9 Ways to make your vitamins work better

Here’s how to get the most out of every pill

1. Take them with food

The digestive process helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals. Taking supplements on a full stomach aids absorption and also helps prevent nausea, a common side effect. Of course, there are exceptions—in this case, it’s iron. Take it on an empty stomach for better absorption.

 

2. How they work with meds

Vitamins and minerals can interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications, sometimes making one or the other less effective. For example, calcium may interfere with the absorption of levothyroxine, a thyroid medication. On the other hand, supplements sometimes help drugs work better. Studies show that antidepressants are more effective when taken with omega-3- rich fish oil.

The worst-case scenario: when supplements excessively amplify a medication’s effects. For instance, fish oil, vitamin E, and gingko are natural blood thinners, so if you take any of them together with an anticoagulant, your blood may become too thin, raising the risk for internal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for guidance before starting on any supplements.

 

3. Pair them

There are vitamins and minerals that work well together. Vitamins D and K2 help calcium absorption, and vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.

 

4. Keep these apart

Some vitamins and minerals are best taken separately. For example, zinc and copper—in large doses—compete with one another, as do iron and zinc. Calcium inhibits iron absorption, so take iron in the morning before eating, and calcium in the evenings, when it can calm your mood.

 

5. Help them work well

The live bacteria and yeasts in probiotics aid digestion and help nutrients be assimilated. Plant-based digestive enzymes help with the absorption of nutrients that may normally get destroyed by stomach acid.

 

6. How to store them

The cultures in probiotics need to be stored and shipped cold to stay active. Likewise, omega-3 fatty-fish oil tablets should be kept in a cool dark place so they stay effective. Some experts even suggest freezing them for this reason.

 

7. Go natural

While studies of vitamin E are mixed, it’s a powerful antioxidant, and should be taken in its natural rather than synthetic form if possible. This way your body will get more of the good stuff. Look for a D on the label, which indicates that it is natural; DL indicates synthetic.

 

8. Watch the caffeine

Your morning coffee may interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals and may also leach calcium from your bones. Minimise these risks by consuming no more than three cups a day, getting enough calcium, plus vitamin D, and waiting about 15 minutes after your coffee before you take your vitamins.

 

9. Schedule them

B Vitamins tend to give people energy and are, therefore, best taken at the start of the day. Other supplements can make you drowsy, so they’re best to take in the evenings. Magnesium is an example of this: it has a calming effect.