My Pill-Popping, Vitamin-Junkie Past Is Over

Jim Shea
Contact ReporterThe Hartford Courant

I take just five pills a day now.

This is down from the handfuls I used to take back when I was a health junkie.

I don't think I was a hypochondriac, but then I may have been taking a pill for that.

Mostly I was into supplements and vitamins. I don't know if they made me feel any better, but I did enjoy whizzing in all the colors of the rainbow.

Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize winning chemist, got me hooked. He was the first to claim that high doses of vitamin C could cure everything from colds to cancer.

So, like everyone else, I started taking a 1,000 times more than the recommended daily allowance. On the plus side, I felt virtually immune to scurvy. On the other hand, I found myself romantically drawn to the supermarket citrus bins.

I stopped taking vitamin C when I read that in large does it could lead to kidney stones. I've never had a kidney stone, but I've heard passing one is similar to giving birth, and I didn't want to find myself one day sitting in a hospital room chewing shaved ice and listening to strangers yell push.

Another vitamin I had a long-term relationship was E.

Vitamin E was said to fight harmful free radicals in the body, which can lead to such things as diabetes.

Then a study came out that linked high doses of vitamin E to an increased risk of death from all causes. As a general rule I prefer to stay away from things that list death as a possible side effect.

The other problem I came to have with vitamin E was its connection to gonadal dysfunction. I'm not exactly sure what the gonad does, but I've always been overly cautious when it comes to anything that risks an interruption of services in that region.

Finally, there was folic acid.

I didn't mind such possible side effects as indigestion, mouth sores, skin lesions, itching, hives, rash, nausea, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, irritability, excitability, vivid dreams, confusion, behavior changes or insomnia.

Hair loss, however, was a deal breaker.

At the moment the only vitamin I take is vitamin D. Vitamin D prevents a lot of stuff, including rickets. You can get all the vitamin D you want from the sun. Of course, from a health perspective, the sun is nothing but a big ball of plutonium.

You can't win.

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