Knowing how to take vitamins ensures you are getting the maximum benefit for your health. While eating healthy, natural foods is the best way to stay healthy, we are not all superstar nutritionists. Busy lifestyles and sometimes budgetary concerns make it difficult to get all the fruits and vegetables we need to maintain optimal health. Vitamins are an affordable way to ensure that we always get enough of the nutrients we need to stay healthy.
Take Vitamins in the Morning
You should know that vitamins cannot be properly absorbed into your system without complimentary foods for them to bond with. For this reason, taking vitamins on an empty stomach will be of little help to you. In addition, some people notice indigestion when they try to take vitamins on an empty stomach.
In general, you should take your vitamins right after a healthy breakfast. Make sure you eat protein, healthy fats, calcium and fruit at breakfast time. Fat-soluble vitamins line A, D and E need fat to be absorbed and an egg will often provide this for you. It is especially important to be sure you are eating healthy fats to absorb vitamin D because it has been shown to potentially reduce the risk of colon and other cancers.
If you are just not a breakfast person, it is strongly recommended that you become one, whatever it takes. If you can only handle two slices of toast, it is still much better than no breakfast at all. People who skip breakfast are more prone to obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. Breakfast eaters are simply healthier. If knowing this, you still insist on skipping breakfast, you should take your vitamins right after a healthy lunch. Remember that vitamin supplements are most effective when you take them with healthy foods. If you take your vitamins at lunch time, make sure you eat health proteins, healthy fats, dairy, a vegetable and a piece of fruit.
Vitamins can be as complicated or as simple as you want them to be. While some people like to know the exact recommendations of every single nutrient, it is unlikely that most of us can maintain a regime of separate vitamin supplements, taken periodically throughout the day. Your best bet is a multi-vitamin after breakfast with a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D has special benefits to your health and most of us are not getting enough. Until retailers begin putting more vitamin D in multi-vitamins, it is best to take a supplement.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Because many of us do not get enough sun, it is worthwhile to add a vitamin D supplement to your daily vitamin routine. Sunscreen blocks your skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D and by extension, your ability to absorb Calcium. Working in an office all day is not doing you any favors either. If you are lucky enough to have sunny days on the weekend, chances are you are too busy to take a few minutes for a sun bath, so it is vital that you supplement your vitamin D intake.
Aim for a daily vitamin D intake of 1,000 IU in the summer. In the winter months, you should take about 1,700 IU per day. Look at the level of vitamin D in your multi-vitamin and see if you need to add to it. 800 IU per day may be enough to get you by in the summer, but you will still need a supplement in winter. If your multi-vitamin only provides 400 IU per day, you will want to get a supplement and take it year round.
Not only does vitamin D help your body absorb calcium, it also offers protection against some serious illnesses. In addition to giving you stronger bones, there is evidence to show that vitamin D can reduce your risk of colon cancer, breast cancer and the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis.
Another reason to stick to a simple multi-vitamin regimen is toxicity. Some vitamins, like Vitamin A, can make you sick if you take too much. Too much vitamin C can upset your stomach and cause intestinal discomfort. Avoid excessive doses of any vitamin and you can avoid these concerns altogether. You do not need to be concerned about taking too much vitamin D. Just a day in the sun generates 20,000 – 40,000 IU of this healthy vitamin in your body.
There are some exceptions to the simple vitamin rule. If you are taking specific vitamins for medical purposes, you will need to follow your doctor’s guidelines. For example, iron for anemia should be taken on an empty stomach, separately from your multi-vitamin. Vitamin C can aid iron absorption, so some doctors will recommend you take it only with fruit juice. Other vitamins can interfere with iron absorption, so for those with critical needs, a separate plan must be followed.
Your age will also have an effect on your vitamin needs. The right vitamins for an adult can create an overdose in a child. Children usually get plenty of sun, so a simple children’s multi-vitamin should be enough to ensure proper health. Older adults also have special concerns. They often need more vitamins than younger adults because of a slower-paced lifestyle and changing nutritional needs. If you are over 50 years old, take a multi-vitamin targeted to your age group and add a vitamin D supplement.
Can’t Swallow a Pill
Thankfully, those who have a hard time swallowing large vitamin pills have another option available. Liquid multi-vitamins are available, although they are usually more expensive than the pill form. Some people find liquid vitamins to be easier on their stomachs as well. You can also find liquid vitamins that are sprayed under the tongue and absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
If you religiously eat healthy foods, you probably do not need vitamins at all. Studies have shown that those who eat healthy meals including plenty of fruits and vegetables see very little benefit from vitamins. Most of the nutrients are simply excreted as waste and those with a healthy diet are not made any healthier by taking vitamins.