Vitamins and Minerals (and Herbs) - Which ones are absolutely vital?

Please post a list of the Vitamins and Minerals (and any herbal substances) you think are absolutely vital to take and which helped you or still helps you. Please also give the amounts you take every day.

Currently I am taking a multivitamin but I think I could do better to help with my RA symptoms.

Thank you

44 Replies

  • None! Personally I spend my money on eating a healthy diet full of fruit and fresh vegetables. I've found that and exercise are far the best for my RA. None of the supplements I've tried has made any difference at all, just wasted my money. Of course, if there was something specific like low Vit D then I'd be happy to use them. It's a personal opinion but I get cross at adverts that promise the earth for stuff you can find in a 20p apple.

  • Thats my problem, being out and about, and driving a lot, I do not get enough veg and fruit during the day. I try to pack some fruit, but need to cut in bite sized chunks. so easier to eat whilst driving.

  • Hope you take this the right way, but having to eat while you're driving is not a good way to help manage RA. I've found over the years that I really had to make some major lifestyle changes in order to get my disease under control, and it wasn't just a question of popping the pills and trying to carry on as I had been doing. I had (and enjoyed) a hugely hyper-active, full on and very, very busy life and at first I couldn't see how I could change things. But I did and tho' my income has dropped massively I'm much better off in terms of health and also as happy - if not happier. So to get this under control I really do urge you to think hard about how you run your life, and proper meals, rests during the day (even a couple of minutes with a cup of tea) and sleep are essential.

  • Hi Helixhelix

    I am a gardener, the roving gardener, if I don't work, my bills don't get paid. I used to work in an office on the phone and computer all the time. My back, shoulder and hands were in dire straights, also I was a contractor and stayed away from home during the week staying in travelodges. It was hard. As hardly any breaks and food was an issue. I got really fat too due to all the snacking, I have lost all the weight now. Just need to firm up the belly some more. Gone from size 16/18 to a size 12. I would like to be a size 10 as I think that will help with my knees and ankles.

    Thats why I chose to make my hobby my work. Too bad that I got diagnosed way after I started my business. I dont think I would have started otherwise.

    So doing what I am doing now is much better. I like driving so when I go from one customer to the next I use the time to eat and drink. I listen to music or news. If I get to the next job early, I have learned to not park directly in front as the customers expect me to start right away.

    I just need to get myself better organised to ensure I buy enough fruit and make healthy sandwiches. But then it takes me a good 2 hours in the morning to just get going (getting the stiffness out of my joints) and get the hands going as well. I relax in the mornings before I hit the road.

    Some of my customers fill me up with tea, coffee and cakes or sweets. Spending half an hour chatting before I start working on their garden.

    Those customers who pressure me to work faster or harder get dropped very fast and never see me again. I try not to take on anything where I have to dig a lot or cut high hedges. Because looking up and lifting my kit up is bad for my neck and shoulders and I will pay for it the next couple of days multiple times over.

    Sleeping is a problem. I have always been a night owl, finding it hard to get to bed. Plus I do not sleep well anyways. At first the amitriptyline got me sleepy but thats not working anymore.

  • If prepping the fruit and veg is a problem, have you thought about buying pre-prepared snacks from the likes of M & S or other supermarkets? They have a lot of really healthy stuff that is pretty much finger food and bite sized, including cut up fruit, carrot sticks, etc. You may even be able to buy a couple of days worth at a time and storing in fridge at home, or small coolbag in your vehicle.

  • Yes, that is a good idea. I was not thinking about those. But they are quite expensive for the amount of fruit one gets? Plus some have chemicals on them to stop them from going brown or off?

    I wanted to go to the supermarket today but had no time. I will have another look at the packets and their contents next time. I really am not having my 5 a day. I do not think any in the family is having their 5 a day actually.

  • I do mostly as helix does & make sure I have a healthy balanced diet though even more low fat for the next 3 months when I have my next lipids test since my GP performed CV tests to ensure I was ok to continue one of my meds. She decided my normally fine cholesterol levels need reducing a little (RD can affect the heart & wants to keep it healthy!). Vitamins & supplements are often costly & we have to eat anyway so makes more sense to me to get it from eating fresh fruit, veg, some meat & oily fish.

