View Full Version : Vitamins while hiking

12-30-2004, 17:48
..I've been reading that many hikers load up on calories, and supplement nutrition with vitamin/mineral supplements. Knowing only a little about the different kinds of vitamin supplements available and how they work (EG: cheap vitamins are often broken down in the stomach and never get into the blood, some are not broken down in entirety and pass right through you, more expensive vitamins have very specific delivery systems to ensure absorption, some liquid vitamins are absorbed in the mouth...etc) I wanted to ask:

What specific products do people use? How have they worked for you? Can you comment on the +s, -s? (effect, cost, weight, availability along the trail et.c)


01-03-2005, 02:22
Curious, not a single reply....Should I remove myself from this forum? Am I persona non grata?

01-03-2005, 06:36
i think most hikers...dont have any food deficiencies...& arent worried about proper nutrition while on the trail....thats not either RIGHT or WRONG....its just a fact.

most are "20-somethings" & still have an iron-clad stomach...& can handle pizza "pig-outs" in every town... i dont think vitamins or proper nutrition ever enters their minds.

just my 2 cents. :D

01-03-2005, 07:10
The typical American diet makes hypovitaminosis an issue of the distant past. The assumption that price = value is a frequent error among those who insist on risking hypervitaminosis via supplementation.

If one doesn't read ingredients and consider contents of their diet, I suppose that a general B complex might be helpful, and is certainly unlikely to harm. Calcium supplementation is probably the only mineral of major import, given the trauma and muscle activity of long distance hiking. Vitamin D is unlikely to be needed given human skin exposure to sunlight. It is fairly easy to get into trouble with supplementation of fat soluable vitamins, with Vit E the most recently publicized fad problem.

Of course, the alternative medicine folks have excellent marketing and lobbying resources. Even the major pharmaceutical companies recognize the opportunities in this marketplace. Pay your money and take your chances, as you wish.

01-03-2005, 08:57
I took a multivitamin everyday. I wanted to ensure I was getting all that I needed with my high fat, high carb diet. A lot of people who hiked around me took multivitamins too.

You're moving so much physically and in digestion that over supplementation should never be a problem. Go with your gut feel and take vitamins if you wish.

My advice is a once a day vitamin (save on space and weight) from a reputable company where the pill is guaranteed to break down. I bought some cheapies on the trail and I could tell I was getting nothing from them. In the next town I bought a name-brand, more expensive vitamin and felt it was worth it.

01-03-2005, 10:53
I took a multivitamin daily (at night) during my hikes the last two summers (PCT, AT section, GDT). I'm not sure how beneficial it is. However, I'm not willing to find out, so I'll keep on taking them. The first summer I took a generic multivitamin, the next Centrum.

01-03-2005, 11:49
I took some multivitamins on my hike and after a few weeks I got rid of them because I always forgot to take them. Never missed them.

01-03-2005, 16:33
I'm planning on taking vitamins along on the hike. I've not been on any extended trip like this and don't know all the nutritional risks. At home I always plan to take a vitamin, but often forget (more often than not). I figure some prevention is better than none!

01-03-2005, 16:46
I took vitamins on and off in 2003 but I can't say that they made a noticeable difference in my health or energy levels. Doubt that I would take them with me on another thru-hike. What I do use and believe in however, is Glucosamine. Not a fan of the Chondroitin formulation, since it has yet to show any real value, but the Glucomsamine has proven benefit in terms of cartilage regeneration and healing.

The younger hikers may not appreciate the value of preserving cartilage in the knees but for us "Centrum Silver" folks it's a real issue. I started to have a bit of clicking and grinding in my knees in the years leading up to my thru-hike in 2003. I started taking Glucosamine and those symptoms completely disappeared. I hiked from Georgia to Maine without a single twitch of pain or discomfort in my knees and I know it wasn't the vitamins I was occasionally taking.

Anyhew ...that's my experience.

AT 2003

01-03-2005, 16:49
I've been taking a generic multivitamin since the day I started hiking. My doctor did tell me he wanted me to take one a day but never warned me about the quality differences out there (name brand vs. generic) I would be interestd in any more info you have on that...am I just throwing my money away?

My 83 year old parents have been keeping me supplied with an algae pill called "Sun Chorella." My mother claims it has kept them going...my dad still cuts fire wood (not as much as he used to) and bowls weekly. My mother recoved from a broken hip and still gets around like she did 20 years ago.

I took both on the Trail. Since I never had any real health problems while on the Trail (bad feet, legs, head colds etc.) I do wonder if they had anything to do with it.

01-03-2005, 17:12
[QUOTE=Skeemer]I've been taking a generic multivitamin since the day I started hiking. My doctor did tell me he wanted me to take one a day but never warned me about the quality differences out there (name brand vs. generic) I would be interestd in any more info you have on that...am I just throwing my money away?
Skeemer ...the research I've seen indicates that there is quite a difference in formulations of commercial vitamins and nutrients. There is also some good science on when and in what combination various nutritional suppliments should be taken.

Trouble is that if you wait long enough there is always one study that contradicts an earlier one. Bottom line is that we all have to do what we believe is going to make a difference. You could take Centrum and I could take the WalMart "generic equivalent". One of us might stay healthy while the other one does not. Was it the vitamins ?? or the difference in brands ?? Damned if I know. Hell, even the nutritional experts disagree.

One thing for sure ...if you take a lot of vitamins your pee changes color. Does that mean it all got filtered out in the kidneys and peed away ?? Who knows ?? I believe energy flows in the direction of thought. If you THINK that taking vitamins is good for you (and you are otherwise healthy) then mostly likely they will have a perceived benefit. Like me ...I believe that Glusosamine helps me to maintain healthy knee and ankle cartilage and you know what ?? I've got healthy knees and ankles.

AT 2003