Take 2 MORE pills and call me in the morning!? Will taking better vitamins help make a better you?


Many Americans often fall short on getting the nutrients their bodies need. Dietary supplements are intended to supplement the diet where there may be nutrient shortfalls. Vitamins and minerals work together to keep the body growing and functioning normally. They help convert food into energy, keep cells healthy, and support the immune system.  These are some of the facts that we all know if we watch TV and see the commercials for vitamins and supplements. We all know we should eat better, but in this crazy world with so little time and with many of the butyoudontlooksick.com readers having ailments and medications to consider it can be overwhelming and confusing to say the least to get started on any vitamin regimen.

I also know that if you are anything like me, just the thought of adding any more pills to my normal daily routine gives me anxiety. I hate counting out pills and filling my medicine case. For those of us with chronic illness, we can not afford to not take our medicine correctly and regularly. So I know some of you might think I am nuts to ask you to consider adding even more pills to your pill box. But wait hear me out. Will taking better vitamins help make a better you?

So we all have those well meaning relatives or friends who send us every article about what vitamins or supplements may help our specific illness or disease. I truly believe that these people love us and want to help.  Many times I pass on the articles, delete the email forward or just tune them out. The fact is that when you live with chronic illness you start to get immune to advice.  Many of us have been through it all, every test, every blood work, every medication and more. But that is exactly what is starting to change my mind. What if all this new information about vitamin deficiencies are right? For example because I have Lupus and can’t go in the sun, I logically have a vitamin D deficiency. A recent newspaper article quoted a study that indicated that by taking extra vitamin D I may start to feel less fatigued and less general pain. I started to think about it and feel like I put enough medications in my body, why not try something on a more natural route? I also figure if it can’t hurt me, why not try it? (personally I have upped my vitamin D intake and I have felt a difference) But the vitamin D study was one of many medical studies so many of us chronically ill patients hear about. My final thought on the vitamins and supplements was that even though I do my very best to eat well. I know that I do not eat as well as I need to help my body work at its optimal health. Not only is it hard running after a four year old, running errands, but then I have to deal with nauseousness from my disease or as a side effect of the medication… and I know many of you can relate to that!

Those of us who are educated patients know that before we do anything to our bodies we should do a few things.  

Selecting Vitamins and Supplements 

  1. Talk to your physician or pharmacistYes, your pharmacist and other health care professionals are well versed in vitamins and other supplements. Ask your health care professional about recommend vitamins, dosage values for your individual needs and more!
  2. Be honest with your doctor about what vitamins or supplements you are thinking of trying and update him on any changes you decide to make. He may think it is best to run blood work before you try something new so that you have something to compare to after you start taking anything new.
  3. Give things a chance to work. We all want to find the “magic pill” that fixes everything, but unfortunately I have never heard of anything that works over night. Take your new vitamins or supplements regularly and maybe even keep a health journal. Give it 4-6 weeks to get a feel for how things are working for you.
  4. Do not compare yourself to others. Remember that every person is different. You may need a different dosage then the person next to you due to weight, age, ethnicity, your specific illness, or the medication you are currently on. 
  5. Do your research. There are a number of resources for consumers. Start by taking Nature Made’s vitamin assessment tool. Visit FamilyDoctor.org for credible, physician-reviewed information on health and wellness topics, including the role vitamins and supplements can play in a healthy, active and balanced lifestyle. 
  6. Look for the qualified third-party endorsements. When searching for supplements, look for verification from qualified third-party organizations, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Finding this mark on a dietary supplement label helps to assure consumers that the supplements they buy meet the quality standards they expect.
  7. Buy from well known places. Yes, we are all trying to save money, but this is something you are putting in your body, this is not the time to be cheap. Do not buy your vitamins off of someone else, do not take anything from an opened bottle, and do not buy off the internet unless it is a major retailer.
  8. Be open minded. Not only can I be a “jaded New Yorker”, I can also be a jaded “spoonie” The fact is that living with an illness for over half my life sometimes I get to a point that I start to think that nothing will make me feel better. But if we stop trying and we stop researching there will be no progress! If you are looking for things not to work, they probably won’t. Have an open mind, ya never know what might make you feel better and hey, if it even helps give you an ounce of more energy- then to me it’s worth a try! 

