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Dietary Supplements – The Right Intake

Dietary supplements have an enormously positive effect on the organism. But you should also take them properly. Usually, every product has a dosage recommendation on the packaging. But you still don’t know for a long time whether you should take the drug in the morning, at noon, or in the evening. Whether you should take it before meals, with meals, after meals, or even better, completely sober. And if you want to take two, three, or more dietary supplements, the question arises: Can I take them all together – or rather separately?

Take nutritional supplements correctly

We very often receive requests from readers who would like to take two, three, or more different dietary supplements but are unsure how best to combine them. This article gives you the information you need so that you can now create your own intake log.

However, before you think about how to take a dietary supplement correctly, it is important to find a suitable dietary supplement in the first place. Always focus exclusively on your personal needs.

So if someone tells you they’re doing soo well since taking this or that supplement, that doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience. The recommendations of others therefore rarely count. Instead, choose the right remedy for you according to your needs, your condition, and your goals – preferably together with your doctor or naturopath.

Take a critical look at the recommendations

Even when working with a therapist, we advise you to be skeptical if they recommend certain dietary supplements to you – possibly without taking your personal situation into account – just because they sell this or that brand. So always ask WHY you should be taking this or that.

Statements like “You’ll have a lot more energy” don’t count. That might be a reasonable explanation for the tip to practice yoga for 25 minutes a day, but not to take a dietary supplement. Instead, it should be possible to explain the ingredients and their effects on the body in concrete terms.

And if you notice any strange-sounding additives on the list of ingredients, be sure to ask about their purpose. Are they substances that you would like to avoid – e.g. B. Sweeteners or titanium dioxide – ask for an alternative preparation without these additives? Because they are not only superfluous but also harbor a certain potential for damage. Incidentally, capsules often contain fewer additives than dietary supplements in tablet form.

The right dosage

Like the choice, the dosage of your dietary supplement is mostly up to you and your needs. Because it’s no use sucking on an acerola tab that only contains 60 mg of vitamin C if you have to take 500 mg of vitamin C for therapeutic purposes, for which you should better use a high-dose acerola powder.

Some people also mistakenly believe that all they have to do is take a few pellets of spirulina and their iron needs will be met. However, if you want to remedy an iron deficiency with natural food supplements, you have to use significantly higher doses of preparations.

Avoid underdosing – check the vital substance content per daily dose

It is therefore very important to dose food supplements in such a way that they also fulfill the intended purpose. Therefore, always pay attention to how much of the desired active ingredient or vital substance is actually contained in the respective product. However, some manufacturers prefer to state the active ingredient content per 100 grams or, in the case of liquids, per liter.

But what use is it if a liquid mineral preparation contains 450 mg calcium and 350 mg magnesium per liter? Such values may appear high at first glance, but with a maximum daily dose of 30 ml of the preparation, they can hardly impress your mineral balance. Because it then only contains 15 mg of calcium and 12 mg of magnesium – completely irrelevant amounts if you consider the daily requirement of 1000 mg of calcium and 350 mg of magnesium.

You would have to drink around ½ liter of this product every day in order to be able to take in a reasonably acceptable dose of calcium and magnesium. But that’s not possible either, since it costs 35 euros per liter.

It is therefore extremely important that you keep an eye out for the number of active ingredients or vital substances per daily dose. Only when these values promise relevant quantities does the product make sense and only then can it have an effect.

Avoid Overdosing – Do not exceed recommended dosages for high-dose preparations
Other products, on the other hand, are extremely high doses, so you are already well supplied with one capsule. However, according to the motto “a lot helps a lot”, some people prefer to take double or triple the recommended dose. But that is not advisable in this case. Overdoses can lead to serious side effects in the long term and should therefore be avoided. Here the saying applies: “The dose makes the poison” and “Everything that works can also have side effects.”

So before buying a dietary supplement, always check the active ingredient or vital substance content per daily dose and what percentage of the daily requirement of the respective vital substance can be covered with a daily dose of the preparation.

