9 Vitamins & Supplements I Use and Recommend

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The week of March 11th sees the beginning of Nutrition and Hydration Week

This week is an annual event which aims to highlight, promote and celebrate improvements in the provision of nutrition and hydration locally, nationally and globally.

I have previously written posts about hydration as this is especially important for us ostomates.

Coping With A Stomach Bug When You Have An Ileostomy

Top 5 Hydration Tips

Today I thought I would share some information about the supplements I take to try and keep myself healthy. As always – I am not medically trained and this post is based on my own research and myself. Please ask your doctor for advice on your own situation and needs.

Vitamins and Supplements

I regularly take supplements – both prescribed and over the counter to help give my body a boost. I have two auto-immune diseases and take medication which lowers my immune response. Crohn’s Disease also makes it difficult to absorb everything you need from food, and you often have to get these levels tested followed by treatment if they are low. I have written a list of nine supplements I take regularly and how they help me.

Calcium and Vitamin D


Calcium has several important functions.
These include:
– helping build strong bones and teeth
– regulating muscle contractions, including your heartbeat
– making sure blood clots normally

NHS

This is one I am prescribed by my doctor as I am on steroids. Steroid treatment can cause thinning of the bones so you are given a calcium tablet to take alongside them, along with Vitamin D to help regulate it.


Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.
These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

NHS

Better You Oral Iron Spray

(AD ] gifted previously but not for this post)

Better You Iron Daily Oral Spray

I have written an in-depth review of this for A Balanced Belly which you can read here.

This has been the only type of iron that I have used and noticed a difference in my levels with, that hasn’t involved going for hospital infusions. I am, unable to take iron tablets due to the effect they have on exacerbating my Crohn’s Disease. I found similar with the liquid iron which is supposed to be easier on the digestive system. Even though I try and eat an iron rich diet, it does not give me enough. The spray is really easy to use and it doesn’t taste too bad! Four sprays inside my cheek and I am good to go for the day!

Check out the spray at Better You’s website


Iron is important in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.
A lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.

NHS

Vitamin C & Zinc


Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has several important functions.
These include:
– helping to protect cells and keeps them healthy
– maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage
– helping with wound healing

NHS

I buy this over the counter and take it as it is good for giving the immune system a boost. I am on a couple of immuno-suppressant drugs and try and think I will do everything to give my body a fighting chance.

Magnesium Bath Salts

Magnesium Bath Flakes

Currently something my body is struggling to hold on to is magnesium. One of the best ways to absorb this is through the skin which is why the bath salts are so good. I like the ones from Better You as I notice more of a difference after using them, but you can buy them from places like Asda and Home Bargains. They really help ease my joints and I feel refreshed after having a soak in them.

Better You has a range of forms of magnesium including the bath salts and gels which you can rub into the skin. See them on the Better You website


Magnesium is a mineral that helps:
– turn the food we eat into energy
– make sure the parathyroid glands, which produce hormones important for bone health, work normally

NHS

Multivitamin with Iron

I buy this over the counter just to give all the vitamins and my iron a boost.

Alflorex

(AD ] Gifted)

I was contacted by the people at Precision Biotics about their new product to help those with IBS. I have IBD but when I asked them about what the product was, I thought it would still be a great thing to try.

I find the world of probiotics and digestive heath a really interesting one. Alflorex contains a unique probiotic and in clinical trials has been shown to reduce

  • Bloating & gas
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Unpredictable bowel movements like diarrhoea and constipation

I was especially interested in seeing if it would help me with bloating. As possibly the only girl with Crohn’s Disease who has an anaphalactic reaction to Buscopan, I rely peppermint tea which doesn’t always help.

I was sent a sample month’s supply and am pleased to report I saw some great results and would definitely recommend. I felt it really helped my bloating and the pain associated with it. I have even been able to have the occasional fizzy drink without the usual, painful side effects. Due to having a stoma I am not in the best place to comment on unpredictable bowel movements, but if you do suffer from these symptoms, from the results I found with my bloating, I would definitely be inclined to give it a try. It is also suitable for those on the low FODMAP diet.

Alflorex

Visit the Precision Biotics UK website to read more and to shop

Vitamin B Complex

Another over the counter one which is just an attemt to build up the whole array of B vitamins in my body.

