Could Nutritional Supplements Be Interfering With the Immune System?

I mentioned in this post in February that one part of the problem that I had with the magnesium supplement was a possible interaction with another supplement, L-theanine, which provides a “calming” effect.

In January 2017 I was under a lot of stress and so I took an L-theanine capsule (200 mg) one per day for about a month. I did gradually reduce it when stopping it by going to every other day and so on. But shortly after I stopped it I had a cold. The same thing happened a second time when I took the L-theanine again in June 2017 for about a month and stopped taking it, and had a cold shortly after that. So, I’m wondering hmm, maybe the L-theanine, which supposedly also has a reinforcing effect on the immune system (Chengjian Li, et al., 2016), gave my immune system a false reinforcement so that when stopping it, my immune system was then weaker than it was before starting the L-theanine?

So later in the year I took the L-theanine like just every other day maybe two or three times, and after that had a cold again. And earlier this past January 2018 I only took the L-theanine every other day like about two or three times, and the cold symptoms occurred again after that. It might have all been a coincidence. And in my earlier post I had thought that maybe it was because the L-theanine was interacting badly with my magnesium supplement. And, as I wrote in the previous post, I then learned that my symptoms, mainly headache (but nose running as well), were probably due to taking too high a dose of my magnesium supplement, which was only the 400 mg/day as recommended. Some things I read mentioned that too much magnesium could interfere with your immune system functioning. So I reduced the magnesium to a 200 mg caplet and a 1/2 of caplet later in day, and the headaches went away within a week after that, and after 3 weeks now I haven’t had any runny nose. However, if any of the problem was due to L-theanine, I haven’t taken that since January, and won’t take it again, because it’s too questionable.

And all that got me looking into these supplements that I take as added “anti-inflammatory” mainly for my ulcerative colitis or “inflammatory bowel” (that I mentioned here), which has been under control again since early 2013. From what I have learned, you have to be careful with these “anti-inflammatory-enhancing” supplements, because supposedly they interfere with your natural anti-inflammatory system. (Or do they?)

I’ve been taking the probiotic acidophilus pills since 2005, and also vitamins D, C, and E. The vitamin C experience I wrote about regarding my taking too much per day (up to 6000-7000 mg/day) and I gradually decreased it to 1250-1500 mg per day in 250 mg doses during the day (and followed up on that). I had been taking the vitamin D in the area of 3400 or 3800 i.u. per day, but I’ve started to reduce that now because apparently that is too high. And I take the “natural” vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) at 400 i.u. per day. I’ve also been taking quercetin approx. 200 mg three times per day for about 10 years, and now I’m not sure about that. The quercetin has been for over 10 years now, and I hope that hasn’t had too much of a negative effect, if any. That’s a bioflavonoid antioxidant found naturally in grapes, apples and onions, and supposedly has anti-inflammatory properties.

So, this whole thing with the supplements has been a continuing and frustrating learning experience. Because of my ulcerative colitis I can’t have most vegetables and fruits, which is where we naturally get our antioxidants for natural anti-inflammatory and immune system support. (Although I can have baked potato without skin at dinner, as well as carrot juice 3 times per day, concord grape juice and apple juice – thank goodness for those things!) This has been going on with me since mainly 1999, and I am in my mid-50s now.

And, by the way, the “doctors” I saw in those years mainly wanted to just give me the damn prescription anti-inflammatory drugs, but said nothing about the importance of nutrition. I’ll have something to say about my experience with the “MDs” from 1999 to 2008 in an upcoming post.


Too Much Magnesium Supplements?

As a follow-up to my previous post of February 17, 2018 and updated on March 13, 2018, I had been taking the Bluebonnet magnesium citrate one caplet twice per day, but two weeks ago I reduced the second one by cutting it in half. They are 200 mg caplets.

The reason was that I had been getting these headaches and having some other issues like dizziness. And so after some more research I learned that too much magnesium can affect calcium, vitamin D and other vitamin or mineral levels and thus cause symptoms. But I was taking the recommended daily allowances of magnesium which is 400 mg. However, because both magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate are highly absorbable, some sources on the Internet recommended started off at a low dose like 1 caplet of 200 mg per day.

