Is There an Ideal Time to Take Your Supplements?

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Customers often ask me if there is an optimal time to take their supplements. With food? Without food? And, they also wonder if there are certain vitamins and minerals that should not be taken at the same time. These are good questions.

In general, vitamins and minerals are best taken with meals in divided doses throughout the day.  Because your body can absorb and use only so much of a vitamin and mineral at one time, dividing the dosage over the course of the day will increase your utilization of these nutrients. The release of stomach acid caused by the presence of food enhances nutrient absorption. And, dietary fats assist in the transportation and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, D, E, and K. However, several supplements tend to work more efficiently in the body when taken away from food. Examples include, enzymes used to address inflammation, many herbal supplements, and certain probiotics.

I tend not be concerned with nutrients competing for absorption unless you are taking a large amount of one or a few nutrients. If you are taking fiber as a supplement, it is best to take it several hours away from your other nutrients because it can interfere with their absorption. And, if you have been advised to take an iron supplement, take it away from your calcium supplement to ensure that calcium will not inhibit its absorption.

Unless otherwise instructed by a healthcare professional, always follow the directions on the supplement label. I recommend working with a nutrition expert who can provide individualized guidance specific to your needs. This is especially important if you are taking prescription medications. Your health advisor can help you avoid possible drug/nutrient interactions and address drug-induced nutrient depletions.

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August 2011
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