Lots of us like to think that we are taking good care of our body by taking supplements to support various health needs and deficiencies. However, if we don’t take them at the right time, or with the right food or supplements, we could be doing more harm than good to ourselves. In order to maximize benefits we get from supplements we should learn how to pair them or mix and match with other supplements and foods in order to increase their absorption.
Absorption is a complex bodily function that most of us don’t take into consideration when we take our supplements. Delivery system used and the stability of the supplement are just two of the factors that influence how well our body absorbs them. When we pair up certain supplements they end up performing better in our body. Some supplements should completely be taken separately from each other or even from some medications due to various side effects that could be triggered.
Before starting yourself on any new supplement, consult your medical provider for the benefits of the supplement and possible interaction with medications you already take.
Most people take calcium in order to improve their bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Calcium is also important for muscles to maintain their strength and it keeps heart healthy. Both men and women can develop osteoporosis if their daily intake of calcium and vitamin D is low. Also, it is important to note that girls ages 9 to 18 can be deficient in calcium. Calcium intake should be spread out through the day as our body can’t absorb too much calcium at once. It is recommended not to take more than 500 mg of calcium at one time.
TAKE CALCIUM WITH…
- vitamin D
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- vitamin K
AVOID CALCIUM WITH…
- other mineral supplements
- some prescription medication (check with your medical doctor)
The best source of vitamin D is direct sun. It is recommended we expose our skin, without sunscreen every day for fifteen minutes to up to 2 hours in order to absorb vitamin D that we need. That may be easier said than done due to damage that sun can do to our skin if left without sunscreen for too long or due to time of the year and climate we’re in. People with paler skin produce vitamin D easier than people with darker skin. People with fair skin may produce an adequate amount of vitamin D in only 15 minutes of sunshine exposure whereas a dark-skinned person may take up to 2 hours a day.
People that live in the northern part of the hemisphere in countries such as Canada are at risk for low levels of vitamin D due to long winters when fewer UV rays reach us. For example, UV rays in Canada are strongest from April to August when skin can more easily synthesize vitamin D3 from sunlight.
Researchers have found that adequate amounts of vitamin D3 decreases mortality. According to one study, vitamin D3 is 87% more effective than vitamin D2 in raising and keeping vitamin D3 concentrations in the body. A more recent study has found that vitamin D3 is more effective than vitamin D2 at maintenance of healthy blood serum levels of vitamin D during long winter months. You can take it in the form you prefer such as capsule, drops, liquid or tablet.
TAKE VITAMIN D WITH…
- food or empty stomach
- at dinner rather than breakfast for increased absorption
AVOID VITAMIN D WITH…
- certain medications can interact with vitamin D, so check with your doctor or medical provider for dosage and safety recommendations
Magnesium is extremely important mineral for that is responsible for various cellular functions in our body. Steady and adequate levels of magnesium are important for blood sugar regulation, heartbeat, muscle and nerve functioning, and vitamin D absorption. In older adults, magnesium increases intestinal absorption that normally decreases as we age.
Magnesium can be taken internally in form of a tablet, capsule, spray, chewable tablet liquid, oil, drink mixes and it can also be applied topically to the skin if you find that oral magnesium supplement irritates your intestinal lining. People that get leg cramps at nighttime or pregnant women that experience leg cramps may alleviate those symptoms by applying topical magnesium gel.
TAKE MAGNESIUM WITH…
- vitamin D
AVOID MAGNESIUM WITH…
- other minerals
Read more on Magnesium: Increase Magnesium to Reduce Anxiety and Depression
Multivitamins contain various nutrients including minerals, vitamins and amino acids. In a daily multivitamin, vitamins can be either water soluble (like the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C) or fat soluble (like vitamin D and E). Fat soluble vitamins are those that are dissolved in fat first and then delivered by the bloodstream. Excess vitamins are being stored in the liver for future use. Water soluble vitamins are dissolved in the water and body is not storing them for future use. Therefore, water soluble vitamins need to be replenished on daily basis.
TAKE MULTIVITAMINS WITH…
- food so that fat soluble vitamins can be easily digested and absorbed
- take a multivitamin within 30 minutes of a meal
AVOID MULTIVITAMINS WITH….
- vitamin C and vitamin B12 shouldn’t be taken close to bedtime as they can have stimulating and sleep disrupting effects on your body.
Iron deficiency can cause anemia in the blood so it is important to confirm with your doctor or medical provider if you suspect you might be deficient. A simple blood test can determine your true iron level and accordingly a supplement may be prescribed. Make sure you consult with your doctor first as excessive iron intake can be harmful to our body. Iron can be taken in a form of tablet or liquid.
TAKE IRON WITH…
- glass of orange juice or vitamin C as vitamin C helps the body absorb iron in the gut, while helping regulate iron uptake and metabolism
- food in order to reduce possibility of an upset stomach
AVOID IRON WITH…
- calcium as it can decrease iron absorption (for example, having a beef cheeseburger is a bad combo)
- grapefruit juice as it can affect how some medications work
- other medications, check with your doctor or medical provider first for possible interactions
Probiotics are extremely beneficial on the digestive and immune system. Two most popular strains of probiotics bacteria are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Certain probiotics respond better to certain conditions and you should consult with your doctor for an advice on the best strain of probiotic in order to meet your needs.
Liquid probiotics are beneficial in a way that liquids easily distribute healthy bacteria all along our digestive tract. Keep in mind that most liquid probiotics (such as yogurt and kefir) need to be refrigerated otherwise they will lose its potency.
Researchers have developed a coating for those that prefer taking their probiotics in a supplement form. This coating is both acid and heat stable so that probiotics can survive stomach acid for delivery to the intestines.
TAKE PROBIOTICS WITH…
- meal that contains healthy fats or
- 30 minutes before meal for best absorption
- take probiotic supplement with milk rather than water in order to ensure their survival in the intestines
Read more on benefits of Probiotics: Probiotics as Relief of Anxiety and Depression