    I'm also prescribed a daily Calcium & Vit D supplement (Adcal-D3) as I'm osteopenic borderline osteoporotic & on long term low dose steroids. I've recently started taking 1100mg cod liver oil capsule each day with the blessing of my GP as I can only tolerate so much fish.

    We have to be careful when on RD drugs that Vitamins & supplements don't contraindicate & often Rheumy's, unless they've specifically prescribed them, understandably don't approve of us trying to treat ourselves running the risk of undoing their work, but maybe someone off their RD meds will be able to help you more.

  • I started to take Iron again as it seems to help a little. Less burning hands and arms when sleeping. Maybe I am somewhat anemic. As I have not had a period for about 3 months now I stopped taking the supplement initially.

  • I'd get your levels tested then. This is aimed at students but most of I still sits well with me

  • Have you had blood tests for Iron and Vitamin D, Thyroid and B12?

    I do take some supplements now although I do basically agree with Helix - but some people with autoimmune diseases have malabsorption issues and, having read about Pernicous Anaemia and vitamin D deficiency and learned I am low in D and at the lower end of normal with B12 -and having quite a lot of PA-like symptoms I take B12 sublingually as well.

    You can't overdose on B12 and although I have a very healthy diet and lifestyle, I really fear the symptoms of this particular autoimmune defieciency, especially as I'm hypothyroid, and can't be certain that my body absorbs B12 well enough regardless of my healthy, B12 rich diet.

    I do also have Magnesium and Silenium supplements currently but feel I probably don't need them so am just experimenting while off all the RA drugs. So far they are making no difference at all but I'll get through the existing tablets and see how I feel at the end of it.

    I completely agree with the other two about the importance of making space to eat well rather than supplement and think it would pay off if you just made a tasty salad or soup or both for your car snacks every day. When my kids were younger I would sometimes make packed lunches the night before and on days where I'm in transit I do this now. If not I make do on a banana and a pack of rice cakes and ask for hot water if I'm visiting someone's house. You can always claim to be allergic to gluten if you are offered biscuits.

    The way I see it pain is a really good incentive to address things through diet as I do genuinely believe that the gut accounts for a lot of the problems we have with sytemic inflammation and have found that tackling my health through what I eat has made a huge difference to my RA symptons to date. That said I credit two years on Methotrexate with some of this as well!

    Take care and carry on gardening - it's a pretty healthy sounding profession compared to many and you should at least not be vitamin D deficient I'm guessing.


  • Hi Breadfruit,

    I take turmeric either as powder form added to my salad dressing and soups or in tablet form ... Turmeric is recommended in diet as it has anti inflammatory properties (or so 'they say') and I add freshly chopped ginger root to porridge which I eat 15-20 mins before taking my weely MTX meds to minimaze gastric upset so far I've had no 'gastric response' to mtx but it's early days for me and I've only had 3 doses (of 10mg each) and I can't honestly say if it works or not because I may not have any response without the ginger... Who knows?!

    Have you considered making smoothies with fresh fruit or veg and then carrying it in a flask to keep it cool (it'll probably need shaking before you drink it)... You could freeze some precut fruit and/or veg so that you can just drop it in the smoothie maker with fresh ingredients like yoghurt or water or milk and blend away... I never buy blueberries at full price but buy when they are on offer and then bang them in the freezer to add to smoothies later!

    In the winter try making veg soups using plenty of 'greens' and then blend so that they are a thick consommé which again you can freeze to bring out the night before and reheat before flashing it.

    Hopefully there is something of use there.

    Sleep wise I have learnt, through managing my long term depression, to keep to a strick routine of when I go to bed and if I'm not sleeping give myself permission to 'just rest' and concentrate on my breathing rather than ruminating or negatively focussing on my RA symptoms (I'm very lucky there as my symptoms are very mild compared to most so it's relatively easy to bring the sensation of my breath into the fore). There are nights where I just rest for the majority of the time but I am more restored than I use to be when I ruminated and anxed about things.

