Read the labels and do the math

I figured this tale was too good to save until my usual Friday post.

Like almost everyone else on a weight loss program, I take supplements. For my program, it’s supplements like fish oil and multi-vitamins. As Sheldon Cooper put it:

For the most part, harmless.

For the most part.

Shortly after hitting “publish” on this week’s blog, I learned what happened when you take too much niacin, aka vitamin B3. My trainer suggested a fat burner supplement to help me shed those last few pounds and counter the return of low glycemic carbs to my nutrition plan. It works by raising the ambient temperature of my body and burns calories as the metabolism kicks in to regulate your body temperature back down to normal.

Here’s what happened:

First, though, don’t be afraid to laugh. You’ll be doing it with me, not at me.

Friday started off with my usual workout with my trainer at Free Form. It was a good one and we discussed a program to follow after I finish my sessions on Monday. Came home, had meal #2 followed by my fish oil, multi-vitamin and my B-Vitamin complex. I take B-vitamin complex to help prevent my hair from going grey. A few of my uncles were white by the time they were my age. I want to keep it and keep it brown as long as I can.

Yes, I understand this is plain and simple vanity. Deal with it. I do.

Back to our story.

Walk to the office. Chief of Staff tells me I have a meeting in ten minutes. So far normal day that week.

Go to office. Take fat burner and chase it down with water. Head to meeting.

First, I needed to head downstairs to storage to grab some stuff for the meeting. My boss is preparing to lead a delegation and the meeting was to go over the schedule and decide who gets what gift. A couple of co-workers were getting some of the gifts we keep for visiting dignitaries out of storage. One turns to me says, “Whoa! Stay in the tanning booth too long?”


“Dude, you’re super red.”

There was a mirror nearby and I couldn’t resist the temptation to see if he was pulling my leg or not.

He wasn’t.

I made cooked lobster look pale. The worst part was the redness didn’t reach the area around eyes, giving the fresh from the tanning bed look.

I go to the meeting and endure the barbs from my CoS and the protocol staff. I give as good as I get, so it’s all in fun.

Deep down, though, I’m thinking what the f***ity, f*** is going on? Since I know the fat burner is supposed to raise my temperature, anyway, I declare it a person of interest and start googling ingredients. Nothing really of any interest, various peppers in capsule form and niacin. I noticed the label didn’t include the percentage of recommended daily intake for the one listed vitamin.

Back to the fountain of all human knowledge: Wikipedia.

The recommended daily intake – about 15 mg for men

My fat burner – 20 mg

Okay, just five mg in the difference. Nothing to write home about. There’s certain assumptions built into these recommendations for daily intake that a few mg in either direction of a vitamin will not be harmful.

Wait, how much in that B vitamin complex? 100 mg

That multi-vitamin? 30 mg

Within a couple of hours, I had taken in 150 mg of the stuff. That’s just supplements and not counting any taken in from actual food sources. Meal #2 was 3 oz. of chicken with some raw veggies, including broccoli.

Ten times the recommended daily intake! Wait, didn’t Sheldon Cooper, who we know is a genius because he keeps telling us he is, say the body is just going to release the excess in our urine?

Yes, the fictional character who seems to know everything about everything except human relations did. But first, though, excess of niacin, more than 35 mg, will cause facial flushing.

It isn’t enough to cause niacin toxicity, that requires a daily dose at least 100 times the RDI, but it is a very visible warning sign that something is up.

More lessons learned:

  1. read the label and do the math.
  2. take the supplements with breakfast so I can go all Johnny Storm in the privacy of my apartment.



One response

  1. […] to be disciplined. Shortcuts didn’t help much, either. One fat burner supplement taught me a valuable lesson in reading labels. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or amateur. There are rules in […]

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