I recently came across an article in The Washington Post about the best time of day to take supplements.
I wasn’t expecting much, as it was written by a “registered dietician.” And I’ve yet to meet one who understands even the most basic biology of human diet and nutrition…
Plus, ever since mega-mogul Jeff Bezos acquired the Post, the newspaper has seemingly become the fake news headquarters of the nation.
So, it didn’t surprise me that the article was filled with a lot of really terrible advice. For instance, the dietician recommended taking your supplements at four different times throughout the day—which is completely unnecessary, as I’ll explain in a moment.
In addition, you should never even take five out of the nine daily supplements the dietician recommended—multivitamins, probiotics, calcium, fiber, and iron (unless directed by your doctor).
So let’s set the record straight about what kinds of supplements you SHOULD take…and when to take them…
1.) Keep the big picture in mind
Supplementation is a must for most people—no matter the time of day—simply because fruits and vegetables don’t contain as many nutrients as they used to.
In fact, the nutrient content of food crops has declined every decade over the past century, according to analyses performed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). I first observed this trend when studying green, leafy vegetables and yellow-orange vegetables during the mid-1980s as sources of carotenoids, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
So, even when people do eat right, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, they’re still not getting all the key nutrients they need to achieve optimal good health.
2.) Morning is probably better
The Post reporter suggested taking your supplements at four different intervals throughout the day, with the last one right before bed. But digestion slows during sleep. So very little of the supplement’s nutrients will be absorbed if taken right before bed.
Years ago, my friend—who was the best man at my wedding—expressed concerns to me about taking vitamins at night because the “energy” might keep him awake.
But his concern stemmed from a basic misunderstanding of how supplements work. Unlike drugs, which often cause an immediate effect upon entering your bloodstream, vitamins and minerals typically act gradually, building up natural support for healthy cells and tissues over time. Meaning it could take two to three months before you feel all the cumulative effects. (Of course, there are exceptions. For example, I’m continuously impressed by the immediate energy infusion I experience from my CoreForce BioBlend formula.)
That said, I’ve always believed that morning is the ideal time to take most supplements because you’ll absorb more in the morning. (Though, some supplements, like vitamin C, should be split into a morning dose and an afternoon dose. This split-dosage recommendation should be included in the directions on the supplement label, if you’re using a high-quality product. More on quality in a moment…)
Plus, your circulation and digestion are primed and ready in the morning. So, your body will break down the capsules and get the nutrients into your bloodstream for better “bioavailability.”
3.) Take supplements with food
You should take most supplements, especially fish oil and magnesium, with food to help buffer any possible stomach irritation. This also improves absorption and activity while digestion is stimulated.
Plus, taking your supplements with a meal will help increase their “biome-availability.” I use that term to describe how nutrients go to work in your microbiome, before they ever reach your bloodstream. (Your microbiome is the environment in your GI tract where billions of healthy bacteria thrive.)
And more and more science is starting to show that the best approaches in medicine have good biome-availability, not just bioavailability. (To learn more about your microbiome, take a look at the June 2018 issue of Insiders’ Cures newsletter—“Seven keys to a whole-body health reboot.”)
In addition, you should always take fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) with food that contains at least 5 grams of fat (about a teaspoon) to help improve absorption. Fat-soluble vitamins should also be formulated in a capsule or in liquid form.
4.) Choose high-quality supplements
Quality is a big factor in how well you digest a supplement, and, in turn, how well it works.
For instance, many people avoid fish oil supplements because they’ve experienced “fishy” indigestion with low-quality products. (For help in choosing a high-quality fish oil supplement, revisit the June 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter—“Why I’m upping my recommendations for this ‘controversial supplement.’” Not a subscriber? Sign up today!)
Quality really does matter…and not just with fish oil. In general, you’ll experience smoother digestion with high-quality supplements. So, if you’re experiencing indigestion or gas after you take a supplement, it’s probably not good quality.
You can also try this test at home for your water-soluble vitamins, such as the B vitamins and vitamin C…
Place the pill in a glass of water and see if it dissolves. Some supplements won’t dissolve even after they’re broken into pieces! And if a water-soluble supplement doesn’t dissolve in water, it won’t absorb into your system either.
5.) Keep them in the kitchen
Hot and humid environments (like bathrooms) can degrade even high-quality supplements. So, make sure you store your supplements in a cool, dry, dark place.
I prefer to keep mine in a cool place in the kitchen, because they belong with food (not drugs). And I typically take them with meals anyway, making the kitchen a convenient spot for storage. Plus, if I pack a lunch to eat on the road, the supplements are right there to throw into the bag.
But when it comes to supplements, the most important “rule” is simply to make sure you’re taking them—every day.
“Morning or night? With food or without? Answers to your questions about taking supplements.” Washington Post, 2/5/2019 (washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/morning-or-night-with-food-or-without-answers-to-your-questions-about-taking-supplements/2019/02/04/5fcec02a-2577-11e9-81fd-b7b05d5bed90_story.html?utm_term=.0f783bca91b1)