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A Simple Guide to Taking Your Supplements Safely for the Best Results

Jayne Reynolds

I am a Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist® passionate about restoring the body's health, balance, and wellbeing. I get down to the root cause of what's happening in the body so that it can be addressed instead of chasing symptoms.
Published: June 19, 2021
Woman holding supplements on tongue

Last week, I gave you 14 crucial questions to ask before you purchase your supplements. Today, this simple guide helps you take your supplements safely for the best results. As a reminder, the information contained in this article is not intended as medical advice. Always discuss your supplement needs with your integrative healthcare professional.

What Are the Most Effective Dosing Strategies?

We use supplements in two different ways, health maintenance for everyday wellness and therapeutically for different health conditions.

Maintenance Dosing

Taking one dose of your supplements once per day is a maintenance dose. You can either take it in the morning or the evening, depending on the type of nutrient. Maintenance dosing applies to your multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin C, green food (chlorella or spirulina), and probiotics.

Therapeutic Dosing

Therapeutic dosing occurs when you come down with an acute bout of something, like a cold. It usually involves a loading dose, taking the supplement every couple of hours for the first two days, and then 2 to 3 times a day until two days after your symptoms resolve. If your symptoms don’t resolve in this timeframe, go and see your naturopath.

When Should I Take My Supplements?

Vitamins and supplements that give you energy should be taken in the morning and at lunch. Take mitochondrial nutrients that support the powerhouses of your cells in the evening (B Complex, Alpha Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Magnesium, Iron, Sulfur, and Copper.) Take your immune supplements (Zinc, Vitamin C, Probiotics, Astragalus, Echinacea, or Goldenseal) before bed. If you need to take probiotics while taking a supplement to kill off bacteria (for example, Echinacea or Goldenseal), space the doses 2 hours apart. That way, you won’t waste the good bacteria in the supplement.

Make Sure The Dose Is In the Therapeutic Range

This document lists the therapeutic ranges for your supplements. When you are shopping for your supplements, look for supplements that meet these ranges.  Unfortunately, low-dose supplements don’t often make enough difference to your health. You need to take enough to positively affect your well-being.

A few months ago, I spoke to a client who took a probiotic gummy. She asked me to review it with her to make sure that it was adequate. The supplement had one strain of probiotic in it and only 100 colony-forming units. It also came wrapped up in a sugar-filled gummy that had plenty of food coloring. By comparison, our favorite probiotic has 50 billion colony-forming units and seven strains of probiotics. It’s also free from dairy, eggs, fish, wheat, soy, and food coloring.

Take Most Supplements With Food

Except for a type of supplement called glandulars, and certain enzymes you take away from food, we dose most nutrients and herbs with a little fiber-containing food. When you eat, your body activates the digestive process designed to help you break down nutrients and absorb them. Since you get most of your nutrients from your food, your body knows what to do with supplements when they arrive with your meal. Your food also typically provides fat to help digest fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Fiber helps prevent the nausea you might experience taking vitamins on an empty tummy.

Prime the Pumps and Take the Right Forms for Maximum Absorption

As we age, we lose hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for the absorption of some nutrients. If you want to know how to supplement or prime the pumps for adequate hydrochloric acid, read this post (section 7) to learn more about supporting your digestion. 

Any supplement that you take needs to be readily available for your body to use. Vitamins and minerals come in different forms like magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate. Take a few minutes to do your research. Make sure you take the one that is most bio-available for your body.

As a side note, refrigerating your fish oil not only helps to prevent it from going rancid, but it also helps prevent fishy-burps.

Drug Interactions

Supplements are powerful tools in the healing process. Just like medications, they can interact with other things that you take. For example, vitamin K, garlic, and ginkgo all have blood-thinning properties so, they are not a good plan for you if you take blood thinners. Your pharmacist or natural health care professional can help you figure out safe combinations of your supplements and medications.

How to Know If Your Supplement Is Working

Your body functions in 28-day healing cycles, and it takes 28 days for your body to figure out what to do with all the new nutrients you ingest. That means that you should try a supplement for a month before evaluating whether or not it’s working. Most clients start to see results in 14-17 days.

Pay attention throughout the month to your energy levels and your symptoms. Traditional Chinese Medicine and naturopathic practice teach that you may experience your old symptoms or a slight worsening of symptoms when you start a new supplement. This is called Hering’s Law of Cure. If you feel bright and still have energy even though you have a symptom, it is typically safe to continue taking your supplements unless you feel particularly fatigued or unwell. You can always check in with your practitioner if you are concerned.

What’s Next?

For most people, minor lifestyle changes will make a big difference. However, there are times when the problem runs deeper, and you need professional help. If you’ve tried to figure this out on your own, or you feel like you’re lost in a maze of information and aren’t sure which path to take, don’t give up hope.

We have a range of different approaches that will help you figure out the root cause of your dysfunction and stop the cycle of sickness so you can feel better now. Book your free 30-minute Breakthrough Strategy Session today.

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