    All the best,


  • I have found when I forgot to take the "happy" pills Pregabalin and Amitriptyline I tend to get negative thoughts about the illness. And why I try to work so hard to get through the stiffness in the mornings.

  • Often for our conditions pregabalin is prescribed for neuro pain & amitriptyline as a muscle relaxant & not for anxiety problems, their other benefit. Many people on here, myself included have found real benefit from one or other if not both of these complex meds.

    If you have stiffness in the morning you'd be better trying to work with it not against it. If you do have RD or another autoimmune condition you risk doing very real damage.

  • If I was going against it I would get up at 7am and would be out the door on 8am to be at the customer at 9am. But I get up at 8am or 9am. then slowly make breakfast and try to leave the house by 10am. Now that it is becoming darker earlier I want to try to get to bed earlier and then get up earlier. If I can get out the door by 9am that would be soo great. But not holding my breath on that one. I enjoy my mornings pottering about.

    Going back to work at an office in the city is an absolute no-no. Sitting for a long time is very difficult and brings on pain in the neck and shoulder.

  • I think you've misunderstood me. What I mean is whatever time you get up not to force against the joints. Morning stiffness can't or rather shouldn't be forced. It's more a matter of pacing. For example, my h comes in the shower with me first thing because I can't bend or reach my shoulder or back first thing. He makes my half a mug of coffee first thing (I can't lift the weight of a full mug until later) as I can't turn the filter holder on the coffee machine until the stiffness & weakness wears off somewhat. Once I get going then I can do them but otherwise they're just not possible.

  • I think you got it worse than me then. I struggle with the fingers as I cannot bend them. But after puttering about a bit, the fingers relax and free up enough to get dressed and brush my hair. I struggle with my hair. I have a chunky brush. A comb is of no use as I cannot hold it. The main issue are the fingertips. Totally desensitised as I cannot distinguish stuff with them and cannot do very delicate stuff.

    I do need to get a soft cover for my steering wheel. Something softly padded. I do not want to wear padded driving gloves.

  • I wouldn't consider myself any worse or better than anyone with the same diseases as me. We're all different & though some symptoms basically remain similar we manage them according to our individual issues. We don't let it rule, otherwise it's won but we do have to pay attention to it & the way my body is in the morning & doing that I've learned how much I can & can't do. Once I've got going & done a few exercises I can do pretty much do most things now I have better pain relief, just with a little more consideration to how I'll feel later as it can mask if I push it too hard.

    Let's no lose sight here, you may not have RD, I truly hope you don't, but until further tests are performed remember carpal tunnel can also happen with overuse & being a gardener & as such doing manual work you will probably "work" your hands more than most. It'll be the CT desensitising your fingertips &, even though I'm fully recovered from my CT release op, my issues with my hands remain & are weak & my grip is impaired but that is RD & OA related.

    Anything you can do to make things easier makes good sense. We've just changed to an automatic car as I could no longer manage the clutch & gears, it's both wonderful & necessary being mobile again & really appreciate it!

  • I do have arthritis in my neck. The test I need is to see if the trapped/squeezed nerve in my neck is sending wrong messages to my hands and fingers, or if I just have Carpal tunnel or maybe both. Right now the doctors are just guessing.

    I am slowing down. I know what I can do. Those days where I work too long hours I pay the price in the evening or the next day. Sometimes even in the night because I cannot get comfortable due to the aches and pains.

    Anyway back to the Vits and Minerals.

    I asked my GP, the Rheumy and the Physiotherapist about supplements and they all said not to bother. I thought that glucosamine would be good to build up the joints and the padding between the joints. The health professionals stated not to bother with those too. They said a few years ago they told people to take them,now they say it would make no difference except to my pocket.

    I will call my GP and ask for another full blood test as I have been on NSDA's for over 6 months now. The liver needs to be checked too I guess.

  • Yes, I think that's the best idea. The sooner you have the information or diagnosis you need the sooner you can work out how to manage the situation.

    Are you the sole wage earner, could you not reduce you working hours so you don't put as much strain on your body, at least whilst you're as you are?

    If 3 med profs consider Vitamins & supplements wouldn't be helpful isn't that enough to be a convincing reason not to bother with them? They've seen you, we haven't.

