How to Get the Most Out of Your Supplements

Find out five easy ways you can maximize the results from the supplements you’re already taking. ‍

If you’re like the majority of people in the United States, you’re probably taking at least one dietary supplement. In 2018, the revenue from supplement sales in America approached $31 billion US dollars. (1)

Most people take supplements to improve their health or overall well-being. Supplements like turmeric, probiotics, and fish oil have the potential to support your already healthy lifestyle habits. However, there are a few ways you can make your supplements even more effective. 

Keep reading to find out five easy ways you can maximize the results from the supplements you’re already taking.  

Avoid Taking Iron and Calcium Together

Iron and Calcium are both essential minerals for your health. Iron helps your red blood cells carry oxygen and aids your nerve development. (2) Calcium helps you maintain healthy bones and is essential for your muscles to contract. (3)

Human studies have found that calcium from either supplements or dairy products may block your ability to absorb iron. (4) It’s thought that calcium could interfere with a molecule called DMT1 that carries iron across the membrane of your intestines.  

It’s not clear for how long calcium affects your iron absorption, but based on previous research the effect seems to last for less than an hour and a half. (4) People who take calcium supplements don’t tend to have higher rates of low iron in comparison to people who don’t take calcium, which also seems to suggest that the effects of calcium on iron absorption are short-lived.

Bottom Line

Iron and calcium fight for absorption. It’s a good idea to take iron and calcium supplements at different times of day to maximize your absorption of each. 

Take Fat-Soluble Vitamins with Fat

Vitamins can be either fat-soluble or water-soluble depending on how they’re absorbed by your body. Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed quickly by your digestive tract. When you get too much of them, your body excretes them through your urine. 

The following are water-soluble vitamins. 

  • Thiamine (B1)
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Niacin (B3) 
  • Pantothenic acid (B5)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Biotin (B7)
  • Vitamin B9
  • Cobalamin (B12)
  • Vitamin C

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed in your intestines with a small amount of fat. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, your body can store them in fat tissue or your liver. Taking fat-soluble vitamins along with a source of fat can help your body more efficiently absorb them.  

The following vitamins are fat-soluble:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

One 2015 study looked at the difference between taking vitamin D with a fat-free meal or with a meal where 30% of the calories came from fat. (5) After the participants ate one of the two meals, the researchers gave the participants a megadose of 50,000 IU of vitamin D3. The researchers found that people who ate a fatty meal absorbed significantly more vitamin D3.  

The active ingredient of Turmeric, curcumin, is also fat-soluble. If you are taking BalanceGenics Ultra Pure Daily Turmeric supplement or any other turmeric supplement, you may also want to take it with a small amount of fat to increase absorption.

Bottom Line

Taking vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, or turmeric with a small amount of fat may increase the amount that your body absorbs. 

Storing Your Supplements Properly

Incorrectly storing your supplements can damage the healthy ingredients inside of them. Most supplements come with specific instructions on how to properly store them. In general, supplements do well in a cool and dry area out of direct sunlight. 

Many people refrigerate their supplements. Refrigeration may be okay for certain supplements like many types of probiotics. However, the moisture in your refrigerator may damage other kinds of supplements.  

You can check the label on your supplement to find the best way of storing it. If you have children, you may also want to keep your supplements in a high place that’s out of reach.   

Bottom Line

Properly storing your supplements can help maintain the supplement’s integrity and potency to get the most health benefits. Most supplements give specific instructions for storage on the bottle or container. 

Take the Recommended Dose

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they take a higher dose of a supplement, they’ll have better results. However, there’s a reason why you can find a recommended dose on supplement labels. Taking more than the recommended amount of some supplements can cause dangerous side-effects and it isn’t recommended.  

As we’ve mentioned, your body stores fat-soluble vitamins in your liver and fat cells. Taking consistently high doses of these supplements can lead to toxicity. For example, vitamin A toxicity can cause joint pain, dizziness, nausea, and headaches. (9)

Other mineral supplements like calcium and iron fight for absorption. If you take too much of one, your body won’t absorb an adequate amount of the other and you could end up with a mineral imbalance. 

Bottom Line

It’s a good idea to stick to the recommended dose on the package of your supplement. Going over the recommended dose can cause negative health effects in some cases.  

Taking Supplements Along with a Healthy Diet

Some people make the mistake of thinking they don’t need to eat a healthy diet if they’re taking supplements. Many supplements like turmeric, fish oil, and probiotics have the potential to improve your health, but they aren’t able to undo a poor overall lifestyle.

Almost 93.3 million adults (39.8% of the American population) are obese. (6) Another 31.8% of the American population (71.6% of the population in total) are considered overweight. (7) Two of the leading causes of obesity are poor diet and poor exercise habits. 

The 2017 CRN Consumer Survey on dietary supplements found that more than 75% of adults have taken a supplement in the past year. (8) If supplements alone were enough to undo unhealthy lifestyle habits, we would expect less than a quarter of American adults to be overweight instead of only a quarter of adults being at a healthy weight.

Bottom Line

Supplements are meant to support your already healthy habits. To get the most out of your supplements, it’s a good idea to take them along with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Quick Disclaimer

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.


Sources

  1. Shahbandeh M. (2019). U.S. sales of vitamins and nutritional supplements manufacturing 2018-2019.undefined


  1. National Institutes of Health. (2019). Iron.


  1. National Institutes of Health. (2019). Calcium.


  1. Lönnerdal B. Calcium and iron absorption--mechanisms and public health relevance. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2010;80(4-5):293–299. doi:10.1024/0300-9831/a000036


  1. Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Lichtenstein AH, Dolnikowski G, Palermo NJ, Rasmussen H. Dietary fat increases vitamin D-3 absorption. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(2):225–230. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.09.014


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Adult Obesity Facts.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Obesity and Overweight.


  1. CRN. (2017). 2017 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements.


  1. National Institutes of Health. (2019). Vitamin A.


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