Vitamin Challenge

I suppose one of these days, I’ll realize that I have too many challenges to keep track of, but this one’s quite important.

I have PCOS, and I’ve been back on metformin (750mg with breakfast and dinner) for the past year or so. I’m not diabetic–my blood sugar levels have been on the high end of normal, though, suggesting that I’m pre-diabetic and insulin resistant. Especially with the other signs, symptoms and side effects of PCOS.

Lately, I’ve gotten a bit cocky and gradually decided to stop taking it. Needless to say, I’ve had virtually no weight loss ever since. Damn doc might’ve been right…

Sure enough, I did a little research on insulin resistance this weekend and found my symptoms matched. Here are the Top 10 Symptoms of Insulin Resistance–Letterman-style.


  1. When you sleep through things as boring as a department meeting or as thrilling as the season finale of Lost. (General fatigue is fairly common. Sometimes it’s physical. Oftentimes, it’s mental.)
  2. When you feel as if your brain is in the midst of a dense fog warning. (People with IR frequently complain about lack of focus and concentration.)
  3. When your blood sugar exceeds the level of sugar found in a Cadbury Creme Egg.
  4. When you can out-toot your 90 year-old great-grandma after she eats a plate of baked beans–even though you haven’t touched a single bean. (Interestingly, this gas is more common when you eat carb-heavy meals, as opposed to veggie and fiber-rich meals.)
  5. When your boyfriend nicknames you Sleeping Beauty because you regularly start nodding off during dinner, movies, sex…. (Many people with insulin resistance get sleepy immediately after eating a meal containing more than 20% or 30% carbohydrates. This would explain why I fell asleep on my boyfriend during Top Chef this week–right after eating a bowl of cereal.)
  6. When well-meaning colleagues ask “When are you due?” (Fat storage tends to increase around the belly in folks who have IR.) 
  7. When you find out your blood has more fat in it than the McDonald’s double cheeseburger you had for lunch. (High triglycerides are another sign.)
  8. When the doctor takes your blood pressure and confuses it with that of the middle-aged, stressed-out bank executive in the other examination room. (Elevated blood pressure is frequently found in individuals with IR.)
  9. When you start to feel more like Eeyore than Winnie the Pooh. (Because of the metabolism issues that result from IR, psychological effects–especially depression–are not uncommon.)

Okay… I lied. There are only 9 symptoms. (All facts have been culled from the seemingly reasonably accurate Wikipedia page on insulin resistance.)

I’ve realized that after being off my meds for several weeks now, I’ve started suffering from many of those symptoms. Time to get back on the horse. I’ve since gone through ALL of my vitamins, prescriptions and supplements and organized myself. Awhile back I bought an inexpensive (seriously: $1.99) craft/bead organizer from Michael’s and I’ve since reloaded it with all of my meds. Here’s what I have:

A medicine collection a granny could be proud of...

A medicine collection a granny could be proud of...

Metformin/Glucophage (twice daily, with breakfast and dinner)

Chromium picolinate (twice daily, with breakfast and dinner). This was recommended by my nutritionist about a year and a half ago. She says it helps the body regulate blood sugar. Be careful though–this (as well as high doses of metformin) can result in liver toxicity. I got bloodwork done after 3 months, 6 months and now a year of being on it, just to make sure there weren’t adverse effects on my liver.

Adora chocolate calcium supplement (not pictured, but wicked good. I keep them at work and have one after lunch or mid-afternoon. It provides my calcium and my chocolate fix for the day!) I’m usually very good about fitting in dairy: I include a touch of part-skim ricotta to make pasta sauces or soups creamy, I eat Greek or regular yogurt and have a glass of skim milk (okay: a nonfat latte) daily and on a weekly basis I’ll snack on cottage cheese or part-skim cheese sticks. Still, bone density starts decreasing between the ages of 35 and 40. I’m getting close… so to be preventative, it’s calcium supplements, daily dairy consumption and weight-lifting for me!

Vitamin D-3: rumored to be good for back health & helps bone density and calcium absorption.

Multi-vitamin: pretty standard.

Fiber supplement: most of the time, I get more than my share of fiber (25g is the DRV–I often get 30-35g), but these chewables provide an extra 2g per tablet, just in case! And they come in citrus or berry flavors. Another option: Crystal light has LiveActive flavor packets with 3g of fiber and All-Bran fiber packets for water bottles with 10g of fiber. Word to the wise: increase fiber intake gradually and be sure to drink a lot of water. While the poop effect of fiber is well-known, you need plenty of H2O to process fiber otherwise you could find yourself constipated and bloated. And that’s just not fun.

Vitamin C: I very rarely take this, but since I’ve had sinus colds twice in the past two months, and I’d hate to come down with a case of scurvy, I’m going to take these through the winter.

Cinnamon: this also helps regular blood sugar. Plus, it gives me the most pleasant cinnamon-flavored burps, eliminating the need to top my morning latte with this lovely spice.

Flax seed oil: I’m NOT good about adding healthy oils to my diet. Occasionally, I’ll pick up an avocado at the grocery store, I try to have one serving of fish a week (minimally) and I use olive oil to cook with, but I use this supplement to make up for those weeks when I’m oil-deficient. Flax seed and other healthy omega-3 oils keep joints lubricated, possibly aids in the prevention of cancer, lowers bad cholesterol, increases good cholesterol (both of these enhance heart health) and can have  a postitive impact on everything from preterm labor to panic attacks.

This  little vitamin kit will stay in my purse and follow me daily. I find that I get a little queazy if I take my meds too early, so I usually wait until after breakfast, when I’m at my desk at work with my latte to start swigging my assortment of tablets and caplets. There are a few pills, I need to take twice, so I’ll also have them on hand either at home for dinner or out at a restaurant.

So… A question for you all:



5 responses to “Vitamin Challenge

  1. Iron- anemia
    Multivitamin- just finishing up the bottle because I’m finding in studies they don’t do much
    Vitamin D- Mom bought it for both of us… I really thing they’re right on it helping bad backs.
    Biotin- Hair/nail health growth
    Zinc- Becuase it’s supposed to reduce hair shedding..

    I keep looking for the chromium but I can never find it so I’ve give it up.

  2. I used to buy my chromium at Trader Joe’s (that’s where I get most of my vitamins), but they no longer carry it. I’ve seen it at Target and, I think, Whole Foods. Want me to pick some up for you, if they have it?

  3. Yes please!

  4. I had a roommate once who had PCOS, and I know that it was not fun. I’m sorry you are having to deal with it, but it sounds like you at least have a good doctor!

    I’m fighting a cold and wishing I’d remembered to take my multi-vitamin. LOL! Achoo. 🙂

  5. Hi Tina! I just read the comment you left on my blog… thanks! Hey, your blog is great too! I love nutrition/fitness/general health just as much as I love books… my two great passions in life! 🙂 Congrats on the commitment to get healthy!!! We’ll have to chat books sometime!

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