Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thank God I'm Getting Enough Niacin

I took that RealAge thing last week, having followed a link from CatAge. I found out that:

Thursday night I was on the "12 Items Or Less" line at Trader Joe's, and it snaked through the vitamin aisle. I had plenty of time to read all the labels. I said to myself, "Aw, that's a waste of money and space and you don't need them if you're eating right."

And then I answered myself, "But first of all, you don't eat right. And second of all, they weren't a waste of space and money when you bought them for terminally ill pets and people to cadge another five minutes of good-quality life out of them. You used to get up at six to crush a third of a glucosamine between two spoons because Pongo had arthritic knees, but when it comes to yourself, you feed you Mintz's Blintzes."

So I picked up one bottle each of Trader Darwin's ("Survival of the Fittest!") Multi-Vitamins with Anti-Oxidants, Joint Supplement, and Super-B Complex. When I got home, I found a give-away pill organizer that I'd brought home for the pets or Jim or some other non-me being, and portioned out all of the supplements I'd need at breakfast, along with a couple of prescription medications.

The next morning I washed them down one by one, then ate my usual meal and sat with my coffee enjoying NY1. Suddenly, I noticed my face was getting tight and itchy. I chalked it up to the dryness of the steam heat, or the sample of moisturizer I'd tried the night before. Then I felt my face getting hot. Hot flashes? I've had them. They don't itch. Then the feeling spread to parts of me that I was sure I had not moisturized.

I got up and ran to the bathroom mirror. My face was beet red, and the color was spreading to my neck and arms. Omigod, I'm having a terrible allergic reaction to something and I'm going to die, and I won't be able to go to work. I put a cold washcloth against my face. My heartbeat and respiration seemed normal, so apparently I wasn't going into anaphylactic shock. After about twenty minutes, the rash went away completely.

For the next two days, I couldn't imagine what had set this off. I was at the tail end of a course of antibiotics. Did I put two antibiotics in the pill organizer thinking that one was a vitamin? Did I accidentally OD on prescription medications like some kind of vitamin-enriched Heath Ledger?

Then it happened again this morning, with no antibiotics. And I Google'd "allergic reaction to Trader Joe's vitamins" and the first site I got was the blog of comic Kris Kimmel, who had had an identical experience to mine a week ago. The doc at the emergency room told her it was a Niacin flush from the B-complex.

I looked up more info on Niacin flushes and apparently they're a fairly common thing, and the way people usually find out what they are is when they get one and think they're getting some deadly allergic reaction. But they're actually supposed to be a Good Thing; it means your capillaries are expanding and making your circulation work better.

Also, you supposedly don't get them if you're a schizophrenic. So that's good; I know I'm not a schizophrenic.

Supposedly, the flush isn't as intense if you take the B after a meal instead of on an empty stomach.

Also, the next person who Googles "Niacin flush" will get my blog.

So I'll keep taking the vitamins, and starting tomorrow, I will start eating the cats' food. It's working for them, and soon my eyes will be bright and my fur will be shiny and I will jump to the top of the refrigerator.

Update, Thursday morning: I took the vitamins after breakfast instead of before, and didn't get the flush. So that's it. Or I'm a schizophrenic.

Sorry to have such a good laugh at your expense, but the very same thing happened to me. One day in my young adulthood, I had this notion that I should ammend my diet by dipping into Dad's Niacin bottle. OMG! It was ... interesting? a rush? a glimpse of hot flashes? generally freaky? A very intense and prickly sensation and one I never forgot nor repeated.
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