Best Ways to Take Different Vitamins

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Make Food Your Plan A

With hundreds of supplements available, it’s hard to believe that not every nutrient in whole foods has been captured in a capsule. That’s why eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to meet your health needs. But if you’re low on a certain vitamin or mineral, or just want to cover all bases with a daily MVM (multivitamin/mineral), these tips will help you get the most from it.

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Timing Your Multi

You can take your MVM any time you’d like. Your body absorbs some of its vitamins better with food, so you may want to take it with a meal or a snack. You’ll also avoid the upset stomach that you can get when you take it on an empty stomach. Not a breakfast person? Have it with lunch or even dinner.

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When to Take Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water dissolves them, and your body doesn’t store them, so most must be taken every day. They include C and the B’s: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12). Take them with or without food, with one exception: You’ll absorb B12 better with a meal. If you also use vitamin C, put 2 hours between them. Vitamin C can keep your body from using B12.

Supplements and Your Prescriptions

Even essential nutrients can interfere with many common medications. If you take a traditional blood thinner like warfarin, just the small amount of vitamin K in an MVM can cut its strength. Taking more than 1,000 mg of vitamin E per day can raise your risk for bleeding. And if you take thyroid medication, taking calcium, magnesium, or iron within 4 hours can cut its strength. Ask your doctor about how best to time it.

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Know What’s Inside

There’s no one standard MVM formula. Some have more nutrients than recommended. Others may come up short on some RDAs. For instance, the amount of calcium you need to meet the RDA is too much to fit into a tablet that you could easily swallow. Scan the full ingredients list so you know exactly what’s in the supplement you’re considering. This will also help you know if you need to time when you take it. 

Look for Quality Checks

Since the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, look for brands that have been “verified” by one of the three companies that test supplements in the U.S.: Pharmacopeia, Consumer Lab, or NSF International. These testing organizations verify that what’s on the label is in the bottle in the right amounts.

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