Some additional helpful information:

Nature Made® provides top quality vitamins, supplements, minerals and herbs that meet the highest industry-wide standards of purity and potency for consumers’ individual nutritional needs. Nature Made is the #1 Pharmacist Recommended Brand for Letter Vitamins, Fish Oil, and CoQ10.[1]

Key Vitamin and Supplement Resources

 Naturemade.com – The site provides information on our products including label and dosage information. The Nature Made Health Center contains articles and videos on a range of topics related to vitamins and health. There are also Wellness Tools to help consumers create their own personalized vitamin assessment, take quizzes, and customize their wellness plans.

The Nature Made website has lots of informative articles on maintaining a healthy lifestyle:

 Heart health vitamins

Answer the call to exercise

Which Nature Made fish oil is right for you?

Why you may need more magnesium?

 VitaminHerbUniversity.com – A resource for health care professionals for up-to-date evidence-based information on dietary supplements.


Comment below and join the conversation!

Have you tried vitamins or supplements with success?

Do you have trouble swallowing vitamins? what have you found helps?

Are you nervous to add viatmins or supplements to your diet? What are your fears?


Author: Christine Miserandino

Christine Miserandino is the founder of butyoudontlooksick.com. She has won numerous awards for her writing. She has been featured in newspapers, magazines and television. She is a guest expert  and community TV host for the Lupus Community on WebMD.com. She prides herself on being a patient advocate, but her favorite role is that of a mommy. You can find her at @bydls on twitter or on facebook. 

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Nature Made and received promotional items to thank me for taking the time to participate. Vote for my entry at www.facebook.com/naturemade between 9/20/11 and noon (PT) 9/26/11

  • I always think that we really don’t need all these supplement as long as:
    1) Having healthy eating habits
    2) Having variety of healthy foods
    3) Eating more nuts and cutting down animal fats.
    4) More exercises.


  • Tawnia Matheny

    I started taking a real good woman’s vitamin, essential omega 3 fats/oils and a blend of Amino acids about a year ago. I started to feel a lot better. Almost “normal”. My brain felt like it was going back in place and I could think much clearer. I dropped my pain medication down from 4 or 5 pills a day to two, maybe 3on a bad day. When I ran out of the amino acids, I went back to get some more and they had stopped carrying them because they were not selling that much. After that, my pain level went back up and so did my intake of the pain meds. My mom just found a place that carries them and bought me 3 bottles. Once again, my intake of my pain meds have gone down to 2 a day! I am able to think more clearly and am feeling wonderful, I am still aware of my limitations, and try not to over do it. My theory is that the fibromyalgia stress deletes many of your amino acids and because of the food that we neat is deficient of the amino acids because of poor soil and GMOS that you can’t get enough of them to replace what you are losing. I am just so amazed at the results! I have just started taking one at night also, hopefully I will get more good results and better sleep without taking a sleeping pill on top of e every thing else. I will keep you posted on how this works out for me. So far this is the only thing that has worked for me besides just taking the pain pills, which are Norcos. Just wondering if anyone else has tried this approach and if so, how did/does it work for you?

    Thanks for listening…

  • Rose

    El Perro, I think perhaps you’re looking for something that butyoudontlooksick.com was never intended to be. To me the primary purpose of this online community remains today what it always was and is clear in it’s name: a website to provide those struggling with chronic invisible illness with a place to go and socialise where others will not judge them, where the fact that others cannot see evidence of what is making them sick doesn’t lead to them being doubted or treated unkindly.

