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When and why should you eat supplements?

When and why should you eat supplements?

Ever wondered why so many people pop supplements? What nutrients are never quite present in our daily intake? If yes, I have two words for you - VITAMINS and MINERALS. We all learnt in school that vitamins and minerals carry out crucial functions of the body. They each have a specific, irreplaceable role. And if our body lacks any nutrient, then it results in various health concerns. The remedy to all this is to consume a balanced diet. But does any diet deliver all essential nutrients? Afraid not. So, our body is always left wanting. Craving for vitamins if you will. And that’s where the supplements come in. To fulfil our daily dietary requirements. So now that you know you need these vitamins, you just get them and start popping them whenever you like? Right! Wrong. There’s a whole science behind them but before we go there, here’s a nugget of wisdom -

You are NOT what you eat! You are what your body absorbs!

So, the big question is – when is the best time to take vitamins? To answer that, one must remember that not every vitamin breaks down the same way in your body. And like my ex once said – timing is everything! So, take your vitamin at a time of day that will give you the most benefit. For instance, some vitamins are best taken with or after a meal, while others are best taken on an empty stomach. Not to sound like a military regime but eating the vitamin every day at the same time will not only form a healthy habit but also help you get the most out of your vitamin supplement.   

Our body works in a very harmonious manner; fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals are like a bunch of good friends who aid each other’s absorption in the system. All the fat we ingest increases absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamin D, multivitamins, and omega-3. Multivitamins consist of both water- and fat-soluble nutrients. So if you take your vitamin D with a meal that contains high proportions of fat, the chances you absorb vitamin D are raised by 32%.

Once you figure out what type of supplements you need, you move to the next important step of understanding when to consume them. We have made it really simple and jotted them down for your go-to book.

  • Prenatal vitamins typically include both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins in one tablet and are best taken with food. But individual’s health is an important factor here, so their consumption should be advised by a doctor.
  • Vitamins B, B9 (folate), and C are water-soluble vitamin, so pop one on an empty stomach before breakfast or 2-3 hours after eating.
  • Vitamins A, E, D, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, so take with food containing fat to ensure proper absorption.
  • Omega-3 should be split in two doses to avoid any acid reflux or bad after-taste.
  • Magnesium makes you sleepy, so having it just before bedtime would be wise.

A word of caution is that if any supplement makes you nauseous, take them with dinner or a bedtime snack (let’s face it, we all grab something before sleeping) so that you sleep through any side effects.

Some nutrients and food components reduce the absorption of other nutrients when they are had together. To avoid any overlapping, take supplements separately and between meals. And to not start Hunger Games inside our body, avoid taking multivitamins with other vitamin or mineral supplements so they don’t compete for absorption.

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