A high dose or rather several small doses?

In connection with the dosage, it is also important whether the daily dose should be taken all at once or whether it might not be much better to divide the daily dose into several individual doses. Because often the absorption capacities of the body are limited, e.g. B. with magnesium or vitamin C. Therefore, if you take your dietary supplement in two to three or more individual doses, then the body can absorb much more of it overall than it would have been the case with just a single high dose.

Take magnesium as an example: it is better to take 150 mg twice a day than 300 mg once.

Take vitamin C as an example: It is better to take 350 mg three times a day or 200 mg every three hours than 1,000 mg once.

Using iron as an example: It is better to only take the required dose – especially in the case of high doses – every two days and distribute the respective dose twice, i.e. in the morning and in the evening.

Medication: what to look out for

Of course, the correct intake of dietary supplements also depends on whether you have to take medication. The intake of the same must be precisely coordinated with the dietary supplements because some preparations are absolutely not compatible here, e.g. For example, a high-dose vitamin K supplement would not be ideal if you are taking blood thinners in the form of a vitamin K antagonist (such as Marcumar (phenprocoumon) or Coumadin (warfarin).

At the same time, it is known that some medications can lead to a lack of vital substances in the long term, so – if you take medication regularly – you should specifically take those vital substances that are consumed by the respective medication.

Metformin, for example, the most common diabetes drug, is considered a folic acid and vitamin B12 robber, so when metformin is administered, folic acid and vitamin B12 supply must always be taken into account.

Many other medications that can lead to a folic acid deficiency can be found here: Folic acid deficiency

The birth control pill is another very commonly taken drug that can lead to a lack of vital substances.

Taking the medication always comes first. So if you z. For example, if you have to take L-thyroxine for the thyroid gland in the morning on an empty stomach, then of course you cannot take your shake made from bentonite and psyllium husk powder for intestinal cleansing at the same time.

In this case, you look for a different time for the shake (e.g. 2 hours after breakfast) – or you discuss with the doctor a different time for the thyroid medication, which you (which is hardly known) can just as well take in the evening can. The only important thing here is that it is taken on an empty stomach and that you should stick to the chosen time of intake. The remedy should not be taken in the morning, sometimes in the evening, but always in the morning or always in the evening.

Morning, noon, or evening?

Of course, the time of day when it is best to take a dietary supplement is also interesting. Finally, it could be that the food supplement would lead to sleep disorders in the evening because it makes you fit (e.g. Rhodiola Rosea or a high-dose vitamin B complex) or that it can be taken very well in the evening because it might even have a slightly calming and relaxing effect (e.g. magnesium, vitamin C, L-tryptophan, etc.).

In principle, however, it is better to take food supplements during the day, since then the metabolism is running at full speed to process and utilize them properly. So it’s not ideal to quickly throw in ten different preparations in the evening before going to bed – because you didn’t get to do it during the day. For dinner at 6 or 7 p.m., of course, it’s okay to take the evening dose.

How do you combine several dietary supplements?

It is not uncommon for people to have chosen not just one, but several dietary supplements, but fear that there could be interactions if they are taken together. One often reads or hears that one remedy could block another, so it is better to keep a time interval in between, e.g. B. when taking magnesium and calcium or when taking alpha lipoic acid and zinc.

Dietary supplements can usually be combined with each other

In some cases, the time interval is really necessary, but most dietary supplements can be combined very well with each other. Because keep in mind: Many different vital substances are also combined with each other in your meals.

It is therefore completely natural to take in a colorful mixture of the most diverse substances at the same time. Yes, it can be assumed that several substances that enter the body at the same time support each other and promote each other’s effects. Multivitamin preparations are, therefore – if they are of high quality – not a bad idea.

In these, however, the individual vitamins and minerals are usually contained in moderate amounts. The individual doses cover perhaps 20 to 50 percent of the respective need. In this dosage, there is hardly any mutual interference, which also applies to magnesium and calcium. Only when a lot of one substance is absorbed while too little of the other is available does the high-dose substance inhibit the low-dose.