    Invisible illnesses are not solely those which are physically identifiable. The whole point is that being invisible doesn’t make an illness not real – or not genuine. Mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, are very real, but invisible; they can’t be tested for, but are diagnosed by very specific criterion. To have a somatoform disorder is to have an invisible illness and therefore I personally can’t see why it is wrong for bydls.com to cater for people with mental health problems. As it happens though, to my knowledge, none of the illnesses you name are classed as somatoform disorders.

    I can’t speak for any other illness than ME as I have no experience of them, but ME is a neurological disease which can actually be tested for – there is no single definitive test (which I believe is the case for many chronic illnesses including a couple of the ones you name as “genuine”), but a combination of tests can confirm a diagnosis very clearly. However these tests are generally expensive and for many the technology required isn’t widely available; doctors therefore tend to use clinical criteria to make the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is made in the correct manner then it is not merely a diagnosis of exclusion (though, as with the diagnostic process for all chronic illnesses, other conditions will routinely be checked for – including somatoform disorder – before confirmation of diagnosis is given). Over 5000 high quality research papers have shown consistent multi system abnormalities in ME patients, some of which have similarities with MS, AIDS, Lupus and Polio. (There is good information about testing for ME available from the Nightingale (?)Centre in Canada and the Hummingbirds Foundation for ME in Australia if you would like to read more on this.)

    ME is a very serious disease which for about a quarter of patients is severely disabling and in a minority of patients is fatal.

    You will have guessed that I myself have the disease – I have nearly died on more than one occasion (once of heart failure, twice of renal failure, once of pneumonia… organ failure and infectious complications are, I think I’m right to say, the leading causes of natural death in ME patients) and need extensive medical intervention to live.

    The horrors which ME has the potential to wreak on a person’s body are rarely spoken about. For the sake of ME sufferers on bydls.com I want to give some insight into what the reality of ME is for some of us.

    A well known British journalist wrote of a patient, Lynn, with Grade 4 ME (the most extreme form) “Before meeting this remarkable mother [carer] and daughter [patient] I had seen African children suffering from starvation, met people dying of Aids, patients paralysed from the neck down, others in the last stages of terminal cancer. But I had never seen a living person as desperately ill as Lynn”.

    She spoke of visiting Lynn, “In the gloom I made out a small, ethereal figure lying completely flat and motionless, her skin so pale it was almost translucent, the only sign of life her large, beautiful brown eyes… Desperately ill Lynn was hypersensitive to light and noise, she lay on a sheepskin to prevent bedsores, with her head resting on a towel. There was a tube down her nose delivering liquid food and a Hickman line pumping drugs straight into her chest. Her legs were paralysed and without feeling, she was unable to sit up without passing out and her neck was too weak to support her head. She had lost more than half the bone density in her spine and had gone through the menopause at the age of 20. She was in constant pain. She was on drugs to prevent sickness and spasms, was unable to swallow and had not spoken since August 1992, three months after she had been diagnosed with ME at the age of 14… In my 35 years as a journalist, the story of Lynn was one of the most affecting cases I had come across. I felt shocked, chastened and humbled as I talked to them and the memory of Lynn’s haunting brown eyes, set in an exquisitely beautiful face, has stayed with me ever since.”

    She also spoke a little about how Lynn was kept alive in the 17 years of terrible illness before her death in 2008 “At the time I didn’t know how she could sustain life in such a state but the answer, of course, was Kay. She took such pains with Lynn, slept with an intercom, reacted to every whimper, saved her fragile life on so many occasions [Lynn had been so sick that she required life support machines at one point and her bedroom at home at times resembled an ICU]. Nine months after she fell ill, Lynn could move no part of her body except her little finger… Kay and Richard made the courageous decision to take her home… She had a carer [it actually had to be a RN] in twice a week so she could go shopping, and her former husband, Richard, and son, Steven, were involved in caring for Lynn too… But in the main the relentless, 24-hour burden of keeping Lynn alive lay with Kay.”

