Supplements are nothing but vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or other botanical s, or any combination of these ingredients which can be taken in tablet, capsule, powder, or liquid form. Some of the most common supplements are calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B, vitamin A, vitamin C, multivitamins, proteins, probiotics (healthy bacteria), and omega 3 fatty acids.
Why: You will need supplements if you fall into this category:
1. If you are pregnant or lactating.
2. If you are of childbearing age.
3. If you are old.
4. If you have an eating disorder or a medical condition.
5. If you are a person who has irregular eating habits.
6. If you are a dieter or you avoid certain food groups.
7. If you eat processed and fast food
8. Generally, vegetarians may be deficient in nutrients like vitamin B12, omega 3 fatty acids
Even if you are one of these you cannot be sure whether you really need a supplement or not, you will not know about its safety, drug and food interactions, and you cannot start a supplement just because you feel you need it. All these questions can be answered only by your doctor/nutritionist/dietitian. Never take supplements without consulting your doctor. While prescribing a supplement if the doctor misses out on the information that he should be giving you then you should be the one asking him.
When and How to have Supplements:
Whenever you take your supplement, it shouldn’t be on an empty stomach. It may cause a side-effect such as nausea and the important point is that the supplement will not stay in your stomach for sufficient time to get absorbed. But there may be some exceptions like the amino acids supplements, which need to be taken on an empty stomach. I have listed some points that we should follow when on supplements:
1. When taking calcium take it in small amounts because our body cannot digest more than 500 mg at a time. Do not take calcium supplements with a meal high in sodium (salt) content such as fast food because it can result in calcium loss.
2. Calcium should be taken with fiber-rich foods and plenty of water to avoid constipation.
3. When taking Vitamins A, D, E and K (fat-soluble) we should take these with a meal which should contain some fat (because they need some fat to dissolve).
4. B vitamins should be taken in the day because they boost our energy levels.
5. Taking vitamin D along with calcium improves calcium absorption.
6. Magnesium supplements should be taken in the evening as they relax our muscles and aid in sleep.
7. Avoid caffeine immediately after meals or taking supplements because caffeine interrupts in the absorption of iron and calcium, and may deplete the water-soluble B vitamins because of its diuretic effect.
8. You can have iron supplements with orange juice (any citrus fruit juice) instead of water as it will help in iron absorption because of the presence of vitamin C. Do not combine iron and calcium supplements.
9. It is recommended that probiotics should be taken either on an empty stomach or along with food but not after a meal because the stomach acid will be at its peak and the microorganisms may not survive in that environment.
10. Avoid taking probiotics along with hot food as the heat can kill the healthy microbes.
Research studies on supplements occur on a daily basis and at times the results may differ. There are a number of supplements with a number of precautions and I cannot include all in just one post. The most important thing to remember is “Consult Your Doctor” before taking supplements. What I would suggest is balanced diet and not supplements, but if your doctor suggests you so, then go for it.
You cannot take a supplement even if it is endorsed by Dr.Oz without your doctor’s advice. Eat variety of foods for a healthy living to avoid the use of supplements because just like the other medicines supplements have side effects as well. I hope this information was helpful.