Just lately a few people have asked me which supplements I take.
Since I came off my antidepressant medication when I got pregnant, I’ve been determined not to go back on it. Instead, I take a lot of supplements, religiously. Even when I’m knackered and going to bed early, I still take these. I credit them with my staying sane over the last two years – which have been somewhat bumpy.
Here is a list!
- Pregnacare Breast-feeding: I took Pregnacare Max throughout my pregnancy; S’s father insisted on buying them each month, because I was apparently growing a super baby, and only the best would do for her (when she was born early but healthy, he took credit for this; it must have been the vitamins he’d supplied that had made her so healthy). I am still breastfeeding S, but I also stockpiled several months’ supply before my maternity pay stopped, so I will probably end up taking them long after I stop breastfeeding. They have 3 tablets to take each day: two with vitamins and minerals “for after pregnancy” – basically the same as any other multivitamin as far as I can tell – and one high purity Omega 3 capsule. To be honest, I’m not sure what I’ll do when I stop breastfeeding and run out of these supplements, because they’re the only ones I know work well for me and must have everything I need in them. I think the people who make them, Vitabiotics, also make a standard multivitamin though, and S will be taking their kids’ one when her last prescription runs out.
- Omega 3 Fish Oil, 1000mg: When I had my breakdown and the antidepressants didn’t seem to be working, I was reading a lot of memoirs of depression, trying to see what other people had done to “fix” themselves. The answer from most places seemed to be omega oils. I honestly think taking fish oils did more for my sanity than the antidepressants or the group therapy or anything else. I take them religiously, and again, I have a stockpile of them. I had my sister buy me them for Christmas. I’m very paranoid about running out of these things. I take three a day, which is the recommended dose; but for the first few months after S was born I took six per day: two with each meal. I wouldn’t recommend doing that; the packet clearly states that you should take three. I doubled my dose because I was worried about my depression coming back.
- Vitamin C, 1000mg: I don’t like these tablets; they taste more fishy than the fish oils. I read in a Patrick Holford book that a high dose of vitamin C can work wonders for weight loss, cravings etc. And obviously Vitamin C is supposed to help ward off colds etc. Because of the weird taste of them, I don’t take them as often as I should; probably about 4 days a week.
- Magnesium, 250mg: This is another one from my breakdown. I read in a book that depression and anxiety were linked lo low magnesium levels, so I started taking it. I stopped for a long while because I couldn’t afford them, but once I’d had S and was determined not to end up on medication, I decided I’d be better of finding the money from somewhere!
- Flaxseed Oil, 1000mg: Another one from the breakdown. I’m on and off with these ones, to be honest. They provide Omegas 3, 6 and 9 (where the fish oils and Pregnacare are only Omega 3), but I don’t seem to notice much of a difference if I don’t take them.
- Liquorice Root, 420mg: I had a session of applied kinesiology a while back, and one of the things the lady suggested was this. It’s meant to help with sugar cravings, but I don’t think I’m taking a high enough dose for it to work!
Why do I take supplements?
I’m not telling you that you should take everything I take; really, I don’t care what you do. But this is what I do. Here are the reasons I continue to take these supplements:
- I am absolutely, stone-cold petrified of ever having a breakdown as big as 2010. If you told me I had to swallow a live fish every morning to stave off the depression, I’m fairly sure I’d do it. I absolutely do not want to go back onto the medication I was on; it had side effects, I put on weight, it would still be transferred to S while I’m breastfeeding, and I really don’t think it worked as well as the fish oils any way.
- I am rarely ill. Yes, I have a cold right now; but it’s not a debilitating one, more of an irritation. I haven’t been sick since I was in labour. I used to suffer terribly with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and had at least one day off work a month with it. Since I returned to work from maternity leave, although I’ve had several days off with S (catching every illness going from nursery), I’ve only had one day off because I was ill, and that was a migraine.
- My entire live, I’ve suffered with a weird form of eczema where, when I got cold, my back felt like my skin was literally stretching and cracking. It was itchy and nasty and horrible. This winter, when I was taking all these supplements, was the first time I’ve not suffered with that, and not needed any cream prescribed by the doctor.
What time of day do I take my supplements?
I used to take all my supplements in the morning, until I was living with the ex and things were going missing too often and the mad rush of the morning meant I kept missing them. Also, although I didn’t suffer with morning sickness, I had real trouble swallowing tablets – so I switched to evenings, where it would take me anything up to an hour to take all of my supplements (at that time I was also taking two big, chalky Osteocare tablets a day as well, and they kept getting stuck in my throat and coming back up).
Now, once S has gone to bed, I go to the kitchen drawer and put all my supplements into a shot glass (yes people, I really am that rock n roll: my shot glasses are used for supplements, and for holding Calpol syringes. WOO HOO). Then I take my shot glass and my bottle of water, and take the supplements as I go about my evening.
With regard to S: because she was premature she was prescribed a multivitamin to take every day until she was weaned. Although still breastfeeding, she’s now classed as weaned, and so when this bottle runs out she won’t be prescribed any more. However, I have read that children who take a multivitamin have higher IQ scores, and I can’t justify spending money on supplements for myself if I’m not giving her the same, so she will have kids’ multivitamins, and maybe even a fish oil supplement if I can find one she’ll have. She’s had her multivitamin from day 1; I recently tasted it, and can truthfully say it tastes awful, so I’m hoping it won’t be a problem to get her to have a different vitamin supplement or fish oil.
What about getting vitamins etc from our food?
Years ago, when all our food was grown locally and seasonally, yes, you probably could get your RDA of vitamin C or whatever else from the fruits and vegetables you bought at your local shop. Nowadays though, fruit and vegetables are forced to grow out of season in polytunnels, with chemical fertilisers and weed killers and mutant strains to make them larger or juicier or straighter or whatever else. I don’t believe that all this fiddling about with nature hasn’t affected the vitamin levels in foods. Yes, I could spend time rummaging through Tesco to find the organic fruit and vegetables, and I could go to the organic stall on the market, or go to a farm shop or wherever else – but I don’t have time, and I’m fairly sure if I did that I’d end up forgetting to eat the stuff, and wasting huge amounts of money – it’s what happens with the £1 bags of kale I buy now.
Do you take supplements? If so, which ones? Do share your experiences in the comments!