So two weeks ago I reduced the Bluebonnet magnesium citrate to 1 and 1/2 caplets per day. The symptoms have definitely gone down now.

It’s possible that I might be taking too much vitamin D, however. For a while I had been taking a total of 3400 i.u. of vitamin D, from the two multi-vitamin tablets I take per day (containing 1,000 i.u. vitamin D each), a 1,000 i.u. softgel and a 400 i.u. softgel. But that might be too much. Another thing I read is that, while vitamin D is supposed to help strengthen the immune system, too much vitamin D could actually compromise it. And I read the same thing about magnesium as well.

The reason I take the &$@*$&@ supplements is because with my ulcerative colitis (as mentioned in the previous post) I can’t eat particular foods, such as most vegetables, which contain a lot of non-digestible irritants known as “insoluble fiber.”

We need to get magnesium for our muscles, nerves and joints, as well as zinc, vitamin K and K2 for bones and other functions, and sources of those nutrients are mostly vegetables and fruits. This has been going on with me since 1999. So it’s taking me this long to understand these things. And as I mentioned in the previous post, I was probably getting some of these nutrients from drinking Ensure, which went on for over ten years. But I concluded that overall it’s not a good idea to drink Ensure over the long term of many years. And the same thing goes for fish oil softgel supplements. But that’s a different discussion.

My Experiences with Ensure and Magnesium supplements

As I referred to in my earlier summary of my situation, I went through an ordeal with digestive issues, mainly “ulcerative colitis” (UC) or “inflammatory bowel,” in which I was in very bad shape mainly July 1999 until it was a lot better by April 2000. There were relapses (if there’s bleeding with BMs, that’s a “relapse” to me) from 2001 to 2005 and again in November-December 2012. It’s been more under control again since 2013.

I would say that between September and November 1999 my symptoms included bleeding with BMs, approx. 10-15 BMs per day, most of which were stimulated by the bleeding (I think). It got better by November probably because of the Rowasa enema. However, by January 2000 it got worse again. (I’ll get into that in more detail some other time!) And after various different medications it was better again by April 2000. By then I learned that diet plays a big role.

Anyway, one thing that I started in March 2000 was drinking Ensure, a liquid nutritional supplement to help me to reduce actual solid food intake while the lower digestive problem continued to try to heal. I think the Ensure was a big help in getting that better and getting in better physical health, by getting adequate nutritional support without too much solid food.

But the thing is, I continued to eat minimal amounts of solid food but also drink the Ensure as a main part of my nutritional intake for years and didn’t realize that it should only be temporary. (And it wasn’t any doctor who told me about the Ensure, it was my mother!) It took from that previous July of 1999 until March 2000 until I even KNEW about the Ensure!

So then I continued to drink Ensure mainly “Ensure Plus” the 8-oz. bottles, 4 per day, until September or October of 2013. Between then and 2016 I gradually decreased the Ensure from 4 to 3 per day, 3 to 2, 2 to 1, and then my last one was in June 2016. During that time (2013-2016) I had added hard-boiled eggs to my diet, a 2nd piece of chicken per day (white meat) for lunch in addition to one for dinner, extra-virgin olive oil, and butter replacing the margarine. But I still take quite a few vitamins and supplements.

And here is where I want to explain my situation with the magnesium. And these are my experiences and my own conclusions, so you can take it FWIW.

So, I didn’t have any problems (not really anyway) with my arms, such as with carrying heavy shopping bags and doing my regular exercises like push-ups in the morning, until January 2015. That was when I reduced the Ensure from 2 to 1 (8-oz. bottles). That month through March 2015 I had weakness in the arms and it was a problem. By March I learned that one cause of that could be magnesium deficiency.