  • Well, my problem is that I do not trust them. Plus I just wanted to know what people take and if it has helped them.

    My hubby swears on his fish oil. It cures all ills he says (that memo seems to have been missed by his cancer and glaucoma). He drinks it from a bottle. The smell is nauseating. I could never take it like that.

    My hours are already quite reduced. I may work 4 to 5 hours per day, sometimes I do 7 hours. I start late, because I need time to get going due to stiffness. By the time I leave the house, other gardeners would have already worked 3 hours.

  • Wow! 7 o'clock is an early start, I wouldn't appreciate anyone mowing the lawn at that time of a morning!

    Cod liver oil is one supplement I buy, we've both started taking it patenting capsule form. It was approved/recommended by my GP when I saw her after recent tests were performed to ensure I was ok CV wise to continue on one of my meds on a long term basis. All was fine except she's concerned about my heart with having RD & the from the lipid test result she considered my cholesterol levels were a little higher than my normal within range scores. We agreed I would try to bring it down by diet & I suggested cod liver oil which she thought was worth a try. I have another test booked for December to see if it will be necessary to just continue my even more careful diet even lower fat diet or go the stains route which I would prefer to avoid.

  • I am still in bed at 7. One of my neighbors is also a gardener. A very young chap. He leaves at 6am. But he comes home before me, especially in winter. He does not do the "silly" stuff I do. He earns big by having corporate customers. I prefer my grannies and infirm customers, they are grateful and happy to see you any day.

    Hubby has high cholesterol and he was warned he is pre-diabetic. He has been taking his fish oil for many years. He thinks if it was not for the oil he would be 6 feet under by now.

    I just got him to understand the difference of 0% fat and 0% sugar. They are not the same. An item (yoghurt) can be 0%fat but be loaded with sugars.

  • No, I meant as you leave the house at 10 that would mean they'd be already working at 7. You said they're already be working 3 hours!

    My h is T2 diabetic ,for some while now, & has just had his statins changed in preparation for a multiple heart bypass so hopefully will make some difference for him too.

    We both religiously check labels & just we've just had to change his yogurt as the one we normally buy for both of us has had it's sugar content increased. He now has plain with either fresh or frozen fruit or a little honey, both low fat (saturated).

  • We changed our vehicles to automatic about 5 years ago. It is so much better. Especially in cities. Would never go back to a manual.

  • Yes, much easier but it's not really driving is it?!

  • I think its safer driving. Ours still has the sports mode and can also switch back into a manual without needing a clutch, but we hardly ever use it.

  • Yes ours has too. H has used it but I've not had the opportunity ....yet!

    Did you get a an automatic van eventually then?

  • Yup, cost me a premium. They are very hard to come by. So hopefully if I ever sell it, I should get good money for it.

  • Tell me about it, we hunted for nigh on 3 months for a car that suited us & that was with 3 garages on the hunt for us as well as us searching!

  • That sounds good. But I detest Ginger. Cannot stand the stuff, taste or smell of it.

  • Hmmmm... Even though I am also taking Omeprazole Capsules I have a windy problem for the last week or so. I take pregabalin, amitriptyline, omeprazole, ibuprofen and paracetamol at night. And in the mornings pregabalin, ibuprofen and paracetamol, multivitamin and iron.

  • I'd check if any newly introduced meds, vitamins or any other complementary remedies could be responsible. I don't know if you know but omeprazole can also cause wind.

  • I have been thinking what I have been eating and I always have a bowl of porridge every morning. But I changed the porridge type. I think this may be it because I did not eat that porridge over the weekend and hardly any wind. I ate it again this morning and by lunch time you would not want to be standing close to me.

    I usually have the Scotts jumbo oats with a teaspoon of honey. But thought I would like some change of flavour and bought Quakers Oats Multi grain and the one with fruit muesli as well, thinking some fruit would be good too. So I think its either the multi grain or the fruit which does not agree with me.

    I threw away the box the little satchels came in, so cannot check what the multigrain consists of.

    It may be that I have a wheat intolerance. I don't like brown bread either.

