Our busy lifestyle demand so much from our bodies and our minds. The daily struggle to stay on top of absolutely everything has seen many of us reach for a bottle of vitamins and supplements to fulfil or health and nutritional needs.
But does it really help? Is taking your daily vitamins and supplements all it’s cracked up to be?
The BIOPLUS team answered our burning questions about vitamins to help us understand how they work and if we really need them as much as we think we do.
When is the best time of day to take supplements?
There is no scientifically recommended time to be taking your vitamins, but the type of vitamin you are taking can be more effective in specific circumstances, not because of the time of day but rather because of how it is absorbed into the body.
There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. The human body does not naturally produce or store water-soluble vitamins. People need to get these vitamins from food or as supplements.
Vitamin C and most B vitamins are water-soluble.
They absorb best on an empty stomach, so it may be good to take them first thing in the morning, 30 minutes prior to eating, or two hours after a meal.
People tend to take B vitamins to boost energy and reduce stress. It makes sense to take them in the morning.
Fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K. As these dissolve in oil, they should be taken alongside meals to enhance absorption.
Examples of minerals include Iron, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc. These should be taken daily with food, to avoid possible side effects like an upset stomach.
Should your daily mix of supplements change with changes in your lifestyle?
There are instances when it makes sense to change the supplements you’re taking.
When winter is around the corner, boosting immunity with extra Vitamin C is a good idea. If you’re not getting much sunshine, it might be worth considering supplementing with extra Vitamin D.
If you decide to try going vegetarian, or you’re eating less meat than usual, keep an eye on your Vitamin B12 and Iron levels. In times of increased stress or deadlines, consider increasing your B-vitamins, Magnesium and Omega 3.
Can you develop a tolerance to supplements over time?
Tara Diversi, the spokeswoman for the Dietitians’ Association of Australia, says, “When it comes to food supplements, there has been a long-standing misconception that a little bit is good and more is better.”
“I think people tend to go ‘Okay I need this vitamin and that vitamin’ without getting their diet assessed to see whether it is actually deficient.”
What’s more, the body can become dependent on high doses of vitamins. When you stop, the body is no longer efficient at absorbing them from food and you can become nutrient deficient, even though your diet may be healthy.
Should you continue taking your supplements if you’re ill and on medication?
When you’re taking antibiotics, your supplements may not play well with your antibiotic. Take a close look at your medications and your supplement list to determine whether you should continue taking vitamins and minerals while taking the antibiotic. Some vitamins and minerals may alter the way your body absorbs the antibiotic. Also, an antibiotic can deplete certain nutrients.
Tell your doctor or health practitioner when you are prescribed antibiotics if you take supplements or multivitamin with minerals. This way, they can advise you on whether to continue taking the supplements while on the antibiotics.
Can you take supplements instead of having a balanced diet, and still be healthy?
In general, it is better to avoid supplements and meet your nutritional needs with a healthy and balanced diet.
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