So at that time I started taking magnesium citrate as I described in a previous post. And the arms weakness was really going away and by April or May 2015 was a lot better. Can I conclude from that that such weakness was associated with my decreasing the Ensure from 2 to 1 in January? Well, Ensure contains several added vitamins and minerals as well as protein and calories, including “magnesium phosphate.” Ensure Plus’s “% daily value” of magnesium is 25% and I was taking 4 per day for over 10 years. So my conclusion was that my body was used to the magnesium in the Ensure, but when reducing Ensure to 1 per day, that caused trouble. (I was having no other sources of magnesium, because I can’t have those vegetables and nuts that you need for magnesium intake.) I also had problems with various kinds of fish which is apparently high in magnesium, so I gave up on fish as well.

I continued with the magnesium citrate but then had more problems with the arms starting in October 2016. I guess I had a left elbow tendon injury which was probably caused by carrying heavy shopping bags all the way from stores to my apartment. (No car.) And then I reaggravated an old upper right arm injury because of carrying everything with my right arm because of the left arm healing. (Tendon injuries are difficult to heal and get reaggravated easily — please don’t get me started on that now.) So I increased the magnesium citrate because items on the Internet indicated that more magnesium is required to heal those kinds of tendon injuries.

But then the magnesium citrate I was taking (Vitamin World brand) still didn’t seem adequate, and the store here closed down as well. I took Magnesium glycinate at an earlier point in December 2015 for a few weeks but it seemed to have side effects, which I could be wrong about, and went back to magnesium citrate. So now I’ve been taking magnesium glycinate again and it really does seem to absorb better. However, after a month of that again this past December (2017) into January, it seemed to be getting interfered with by a different supplement that I occasionally took for reducing stress, “L-theanine.” Nothing on the Internet states that there’s an interaction between those two, or ANY known interactions between magnesium glycinate and other supplements. But I have to assume that something was going on there, and so I won’t take theanine anymore. Then, while things seemed to be getting better again, I happened to decide to increase my vitamin b12 from 2000 to 3000 mcg and it seemed that THAT was then interfering with my magnesium glycinate. So the b12 is back down to 2000 mcg per day. And that’s where I am now. I haven’t consulted with a nutritionist and rely mainly on the Internet for info. For now I’m sticking with the magnesium glycinate. (Apparently, magnesium chloride is also very good and highly absorbed, but lack of availability is a problem. I don’t want to order supplements on the Internet.)

UPDATE on 3/13/18: I was still having problems with the magnesium glycinate. I’ve been taking the KAL brand, which gets a low grade on because apparently KAL magnesium tests very high for arsenic and lead. I don’t know if that’s what the problem was, but I have switched back to magnesium citrate, this time the Bluebonnet brand which gets high marks on the lab websites. So far so good.

Some of My Experiences Regarding Nutritional Supplements

Here are some items of information regarding my experiences with my digestive issues and nutritional supplements. I am not a “licensed nutritionist” and I’m not “giving medical advice” because I know there are bureaucrats who want to crack down on bloggers for “giving medical advice” while being “unlicensed.” But I am just relaying what I’ve learned thus far via my own personal experiences and information I’ve read extensively for these past 15 years now. You can look into these things further yourself if this interests you, or you can take it with a grain of sea salt. It’s up to you.

Because of some issues in my digestive system, while I can have “bland” foods such as baked chicken white meat and hard-boiled eggs, there are some foods I can’t have, such as most vegetables and fruits. However, I can have baked potato without the skin. I also have carrot juice, which has been a huge important addition since I discovered it. The carrot juice gives a great amount of vitamin A and potassium. I also have organic grape juice and apple juice. And thank God for the extra virgin olive oil as well.

But I do have various vitamins and other supplements to make sure I’m getting enough of the nutrients that might be missing, especially from my not eating actual vegetables. Now, for those who think that the studies which have concluded that taking nutritional supplements and vitamins makes no difference, the reason those studies conclude that (besides studies being funded by a Big Agra or Big Pharma company), is because most of the time those studies use junk products, such as synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol). Many vitamin E supplements use that form which is why they have virtually no effect. The more effective form of vitamin E is d-alpha tocopherol (not dl-alpha), which is the natural form. The label states which one the product has. I have learned quite a lot about all these things since about 15 years ago when my medical issues began.