    She relayed her time talking to Kay, “To Kay it was utter cruelty for people to imagine that Lynn would willingly choose her limbo existence. She lovingly pored over photographs of her pretty daughter enjoying the active life she led before she fell ill – receiving a trophy for ballet at the age of nine, as captain of the netball team at ten, going surfing, horseriding and windsurfing with her brother. Lynn also played the piano and clarinet and loved going to the youth club with her friends. Handling the precious images with infinite care, Kay said wistfully: ‘We didn’t realise how happy we were, until we lost it.’ That loss came with shocking suddenness in November 1991, when Lynn felt unwell after a vaccination against tuberculosis. By May, 1992, ME had been diagnosed. Lynn was bedridden, had difficulty swallowing, couldn’t recognise people and her voice had reduced to a whisper. ‘Sometimes she was in such pain, she would ask us, “What is going to happen to me?”… I didn’t know how she’d [Kay, Lynn’s mother] had the strength to bear it, year after year. She could only have kept going by clinging to a belief, however tenuous, that Lynn might one day recover. Sadly, to me it seemed a false belief”

    And spoke of her communication with Lynn, “She could move her arms and had developed a sign language to communicate with her family. I asked her if she was fed up with being like this and she held up her thumb and forefinger emphatically an inch apart, meaning: ‘Just a bit!’ Lynn still had yearnings to have a baby. As I looked at her, without the strength even to lift her head from the pillow, I found such a pathetic hope heartbreaking.”

    Finally she told what her own reaction had been to learning of Lynn’s death, ” I felt infinitely and bitterly sad, not so much that Lynn had died because I felt that at last she was released from what was a terrible living death, but because fate had inflicted such cruelty during her life. [I] salute the courage, strength and love which had kept… [her going] through such appalling agony.”

  • Nancy l

    El Perron,
    I have peripheral neuropathy and they have a national association with local support groups. Also of you go to http://www.webmd.com or net you can select your illness and they send you articles regarding your specific illness. Also ask your treating doctor if he knows of any support groups. My doctor and I started one. You will find what you need if you just do some research. Good luck!

  • El Perro

    This site has gone from being a valuable support forum for people with genuine invisible illnesses (like MS, cancer, PTC, lupus etc. not somatization disorders like so-called FMS, CFS, ME, ‘Chronic’ Lyme, Morgellons and so on) into a hive of quackery and product placement.

    The last few months of front page articles have been non-stop “Buy X Brand Vitamins/cookies/breaded eggplant/crackers” or “How to cope with tie-tie disease” crap.

    Does anyone out there know of any decent, real support groups that only allow DIAGNOSED illnesses (not diagnoses of exclusion) as topics of discussion?

  • lara

    being tested for mitochondrial diseases, where there is a metabolic deficiency that causes multi-system problems, or mitochondrial dNA mutation or deletion that causes same.

    these problems can mimic many other diseases! looks like mine is copying MS, and have spent 8 years thinking that is what i have.

    not good. 8 years wasted.

    no cure.
    just vitamin cocktails. when i take my vitamins i feel much better. I tinker with the mix. getting the very best quality vitamins are crucial.

  • HI Everyone,

    I am honored to be a top 20 finalist for my latest blog post entry about vitamins! PLEASE post on all of your walls, share pass on etc. Everyone can vote once a day and by voting you are entered to win a prize too! what’s good for me is good for you! 🙂 Just make sure to look for the blog ButYouDontLookSick.com and the post is called “Take 2 MORE pills, and call me in the moring!?” PLEASE Vote and ask your friends too! Thank you!

  • T. Earp

    I was diagnosed with low vit. D and have been supplementing. I have noticed that when I don’t take between 8 to 10,000 iu a day, that my aches and pains are worse.

