What Supplements Do You Take, And Why?

I’m curious to hear from those of you who take nutritional supplements (if they are other than the general multivitamin genre). What do you take, and why (what do you believe or have been told they help with) and do you feel they work?

Obviously we all know that this does not constitute medical advice and your statements will not have been evaluated or approved by the FDA.

As for me, I just started taking a B-complex vitamin and a flaxseed oil capsule, daily, on the advice of my doctor. He said they would help me fight off depression. I just started, so I can’t evaluate its effects.

Besides my Flintstones, I take an iron supplement, sublingual b-12 (12? yeah, that’s probably right), calcium, and echinacea. I know I’m not supposed to take the echinacea every day, but I haven’t had a cold in more than two years and I figure I oughtn’t fix what ain’t broke. My dad was a fanatic about supplements and I learned to hate taking even a multi-vitamin. Now look at me, haunting the supplement section like it was the candy aisle.

I take St Johns Wort because I suffer from chronic mild depression. I take melatonin. I started to take it due to insomnia, but I take it now because since I started taking it I found that I have had very few colds or flus. And I take a multivitamin.

I take a multivitamin, supplemental Vitamin E, and on the advice of my doctor, Milk Thistle for liver function. I have a family history of liver issues and at my last physical was at the high end of the normal range. It surprised me because my doc is not a new-agey type at all - M.D. Stanford. On retest, my liver function test was 10% better.

Folic acid (1 mg)
Calcium + Magnesium (citrates)
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Vitamin E (400 IU), including delta and gamma tocopherols
Occasionally Q-10 (a new manufacturing process will make it cheaper someday)

If I had the money I would also take:
s-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe)

I take lots of vitamin B. If I don’t the side of my mouth crack and split… it’s hurts and isn’t exactly pretty to look at either. It’s an inherited thingamabob. Stupid genes…

Centrum. If I don’t take it, I start breaking out later that day.

Oops, sorry, I must have missed the “no multivitamins” part of the OP.

Sorry, I forgot to answer the “why” part of the OP.
Folic acid (or folate) is found to be low in depressed patients, and it is generally a factor in the growth of the central nervous system.

Calcium and Magnesium deficiencies affect moods, and deficiencies are not uncommon.

Alpha lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant which is both water soluble and fat soluble. Depression may cause damage to certain neurons in the brain, possibly through oxidative damage from neuronal excitoxicity (esp. from glutamate) or from excess cortisol (via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis). Alpha lipoic acid protects many cells from degeneration (see PubMed for studies).

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and the other forms (delta, gamma) may protect against specific toxins that standard Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) does not.

Co-enzyme Q-10 is a unique and interesting supplement. The chemical is a free-radical scavenger in mitochondria, which is responsible for the energy production in every cell. It’s a big topic. Too complex to discuss here. I would take it every day if I could afford it. Some people report noticeable improvements in their cognitive abilities when they take large quantities (100-2000 mg).

SAMe. Never tried it. Friends swear by it.

Pregnenolone: studies support its usefulness in mood disorders. There is more to mood modulation than serotonin. There are hormones, cytokines, and neuropeptides. Pregnenolone is supposed to help (again, see PubMed). Expensive.

Acetyl-l-Carnitine (not Carnitine without the “acetyl-l”). It is considered a nootropic by some people. This means that it improves cognition, and studies have shown that it reverses age-related memory loss in both humans and rats. Depression is not just a disorder of emotions; it has many relationships to memory and perception.

I take iron supplements, because I don’t eat enough meat. I do eat meat, mind you, just not often. I’ve come up anemic on one too many blood donation checks (A good number of points under).

I also take calcium, because osteo-bones-get-breaky thing runs on my mom’s side of the family, and, well, better safe than sorry.

I used to take B6, but, as of late, there’s been a bit of evidence linking that to nerve damage. Which means, of course, that my moods are slightly more erratic as of late, but at least I’m not damaging my body. I might start up on them again if I don’t stabilize soon. Hey, it may be a placebo, but it works nonetheless.

GTF chromium for blood sugar regulation
saw palmetto for hormone regulation
multivitamin for general regulation

Cod liver oil capsules to keep the old joints supple and garlic oil capsules to keep away colds and flu.

Metatone tonic, when I remember.

I cycle Betagen. It’s a combination of creatine and HMB. It promotes muscle growth while weightlifting.

Daily vitamin for women, B-12 sublingual, 3 calcium caramels (yum).

Oh on the why, on the advice of my doctor.

Pre-natal vitamins (nursing the baby), cranberry pills to ward off UTIs.

Besides a multi-vitamin just for general health, I take gingko biloba for memory, Omega-3 fish oil (don’t remember why–maybe the gingko isn’t working?), OsCal (extra calcium), bromelain (for digestion and it’s anti-inflammatory, I believe), bilberry (for vision).

I only take vitamins:

Calcium + Magnesium

I’m mainly trying to cover my bases. I do notice physiological effects when I go off some of the vitamins. When I’m not eating my veggies or taking vitamin A, my eyes feel strained more easily. I’m pretty sure I feel less fatigued when I take the B’s. A few times I’ve gone off the calcium and had my bones actually hurt after a month or two of not supplementing.

When I feel a cold coming on, I will use a liquid echinacea and zinc lozenges to ward it off. Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but my colds really do seem shorter and less severe when I’m diligent about this.

A friend advised me about 3 years ago to take Echinacea for a series of colds I was suffering. Each time the cold cleared quickly but I’d soon get another. She told me to take the tablets daily for about 2 months. At the end of that time I was cold free. I now take the tablets for 2 or 3 days at the merest hint of a cold symptom (about 3 or 4 times a year) but haven’t had a real cold or flu since.

I take tablets made by a New Zealand company that contain Echinacea, zinc, odourless garlic and ascorbic acid.