Hello there! I am planning to write a post later today about a recipe that I have made “PKU friendly”, but in the meantime, I wanted to write a post about supplements. Please keep in mind that I am neither a dietitian nor a doctor, and that the supplements that I take are what works for me, but might not work for everyone. OK, with that said, here are my thoughts on supplements.
Maybe it is because of PKU, but I tend to enjoy reading up on the latest nutritional research and what is best for our bodies (kind of a nerd that way, I guess). During my reading, I have come across the idea that a well balanced diet is the best way to get nutrients. When you think about the PKU diet, we are missing lots of vitamins, minerals and *ahem* amino acids other than phenylalanine. Now, this is where the formula comes in. I switched in early 2013 to the Vitaflo PKU Coolers 20, and I LOVE them. They are a pre-mixed, easy to drink formula. My previous experiences with other formulas did not work for various reasons (lophlex LQ was way to acidic for me and caused nausea, even when I drank it with water), but the Vitaflo coolers have been awesome.
Currently, I take 1000 milligrams of tyrosine per day. Throughout my life, my tyrosine has bounced around and sometimes required supplementation. I started taking tyrosine in May after my doctor informed me that my tyrosine levels were low. I noticed a HUGE difference taking the supplement. In people with PKU, we tend to have low tyrosine because we don’t convert phenylalanine into tyrosine like non-PKU people do. Low tyrosine can result in several side effects, and the most notable for me was fatigue. I feel like I have so much more energy with the tyrosine!
I also take a B-complex vitamin daily. I started taking this one on my own, but my doctor agreed that it was a good idea, since the PKU diet does not include many sources of B vitamins (except the formula). If you take a B vitamin, I recommend taking it with a meal, so it won’t upset your stomach.
Lastly, I take two flax seed oil supplements daily. I wanted to take a supplement that provided DHA, which is an essential fatty acid that plays a role in brain health. I also knew that the PKU diet does not really allow for foods that have omega fatty acids (such as fish, etc.). I also knew that I was not very thrilled about taking fish oil. I have been told by friends and family members that take fish oil that it can lead to “fishy burps”, and that sounds a wee bit repulsive to me. However, flax seed oil seemed to be a nice compromise. I get healthy fatty acids in my diet and I don’t have to worry about burping up fish oil.