- Last Updated: 21 January 2016 21 January 2016
Important notice: Please note that the information on Treatment provided here has been compiled by patients for patients, and represents a summary of what patients may have experienced in working with their individual health care providers. The information in this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician or other healthcare provider in matters pertaining to your medical care. See our full Medical Disclaimer.
Health Care Providers: Please see the information on pp. 25-26 in the 2014 ME/CFS: A Clinician's Primer.
Vitamin and supplement production has become big business and many people spend a lot of money on these without having a reasonably good understanding about their effects (especially how one might interact with another and with pharmaceuticals), potency, and even their personal need for some of these.
It is essential to keep in mind that although dietary supplements are promoted as "natural" alternatives, they will still contain many potent compounds that trigger various biochemical reactions or changes in the body. After all, the reasons for using supplements are to use some as substitutes for standard medications, or to make up for what one's body may be severely lacking.
Check for additives, fillers and waxy coatings and realize that not all vitamins/supplements are extracted from "natural" food sources. Also, check for other ingredients in snacks and "enhanced" beverages, as these may contain stimulating herbs in vaguely stated amounts.
Consumers must beware of exaggerated claims or testimonials and promises of miracle cures. On a positive note, a number of vitamin and dietary supplement manufacturers do submit their products for quality assurance review by United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and NSF International (formerly National Sanitation Foundation). These are independent public health and safety organizations, and products for which ingredients and manufacturing processes were reviewed by them for consistency, safety and quality will display USP or NSF certified symbols.
Herbal extracts will often display the term "standardized" which means the levels of key ingredients are supposed to be uniform from one batch to another, but this does not necessarily mean better or stronger, nor does it take into account other substances used to manufacture them.
Many people routinely start their day with a multi-vitamin. These come in a large variety of forms, combinations and potencies. Recommended daily allowances (RDAs) were instituted well over 40 years ago, which were set at levels to ward off severe deficiencies and are now considered to be too low to achieve optimal effects.
In contrast, some formulas contain excessively high and potentially dangerous levels. More is not always better, especially in the case of fat soluble (A, D, E and K) vitamins because they are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. There is also a risk in isolating and taking certain vitamins by themselves for they may trigger an imbalance or deplete other nutrients.Therefore, balance and synergy of vitamins and minerals are two other important considerations.
One leading school of thought is that the most beneficial form of vitamins are those made from concentrated whole foods because the co-existing structures and properties of each will be retained and work together (in a more synergistic way). Most proponents of dietary supplements will agree these should never be used to replace food or a healthy diet.
Formulas with added iron should not be used, unless specifically directed by one's doctor, as iron can be quite harmful when not needed.
Clinicians who work closely with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) patients are turning to specific supplements or herbs to correct deficiencies and make use of their therapeutic properties. We have incorporated recommendations or opinions by some of the leading specialists in the field, such as Drs. Charles Lapp, Jacob Teitelbaum, Nancy Klimas and Roland Staud, on the top one dozen or so supplements used in the management of ME/CFS and FM.
Other credible sources (such as the Physician's Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements) were referenced and data included from multiple sources on these and a few other products in order to provide enough basic information so individuals can make informed decisions.
It is strongly urged that people consult with a qualified healthcare professional.