Back when I first started exploring supplements, I had so many questions.
How do I know what supplements are good?
When do I take this?
Should I take that with food?
Which ones should I take together?
Which should I avoid taking together?
And on and on…
I figured that if I had these questions, there had to be others who were also confused. This is why from early on in my days of wanting to be a formulator, I always knew that part of my mission would be to make the process of taking supplements, vitamins and minerals as simple as I could.
While it’s best to get the majority of our vitamins and minerals from eating a well-balanced whole food diet, supplements can provide us the extra that we are not able to get from our diets due to pesticides, EMFs, PFAS, changes in our soils, the transit of our food from one place to another, etc. Supplements literally supplement our diet.
It’s important to note though that because of bioindividuality, not everyone needs the same vitamins and minerals. Once you figure out which ones are right for you, determining how, when and how much you need to take them is the next step.
Here’s a list of recommended vitamins and minerals to consider taking. REMEMBER, not everyone needs to supplement with all of these. Each person will need different supplements based on their diet and other environmental factors that affect their life, health and body.1
Vitamins A, D, E and K should be taken with some form of fat such as avocado or nuts for optimal absorption.
Note: There are eight different B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B122
Vitamins B and C are considered water-soluble vitamins. Water dissolves them, and your body doesn’t store them, so most must be taken daily. You can take these vitamins with or without food but keep in mind that for vitamin B12, you will absorb that one better with a meal. If you also use vitamin C, put 2 hours between them. Vitamin C can keep your body from using B12.3
Iron is absorbed best on an empty stomach but it has been known to make some people nauseous so if that happens for you, then take it just after you’ve eaten. Iron and vitamin C work well together so you can consider taking them at the same time. You should avoid taking it with magnesium, a multivitamin, calcium, milk or caffeine.4
It is most effective taken 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. As with iron, sometimes it can cause an upset stomach so if that’s the case then it can be taken with a meal.5
If you’re taking large doses of minerals, these can compete with each other to be absorbed. Avoid using calcium, zinc, or magnesium supplements at the same time. Also, these three minerals are easier on your stomach when you take them with food, so having them at different meals can also help.3
If you’re taking magnesium, it’s also best not to take with bisphosphonates, antibiotics, diuretics, acid reflux drugs and peptic ulcer drugs.
Always speak with your healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement, especially if you take medications. Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or USDA so it’s important to use only high-quality supplements and research brands that are science-backed (like Life Extension, Now Foods or Thorne). See 9 Tips to Help You Choose a Quality Supplement here. Another tip is to make sure you are getting the most available forms of vitamins. Save the cheat sheet below for a quick guide.
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1. schneik4. “9 Vitamins and Minerals You Should Take Daily.” – Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 29 June 2022, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/which-vitamins-should-you-take/amp/.
2. “B Vitamins.” The Nutrition Source, 11 Aug. 2020, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/vitamin-b/.
3. “Best Ways to Take Different Vitamins.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/ss/slideshow-best-ways-to-take-different-vitamins.
4. “Iron Supplement (Oral Route, Parenteral Route) Proper Use.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Sept. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/iron-supplement-oral-route-parenteral-route/proper-use/drg-20070148#:~:text=Iron%20is%20best%20absorbed%20when,food%20or%20immediately%20after%20meals.
5. “Zinc Supplement (Oral Route, Parenteral Route) Proper Use.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 July 2022, http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/zinc-supplement-oral-route-parenteral-route/proper-use/drg-20070269#:~:text=Zinc%20supplements%20are%20most%20effective,your%20zinc%20supplement%20with%20meals.