How many vitamins or other supplements should you take, and when should you take them? Does it really make a difference in how well your body can absorb and make use of them?
Vitamins and supplements should never replace a well balanced diet. When you eat vegetables, meats, and other natural foods then your body will be able to better absorb the vitamins and minerals that are present. They tend to be present in ratios that are ideal for quick and efficient absorption by the body.
Generally speaking, your body is only able to process so much of any particular nutrient at any given time. There are also certain substances that will help your body to absorb vitamins and minerals, and others that will block your body from absorbing them. For example, having vitamin D in your system can help your body absorb calcium, while caffeinated coffee or tea can interfere with the process.
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You need to be sure to talk to your doctor before taking new vitamins or supplements if you are taking any sorts of prescription medications or have any medical work coming up; excessive vitamins and minerals can sometimes have an averse reaction or cause problems that your doctor will be able to warn you about.
If you decide that you are going to take any sort of supplement, then you should take it with a meal unless directed otherwise. If you are going to take more than one then spread out your ingestion throughout the day.
For example, if you are going to take a daily multivitamin with breakfast every morning, then you should take any other vitamins that you want with either your lunch or dinner. A common example is somebody that takes a multivitamin with breakfast, and vitamin C with dinner. If you took the vitamin C with breakfast as well as the multivitamin, then your body would be unable to absorb most of it and you would just be generating a lot of expensive urine.
Sometimes, the dosages are too high in what you get to absorb anyway. If you have a pill splitter, you can take part of a pill at different times of the day.
If you can, try to get as many of your vitamins and minerals as you can through the foods that you eat. If you eat regularly throughout the day and include plenty of fruits and vegetables, then you probably do not need to supplement in the first place.
Blaine Moore is a running coach in Southern Maine with 20 years of training and racing experience. Download his free report, The 3 Components of an Effective Workout, to learn why the work you put in during your training is only the third most important factor that determines how well you improve as a runner and an athlete.