Folic Acid


Folate is a B vitamin found in many foods. The manmade form of folate is called folic acid.
Folate is also known as folacin and vitamin B9.
Folate helps:
– the body form healthy red blood cells
– reduce the risk of central neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies

NHS

I am on a folic acid supplement as I take Methotrexate and this can help lessen the severity of side effects. IBD patients can also become easily deficient in this and so are also given supplements for it.

Better You b12 Oral Spray

Another nod to Better You and this time their B12 Oral Spray. I think the way Better You are helping patients by looking at HOW we best absorb the things we need is fantastic. Having certain parts of your bowel removed can lead to you being low in b12 and needing injections. I use this to hopefully prevent that, and it tastes lovely too!

Better You Boost B12 Daily Spray

Check out the Better You website for more on this


Vitamin B12 is involved in:
– making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy
– releasing energy from food
– using folic acid

NHS

I hope this post has been helpful and has given you some ideas about things to look into and try. Feel free to let me know anything you recommend in the comments below, or ask if you have further questions and I will try and help.

References

NHS website – Vitamins and Minerals

The Hospital Diaries Days 10 to 13 – Wednesday to Saturday

Happy weekend everyone – I really hope you are all enjoying yours more than I am stuck in here.

Update

Unfortunately my potassium and now also magnesium levels are still crashing into my boots so I am constantly having to be hooked up to drips as well as take supplements to keep my body functioning. The last couple of days have been a struggle with my feeling very shaky and that my muscles in my hands etc just won’t cooperate quite properly with what I want from them. The doctors think this is due to the low levels of stuff in my blood and are keeping a close eye.

Foot hook up is a pain

It looks like I will be having surgery on my stomach this week but the surgeons will be asked to comm Monday and get me on the list as long as they agree with gastro’s plan. Once I know what is going on I will share, but please excuse me for not doing so much – a lot of things are still little mysteries to me too and I need to get my head around the fact I will be having more abdominal surgery again.

Cannula Count – Hellish!

Still getting stuck left, right and centre for cannula access, including having another in my feet. My veins just are not happy! I plan on speaking to them about putting a mid line in after the weekend. Although its a higher infection risk, it should be able to stay in place for the rest of my hospital stay and I am currently having daily blood tests as well as the cannula attempts so think this will be a better option. As I am looking at going to surgery, they may be able to put one in wile I am under, and then it is one last thing to worry about following the operation too.

This lasted about two hours!

Food Diary

I am trying to eat little and often as any thing too much just makes the pain ten times worse in my stomach. I have a lot of bile green output from my stoma which is also being very sluggish. I am stuck on low residue too and the menu is very limited. It is definitely something I plan on leaving feedback on once I leave.

My Speech

As some of you know I have been invited to speak at the Ileostomy Association event in Birmingham on March 30th. I am over the moon at being asked to do this and am so very looking forward to it, so hoping i can get out of here in time! I have been posting questions on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages and it would be great for any of you ileostomates out there to reply if you have something to say abut the topics I am asking.

For more information on the event check out iasupport.org/infoday

Musical Beds

I have now (up to 11pm Saturday night) been moved 5 times! I am currently back in a side room which is much better as it is quiet and I have my own bathroom. They are monitoring my stoma and urine output so it is really inconvenient and embarrassing whine having to share a bathroom. Also being on almost continuous fluids makes you go…a lot! Hopefully they give me a rest now – I think I deserve one.

Back in the sideroom

Visits from Mum, Dad and Ste are helping keep me going and I am keeping busy with reading, cross stitch and colouring. I have now read three books in here since arriving and am ploughing through four and five (one paperback, one Kindle). I was contacted by the lovely author of Brace Yourself on Twitter abut a review of her book and was so pleased she did – I loved it. I will be posting a full review this week about it so keep your eye out.

Again, I have been overwhelmed by the support and messages and can’t thank you enough. It really helps put a smile on my face when I feel so damn awful all the time!

The Hospital Diaries Day 8 & 9 – Monday & Tuesday

I’m at the point of losing track of days and it seems to be suddenly flying by. Each day sort of mingles into one as it gets so repetitive and a mixture of tests, medication, pain and sleep.

Gastroscopy Test

On Monday I had my first ever gastroscopy test – where the camera goes down your throat to check out your stomach. It certainly wasn’t pleasant but the doctor kept me well topped up with sedation which meant I was pretty woozy and ok. I will write more information about the actual test and procedure once I’m out for people who want to know more or may be going for one themselves as you might find it useful to read a patient perspective.