And I also take quercetin in a capsule supplement, Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid which is found in some fruits and vegetables and has a high antioxidant effect. The problem with these supplement makers is that, while quercetin is a good thing to have in a supplement form (especially if you can’t have most fruits and vegetables but still need their antioxidant benefits), the quercetin supplement producers provide too high a dosage per capsule. I’m getting the lowest dosage I can find (500 mg) and even that’s too high, so I pour out at least half of the contents in the sink.

But most supplement makers seem to be putting too much into each pill. I wish they would make supplements with lower dosages.

I have already addressed vitamin C, and linked to this article regarding the effectiveness of lower dosages vs. higher dosages. i.e. taking too much at a time and per day reduces its effectiveness.

Another thing that’s important is magnesium. You get that mostly in leafy vegetables and nuts. I can’t have any of those things. Most magnesium supplements, and the forms of magnesium that most multi vitamins provide, are not very well absorbed, and mainly go right down the digestive system and act as laxatives. I guess that’s okay if you need a laxative. But a lot of people need extra magnesium for muscle health. So I was taking magnesium citrate, which is known to be very absorbable, certainly more than other forms. But I still felt I wasn’t getting enough, and when I increased the magnesium citrate it was then beginning to have too much of a laxative effect. So I have switched to magnesium glycinate which is a 200mg caplet that supposedly gives you 50% of the RDA. I think it’s possible that 200mg is just too much at once, so I’d like to get that in 100mg tablets or caplets.

Why aren’t more of these products available at the regular stores like CVS, etc.? Much of what they sell is magnesium crap, i.e. just not useful. And I don’t want to order stuff online.

And vitamin D is important. The best way to get adequate vitamin D is sunlight exposure. But if you take a vitamin D supplement, it is also important to balance that with adequate vitamin K2. The vitamin D helps your calcium intake to absorb, but that vitamin D and calcium need K2 to distribute the calcium to where it needs to go: the bones, mainly. Without adequate vitamin K2, your calcium could get built up in the arteries or heart. Most people who eat conscientiously, with a goodly amount of vegetables, etc., probably get enough vitamin K2. But there are people like me who can’t have those vegetables so I have to take K2 supplement. The problem with many of these supplement makers is that there seems to be too much an emphasis on the mk-7 version of K2 and not enough on the mk-4 version. Mk-7 is extracted from fermented soybeans, or natto. But supposedly if you take mk-7 supplements it stays in the bloodstream for several days, so you don’t have to take it on a daily basis. At least that is what I’ve learned up to this point. But most of the K2 producers are making K2 with the Mk-7 and there are not enough mk-4 products available. And why don’t these regular stores like the CVS or Walgreens sell ANY vitamin K2 or even K1 products? They really ought to look into that.

Probiotic supplements such as acidophilus are also important. That’s the “good” bacteria in the intestines, mainly large intestine or colon, that kills off the “bad” bacteria. Supposedly much of one’s immune system is in the intestines and having probiotic supplements is a good idea. The best forms of probiotics are in enteric-coated tablets or capsules, to make sure that the cultures are not released until the pill gets lower down. If the content is released too high up such as while still in the stomach then not enough of the bacteria cultures will make it down alive to be able to do anything useful for your colon. (The Vitamin World store’s own acidophilus capsules state that they are “rapid release,” implying that they dissolve soon after taking them, which is not good.) It is also important to note the expiration dates of the package, because if it is a product that has been sitting on the store shelf for months and months, then the bacteria cultures might very well have already died off and won’t do any good. It is also a good idea to refrigerate the package even if the product doesn’t say to do so.

So, while I’m not a nutritionist I thought I’d write about what I’ve learned and experienced thus far in these past 15 years of my medical and digestive issues.

California Against Free Speech

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a requirement that women’s reproductive health clinics must inform patients of abortion as an alternative. The requirement now applies to religious-based clinics, even if such a requirement goes against the clinicians’ personal beliefs.

