plus commercial!)¬† My boys’ levels were about 40.

It is estimated that about 40-70% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D.¬† (Even on the low end, that’s a pretty high number.)¬† 76% of pregnant woman are Vitamin D deficient (which predisposes both mom and infant to the ailments listed above).

So now we all take Vitamin D3 supplements (here is a study¬†about D2 verses D3) and I’m happy to report that I have gotten just one cold since starting the supplementation two years ago…and I still believe it was because my youngest sneezed so close to my face that the cold germs could literally crawl up my nose ūüôā¬† Sorry. ¬†Too much information?

I do also try to also use good old sunshine during the warmer months (which we know are few in Chicago).

There is so much information about Vitamin D, this only scratches the surface. But if it¬†motivates you to get your level checked, then I’ve done what I set out to do!