Do you have a medicine cabinet full of supplements that didn’t do the job they were meant to? If this sounds like you, you are not alone. It is easy to buy supplements that promise to make you feel better, but to see the result, it is important that you not only take them consistently, but at the correct dose and at the right time of day so that they can work optimally.
Is supplementation right for you?
Everybody is unique and each body has different needs based on your genetic makeup, diet and lifestyle. Because of this, a supplement that worked well for your friend, may not be the right one for you. By learning to listen to your body, you will realise that it provides you with signs to let you know when you need specific nutrients. For instance, if you suffer from poor wound healing, you might be lacking in zinc, cramping of the muscles or an eye twitch may indicate the need for more magnesium and cracks on the corners of the mouth could be a sign of vitamin B2 deficiency.
What time of day is best?
Supplements should generally be taken daily, as the body does not have stores for all nutrients. If you are not eating a variety of nutrients daily, or your needs are higher than what is considered normal, you could consider taking a supplement. However, it is important to note different supplements should be taken at different times of the day. Generally, the morning is a good time to take a vitamin B complex, as they can help to support energy levels and have a stimulating effect on the body. Comparatively, magnesium is best taken in the evening, as it helps to soothe the nervous system. Vitamin C should be taken in small doses throughout the day, the body can only absorb certain amounts of vitamin C at one time. Zinc should be taken before or after meals, away from other supplements and medication for optimal absorption. If you are taking a range of supplements, and are unsure how they interact with each other, it is best to separate doses by at least 2 hours.
What is the correct dose?
Our body requires a range of nutrients for a variety of basic functions. Increased stress, reduced sleep, intensive exercise, processed foods and environmental toxins all increase our need for more nutrients. The recommended dietary intake (RDI) is the suggested level of nutrients required by the body to avoid a deficient state. However, to maintain a good level of health, in the contemporary world, we need more than the RDI. If your nutrient levels are low, then you may need to take a higher dose than usual. Seeing a health professional and getting personal advice as to what may suit you best is recommended. It may take longer for you to see results if there are current on-going health issues. When taking a supplement, consistency really is key.
Diet and Lifestyle factors
A supplement should be taken to support, not replace a well-balanced diet. To ensure optimal levels of nutrients, eat an animal-based diet with seasonal, local produce. This will ensure that the produce has been recently picked, travelled less and has been grown and raised in optimal conditions. These factors are important for a high nutrient value and will support your health and well-being. However, it is not only the food we eat that affects our health; beverages and medication also increase our need for nutrients. If you regularly consume alcohol, you will likely need to supplement with magnesium, as alcohol increases the urinary excretion of magnesium, as do certain medications. Long-term stress depletes our body of magnesium and other vital nutrients. A diet high in supplemental calcium can also reduce magnesium levels. Finding the right balance of nutrients is important for absorption and for the best effect. The oral contraceptive pill and low levels of gastric acid can reduce the absorption of vitamin B12, statins can reduce coenzyme q10 and caffeine reduces zinc absorption. If you are taking medication, it is important to talk to your health professional about interactions and side effects.
We are so lucky to have a range of supplements available that will support our health and wellbeing; however, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the plethora of products available. Some supplements have precautions if used alongside prescription medications, so it is recommended to talk to your health professional about your supplement regime. Taking supplements correctly: the right dose, at the right time, will ensure the best results for you and your family.