What’s the point of taking any supplement if it’s not doing what you want it to do?
-By Dr Clement G. Plaatjies
This could happen for a few reasons:
- You’re not taking enough
- You’re taking enough but your body isn’t able to absorb it all
- You’re absorbing it all but your body can’t use it adequately
These are just three of the many reasons why you may not be getting the best out of your supplements.
Taking “enough” means that you’re taking what your body needs, preventing a state of deficiency. How do we do that? By actually drawing blood to see if you’re in the optimal range or possibly deficient using our Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis (see previous blog).
An inability to absorb nutrients could be due to a problem with your digestive system, or something as simple as taking two medications which interact with each other. A common example of this is calcium and iron. Taking calcium will prevent the absorption of iron when taken at the same time. In fact, the tannins in tea could do the same thing to iron. Vitamin C, on the other hand, could actually improve the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.
Sometimes, everything you take can be absorbed, but for some reason your body isn’t making it available to be used by your body cells. An example of this is glucose which cannot enter your cells unless insulin opens the door for it to be taken up and used.
The focus of this blog is actually to guide the reader as to WHEN to take your vitamins, relative to eating. This is being done to ensure that those of you taking Vitamin C and Vitamin A, etc, during the pandemic actually get the benefits of the nutrients you’re consuming. For simplicity’s sake, I will focus on a handful of nutrients but talk about specific principles.
There are, broadly speaking, two groups into which vitamins would fall; they can be either water-soluble or fat soluble (remember, blood is basically water with stuff added!). The relevance of this is that water-soluble nutrients can mix with water whereas fat-soluble nutrients cannot (because fat and water don’t mix). Fat-soluble vitamins are thus better taken after a fatty meal. These vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K. So, make sure to eat before taking any of these. It may be interesting to note that Ivermectin is also fat-soluble, something to keep in mind when taking it with a glass of water thinking you’re protected.
All other vitamins should be taken on and empty stomach. Vitamin C and all your Bs are best taken first thing in the morning!
The two elements we always advocate our patients supplement with are Zinc (improves immune function) and Magnesium (balances blood pressure, relaxes muscle, assists with gut function). The best time to take your Zinc supplement would be after a meal, about one or two hours later should do. Magnesium on the other hand can be taken at any time of the day, but we’ve found it’s best taken in the evening before bed.
Although these are only guidelines and the timing may change from patient to patient, the basic principles stand true. The best way to ensure you’re getting the most from your supplements is to firstly ensure that you actually need it, then consult your sports physician as to when and how much would be best for YOU!