HIGHLAND PARK – ‘Tis the season where many people let themselves go between holiday parties, too little sleep, and an abundance of tempting foods that are rich on taste and poor on nutrients. ‘Tis also the cold & flu season. How do you shore up your immune system?
“Adequate sleep is important for your immunity, along with maintaining your weight, drinking lots of liquids and electrolytes, and taking the right combination of vitamins D, magnesium, C and B,” said Dr. Romy Block, an endocrinology and metabolism specialist from Highland Park. In 2014, she founded VousVitamin.com with her neighbor and business partner, internist Dr. Arielle Levitan. They also co-authored the book “The Vitamin Solution,” which was published this fall by She Writes Press, a division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC.
The Highland Park doctors developed vousvitamin.com after learning from patients that they were confused about which vitamins to take. “We wanted to provide a multivitamin tailored to their own needs,” said Dr. Levitan. “We spent several years researching our products, and picking apart multi-vitamins to determine what was useful and what was safe. We wanted to create products of the purest ingredients without lots of additives.”
They designed an online survey that asks questions about such things as diet, exercise, and overall health.
“Diet, exercise and where you live can affect your vitamins,” said Dr. Levitan. “For example, living in Chicago we’re not going to have enough vitamin D.” On the other hand, “too much vitamin D can cause fatigue, kidney stones and lethargy. It can also cause a higher mortality,” she added.
There’s a section in “The Vitamin Solution” called “Vitamin Horror Stories,” detailing cases where people have been hospitalized for taking too many vitamins. “Many people don’t realize that vitamins are medication,” said Dr. Block.
The doctors pointed out that there are also risks with taking herbal supplements.
“Many herbals don’t contain what they say they contain, so you have to be extremely careful,” said Dr. Levitan. “In addition, taking too much vitamin C can cause kidney stones and gastrointestinal (GI) problems. At the back of the book is a vitamin index that tells what you should take, what happens if you’re deficient and what happens if you take too much.”
Iron is a common deficiency in people who don’t eat meat. “You won’t absorb iron in your GI tract unless you take vitamin C,” said Dr. Levitan.
“The Vitamin Solution” also provides insights on weight loss, hair loss, preserving memory and screening tests.
When the doctors were asked how they have the energy to run a vitamin business, see patients and write a book, Dr. Block replied without missing a beat, “We take our vitamins.”