  • I take all Evening PrimRose Oil and Omega 3 as they work together to help reduce inflammation. You can't get these with diet alone. There are many studies w evidence that these supplements help RA patients in relieving pain and joint inflammation. ("The Inflammation Syndrome" by Jack Challem explains studies where these have helped RA patients). I take these twice a day w/ meals. I believe they really help me. I've found that if I don't take them I start to feel stiffness in fingers and hands. When I take them regularly it's like I'm back to normal and no pain or morning stiffness. But everyone is different but I feel it works for me. My RA doc said she doesn't care what vits or supps I take. These are in addition to the MTX, Plaq, and Humira. Even with these drugs I get stiff joints if I don't take my vits and supps regularly.

  • Hi again,

    Have you looked at the Access To Work programme as they offer funding to self employees as well as those employed by employers. It may be worth giving them a ring as some funding may take some pressure out of your pot and ease things a little.

    The evening primrose sounds interesting and I think I'll give it a try. The main problem with my RA is chronic fatigue and eye issues.... I've not driven the school minibus since Easter and not driven at all since 1st sept. I've been to an ophthalmologist who gave me some fab gel which is like Vaseline for the eye balls. She reported back to my rheumy that I have dry eyes and sjogrens has been mentioned but no formal diagnosis yet. The eyes get worse if I'm tired/fatigued but luckily OH recommended that I have at least 8 weeks off to adjust to my new diagnosis of RA and to allow the meds time to bed in so at least I can rest at present... If you can call cleaning and resealing the deck resting... And yes my eyes told me off for not pacing myself better... Few niggly joint pains with one knee and one hand so looking for more relief for eyes and fatigue at present may be the EPR oil will help?!


    P.S. Curious.... How do you protect your joints when working outside in the winter?

  • Thermal Underwear. I buy the mens ones, because those for women are useless. Of course if its freezing or snowing I do not work outside. If it rains really hard I stay inside too. I use that time reading up on things and research.

  • Yeah, quite a number of people mention Access to Work programme. I looked at it. Its not for me as I do not fit into their categories.

  • Omega fish oils,Glaucosomine are the two most reccomended. I also take vit b complex and magnesium. The second one was reccomended by my rheumy nurse years

  • None for me either. Just a good, healthy, balanced diet, as varied as I can make it. On rare occasions when I feel I am a bit run down, or haven't been eating well I will take a multivitamin, but that isn't very often at all. One thing that friends keep recommending is things that boost immune function (like echinacea), not realising that the last thing anyone with an autoimmune disorder needs is something to stimulate it!

    having said that, I think there is some medical research evidence for the benefits of some of the omega oils and fish oils for RA (but not for spondyloarthritis, which is what I have), but again, if you eat oily fish, as recommended generally for healthy eating, you will probably get enough of the good stuff.

  • Earthwitch said: "One thing that friends keep recommending is things that boost immune function (like echinacea), not realising that the last thing anyone with an autoimmune disorder needs is something to stimulate it!"

    Now that is something new for me too. I thought that something like Echinacea is good when your immune system is not functioning correctly. But you are saying it will only enhance the "wrong parts" working against the body. Do I understand this correctly?

  • Absolutely! With RA our immune system is over active, which is why we take drugs like MTX to damp it down (in my mind I think of them as getting me back to normal). So then taking things to stimulate it again makes a nonsense of the drug treatment you are being prescribed. Not all the drugs we take directly affect the immune system, but even so it is generally not advised to take these types of supplements.

  • OK, that Echinacea tea is going in the bin.

  • I don't normally reply to older posts but it's recommended that thundergod vine should be used with caution in immunocompromised people & those with autoimmune diseases. The same with cat's claw. Willow bark isn't recommended to take alongside NSAIDs. It's always a good idea to discuss any supplements we wish to take alongside traditional meds with our Rheumy.

    I do agree we could benefit using cannabinoids, if only the medical quality could be licensed for use. Maybe some day in the not too distant future, we are making headway here in the UK.

    I was unable to access the link you posted.

  • Never OTC especially as B12 is vital, get checked be GP and they will issue a script for them. I have B12 by injection and D by capsule.

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