The vitamin aisle at your local pharmacy has a huge selection of various supplements. Before picking up one of those bottles, it’s crucial to keep certain things in mind.
Watch for potential interactions
Make sure that any vitamins or supplements that you take don’t have unfortunate combined effects. Registered and certified dietitian/nutritionists and certified fitness trainers Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, known as The Nutrition Twins, offer the example of taking fish oil and vitamin E together, both of which are blood thinners. This can be particularly dangerous if you take a daily aspirin, so they recommend speaking to your doctor before taking either.
Folic acid may help if you are pregnant or soon-to-be
According to the British Dietetic Association, folic acid is a kind of complex B vitamin used in making red blood cells, synthesizing DNA and RNA, aiding cell division and growth and preventing age-related hearing loss. However, it is of particular importance to women who are pregnant or are planning to be as far out as a year from now. Medical News Today reports that folic acid helps prevent the fetus from developing brain or spine deformities like spina bifida and potentially help prevent a range of other conditions.
Don’t take vitamins on an empty stomach
If you have ever taken a vitamin before breakfast, you might have noticed that you have a sour stomach shortly after. The Nutrition Twins warn that taking vitamins by themselves can sometimes cause your body to produce more digestive acid than it needs, which irritates your stomach lining.
With some vitamins, it is also a good idea to eat a certain kind of food. Angel Planells, registered dietitian/nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends taking fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K with a fatty food like avocado, as it will help your body absorb the vitamins.
Space out your vitamins
Taking a lot of vitamins at one time isn’t a great strategy. According to Planells, when you swallow a bunch of supplements at once, your body tends to absorb what it needs most first, but the rest could just end up passing through your digestive system. So, spread out your vitamins by meal or by when you get up and go to bed.
More vitamins doesn’t mean better results
It is an easy mistake to make that assuming since a small amount of vitamin supplements is good for you, more must be better. However, it is entirely possible to have too much and hurt yourself. For example, the Mayo Clinic warns that taking more than 200 milligrams of vitamin B-6 per day could cause nerve pain and seizures. According to Country Living magazine, high levels of vitamins that are stored in the body can be toxic.
Talk to your doctor
Above all, before taking supplements, you should consult with your doctor. He or she will have a much better understanding of how they might interact with your medications, your diet and your health conditions.
With these tips and research, you can responsibly use vitamins to improve your health.
This article is presented by Jannell Ford in Hanover, Massachusetts.