Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RNIf you’re new to the supplement world, you probably know how confusing getting started with supplements can be.
With so many options, it’s hard to know what to do, and it’s very easy to make mistakes.
Well, we know exactly how you feel, because we’ve been there too. So we're going to try to make it a little easier for you.
Below are three basic (but essential) tips that could make a huge difference to just about anyone new to the world of supplements.
Supplement Mistake 1: Taking Them IncorrectlyWe get asked this question very often here at Life Extension:
“How should I take my supplements? Should I take them with or without food? Should I take them with or without my medications?”
Does it really matter? The answer is yes.
The best thing to do is to look at the product label. Any supplement worth taking should explain how to take it right there on the bottle.
But we know, we know — everybody likes a rule of thumb to run with, so here are a few:
- Multivitamins are best taken with food. Why? Because this will ensure you don’t irritate your stomach. Some people are just a little more sensitive than others, and if you’re like them, taking a multi without food may give you a stomach ache.
- Fat soluble nutrients are best taken with a meal that contains fat. These include vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also includes supplements like CoQ10, fish oil, and curcumin. Like dissolves like, so it’s not a good idea to take a fat soluble nutrient on an empty stomach, since you won’t get the best absorption.
- Certain supplements are better absorbed on an empty stomach. This may include your amino acids such as L-tryptophan and L-carnitine. Amino acids, in particular, compete for absorption.
- Meds should not be taken at the same time as your supplements, as they may interfere with your medication’s activity. This is especially true for minerals. Supplements can also interfere with the absorption of your meds, possibly delaying the time they peak in your blood. This holds especially true for fiber supplements.
- Allow at least two hours between the timing of your meds and your supplements. And if you’re really not sure, consult with your pharmacist. As usual, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Supplement Mistake 2: Buying the Wrong FormBecause you’re faced with so many options at the store, you may not think twice about picking a particular formula. But we hope to change this, because it really does matter.
Now, we’re not going to mention brands here, because that’s not the focus of this blog. What you should be focused on when shopping, however, is purchasing a high quality nutrient that is actually absorbable. You don’t want to throw your money down the drain, do you?
Here’s an example. If you’re an avid supplement taker, you’ve probably noticed there are different types of magnesium at the store. You’ll find magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium oxide, and so on. However, if you are concerned about brain health, none of these forms of magnesium are ideal.
To the under-informed customer, they may all seem the same … but they’re definitely not. For brain health, the ideal form is magnesium threonate.
And here’s another general rule to go by: When buying minerals, go for the chelated versions — this is where the mineral is attached to an amino acid or organic compound. These are also better absorbed.
Supplement Mistake 3: Storing Them IncorrectlyStoring your supplements in the right place can make a big difference in their quality and potency. In fact, the top threat facing your supplements is moisture, believe it or not. Water can oxidize and damage the ingredients, so definitely keep your supplements in a dry location.
High temperatures are also a problem, as they can interfere with the delicate structure of a nutrient and even cause them to break down.
So, your supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place. Contrary to popular belief, the bathroom is NOT a good place to store them. Trust us on this.
What about You?Do you have any questions about taking supplements you think we should have included? Have any of the mistakes mentioned above slowed down your own progress when you were starting out?
If so, please tell us about it in the comments!
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