    My doctor recommended magnesium. I take that at night before bedtime and it helps me get a better sleep. (Now I don’t have to take Lyrica for sleep anymore!)

    Take Care Everyone,

  • I agree with Sunnie. I have Lupus and MS and I take “high” doses of Vit D as well. Like you said, it doesn’t make me feel any better only helps with the symptoms. Thanks for sharing. Good article Christine. 🙂

  • Here in Australia, it’s a standard joke among doctors that we have the most expensive urine in the world – most people take so many over the counter pills that their bodies can’t use the extra vitamins anyway.

    It’s been a popular joke since there was a problem in one of the “natural alternative medicine” factories, and a whole lot of poisoned pills came onto the market place (a few years ago). While that was being sorted out, people became more aware of what they were taking, and started telling their doctors what they were actually putting into their bodies.

    That’s also shown up that many people were taking over-the-counter therapies etc, that were actually contra-indicated with their prescribed medicines. So the combinations were making them sicker, or stopping their prescribed medicines working.

    I do take supplements – but only what my doctors have actually told me to take. Mostly my nutritional needs are met by food, but some things (like vitamin D for someone who can’t go out in sunlight) can show up low in my blood tests. I also take fish oil and glucosamine because my rheumatologist says they’re clinically proven, and has recommended them.

    But I’d never take anything the doctors didn’t actually tell me to take. The way I figure it, so much of my budget goes on pills I know I have to take, I’m not going to spend anything on something that I don’t need.

  • Leslie

    I have fibromyalgia (diagnosed 15 yrs) and, as we all have, tried many different routes, but had resisted the nutritional one as I already had so many restrictions in my life, and felt I ate very healthy (organic, no red meat, etc.)

    About a year ago I started dating a naturopathic doctor (lucky me!) and he tested me for any food sensitivities or allergies I had. I was sensitive to a lot, which was causing inflammation in my body. He then recommended supplements and herbs to take to support my particular bodies issues, and foods to not eat or avoid. (I am 50 and am also in perim-menopause)

    I dropped 40 lbs! Not because I wasn’t eating, I just wasn’t eating things my body reacted to . And because I have IBS, a lot of the nutrients in foods don’t get absorbed.

    I highly recommend seeing a Naturopathic Dr. or Clinical Nutritionist!

  • I thought about the Vitamin D thing last year and started sunning myself indoors at a sunny window for a few minutes a day. It helped with SAD during the winter and a few other things.

    My daughter convinced me to start using multivitamins since what I eat is so limited. They help a bit when I remember to use them but I’ve been hesitant about anything more specialized because of cost. There are a lot of supplements out there. I’ve tried some but none of them really did enough to help me to justify the cost – and I used up the whole bottle before deciding on that.

  • Connie

    Because of the amount of oills I take, perscription and OTC supplements swallowing them could sometimes be difficult. My remedy is first separate floaters from sinkers. All pills do one or the other. Drink a little water first so nothing sticks. Tip head back for sinkers & forward for floaters.

  • I take vitamins and supplements daily, including a mutli, D, C, omegas, magnesium, and resveratrol. I think they make a huge difference in how I feel, and if taken at a reasonable dose there’s really no down side.

    I buy daily packs with everything all counted out for me, so that I don’t forget to take anything. Works well for me.

  • Dana

    My Vitamin D level was down to 8 (whatever the unit of measurement is…). I started taking Vitamin D3 drops which I read, after quite a bit of research, are better for whatever reason. My primary care doctor said I could take up to 150,000 mg per WEEK without taxing my liver, but my rheumatologist said stick to 50,000 per week. So I take about 40,000-50,000 per week, have been doing that for 6 months now and just got my blood work done again. Vitamin D is up to 30 now, aiming for 50 in the next 6 months. I do feel more energy, for sure.

