Even though I think the best way to get your nutrients is through foods, I realize that there are times when that is impossible. So I take supplements. There is a right way and a wrong way to take your supplements, according to Alan R. Gaby, MD, a Concord, New Hampshire-based specialist in nutritional medicine, past president of the American Holistic Medical Association and a former professor of nutrition on the clinical faculty at Baster University in Kenmore, Washington. He is the chief science editor for aisle 7, a web-based health and wellness channel, and the author of Nutritional Medicine, available from his website, DoctorGaby.com. The following is all paraphrased from Dr. Gaby, as  read in the Bottom Line Books, “101 Ways to Boost Your Energy Naturally.”

“To maximize the health benefits and reduce the risk for side effects, most supplements should be taken in certain ways and/or certain times. For example, multivitamins and fish oil should be taken with food-the fats in the meal enhance the absorption of fish oil.

When taking vitamin C: If you usually take 1000 mg/day, divide the dose. Take 500 in the morning and 500 at night. This prevents gastrointestinal upset. Don’t exceed the upper limit of 2,000 mg without consulting your doctor. Also, buffered forms of vitamin C are less likely to cause stomach upset. Beware of chewable C, it can damage tooth enamel.

B vitamins. Most people take B vitamins (B-complex) for energy and mood. The main mistake is taking them at night, which can cause insomnia; so take them in the morning, and take them with food.

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant. A common mistake is taking it without food. As with all fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin requires fat for absorption, so take it with food.

Note: get plenty of vitamin C (500 mg/day) if you’re taking vitamin E. They recharge each other!

Ps. If you’re taking vitamin E supplements, make sure they are mixed tocopherols, as found in foods. Many E supplements have only alpha-tocopherol, a waste of $$$$$. Look for at least 50 to 100 mg of gamma tocopherol in the product.

Calcium. Many people take calcium for bone strength (I have serious doubts about the effectiveness), but erroneously take it in the morning. Calcium is less effective taken at this time of day. So take it in the evening or before bed. If you do take it, vitamin D is also a must foe bone health, among other benefits like immune system and muscle health.

Iron. As we get older, iron is either less absorbed or lacking in the diet. If you take iron supplements, don’t take iron at the same time as vitamin E as they cancel each other out. However, vitamin C enhances iron, so take iron with vitamin C or a glass of orange juice. Don’t take supplemental iron unless your blood test reveals you are actually deficient.

I hope this info is helpful.

Stay well, John R Blilie, MS