The number of Americans who take dietary supplements reached an all-time high in the past year, with 76% of adults saying they regularly take vitamins, minerals and other supplements. There’s just one problem: Many people have picked up some bad supplement habits over the years. This spring, spring-clean your supplement habits. We’ve outlined some of the most common mistakes people make when taking supplements, and how you can do it better.
Do This, Not That: The Best Supplement Habits For Better Health and Nutrition
Don’t Do This…
1. Don’t Overestimate the Strength of Supplements
Ideally, it’s always better to get your nutrition from whole, plant-based foods, advises Harvard Medical School. We simply can’t beat the full spectrum of nutrients and compounds offered to use by Mother Nature when we bite into an apple or enjoy a crisp salad.
“Experts agree that the best way to get the nutrients we need is through food,” explains the university. “A balanced diet — one containing plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — offers a mix of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (some yet to be identified) that collectively meet the body’s needs. Maybe what counts is the synergistic interactions of these nutrients — which might also help explain why trials of single nutrients often don’t pan out.”
You should use supplements to fill nutritional gaps in your diet, and not as the end-all, be all.
2. Don’t Take Supplements on an Empty Stomach
We get it — sometimes, you’re extremely busy and scarfing down your vitamins with your coffee on the way out the door is all you have time for. But most, if not all, supplements benefit from being taken with some sort of meal. For example, fat-soluble immunity boosters like vitamin A and vitamin D need the fat in your food in order for your body to properly metabolize these vitamins. Also, avoid taking supplements with coffee, as it can interfere with absorption and retention.
Plus, supplements on an empty stomach can sometimes cause nausea and other gastrointestinal problems.
3. Don’t Take Vitamins in a Proverbial Vacuum
Just because something is all-natural doesn’t mean it’s completely harmless. It’s easy to overdo our supplement intake when we don’t consider our diet. For example, if you’re pregnant, be cautious of taking a vitamin A supplement on days when you are eating a lot of dietary vitamin A.
These days, many foods come “enriched” or with vitamins added. And even without enrichment, some foods are very high in specific nutrients. Pay attention to what you’re eating, and think about how your supplements fit into your overall diet.
When in doubt, always talk to a registered dietitian or your doctor about any and all of your supplement habits and supplement concerns.
…But Make Sure You Do This:
1. Pair Your Supplements Correctly
Some vitamins and minerals increase each other’s bioavailability (meaning they make it easier for your body to absorb one or both of the nutrients).
Example nutrient timing and pairing strategies that support better nutrient absorption include:
- Taking iron and vitamin C together
- Not taking too much calcium at once (your body can only absorb so much of this mineral at a time, and excess calcium may block your absorption of other nutrients)
- Taking vitamin D and calcium together
- Pairing vitamin B12 and an acidic food or drink
- Taking your probiotic supplement with a glass of milk or kefir
2. Consider Form and Function
Timing your supplements for maximum absorption and benefits isn’t just about improving your body’s uptake of the nutrients. It’s also about harnessing the benefits of whatever it is that you’re taking.
For example, magnesium is known to help you relax. It may thus make the most sense to take magnesium supplements in the evening before bed. Meanwhile, B-vitamins tend to be energizing and may make more sense to have in the morning.
Review the purpose of the supplements you use, and think about when your body could most benefit from each supplement.
3. Provide For Your Immune System’s Other Requirements
In their focus on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, many people forget one core component of their immune system: Thymic proteins. Give your immune system what it needs with BioPro-Plus 500, a unique blend of five bio-identical thymic proteins. This 100% natural immune system supplement is clinically proven to increase your T-cell counts as an aid to restore your body’s own natural immune response.
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