Hi, I’m David and I’m Addicted to Vitamins

Vitamin Bottles

Is there a 12-Step program for vitamin addicts? Well, if so, I think I need start working the first step.

I admit I have been fascinated by supplements and nutrition, and after theology, I read more about health than any other topic. I think I took an interest in health because in junior high I was a bit pudgy, which was caused in part by genetics. Eating too much and playing too much Nintendo may have played a part…but other than these minor factors, it was definitely genetics. I also had fairly thin hair growing up, and was convinced that I was going to go bald when I was older. Incidentally, at 29, I still have about as much hair as I did when I was 15, which is a full head. I was, and am, proactive, preferring action to b*tching, so knowing that bald fat teens don’t usually get a lot of hot dates, I started taking my health seriously. Jonathan checked out Lendon Smith’s Diet Plan for Teenagers from the library, which I read, and my interest in health, nutrition, and supplements was born. I tried to change my diet, started exercising, and bought some vitamins at the local health food store. I think I bought Folic Acid, Iodine, and maybe vitamin C. It’s written in an old high school planner somewhere. It snow-balled from there. I even remember checking out health magazines from the library and contacting advertisers and seeing how many free supplements I could get. I have always liked to read, and after a night of football practice, going out on a date, or whatever, I would usually retire to my room, put on some Bob Dylan songs, and read a little, often from health books. I eventually found the mail order supplement company Lee Nutrition (and its sister company, Nutrition Headquarters), with its testimonies from people from quaint sounding towns that I suspected didn’t actually exist: “Thank you for your vitamin C. It really helped me feel better. Sincerely Jennifer G., Santa’s Village, IL.” So I ordered some of the supplements that I had read so much about: Chromium, Vitamin E, Alfalfa, and others.

Even though I was “into” health in high school, I went through a fairly unhealthy stage during my undergraduate days, and I stopped taking supplements, started eating too much, and quit working out regularly. I remember eating three large meals a day, topped off with two small bags of salsa verde Dorritos and a pint of whole milk. I got out of breath climbing the dorm stairs, and did not feel very well.

When I got to grad school, I knew I had to get with it. Not only did I start eating well again and exercising, I started ordering supplements online from Puritan’s Pride, and I began to use the internet to find studies about supplements and conditions. Over the years, I have started taking different supplements based on the newest research (for example, vitamin D, which at one time I wondered why supplement companies even bothered making since it seemed to have little therapeutic benefit…boy was I wrong!). I also stopped taking a few after research showed no benefit or perhaps harm (Beta-Carotene, for example).

I still take quite a few supplements, including herbs (Garlic), enzymes (Bromelain), lipids (Fish Oil), miscellaneous (Co-enzyme Q10), and minerals (Magnesium and Selenium…on days my dietary intake is low, which is rare thanks to regular consumption of nuts). I have even added some new supplements to the mix (Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha-Lipoic Acid) rather recently. I enjoy laying out my supplements the night before I take them, and organizing them; this kind of orders my day, and if anything, allows me to feel in control of at least one aspect of my health.

So maybe I am addicted to supplements. Or maybe I just want to be healthy. It sure beats taking drugs I guess.