The scan went ok and they rules out any ulcers etc on the inside of my stomach which is good. I was diagnosed with GERD and have a ‘lax scphincter valve’ but I already know I suffer acid reflux so this wasn’t surprising.

My stomach is still pretty distended and painful so the doctor is still on the case and may still want to bring the surgeons in for a look.

Humiliation

Nothing like a stay in hospital for that. On Tuesday I’ve had to go onto a fluid balance and now have to wee and collect my output in pots and then get the nurses to measure it. One saving grace is I’m back in a side room with a private bathroom so no communal toilet. It’s mortifying having to call them and watch them collect it though. They are so good about it but it must be an awful side of their job.

Cannula Count – lost count

What a day Tuesday was! My cannula had expired and was starting to show resistance when used as well as becoming a bit sore so they took it out. A phlebotomist came and gave an attempt at a new one but didn’t have any luck so called a doctor. He also tried a couple of spots but was unsuccessful so I’m now the owner of a horrible foot cannula. Although it’s a nightmare for moving and things, stuff is flushing through it well so I don’t want to moan.

Low Levels

My phosphates are still low so having to down that lovely drink every tablet round but my potassium now keeps doing the same. I had some put in my fluid bag Sunday but on Tuesday they said it was still very low and I had to have both the drip and a drink of the stuff. Disgusting! Good job we get used to having to swallow these awful prep type drinks a bit really, I think I’ve become desensitized to the whole thing.

Depending on where your Crohn’s is active can also alter levels in your body like this. Where I had the problem prior to my surgery in April 2016 I was suffering from low protein – as the area responsible for the major absorption of that was all inflamed and not working properly. Malabsorption is common in people with IBD so it’s always handy to ask your GP to check these types of thing if you aren’t feeling right. Supplements may be prescribed or things may just need to be adjusted in your diet if possible.

Food Diary

I wish I was more excited about this segment but food has become a bit of a chore to me. Anyone who knows me.knoes how much of a foodie I am but when I eat at the moment it causes more uncomfortable swelling, pain and nausea/sickness. I’m back on straight low residue so no longer have to stick to smooth or runny foods only which is a bit of a blessing.

My mum came to visit while I had my gastroscopy Monday which was a shame as it meant I didn’t get to see her. Both her and Ste stopped by yesterday though – Ste came straight over from the train looking shattered but it was so good to see him. My mum bought me in the pancakes my Dad got for me and they even sent in lemon juice, sugar and white chocolate dipping sauce! They really are the best parents but I’m definitely going to be redoing Pancake Day once I’m out of here! What did you have on yours? Let me know your favourite toppings in the comments below.

Really hoping for home soon so need to get a good plan in place now. I’m very homesick and feeling very meh! Apologies if that comes across as rambling and moaning in this post, my next one will be better (at least I hope so)

The Hospital Diaries Day 6 & 7 – Saturday/Sunday

Weekends in hospital are generally the worst. Unless there is a plan in place to go home, nothing much happens unless there is an emergency.

Stanley Stoma seems to have woken up which is good so they are pretty satisfied that the CT which showed no kinks or blockages along my small intestine was correct. They are hoping the manipulation of the structure behind my stoma will continue to ensure things can pass which seems to be the case at the moment, although my output is still only water and mucus. I’m now awaiting gastro back to talk about my stomach and where we go from here with the awful pain, nausea and vomiting which has been pretty hellish all weekend. Pain meds are helping take the edge off but once I eat anything it makes it a million times worse. I’m so hungry though and obviously need something inside me to function!

Both phosphates and potassium are low so I’m having a horrible phosphate drink. Luckily, the potassium has gone into my drip bag… Could not stomach that drink, especially already being nauseous!

Food Diary

When the surgeon came and saw that my stoma was working better in Saturday he’s upgraded my food thank goodness! I still can’t eat much but it’s nice to have a little more than chicken soup, ice-cream, jelly and yoghurt! Being able to have a biscuit and a cup of tea in the evening is like a dream! The low residue menu diet still isn’t great here but as I can’t eat a full meal anyway I am able to pick off the safe foods to eat.

Cannula Count – 4 and 2

This one has continued to work for the weekend well which is good. I have had a couple of subcutaneous cannulas in for my morphine pain relief to save me getting stabbed every time they do it. Turning into a pin cushion between those, daily blood tests and blood clotting injections!