Special cases that cannot be combined

The situation is different if funds with certain special effects are taken, such as B. highly concentrated roughage, herbal preparations (e.g. bitter substances, Rhodiola Rosea or similar), or alpha-lipoic acid. The latter is u. a. taken to bind heavy metals. If you take them together with z. B. zinc (a metal), also binds this. The alpha-lipoic acid then naturally has less capacity to bind heavy metals and at the same time, you no longer benefit from the zinc intake.

In this case, they must be taken at separate times – not only separated from other food supplements but also separately from meals (because these also contain metallic trace elements), e.g. B. 30 minutes before a meal.

Therefore, always think about the task of your dietary supplement and which intake modality is required so that the preparation can really do its job.

To eat or on an empty stomach?

In practice, the aspect of whether the respective drug should be taken before, with, or after meals is generally taken into account by the manufacturers when recommending taking it. So pay attention to what is written on the product or in the package insert.

In the previous section, we have already mentioned some supplements that are better taken on an empty stomach and not with meals. This includes

  • the concentrated roughage (psyllium husk powder, konjac powder, etc.),
  • the mineral earth (bentonite, zeolite, or generally healing earth),
  • bitter substances and
  • Special cases, such as alpha lipoic acid.

A gap of 30 to 60 minutes before a meal should be observed. With bitter substances, it should not be more than 15 minutes before a meal.

However, most dietary supplements can be taken with a meal – because on the one hand absorption can be improved and on the other hand possible side effects can be reduced.

Then there are dietary supplements, which are best taken with some fat (e.g. curcumin or the fat-soluble vitamins), others with some fruit acid (some minerals), and still others with carbohydrates (e.g. L-tryptophan), in order to to be absorbed as best as possible.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to take curcumin with a spoonful of oil or an extra helping of cream, for example. Minimal amounts of fat, such as that found in a salad (with an oily dressing), a few nuts, or a vegetable dish prepared with a little oil, are generally sufficient.

It is also known that there are drinks or foods that can impede the absorption of vital substances, e.g. B. coffee, tea, or milk. Don’t wash your supplements down with a sip of coffee, which brings us to the next topic, how some foods can affect the absorption or effects of supplements:

Influence of food on dietary supplements

Some foods affect the absorption or effects of vitamins and minerals. Some foods promote absorption, while others inhibit it. Of course, these influences are not limited to vitamins and minerals from food supplements, but generally relate to the balance of vital substances:

Influence of sugar

  • Sugar hinders the absorption of chromium, but chromium is also required for sugar metabolism. If there is no chromium, sugar is more harmful than it already is.
  • Sugar and salt increase the excretion of calcium via the kidneys, thus increasing the need for calcium or promoting a calcium deficiency.

Influence of coffee or caffeine, tea, and milk

  • Coffee, tea (not only black and green tea but also herbal teas) and milk inhibit the absorption of iron and are therefore unfavorable in the case of iron deficiency.
  • Coffee and black tea deactivate vitamin B1 in the intestine.
  • Caffeine increases the need for potassium, magnesium, and calcium and increases corresponding deficiencies because more minerals are excreted via the kidneys in the presence of caffeine.

Influence of fats

  • High-fat foods impede calcium and magnesium absorption.
  • Fat improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Small amounts of fat are sufficient for this.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids increase the vitamin E requirement.

Influence of proteins

  • Protein-rich foods increase calcium excretion through the kidneys.

Impact of phosphates

  • Phosphorus from sausage, processed cheese, and soft drinks inhibits the absorption of calcium and magnesium from the intestine.
  • Phosphorus hinders vitamin D activation.

