When Your Eye Vitamins Make Your Stomach Hurt
When I first found out I had myopic macular degeneration in 2007, there wasn’t much information out there about the vitamins and supplements I was urged to use. Besides that, I was basically told there wasn’t any proof that the vitamins would even ‘work’ for me because I didn’t have AMD, but to go ahead and try them anyway.
Taking eye vitamins
I was 25. I don’t know about you, but when I was 25 I wasn’t exactly trying to be conscious about my health. Up until my MMD diagnosis, I didn’t really have a reason to be. I was ‘healthy.' I was thin. I ate what I wanted. I didn’t exercise. I slept. I was just...young...and ignorant about the importance of my health.
I knew that my diagnosis was important and serious. But, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about having to take two vitamins, twice a day, that weren’t even proven to help with what I was diagnosed with! And, when I was diagnosed I was very newly pregnant with my first child. My focus was on prenatal vitamins. I figured these ‘were enough.’
The downside of vitamins
I tried taking the vitamins, sometimes. But, if I’m being honest, it felt like another ‘to do’ on my list rather than something that was helping me preserve my vision. Nobody ever explained it to me that way. Also, when I did take the vitamins, they made my stomach hurt. Ummm...no thanks! This made me realllly not want to take them.
I’ve noticed on our amazing Facebook page that many of you have the same issue with taking vitamins, so I thought I’d share my experience and give a few suggestions that may help.
Preserving my vision with vitamins
I’ve done a lot of research on what my body, more importantly, my eyes specifically need in order to maintain optimal health. Health-wise, there is nothing I want more than to preserve my vision. Over time, I’ve learned that in order to do that, I need to do certain things: exercise, eat well, take my vitamins, and sleep well (this one I’m still working on).
Reducing the discomfort of vitamins
Not taking my vitamins is no longer an option for me. Because of this, I simply had to figure out how I could take them without the bellyache.
Eat with your vitamins
First and foremost, try to take your vitamins with a full meal. I take mine with breakfast each day. Not a breakfast person? That’s more than okay. Choose a meal that works best for you. Doing this not only ensures that my vitamins don’t upset my stomach, but also gives me a routine to ensure I take them in the first place.
Even better, if you eat a little bit of your meal then take your vitamins before finishing, your stomach is pretty sure to be coated and protected.
Look into the nutrients
If you’re taking vitamins with a full meal and still get an upset stomach, I’d start to wonder if one nutrient, in particular, is possibly the culprit. This was the case for me.
Is it zinc?
I now know that I am sensitive to zinc...which is one of the main nutrients in the AREDS2 vitamins I was taking. I didn’t know it at the time, but zinc was also harming my eyes. Once I realized this through genetic testing, I starting taking vitamins without it and POOF! Like magic, my stomach aches stopped! Zinc was hurting my stomach and my vision. For most people, zinc is helpful. This is one reason why it’s so important to know our own bodies and needs. I needed to eliminate zinc, but still wanted to take lutein and zeaxanthin and I was able to do this easily.
Know your unique needs
I’m not saying zinc is the culprit for everyone with stomach issues from vitamins. But, it’s possible that something in particular is. If that’s the case, you may be able to figure out what’s bothering you by way of elimination and paying close attention to your body. Take daily notes if you must. Doing this for a short period of time may allow you to still be able to take some of the important eye-healthy vitamins without the bellyache.
Taking vitamins at night
Another suggestion is to take vitamins at dinner or with an evening snack so you can possibly sleep (and hopefully not wake up with an upset stomach) while your body adjusts to absorbing the vitamins.
Quick Tip: Knowing your body’s specific needs sometimes requires a little trial and error. Try not to get discouraged with the errors. Each one gets you one step closer to your goal!
Ask for help if you are still uncomfortable
Years ago, when I didn’t know any better, it was okay for me to miss a few days (or even months) of vitamins. But now, knowing what I know about macular degeneration and the health of my eyes, it’s not.
Taking my vitamins is a very important part of my daily health care routine. I hope to be able to help anyone who is struggling to take their vitamins daily but desires to. Please feel free to reach out to us so we can try to help.
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