Tips for Scheduling Your Supplements

Published on March 13, 2017 by Dr. Colin O'Brien

A natural health product is only effective if its ingredients are absorbed well. It may be the best formulated product on the market – and the best product for your personal health needs – but if you are taking it at the wrong time or with the wrong foods, your body may not be able to properly utilize the nutrients!

There are many possible interactions that may occur with your supplements, thereby decreasing their absorption and effectiveness, or the safety of other medications. Here are some basic guidelines to improve your supplement scheduling:

  • Minerals should be taken away from food 

Generally speaking, minerals such as magnesium are best absorbed on an empty stomach. If taken with food, other minerals and food components may interact and reduce absorption.

  • Iron should not be taken with Calcium 

These minerals bind with one another and drastically decrease absorption. In general, iron should be taken with vitamin C to improve absorption, but it should not be taken with any minerals.

  • Zinc should be taken with food 

This will reduce the likelihood of experiencing nausea, the most common side effect of zinc supplementation.

  • All thyroid medications should be taken away from food, supplements and other medications 

Thyroid medications, including Synthroid, Cytomel, Eltroxin and desiccated thyroid, all should be taken on an empty stomach. The dosages are so minute that any interaction with other substances can alter the effectiveness in the body.

  • Calcium is best taken at nighttime 

Some research has found that calcium is best taken before bed because our bodies are more active at building bone while we sleep.

  • Strontium should not be taken at the same time as Calcium 

These two minerals compete with one another for absorption.

  • Do not take your supplements with tea or coffee 

These drinks contain flavonoids and other compounds that decrease the absorption of various minerals.

  • When possible, divide your doses 

Although some nutrients or products are designed to be taken in a high dose all at once, generally it is best to take 1 pill, twice per day instead of 2 pills, once per day.

  • Take fat-soluble nutrients with a meal containing fats 

Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat-soluble, just as Coenzyme Q10, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are. All of these are best absorbed when taken with a fat-base.

  • Don’t mix prescription medications and natural health products 

While there are many exceptions to this rule, it is generally best to avoid taking drugs at the exact same time as your supplements. It is always best to speak with your pharmacist or healthcare provider to learn more about your personal prescriptions and what should, or should not, be taken with them.

Now that you have a better idea of when to take your supplements, it is always important to remember that Natural Health Products are most effective when you take them regularly. This can be problematic for those who are always on-the-go or have trouble even remembering where they left the car keys. Here are some extra tips to ensure that you will always take your pills, even on the most hectic days:

  1. Purchase a pill container 

Organizing your morning, afternoon and evening pills into a weekly container can be one of the most effective ways to improve compliance. This way, you only need to count out each pill once per week – let’s say, every Sunday? For the rest of the week, you can just go into cruise control and don’t worry about remembering which ones to take at which times.

2. Use a reminder app 

There are many phone apps available now that can set alarms to go off at specific times of the day when you will need to take your pills. If you are the type of person to always have your phone with you, download a free app and give it a whirl.

3. Keep two sets of pills 

One at work and one at home. By doing this, you’ll never have the excuse of not having your pills on hand when you think about taking them. Depending on the product, even keeping some in your car may be beneficial so that if your alarm goes off or you remember to take them while on route, you have them ready to go!

4. Develop a routine 

Whatever your routine may be, it’s most important to have one. Eat your meals in the same location, always brush your teeth before bed and so on. These actions will allow you to develop a routine with your supplements, too. For example, if you take certain pills before bed, brushing your teeth may act as a trigger to take them.

In the end, everyone has unique and different circumstances that may make it more difficult to take their supplements. Find out what is most effective for you! And if you do have some great tips for scheduling your supplements that we missed, please leave a comment and share with us below. 

  • Shelia

    Thank you so much for this breakdown! Not necessarily easy to do but certainly worth working towards.