Nutritional Supplements

Everything you need to know

Unless you are one of the few people who actually consumes the proper amount of nutrients by ingesting food alone, it's important that you take a multivitamin. A multivitamin contains most of the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies needs to work properly. With modern science, different multivitamins exist for different genders, ages and diseases.

Because our bodies only produce vitamins D and K, it's essential that we consume all other necessary vitamins through food or vitamin supplements. There are two different kinds of vitamins - those that are fat soluble (A, D, E, K) and those that are water soluble (B, C, P). It is imperative to get enough water-soluble vitamins every day since these vitamins are filtered through the kidney and released, whereas the other vitamins can be stored in fat cells.

Optimally, you should take vitamins at different intervals throughout the day, but since most people take a multivitamin, this is not possible. If you're using a multivitamin, take this supplement with a light meal because fat-soluble vitamins need food to be absorbed properly by your body. Vitamins B and C do not need to be taken with food; however, B-complex vitamins can cause stomach upset, so it is suggested that you take them with a small meal.

If you take herbal remedies or probiotics, you should take these on an empty stomach. Since vitamin E and calcium prevent your body from absorbing iron properly, it is necessary that you take an iron supplement separately from the rest, preferably on an empty stomach. Other vitamins that should be ingested on an empty stomach are vitamin B12 and folic acid. Some studies suggest that taking calcium at night allows the optimal absorption.

Beware: some vitamins in high doses can be toxic. Since your body's fat cells cling to vitamin A, too much can be harmful to your system. Also, ladies, be cautious about which vitamins you are taking. Some women cannot process iron. If you become pregnant and are given supplements, be aware of how your body reacts.

Some prescription medications are affected by vitamins or supplements, so be sure to mention your daily routine with your doctor. For example, St. John's wort can reduce the effectiveness of several prescription medications. Conversely, the birth-control pill affects absorption of B12 and folic acid, which is why it may be important to take these supplements later in the day.

Consult your doctor before you begin a vitamin regimen. Although most multivitamins are safe at the recommended daily dose, let your doctor know if you have any side effects. Be sure to check with each prescription if there are any herbs or supplements that will interfere with the treatment.

By Molly Carter