So, what they’re saying is, even if you oppose abortion you must nevertheless aid the woman or girl in her possibly getting an abortion. This doesn’t only apply to clinics that receive public funding, but those that don’t as well. And it applies to both licensed and unlicensed clinics. The new law has caused two lawsuits now. This is clearly a freedom of speech issue. If Dr. Smith wants to care for pregnant women at her clinic but feels that discussing abortion violates her religious views, she has a freedom of speech right not to discuss it. So this is the government really forcing a medical practitioner to discuss something that goes against her deeply held beliefs.

But UC, Irvine “constitutional law” professor Erwin Chemerinsky agrees with the law, in this op-ed in the LA Times. To diminish the serious rights-infringement aspect of the lawsuits, Chemerinsky immediately begins by writing, “Is merely requiring clinics to inform women of the availability of free or low-cost abortions an unconstitutional infringement of religious liberty?” Note his use of “merely,” like it’s no big deal. You see, to some people who identify very closely with a particular agenda (in this case, the abortion agenda), he doesn’t seem to empathize very well with those who are being forced to express ideas they strongly oppose.

Chemerinsky concludes his essay with a very incorrect assertion about the two clinics involved in the suit: “They are both part of an aggressive ongoing effort to deny women access to reproductive healthcare.” By “reproductive healthcare,” he means “abortion,” which he won’t even state explicitly at the end. And c’mon, Professor, no one is being “denied access” to abortion facilities. No, the two religious clinics are speaking up for themselves (in the absence of “constitutional law” professors who won’t speak up for them) in the ongoing crusade to force them to express views and ideas that violate their religious beliefs.

Update After a Year’s Absence; Vitamin C Issue

Last year I had started this blog and then got busy with other things. It’s almost a year gone by since the previous post, and I am going to try to return to writing regularly. So here I am again.

As a follow-up to my post on vitamin C, I did gradually reduce my daily vitamin C from a max of 6000 mg per day (not all at once, but in smaller amounts throughout the day) to 1250 mg per day. I am taking a 250 mg tablet 5 times per day. As I wrote in my previous post of over a year ago, this study notes that the higher amount of vitamin C at one time, the lower the absorption rate. That seems to make sense to me. However, it recommends 400 mg per day and that 200 mg at one time is preferable. I think that individual factors vary, such as someone’s weight, digestive functioning, etc. I believe that I am taking what is probably appropriate for me.

As I mentioned in that other post, I believe that the osteoarthritis that I seemed to be developing was probably because of the extremely high amounts of vitamin C per day. This was a good source of information for me. This article explains that a possible cause of osteoarthritis includes excessive vitamin C supplementation. On the osteoarthritis issue, that seems to have gone away.

I do take other supplements and have other issues in the health area, and I intend to write about them, among other issues, here.

Don’t Panic over Ebola Possibly Spreading in U.S.

People in America should not panic over Ebola just because two nurses got it from the one patient in Dallas. Both nurses, I believe, have been confirmed free of Ebola now after being treated. And the two America doctors who were confirmed Ebola victims after having been in Africa are now both free of it. The problem with Ebola in Africa as far as the rapid spread of it includes the poor immune systems of those there in Africa as compared to those here in the U.S. In many parts of Africa there is widespread malnutrition, and also sanitation is poorly managed over there. There are also many more pollutants and there is a lack of clean water as compared to the U.S. And all those factors affect people’s health including their immune systems. Another issue in Africa is that some people there practice rituals when mourning their dead loved ones, in which they kiss and touch the deceased loved one’s corpse, which, if the deceased had had Ebola it is very likely that those who touch the corpse may very well get it as well. That is another major contributor to the fast spreading of Ebola in Africa.

Scotland Will Not Secede

So the people of Scotland voted not to secede from the U.K. Hmmm. You know, this democracy thing, 55% of the Scots voting to force 45% to remain in a “union” in which they would rather not remain, seems unjust. I guess we’re saying that some people do have a right to compel other people to some association involuntarily. It just doesn’t sound right or moral, if you ask me.

