How to Combine Vitamins and Supplements for Safety and Best Nutrient Absorption
The popularity of supplements has grown immensely in the past few years. According to research, about 36% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29take a daily multi vitamin or mineral supplement. The numbers go even higher right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic reminding people of how important it is to have a strong immune system.
But every once in a while, new research emerges, showing us just how problematic this pill-popping habit is. Yes, a great deal of the population is deficient in certain micronutrients (with magnesium and vitamin D deficiencies being particularly widespread). Nonetheless, mindlessly swallowing pills rarely has the beneficial effects we might be expecting.
Taking supplements by your own volition could potentially put you at greater risk of lung cancer, kidney stones, stroke, or even cause nerve damage that could impair body movements. Not to mention the fact that the ingredients in supplement pills don’t always do what they claim to. Many contain harmful additives, traces of heavy metals and chemicals, or megadoses that could potentially cause a multitude of absorption issues.
So how do you go about combining vitamins and supplements in a way that’s safe and ensures you’re getting what you need?
Well, there’s no definitive answer, as every person’s body is different. Nonetheless, there are a few ground rules to follow.
Educate yourself about benefits and absorption
The very first thing you should do before going out and buying the most (or least) expensive multivitamin is to learn about micronutrients and how they help the body.
Aim to know exactly what each vitamin and mineral does. Find out how they’re derived. Are you OK with animal-sourced compounds, or are you plant-based? What are the recommended doses for each micronutrient? Are there any side effects you need to know about?
According to the CDC, there are 6 essential micronutrients vital for your body to function properly. Some experts, however, argue that there are as many as 20 that you should be supplementing with daily. Naturally, with so many compounds, you need to make sure you’re combining them properly.
On the whole, these are the main benefits and recommended doses of the vitamins and minerals most often found in supplements:
- Vitamin A: Fat-soluble, vital for healthy eyesight and proper organ function. The recommended dosage is 700 – 900 mcg. Take with Vitamin C, E, and Zinc for better absorption.
- Vitamin B1: Helps transform fuel (food) into energy. Also important for healthy skin, hair, muscles. Aids proper nerve function. The recommended dosage is 1.1 – 1.2 mg. Exhibits negative interactions with B6 and B12.
- Vitamin B2: Similar properties to B1. Aids cell function and fat metabolism. The recommended dosage is 1.1 – 1.3 mg.
- Vitamin B3: Another vitamin that helps transform food into energy. The recommended dosage is 14 – 16 mg.
- Vitamin B5: This vitamin plays a role in fatty acid synthesis. The recommended dosage is 5 mg.
- Vitamin B6: Helps release sugars from carbohydrates. Plays a crucial role in making red blood cells. Plays a key role in regulating sleep, appetite, and moods. The recommended dosage is 1.3 – 1.7 mcg. Shouldn’t be taken alongside B12.
- Vitamin B7: Helps turn glucose into energy, as well as break down fats. Promotes healthy hair and bones. The recommended dosage is 30 mcg.
- Vitamin B9: Aids cell creation. Crucial during pregnancy to prevent brain and spine birth defects. The recommended dosage is 400 mcg. Absorption is inhibited by Zinc.
- Vitamin B12: Aids red blood cell formation, and ensures the proper functioning of the nervous system. The recommended dosage is 2.4 mcg. Should not be taken alongside vitamin B1, C, Iron, and Copper.
- Vitamin C: Helps produce collagen, make neurotransmitters, is a strong antioxidant, strengthens the immune system. The recommended dosage is 75 – 90 mg. Increases the absorption of Iron.
- Vitamin D: Boosts immune function, ensures healthy bones and teeth. The recommended dosage is 600 – 800 IU per day. Fat-soluble, so can be stored in the body for prolonged periods (unlike water-soluble micronutrients). Increases the bioavailability of Calcium.
- Vitamin E: An antioxidant that boosts immune function. May help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The recommended dosage is 15 mg.
- Vitamin K: Ensures proper bone development. Prevents blood clotting. The recommended dosage is 90 – 120 mcg.
- Calcium: Important for healthy bones, teeth, blood vessels, hormone secretion, and muscle function. The recommended dosage is 1000 – 1200 mg. Absorption is reduced by Magnesium and Zinc.
- Phosphorus: Helps nutrient absorption. Plays an important role in bone and teeth health. The recommended dosage is 700 mg.
- Magnesium: Helps regulate blood pressure. The recommended dosage is 320 – 420 mg.
- Potassium: Helps regulate fluid in cells, aids nerve transmissions and muscle function. The recommended dosage is 4.7 g.
- Iron: Ensures muscle oxygenation, and promotes hormone function. The recommended dosage is 8 – 18 mg. Absorption is deterred by Calcium and Zinc.
- Copper: Ensures a healthy brain and nervous system functioning. Aids the immune system. The recommended dosage is 900 mcg. Absorption is reduced by Zinc.
- Zinc: Helps create new cells, store vitamin A, aids the immune system, and promotes wound healing. The recommended dosage is 8 – 11 mg.
- Selenium: Supports thyroid health. The recommended dosage is 55 mcg.
Making sense of all the data
Now, if that list of micronutrients seems overwhelming, that’s completely normal. After all, your idea of leading a healthy lifestyle does not have to mean getting a degree in medicine or biology. But, even just a little information about the role and importance of each micronutrient could help you choose the right product for you.
Before you make your choice, make sure that you consult your doctor. They may want to test your micronutrient levels, as well as check whether any medication you’re already taking might interfere with absorption and benefits. If you find that you’re only deficient in one or two micronutrients, consider the fact that you don’t have to take a multivitamin filled with ingredients you don’t necessarily need. Instead, you could choose to go with a custom made supplement that would allow you to add natural products such as Omega-3 oils, probiotics, Q10, or oil of oregano.
If, however, you’re after an easy fix that will offer a small or mild boost to your health and immune system, you can go with a ready-made product. Still, make sure you’re choosing one with a beneficial recipe. A good rule of thumb is that if a multivitamin doesn’t offer a morning and evening formula, it will probably not absorb correctly. Furthermore, watch out for megadoses as these can cause uncomfortable symptoms, and may even lead to serious health issues.
Don’t just rely on pills to stay healthy
In addition to a daily supplement, it’s also important that you consider any necessary lifestyle changes that will ensure your body is in top form.
When it comes to nutrition, try to ditch junk food, and opt for whole, nutrient-dense options instead. Combine your diet plan with regular exercise and good sleep hygiene, and you’ll find that you’ll not only have a stronger immune system, but even more, you’ll also witness a boost in your mood and energy levels. Try to eliminate stress from your life, and nurture positive relationships that make you feel good about yourself.
In the end, overall health will never come from a bottle of pills. It requires a mindful lifestyle that combines scientific knowledge with emotional wellbeing. Still, if you know what you’re doing (and consult with your doctor on what’s best for you), you could find that a daily supplement might improve your quality of life and give you the energy you need to conquer the world.
By Cate Evans
Featured Image Source: depositphotos.com
See more on supplements HERE