Dear Dr. Blonz: I wanted to comment about the column you wrote on stomach upset from taking supplements. I, too, need to watch these. I learned to take them right before the meal, not after. This way the pills are not sitting high in my stomach causing great discomfort. I also do better with tablets than capsules. Capsules seem to feel like they get stuck. Interestingly, I have no trouble eating food, including fat and meat. Indigestion is very rare for me. If it does happen, I just pop a few papaya tablets. Just FYI. -- E.
Dear E: It helps to appreciate that the body doesn't really "know" from dietary supplements. After we swallow supplementary vitamins and minerals, for example, they enter the digestive tract and come in contact with its absorptive surfaces. This is a process that will take considerably less time when the supplements are consumed on an empty stomach. With a meal, nutrients enter gradually, but with a supplement on an empty stomach, the constituents can end up on the absorptive surfaces and in our bloodstream at a more rapid pace. From the body's perspective, the physical (supplement) objects and the increased vitamins and minerals get read as an indicator that it has just eaten. Our digestive motor kicks into gear as the entire digestive system gets cranking to process and absorb the full meal. For some, this may contribute to discomfort. While there may be exceptions, this explains why it's reasonable to take such products with food; either right before, with or after we eat.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: I know there are concerns about mosquitoes and the viruses they might carry. Over 20 years ago, I was advised to take 100 milligrams of vitamin B1 twice a day. Believe me, it has worked. I have told many people about this, and it has worked for them. -- B.N., Los Angeles
DEAR B.N.: Definitely wonderful to become unattractive to mosquitoes. There are anecdotal reports that some are able to achieve this using vitamin B1 (thiamine), but independent research has failed to confirm that this works with any degree of reliability. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison tested vitamin B as a home remedy against mosquitoes and published their results in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. They found individual variability but the bottom line was no reliable effect as a repellent. Great if it works for you, even better if it also works for your friends. But I do have concerns about recommending a megadose of a nutrient without more substantiation. The daily value (DV) for thiamine is 1.5 milligrams, so you are taking 67 times what your body requires. (Read more about thiamin at tinyurl.com/zn8ogbf.)
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