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Men's Nutrition Questions Answered

Iron, Digestive Enzymes and Vitamins

Q: What are the side effects of iron?

A: That depends on the iron. Most iron supplements are 'inorganic', such as ferrous sulfate, which is not easily absorbed and can cause symptoms such as abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dark tarry stools, etc.

Iron is very important to human nutrition and health, but too much and in the wrong form it can be a double-edged sword. There is now impressive research showing a link between too much iron and heart disease, along with possible liver damage, blood sugar problems and other problems.

I use organic iron, such as that found in liver (and dessicated liver tablets), since the molecule is already 'encased' in a heme ring structure as it is in humans. For that reason I avoid supplements using 100% RDA amounts of iron unless the person knows from his lab work that he needs it and his doctor has prescribed it.

For many people that amount is too high and the form is inorganic. However, ask your doctor, as your situation may be different.

Q: Do products like Enzyte really work?

A: Unfortunately I'm not familiar with that product. I do use digestive enzymes heavily, as I find that many adults are deficient and that digestion can be assisted with their use.

I tend to use Super Enzyme by Twinlab- the most, only because they are about the only ones who also add a form of hydrochloric acid to the enzymes. Most (but not all) can use additional acid along with the enzymes, and the antacids many people use tend to make the problem of digestion worse over time.

Q: What are the best multi-vitamin supplements? Also, what is the appropriate dosage for glucosamine/chondroitin?

A: I have my own opinion concerning multi-vitamins. First is that basically everyone needs them. I don't use tablets, as many just don't break down, and I especially don't use time release (they're designed not to release!).

I also don't use 100% RDA types as they are far too weak for anything to be noticed (except for iron, where for most they contain too much), plus they don't have enough other nutrients.

I like multi-vitamin capsules from Solaray and NOW, which are 2/day. For more serious users there are 6/day types that are really good and can be obtained with or without iron, depending on circumstances (I tend to avoid inorganic iron). I then add vitamin C twice/day, since no multi's have enough.

For glucosamine/chondroitin some have decided that the glucosamine is the stronger nutrient. Either way, 1500-2000 milligrams of each is a reasonable range.

Good Health,

Allan Spreen, M.D.