Influence of dietary fiber

Dietary fiber generally impairs the absorption of minerals from the intestine. However, this does not apply to a slice of high-fiber wholemeal bread, a portion of oatmeal, whole grain rice, or wholegrain pasta, but to isolated dietary fiber that is taken as a dietary supplement, e.g. B. in the form of a psyllium husk shake, oat bran or pectin.
As explained above, these concentrated dietary fibers should always be taken at a distance from food or dietary supplements. Ideally 30 to 60 minutes BEFORE a meal and with plenty of liquid (a glass (200 ml) of water should be drunk for every ½ tsp of psyllium husk powder).

In a healthy diet, inhibitory foods are automatically avoided

Most foods or dietary components that are unfavorable for the intake of supplements are also rather undesirable foods that are best avoided anyway, such as sugar, dairy products, coffee, and black tea, so that people who eat healthily usually not only take up vital substances but also absorb fewer inhibitors, which then automatically reduces their need for vital substances.

The effects of phytic acid, oxalic acid, and other natural substances that are found in natural foods, however, do not affect the mineral balance to any significant extent – if the corresponding foods are carefully prepared, not consumed in excess, but eaten as part of a healthy diet and if a healthy one intestinal flora is present.

How long should you take supplements?

Of course, if you are taking a vitamin or mineral because you have been diagnosed with a deficiency, continue to take the supplement until your deficiency is corrected. Then it depends on whether you can prevent a deficiency with food in the future or whether you should take the vital substance permanently for the time being, possibly in a lower dose than that required to remedy the deficiency.

If you can rule out that you are consuming sufficient quantities of a vital substance with food (e.g. B12, omega-3 fatty acids, or vitamin D3), then of course you should take the preparation permanently in the same dose.

In the case of a probiotic or mineral earth, one usually proceeds in courses, whereby a course can last 7, 10, or 14 days, 3, 4, 5, or 6 weeks. Many people feel so good with probiotics (or other supplements) that they take them on a permanent basis. However, we recommend that you take a break from taking it every now and then. On the one hand to prevent the body from getting used to the drug too much, which could reduce its effect, on the other hand, to see whether you might not be able to do without the drug in the meantime.

Because many dietary supplements (including probiotics) are intended to stimulate the body’s self-regulation so that the organism can keep itself in a healthy balance again. A permanent intake is therefore rarely intended. The same goes for antioxidants like astaxanthin, curcumin, OPC, etc., or mood enhancers like 5-HTP, tryptophan, Rhodiola Rosea, etc.

Often one takes these remedies punctually every day for a few weeks and suddenly one forgets them, a sign that one is feeling better, the original symptoms have subsided and one no longer needs the preparations as regularly.

The mineral earth (bentonite, zeolite, etc.), Mumijo (“black gold”), and many other food supplements are means that also have an important place in the medicine chest and can therefore be taken as needed, e.g. B. if you just have heartburn or diarrhea or have eaten something wrong.

Taking dietary supplements correctly – A practical example

You now know many details about the correct intake of dietary supplements. Below is a practical example. Suppose you wanted to take the following dietary supplements:

  • Psyllium Husk Powder and Zeolite
  • probiotics
  • magnesium
  • curcumin
  • Vitamin C in the form of acerola powder
  • Chlorella
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

How do you proceed now?

First, look at the manufacturer’s recommended intake on your preparations and write them down on a table. At the same time, you decide how often you want to take the respective remedy since you can usually choose according to your needs. Write down the dose that you need or that you have decided on (or that your doctor/alternative practitioner has prescribed) in your table as well. Usually, you start with a single intake (also to test the tolerability) and then increase if necessary or if the drug was well tolerated and a higher dose is required.

You can see how easy it is to take because you can take almost any of the listed supplements with food. Now create a table in which you write down your daily routine in relation to your meals.

Your individual intake protocol for dietary supplements

Of course, every person has a different situation, so everyone will ultimately have a very individual table that suits them personally. e.g. For example, if you practice intermittent fasting with only two meals a day, you also split your supplements that need to be taken with meals into just two meals.

If you have to take medication on an empty stomach in the morning, you can take the shake e.g. E.g. half an hour before dinner or two hours after.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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