Throughout our history, humans have been putting things into our mouths and involuntarily ingesting microorganisms and bacteria. Some are bad for us, but some of the billions of microbes present in our guts are vital to our health. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” There are about 1,000 species of bacteria from four taxonomic groups living in our gut, and, although the population is highly dynamic, it is critical in developing and shaping the gut immune system, and it’s vital for us to keep
A natural health product is only effective if its ingredients are well absorbed. It may be the best formulated product on the market, and a perfect personal fit, but if you are taking it at the wrong time or with the wrong foods, your body may not be able to properly use 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 Without 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 tend to bind with one another, which can 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, should all be taken on an empty stomach. The dosages are so minute that anyinteraction with other substances can alter the effectiveness in the body.
Calcium is Best Taken at Night Time
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 caffeinated beverages 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 one pill twice per day instead of two 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 Co-enzyme Q10, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are. All of these are best absorbed when taken with fat-based foods, such as cheese, avocado and eggs.
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 alwayson-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:
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 outeach pill once per week—let’s say, every Sunday? For the rest of the week, you can just go into cruise control and not worry about remembering which ones to take at which times.
Use a Reminder App
There are many phone apps available so that you 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!
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!
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. At the end of the day, everyone has unique and different circumstances that may make it more difficult to take their supplements. The key thing is to find out what is most effective for you!