Does It Matter When You Take Your Supplement?
Many people shop for supplements with a specific health goal in mind. You may ask: Does this supplement support my needs? If the answer is yes, you start a regimen.
This is a great starting point, but something you may have overlooked is when and how you should take your supplement. Mixing specific supplements or taking too many supplements at the same time may affect things like absorption, the medicinal effect you feel, and may even increase certain health risks if you mix supplements with prescription or over-the-counter medications.
So, when is the best time to take supplements? Should they be taken with food or not? Also, when should you ask your doctor if there are risks associated with mixing supplements and medications?
Let’s see if we can help answer some of these questions in the article below!
When Should You Take Your Supplements?
The correct timing for when you should take a medication requires a little guesswork. Currently, there is no scientific basis for what time is best, but there seems to be some agreement that using supplements may provide optimal feelings of health during the different times of day.
Before going any further, If you’re only using one supplement, look at what the manufacturer recommends. For example, companies like Xymogen often consult with medical practitioners, nutritionists, and other scientific experts to create dosing guidelines that may be ideal for your health. If they don’t specify a time of day, take it when most convenient.
These supplements will help the body to produce the energy it needs to tackle the day’s tasks, and help to support your gut throughout the day. But be careful that your multivitamin doesn’t upset your stomach; you should also eat multivitamins with foods that contain fats to aid absorption. Consider taking probiotics about 30 minutes before eating breakfast.
If you find your energy levels drop before lunch, a healthy snack and a vitamin B12 supplement may help to get you through any morning lulls.
The afternoon is a good time to take “supportive” supplements like omega-3 and fiber because they are generally less essential than vitamins. Fiber will also help to make you feel full so you are less likely to eat a large or unhealthy snack before dinnertime. Fiber also supports digestion and may help to provide abdominal comfort later in the evening.
Additionally, take half of a calcium supplement at lunchtime. Calcium is more difficult for the body to absorb and may compete with other minerals. So taking it at lunch in a smaller dose and away from your multivitamin may help to provide optimal absorption.
Overloading the body this late in the day may make it harder to unwind or even get to sleep. So taking a digestive enzyme to help ease temporary discomfort in the stomach is good for when you’re trying to relax. Now is also a good time to take the second half of your calcium supplement. Finally, magnesium helps to support muscle relaxation, which is good for bedtime or after an evening workout.
What About Herbal or Other Supplements?
How the body reacts to herbal supplements isn’t always the same between people. Also, there isn’t a lot of research into how certain herbal supplements may interact with each other. Some supplements, like antioxidants (beta-carotene, astaxanthin, etc.) may not absorb as well when taken with minerals. Another supplement, such as Sam-e, may not be good later in the evening because its effect on hormones may cause restlessness.
If you use essential oils, ashwagandha, or similar herbs, continue to use these when you feel it is necessary, but also be aware that using too many different types of supplements at the same time or on the same day may not be ideal.
Avoid Mixing Supplements With Medications
Be careful not to mix supplements with your prescription medication or over-the-counter drug unless your doctor says it is okay. Some supplements have been found to alter the absorption and effectiveness of medications.
For example, St. John’s Wort has been suggested to lower the effectiveness for drugs that help to treat “HIV/AIDS, heart disease, depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth control pills.” Herbs like ginkgo biloba and vitamin E can combine with blood thinners and cause a higher risk of internal bleeding or stroke.
A good piece of advice is to keep a list of supplements and the size of each dosage you take each day. Share this with your doctor during visits so they can inform you of any risks or negative interactions that may occur. They may also be able to tell you if taking your supplement at a different time of day is best.
While supplements are generally labeled as being natural or derived from a natural source doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the same precautions as you would with conventional medicine prescribed by a doctor or available at a pharmacy. As with most things, too much of anything, even if it is good, can have a negative outcome on your wellbeing.