Q: A few months ago, you published an inquiry by someone who used milk of magnesia to help with body odor. For the past year or so, I have been plagued by an obnoxious odor coming from one (only one!) armpit. The smell resembled the spice cumin.

I tried many different deodorants and even experimented with putting hand sanitizer in my armpit, but nothing worked for more than a few hours. When I asked my internist, all I got was a mystified shrug.

After reading your column, I decided to try milk of magnesia. I put a small amount in a little plastic cup. After it evaporated into a paste in a few days, I started to apply it. It was amazing! I had no more odor, even 24 hours later. If I go back to my usual deodorant, the smell returns quickly.

A: In 2006 we received a letter from a reader: “I want to share a remedy I learned about when traveling in Brazil. Just apply milk of magnesia to your armpits. It is the best underarm deodorant!”

Since then, we have put this remedy to the test and found it surprisingly effective. Hundreds of others have also attested to the benefits of topical applications of magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) to the underarms.

Some people complain that it is too messy. Your solution, letting water evaporate, solves that problem.

Q: I just saw my doctor today and got a good health report. However, he told me to stop taking all supplements. He said there is little proof of benefit and that supplements can actually be harmful. Is this true?

A: The only way you will know whether your nutritional needs are being met by diet alone would be to have comprehensive testing. Doctors are not always aware of the contributors to potential deficiencies.

For example, people taking medications like lisinopril for high blood pressure can be low in zinc. Metformin for diabetes can impact vitamin B-1, folic acid and vitamin B-12. Acid-suppressing medications such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec) can lead to lower levels of magnesium, selenium and iron as well as several B vitamins.

To learn more about the pros and cons of nutritional supplements, you may wish to read “Fortify Your Life” by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. If it’s not in your local library, you can purchase a paperback copy from www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. You also can order it by mail. To do so, please send $16 plus $4 for postage and handling to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy (Dept. FYL), P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q: I recently started adding flaxseed to my diet by sprinkling seeds on my breakfast cereal. A friend says that I won’t get health benefits unless I grind the seeds before consuming them. Is this true? I hate to add another step to my morning routine unless it’s needed. Besides, I like the way the seeds taste.

A: Most people aren’t capable of chewing flaxseeds up, so they swallow them whole. (They are tiny.) That is why nutrition experts recommend grinding them first to release the fiber and the beneficial fatty acids. Flaxseeds are helpful for constipation and may lower cholesterol as well.

Ground flaxseed goes rancid easily, however, so it should be kept in the freezer until you are ready to use it. If you buy it ground, you wouldn’t have to use the blender or coffee grinder to break up those seeds before you have breakfast.