Subcutaneous Cannula

Normality

Normality is a funny old concept really isn’t it – everyone’s perception is different but we don’t always think like that. As someone with a chronic illness (or few) my reality will be very different to many though. I have different abilities, expectations, goals and needs. This weekend I’ve missed MY normality. Being able to go make myself available cup of tea, put some washing on, do the ironing, have a nap on the sofa. I don’t want to get out and do anything extraordinary at this point… I just want to be home!

Have had Mum and Dad visit both days over the weekend and on Saturday they bought me some new PJs, underwear and fluffy socks which was lovely. My mum is an absolute diamond and I don’t know what I would do without her to be honest! She has cut my toenails and washed my hair for me this weekend. Two jobs I couldn’t manage myself and she did them. I’m so lucky to have parents who really help and care. While we pamper, my dad goes and fetches the Costas so is also very much appreciated too! My Aunty and Uncle also came in yesterday with some more puzzle books yesterday to keep my brain busy and made me laugh which was definitely needed! My stoma is a great source of hilarity in my family but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone is so supportive and if you don’t laugh you cry, right?

I’m hoping that Monday will bring round some more plans and see what we can get sorted so I can get out of here! Will keep you updated as always,

The Hospital Diaries Day 4 & 5 – Thursday/Friday

So apologies for not having caught you all up yesterday but it’s not been a great couple of days and I’m sure you understand. The pain and nausea/vomiting have become pretty relentless and even the medication isn’t relieving my symptoms to the point of comfortable at the moment for the most part.

Update

So far there have been no more tests except blood tests. It looks like this weekend I will be having a barium scan to check for motility through the bowel and any possible kinks and narrowings that the CT may have not picked up. There’s a chance I may need some stomach biopsies done next week, but they are trying to follow the least invasive routes first which I appreciate. I’m not going to go into what if’s and possibilities as they don’t do any good, so will just let you know if something comes up and I’m ready to share. I hope you appreciate that at the moment!

Cannula Count – 4

Another one bites the dust! Luckily nothing terrible happened to it this time but as it had been in since Monday evening, I needed a fresh one. New one is in the back of my right forearm and seems to be holding up well so that’s good!

Cannula 4

Food Diary

I’ve been asked to stick to low residue, runny foods so basically on a diet of soup, custard, yoghurt, jelly and ice-cream. Sounds heavenly, and it is, for a few hours! Eating is very painful, even getting a cup of tea down kills my stomach but I’m also so bloody hungry!

Lunch (Friday)

They do have me on pretty much constant IV fluids now to keep my hydration up. Stanley seems to be waking up slowly but it’s difficult to know whether it’s just because I haven’t eaten properly or not. Am measuring input/output so we will see how he goes over the weekend.

Room Change

The dreaded announcement – we need to move you to a bay came Friday afternoon. Luckily my mum was visiting which helped so she could keep me sane. I’m not adverse to sharing (depending on who with I suppose lol) but with a stoma and measuring output etc, it can be very intimidating and embarrassing to share a bathroom. It’s pretty quiet in here though and the nurses did find me a fan as I’m not near the window!

Keeping Busy

I’ve bought a puzzle book and a Take A Break magazine (which I used to sometimes help my Grandma do, happy memories) and have my cross stitch, notepad and books. I’m currently reading the new C. L. Taylor thriller I was kindly sent to review and (spoiler alert) – it’s great! Cross stitch has been good to concentrate on as it really helps take my mind off the pain and nausea. I’m thinking of sharing some of my designs soon so keep your eye out on my social media channels as pictures will probably go up on those first!

Today I’ve had my mum and brother Adam to visit. Ste is back in Halifax now so we have chatted on the phone. It’s hard and I miss him being so far away but it’s just one of those things we have to deal with!

I also have a couple of pieces of good news to share here with you. I’ve been featured in this month’s Ileostomy Association magazine talking about the Salts Healthcare Confidence BE bags which have been a game changer for my ostomy care routine. I will also be doing my first speech at an IA event at the end of the month. There is a full day of activities and talks planned for Saturday 30th March in Birmingham and anyone interested in joining us, it would be lovely to have you! The event is ticketed and costs £10 which includes refreshments and lunch. Please feel free to ask any questions or comments and I will endeavour to let you know or find out the answer if you are interested in coming. Be so good to see lots of you there!

Going to leave this on a positive note which is good, will catch up very soon!