Monday, December 3, 2007

I even lied to my doctors about taking vitamins

Pregnant and nursing ladies everywhere, please don't be a smart-ass like me -- take your vitamins!!!
Even though I come from a family of vitamin worshippers, I was never a believer. What they're really taking are emotional vitamins, I thought. I just didn't believe that vitamins were well absorbed into the body. In addition, I resented that most cereals are fortified, so a quick read of the nutrion label is very deceptive. For example, inherent iron is so different from fortified iron. Nutrients should come from eating right, I argued. If you check out some multi-vitamin labels, you'll see over 100% of your daily recommened for water soluable vitamins like C. Who needs 533% of Vitamin C if you eat right?! It's so easy to get vitamin C in food.
I didn't even believe in pre-natal vitamins. Big scam feeding into our insecurites, eat right and all will be fine, I asserted. Vitamins can even be evil, I preached. Too much vitamin A is toxic. What if I had a supplement with vitamin A and proceeded to eat polar bear liver or any kind of liver. I might be potentially screwed. I even came up with a mantra to overlook vitamins and doing so kept my life simple - nothing to buy, nothing to remember, nothing to worry about. The mantra - If vitamins were really effective, then we could subsist and thrive on just water, white bread and vitamins. I was pretty sure this solution was not a simple and cheap cure for malnourishment in Africa.
But recently I've changed my tune. 3 years of being pregnant and nursing have really depleted my reserves of iron, calcium and who knows what else.
As it turns out, there is some truth to my past eschewal of vitamins. For example, most iron supplements are very poorly absorbed and they cause constipation. They should be taken off the market and goddamn cereal makers should remove iron, vitamin c and other nutrients that are either easy to get in food or hard to get. It's so deceptive to think that eating a bowl of Total is going to give you quality iron. A really effective iron supplement is liquid Floradix. It really helped my anemia and did not cause constitpation. But then again, when I was diagnosed with anemia, I focused on eating a lot of iron-rich foods. Iron is a tough nutrient to get if you deplete your stores (which can last for years). Amazingly if you deplete the iron stores in your body, you need like 6 servings of beef or oysters to fulfill the daily requirement. So the Floradix boost was a help.
Calcium is another toughie. I don't think calcium is well absorbed from supplements either. Since I'm nursing I need twice the recommended calcium of a non-pregnant woman. 6-8 glasses of milk per day would do it! So I need to find an effective calcium supplement.

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