List of my supplement reactions caused by induced deficiencies

As I’ve mentioned in more than a few posts, reactions to supplements are most often NOT caused by poisoning or developing a so-called “tolerance.” Rather, it’s simply that you’ve lowered one of that nutrient’s cofactors (or competitors) too far and induced deficiency symptoms. You can find lists of these “synergists and antagonists/inhibitors” on’s nutrition pages. The site doesn’t supply that info for the B vitamin entries, but B vitamins are mentioned in the cofactor lists of all the other nutrients.

Below is a list of supplement reactions I’ve experienced over the years, with links to related posts where applicable. I did not experience each reaction every time. I have taken many supplements in many courses over the years as I attempted to iron out all the deficiencies caused by 31 years of undiagnosed celiac disease.

I wasted a lot of time figuring all these out because I was laboring under the foolish assumption that my B-complex vitamin was giving me plenty of B vitamins. In fact, B-complex formulations almost always include versions of several vitamins that are in a near-useless form for a significant percentage of people (B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid). On top of that, there’s the problem that B-complex preparations don’t include anywhere near enough biotin, folate, or B12.

Keeping track of your reactions like this can help you home in on the causes of your health complaints. For example, most of the supplements that worsen my already-bad insomnia are also known to lower both vitamin E and selenium. Perhaps my insomnia is caused by low levels of one or both (they work together). That’s my next experiment.

Nutrient supplement Reaction Induced deficiency cause
B1 (thiamine) low mood, dry skin magnesium
  cracked, dry lips; dry eyes B2
B2 (riboflavin) eye floaters (degrades hyaluronic acid)
B5 (pantothenic acid) insomnia ?
B6 (pyridoxine) headaches B12
B12 (methylcobalamin) fatigue iron
biotin acne B2 or maybe B5
C eye floaters (degrades hyaluronic acid)
calcium asthma-like breathing difficulty, heart laboring vit. K
D3 headaches B1
  asthma-like breathing difficulty vit. K
E headaches, suppressed breathing vit. K? selenium? CoQ10?
folic acid fatigue, spaciness lowered folate, the active form of folic acid, by deactivating methylfolate supplement
methylfolate (a form of folic acid) high histamine C
iron headaches B12
  acne zinc; B2
  vertigo A
  insomnia selenium? E? doesn’t seem to be B2
  worsened hypothyroid symptoms zinc
iodine insomnia selenium? E?
  trouble breathing iron
vit. K insomnia at higher doses E?
magnesium nausea, headaches B12, B6
Omega-3 fatty acids headaches B12? B2?
  insomnia E? (works together with EFAs)

probiotics insomnia selenium? (works together with probiotics: see this article)
selenium high histamine C

5 thoughts on “List of my supplement reactions caused by induced deficiencies

  1. me!

    I have similar reactions to same supplements. For insomnia you might try potassium (lite salt is a start but also contains chloride so watch for problems with too much chloride and then try potassium gluconate). limit salt intake while testing.

    Potassium will help with the dry skin and lips too.
    (be aware parasite infection can inhibit potassium metabolism, if potassium helps you sleep but makes makes you puffy/edema this is a sign.)

    I get insomnia with omega 3 and supplementing GLA in the form of primrose helps.

    Have you tried floradix for iron. I get insomnia too but this form actually helps me sleep deeper and remember dreams.

    1. Marjorie Post author

      I’ve tried potassium before for insomnia. I made broth by boiling parsley, potato peels, celery, etc. It helped my sleep a tiny bit but soon it became apparent that my body can’t produce enough salt to be messing with that kind of potassium intake.

      Thanks for the info on GLA — it never occurred to me to try that. Before I started taking a ton of omega-3, omega-6s worsened my seizures, so I had a mental block against them. Perhaps it was just that the omega-6s were lowering too-low omega-3s, which was corrected later. Then maybe I overcorrected with omega-3s at the expense of 6s. I did find a discussion about this on a Paleo forum. So many experts say omega-6s are bad, but it must be possible to have a deficiency in them. Anyway, I’ll try it.

      I have also tried the Floradix, but don’t remember if having a different effect than regular iron supps. I am also intrigued by the parasite idea and am just starting to look into it. (And I will get back to you by email soon.)

  2. Steph

    Do you ever get tempted just to go back to only food (sans gluten) for a time? Silly question, probably. I guess it’s tempting for me as I’ve been much, much (add muches) less scientific about my approach to supplements, and I wonder if I’ve made myself worse off in some ways. I love the mental health benefits, but I wonder if the neuropathy I’m finally paying attention to, and the floaters that are getting worse, are the result of throwing so many supplements on the pile, or the wrong ones, or the wrong balance.

    Thank you for the note above about floaters and hyraluronic acid, I’ll look into this. BTW regarding floaters, I am going to try the moon gazing approach. Because what could it hurt?

    1. Marjorie Post author

      Fo shoh. I do that several times a year for several weeks or months. For one thing, as the family’s 2nd-gen orthomolecular self-experimenter (let’s call her 2Gose) told me years ago, how you feel after you STOP a supplement is just as important to your data as how you feel when you’re taking it. For another, sometimes you get sick of everything. I figure it’s my body telling me it needs a reset.

      Discovering that a supplement brings out another deficiency symptom is extremely annoying, but I don’t know how you’d know the correct balance to avoid it without a lot of experimenting, since everyone’s bodies and nutrient backgrounds are so different. You can minimize it by not going crazy with megadoses, like CERTAIN people (ahem) do.

      Let me know how moon gazing goes.

    2. Steph

      I keep forgetting to moon gaze, so nothing to report. However, on a different topic, if your readers are dealing with neuropathy in their feet, I’ve read that alpha lipoic acid can help, and after less than a week of taking 200 mg a day, I can attest that it seems to help quite a bit. Symptoms nearly gone (and it was getting a bit hard to drive there – kinda nerve-wracking).

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