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"What about GNC vitamins?"
"Is Wal-Mart OK for my supplements?"
"I'm taking _______(fill in any multi-level marketing company name here). I get good results and they're supposed to be the best. Lots of doctors support and promote them."

What to do? Patients are always asking questions about their vitamins and supplements. They all want the same answer; "Sure, they're wonderful, in fact, they're probably the best ones money can buy." But rather than go into individual brands that may or may not be good or as good for you as others, I'll summarize the commercial system in which they exist.

About 92 to 94% of all the vitamins and supplement companies work with retail public sales. The main incentive is to make money. To do that, they need to sell a lot of vitamins by keeping the price low with even lower costs or give other incentives. To make prices low, it often means cheaper ingredients and less quality control. The higher volume comes with lots of marketing and lower prices. Cheaper ingredients can make the vitamins less absorbable in your digestive tract and more likely to be contaminated.  

About 15% of the public sales are multi-level marketing companies. Many people use these and really want them to be good. If they are, it's not only good for them but makes it easier to sell to others and move up the selling chain. They ALL have doctors with lots of initials behind their names that say the products have been thoroughly and scientifically proven to be as good as advertised. Sometimes that's true, sometimes not. The ones that are good are also usually expensive or they wouldn't be that good. But because everyone along the selling chain needs to make a profit, they are often more expensive than other high-quality vitamins.

6-8% of the market is a "Doctors-only" market. Those companies' incentives are also to make money but they can't do it unless they satisfy the higher quality ingredients and results that the doctors expect.  

Taking vitamins is a good thing, but unless you've had specific diagnostic testing to see what you need, a generic approach to supplements isn't as successful or as cost-conscious as it could be. As with most things, “You get what you pay for“. That doesn’t mean they have to be the most expensive but they need to be of high quality for you to get the benefits from them. And they need to be the right ones for your individual conditions. If you have any questions please contact me at www.drmichaelmadden.net

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mztracy wrote May 12, 2009
    • i only take what i am missing in my diet and or exposure to the sun.

      i took a multi and omg my pee changed colors, lol.  

      i take d since i do not sun exposure
      calcium since i do minor dairy

      and so on....
      it works for me



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Safari wrote May 12, 2009
    • Dr. Madden,
      So what is better to take multivitamin (from a good brand and the right IU amount?) or go to a drug warehouse and buy one by one? Is there a test that could tell me what vitamins am I missing?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Safari wrote May 12, 2009
    • This is an info I found just maybe at the same time you were wrtiting yours happy

      [Link Removed]


      Safari, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Safari wrote May 12, 2009
    • Well, It is a blog about Vitamin D defiency linked to the flu, if you want to go and read it. Thank you for your great info.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Michael Madden DC wrote May 12, 2009
    • A good multi is always the foundation of a vitamin/supplement program. You can test your adrenals with a saliva test or take a urine test to see what vitamins or minerals may be unbalanced.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote May 12, 2009
    • When at the Dr’s and when giving urine do they test for that? Or do you have to specifically ask?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Michael Madden DC wrote May 13, 2009
    • A typical urinalysis is done to look for things in the urine that shouldn’t be there; glucose, protein, ketones, blood cells and to check the Ph of the urine. You have to ask specifically for the urine tests for Amino Acids, Vitamins, Minerals, Heavy Metals etc.
      The urine amino acid profile reports levels of essential amino acids and their derivatives in categories. Functional vitamin and mineral deficiencies and diagnosis of metabolic disorders can be determined from a urine amino acid analysis.
      Sometimes insurance pays for it and sometimes it doesn’t. I can let you know the price of the ones you may want. A lab can send the kit to your home, you can do it there and send it back. You’d get your results in 5-7 days. I’d be glad to go over them with you.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janet Wilson wrote Dec 14, 2009
    • I realize this blog post is somewhat older. But, I’m just reading it now. estatic

      My question is: I KNOW my adrenals are suffering.  I was tested an found to have “sluggish adrenals” (caused by 20 years of taking synthetic thyroid T-4 only hormones, unfortunately).  I have switched to natural thyroid hormones (full range rather than just T-4).  But, what else can I do to help alleviate the suffering in my adrenals besides taking Isocort or prescription Cortisone?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Michael Madden DC wrote Dec 14, 2009
    • Dear Janet,
      Not sure what “sluggish adrenals” means. Did they do a saliva test? If they did, the cortisol levels during the specific times of day would tell me much more about them. Was there a DHEA level also, that tells an accurate overall level of how strong your system is in the middle of the adrenal issue. At your age, the adrenals take care of 50% of your female hormones so it’s really important to get them strong again to make menopause easier.
      Isocort and Cortisone support weak adrenals but don’t fix them. Small specific amounts of pregnenolone and dhea based on how exhausted your adrenals are builds them back up. Lifestyle changes or alterations supports that also. The first step would be to check your adrenal test. If that’s what they told you, that’s way too general of a diagnosis to be of any help. Let me know if you have any questions.
      Dr M



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janet Wilson wrote Dec 14, 2009
    • I’m sorry.  I was summarizing without giving back-up.  It was a saliva test that I had done privately.  DHEA was 218.7, with a normal range of 137 - 336.  Well within normal level, I’d say.

      My cortisol levels were:

      Morning: 12.9  (range: 5.1 - 40.2)
      Noon: 2.5 (range: 2.1 - 15.7)
      Evening: 1.1 (range: 1.8 - 12.1)
      Night: .04     (range: .9 - 9.2)

      While the evening and night levels were out of range low, my morning and noon levels were quite low, as well.  Even though they are within range, they‘re very LOW within range.

      The summarization states: “Diurnal cortisol pattern and reported symptoms are consistent with evolving adrenal gland fatigue (hypoadrenia), though concomitant thyroid and/or iodine insufficiency cannot be ruled out.”

      My iodine levels are in question, since I’ve never had it tested.  But, my thyroid Free T3 and Free T4, as well as TSH are doing quite well at this time.

      My cortisone levels seem to explain why I feel better in the morning than I do late in the day.  Don’t you think?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Michael Madden DC wrote Dec 14, 2009
    • Yes, I think you‘re right about the times of days mirroring the cortisol levels. You should be taking DHEA and Pregnenolone in small increments to kick-start your adrenals and strengthen them overall. If the adrenals are fixed, that will take care of the female hormones and thyroid. Has anyone talked with you about going off Gluten for a while? If you’d like to speak with me as a patient, I’d be happy to go over things a bit more specifically and send you what you would need to take based on these results and your other patient information.
      Whatever you do, strengthen the adrenals naturally and they’ll take care of most of everything else.
      Dr Madden



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