    Just wanted to say that both my primary care doctor and my rheumatologist told me that if I don’t feel a difference within 3 months of taking a specific supplement, that I shouldn’t waste my money on it. So, when I add something new to my morning pill ritual, I only add one thing at a time. Have NOT found any difference after starting Alpha Lipoic Acid and Chromium, so after the bottles are empty, I won’t be buying those again…. I also take a multi, a calcium citrate, and fish oil. Will certainly be happy to get rid of Alpha Lipoic/Chromium to cut back on the number of pills! Yuck!!

  • Sunnie

    I am in an MS support group, most of us are on “high” doses of Vit D (1000-10,000 IU daily), many of us have quartly blood draws that include a check to see if our Vit D is “Normal.” I am in the midddle, this is after working with my doctor, (3 months of a dose-test, 3 months of a new dose-test, repeated until the right dose was found for me). It is not a cure, but it has helped with syptoms & does make me “feel” better. I watch my local pharmacy the Vit D 5,000 IU goes on sale for buy one get one, what’s better then that??

  • I was recently diagnosed (in June) with low Vit. D. levels and the doctor told me to take 1,000 IU. [I’d previously been taking 400 IU as a supplement] At the 1,000 IU level of Vit. D. supplementation, I experience some side effects that make me think I’m getting too much (despite being low) –it’s kinda ironic. Since I have fibromyalgia I am sensitive to a lot of supplements, vitamins, meds, etc. It’s hard to know what to do sometimes.

  • Kelly

    I’m a firm believer in vitamins and supplements. They have made a difference for me. I use Swanson Vitamins online, they’re a major retailer with the best prices and fast shipping. I take Vitamin D, Calcium, and a multi vitamin for women. I have primary Sjogren’s along with Fibromyalgia. Swanson’s has a homeopathy supplement called Fibromyalgia Relief, and it has really helped me immensely. I had been taking Cymbalta, could no longer afford it and found that the Fibro Relief works just as well for me as the Cymbalta and it’s only $5 a bottle. The Vitamin D has made a difference in my dry skin. I take Olive Leaf whenever I feel like I might be coming down with something and it really helps me feel better. I get issues with sore throats and use collodial silver spray and it works every time. You definitely should not rely on your doctor alone in regards to your health, you need to do everything you can do to take care of yourself.

  • Jen Martin


    I’m starting to listen too. Vitamin D has helped a lot. Not significant, but a difference…for the good. I’m reading more on the supplmentental/vitamin route more. I know I have iron issues with my D3, add more too it. Now, I’m on arava, I need to increase my potassium…so check that one off too. It’s important for daily wellness care.

    Gentle hugs sweetie!!

  • Rhiosace

    I am in the UK. My General Doctor prescribes vitamin D, and vitamin B12, as I always seem to be low in both of those.
    I’m always very suspicious by people who seem to claim you can be “cured” by taking supplements, when they are not doctors. However, some symptoms of vitamin deficiency, especially vitamin D and vitamin b12, do cause symptoms themselves, of that of CFS and fibromyalgia.
    There have been significant studies in the scientific world here, that suggest taking too many supplements stop your body able to absorb vitamins efficiently from food, so if you start taking them, you have to keep taking them, thus my doctor only suggests taking them when a patient is deficient.
    Taking vitamins helps me, when I am deficient, it makes me go back to “normal” for me, i.e still ill, but not so desperately ill that I seem to get when I am deficient.
    I would not suggest taking any vitamins until you’ve had blood tests, and your doctor them prescribes them, especially if you’re taking other medications. If they work for you then good, i am glad, but I would not advise people getting their hopes up on “wonder drug” supplements that suggest you will be cured, because 9/10 you wont be.
    If someone is that concerned about vitamins, I would advise changing your diet, and if you cant do that for whatever reason, due to stomach problems, or sickness, then yes, you should be being prescribed supplements from your doctor anyway.
    I’m not “nay-saying” but when some well person comes up to me and says “did you know you can be cured by taking x,y,z?” i just think they are not taking my illness seriously.