Timing in itself is not the most important factor in taking vitamins, minerals and fish oils in order to gain the most benefit from them.
However, it is important with certain supplements whether or not the tablet is taken with or without a meal and also what that meal consists of.
Here is a list of some common vitamins and minerals that can have implications when combined with certain foods and drinks!
Iron and Vitamin C
Iron deficiencies are common, especially in women of childbearing age. Iron is crucial to the manufacture of haemoglobin which are red blood cells needed to transport oxygen in the blood. It is found naturally in foods such as red meat, offal and green leafy vegetables.
- Iron supplements can be best absorbed when taken an hour before meals.
- Calcium may inhibit the absorption of iron and so ideally should not be combined with an iron tablet in order to gain the best results from supplementation.
- On the other hand, vitamin C actually helps aid iron absorption, which is why many supplements combine the two together.
Calcium and Vitamin D
The body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium efficiently. If there is not enough vitamin D present, the body will turn to its bones as a calcium source. This can cause brittle bones over time.
- Vitamin D is commonly found in food sources such as oily fish and egg yolks whereas calcium is present in milk and dairy products. It is also found in leafy green vegetables.
- Vitamin D is unlike the other fat soluble vitamins and is absorbed well with or without food.
Fish Oils and Omega 3
Fish oils are a great addition to any supplementation routine. They provide a source of omega three fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, and also provide vitamin D and vitamin A. Fish oil supplements are much better absorbed when taken with a meal containing fat. It is the fat in the meal that can aid the omega three fatty acid absorption.
As described above, this vitamin may be crucial for improving bone health, due to its impact upon calcium absorption.
This is another fat soluble vitamin. It is also known as retinol and has numerous important functions in the body.
- The maintenance of a healthy immune system and guarding the body against infection.
- It is also important for good eyesight and keeping the skin and mucous membranes in the body healthy.
Vitamin A can be found in dairy, eggs and oily fish. Try improving your vitamin A levels by including colourful vegetables in your diet such as peppers and carrots. This is due to the fact that these vegetables have a rich beta-carotene content which is converted into vitamin A by the body.
Vitamins are grouped into two classifications, fat soluble and water soluble.
Fat soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
Water soluble vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12 folate
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
It is important to monitor your intake of fat soluble vitamins as these are stored in the fat tissues of the body and can accumulate over time. Water soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are not stored by the body and simply pass out through the urine when they are not required.
General multivitamins are like an insurance policy for days when your diet does not meet all its nutritional needs. They are a very useful tool for bridging any nutritional gaps you may have, although are not a substitute for a balanced diet.
It is recommended that you take general multivitamins with a meal; this is due to the fact that certain vitamins need fats to be absorbed fully.
With regards to timing, it is not necessary to take them with a meal. Many people, however, find it easier and more convenient to take their vitamins with their first meal of the day. Timing is unimportant in most cases, the exception being if your supplement contains stimulants. In this case, it is normally recommended to take this earlier in the day, as taking such a supplement of an evening may lead to issues sleeping!
Take Home Message
By being aware of some of the issues that can arise with certain food combinations, you can ensure that your supplements work for you and are effective rather than taking them incorrectly.
As a result – you’ll be able to absorb the benefits they have to offer!