Staying healthy requires a variety of disciplines including exercise, avoiding toxins, and eating healthy. These tasks come with their own challenges and difficulties but one’s diet can be particularly tricky.
Eating right does not simply mean avoiding French fries and milkshakes. Diet is truly about providing one’s body the nutrients it needs. Unfortunately, American’s appear to have difficulty in this arena. According to a study published in 2011, titled “Food, Fortification, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients?” many Americans are not getting the right type or sufficient number of nutrients from their diet. Perhaps the easiest and most effective way to resolve nutrient deficiencies and dietary pitfalls is by employing supplements.
Dietary, nutritional, and medical supplements provide a bevy of benefits. However, it is important to have a solid understanding of the general rules or guidelines associated with them. As you read on, you will find a selection of helpful supplement tips that will support your endeavor into the world of supplementation.
Should I Take All My Supplements at Once?
In many cases, it is perfectly fine to take multiple supplements at once. However, splitting up one’s vitamins, and nutrients throughout the day may be more beneficial. This is particularly accurate if one is taking more than six different supplements or medications. By staggering when pills are taken, there is reduced risk of poor interaction between different compounds. For example, calcium should generally be taken at the end of the day away from other supplements because, depending on the types of calcium, it can impact other medications. When increased levels of calcium are present in one’s system, that person may experience reduced iron absorption. Because calcium is a common inclusion in many multivitamins, it is possible that the benefits of iron are negated if it is taken with supplements that include calcium.
Do I Need to Take My Supplements with Food?
Some supplements require that there be food present in one’s system while others work best when one has an empty stomach. Recognizing the difference is important.
In general, supplement efficacy improves in the presence of food or a full stomach. Many supplements can cause gastric difficulties including nausea and heartburn if they are taken on an empty stomach. This is an additional benefit to taking supplements with food. Many people benefit when taking supplements with a proper amount of fat. Common fat-soluble supplements that work best when fat is present include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Enjoying a meal or snack containing a healthy amount of fat helps improve nutrient absorption and reduces the risk of stomach irritation. Of course, this a general suggestion and there are supplements that work better when fat is not as prominent in one’s system.
Some supplements and vitamins when taken in high doses actively cause symptoms such as indigestion and gastrointestinal discomfort. If incorrect intake level is the cause, then a full or empty stomach will likely have little influence over how one feels when taking a supplement. Optimizing one’s dosage or spreading out consumption of the supplement throughout the day may lead to relief. Speaking with a physician can help one discover what dosage works best for them.
Is There a Perfect Time for Supplementation?
Regarding when supplements should be taken, there are no hard rules. Timing of supplement intake is less important than taking the supplement regularly at the same point during the day.
For some people, taking all their supplements at breakfast works best. Others prefer to spread out their supplements across breakfast, lunch, dinner, and during a snack. No matter the supplement schedule, it is best to listen to one’s body and follow a schedule that allows for the best absorption and feeling of wellness.
Many people tend to take their supplements at breakfast because they are easy to incorporate into a morning routine. Furthermore, multivitamins and B-Complex formulations frequently contain a notable number of B vitamins which help increase cellular metabolism and improve energy production. This can be greatly beneficial when one is just starting their day. However, if one is taking their supplements in the morning it is important to monitor how many they are taking and if they are eating a sizable enough meal. If one regularly experiences gastrointestinal discomfort in the morning, it may be due to their supplement regimen or a lack of food in their stomach. To alleviate these issues one can try taking their supplements at a different time of the day or alter the amount of food consumed with their supplements.
General Supplement Safety
The strictest rule regarding supplementation is to always read about and research a supplement fully before incorporating it into one’s routine. This can help one avoid poor interactions, which may be more common than one imagines. According to Dr. Leo Galland, as stated in a 2010 article in the Huffington Post, “statin drugs — which lower cholesterol — can block the effects of vitamin E, while vitamin E interferes with the effects of the statin. Statins and vitamin E should not be taken together.” This is only one example of possible negative supplement interactions that should be avoided if possible. In some cases, like the interaction between iron and calcium, a simple shift of timing is all it takes to alleviate the issue. Regardless of the supplement, vitamin, or medication, it is critical to understand the various possible interactions it may have.
With so many quality supplements available on the market it can be challenging to find the right one. Talking with a physician and doing research on specific brands, types, and associated benefits can help one discover the best combination for their unique situation. By following these simple supplement guidelines one can achieve better health through optimized nutrition.