Is Vitamin C Supplementation Necessary? Harmful?

I have read quite a bit about vitamin C over the years, and have my own experiences and conclusions to share here. Now, I am not giving “medical advice,” as I do not want to be accused by some bureaucrat of “giving medical advice without being licensed,” etc. But I do have a right to share some information I have learned.

Yes, vitamin C is good for you and necessary, but excessive amounts and in the long term can be harmful. Some people such as myself have some issues in the digestive area and can’t eat some of the foods, such as certain fruits and vegetables, which is where vitamin C is mostly naturally found. So I take some vitamins and other nutritional supplements to make up for what might be missing. I know, some of the supplements might be unreliable, and you really have to do your research when looking for the right ones to take.

Over the past several years I had increased my vitamin C supplementation because I thought it was a good idea. I take it with breakfast, lunch and dinner, because vitamin C absorbs and is excreted from your system very quickly. However, a few months ago I added an extra 1000 mg, and within the next few months I had experienced some muscle aches and some joint pain. I believe that the symptoms coincided with the increase in vitamin C because i had not made any other changes in those months. The symptoms could have been caused by something else, however.

So in doing some more recent research, i have discovered that excessive amounts of vitamin C and/or having high amounts of it in the long term could cause some issues. Some adverse reactions could include osteoarthritis and excessive iron absorption, among other issues. Now, I don’t know if that’s what I had been experiencing, but I did reduce the vitamin C gradually, from a peak of 6000 mg (not all at once, but total per day) down to 3500 mg. And I intend to further reduce it.

I found this good source of info, by the way: NYU Langone Medical Center on vitamin C. Even Wikipedia has some good information on it.

One study that Wikipedia points to, however, finds that the higher the amounts of vitamin C the lower the absorption rate. Now, if that’s true, then I wonder how those who take too much vitamin C (which allegedly isn’t absorbing as well as the lower amounts, according to the study) could be developing symptoms that are supposedly being caused by too much vitamin C?

Besides vitamin C, one important aspect of immune system support is probiotic bacteria. That is why probiotic supplements such as acidophilus are very helpful not only in maintaining good digestive system support but immune system support as well.

Obama Needlessly Sending Military to Africa to Fight Ebola

Researcher Jon Rappoport has been writing quite a bit about the Ebola panic. He mentions that the mainstream media do not seem to be questioning the assertion that “otherwise healthy” people are getting sick from Ebola. In his latest post today, Rappoport once again notes that the conditions there in Africa tend to contribute to compromising the immune system. He writes:

The true immunosuppressive factors include: severe malnutrition; starvation; war; contaminated water; basic lack of sanitation; overcrowding; fertile growing-land stolen from the people; industrial pollutants and pesticides; toxic medical drugs and vaccines which push already compromised immune systems over the edge into complete failure.

If those factors can be addressed — and after all the money that Western governments have been throwing into “aid to Africa,” why aren’t they? — then the immune systems of the people there would be stronger and better able to fend off diseases such as Ebola.

The reason why there won’t be an epidemic or pandemic here in the U.S. is because, as bad as the immune systems of many Americans are nowadays, most are nevertheless strong enough to resist the Ebola virus. Those who are already very sick and perhaps the elderly may be more vulnerable, though.

Joan Rivers Died Because of Unauthorized Procedure by Doctor Who Then Took Selfie

It appears that Joan Rivers died because one of the doctors where she was having a procedure performed an unauthorized biopsy on her throat, which caused her throat to swell which caused her to have cardiac arrest. She was there for an endoscopy to “diagnose her hoarse voice.” So, you mean you don’t know why Joan Rivers had a “hoarse voice”? She spent 5 or 6 decades yelling on stage and insulting people. I guess all that would make someone “hoarse,” no? And it also appears that the unauthorized doctor who made the mistake also took a selfie while Rivers was unconscious. Just what is this now, this new fad “selfies”? And why would a doctor do that? I really think that America is in decline now.