When you take prescribed medication, it comes with a warning label and usually an entire pamphlet explaining how to use the medication. It also comes with the advice of a doctor and a pharmacist; two medical professionals who are at your disposal if you need them. This is, however, not the case for vitamins and supplements. With vitamins, all you get in the way of directions is usually the dosage suggestion on the bottle. This can be somewhat disconcerting, especially when you consider that you are taking vitamins and supplements for health reasons. So, here are a few tips on using vitamins and supplements that you won’t find on the warning label of your vitamin bottle.
1. Always take vitamins with some kind of food. Vitamins are not a meal substitute, they are a meal supplement. If you take vitamins or supplements on an empty stomach, they will simply wash right out of your system. Also, don’t take vitamins with fresh fruit for breakfast. The citrus acids in the fruit can change the chemical makeup of the vitamin and strip away its nutritive values.
2. Always take vitamins and supplements with water. While it seems healthier to take them with fruit juice, all you are doing is subjecting your vitamins to a bath of citric acid, thereby stripping them of their nutrients. Also, do not take vitamins and supplements with caffeine. The caffeine will leach the nutrients out of the vitamins and they will simple flush out of your system.
3. If you miss taking your vitamins during the day, let it go. Do not try to take the vitamins you forgot during the day before bedtime. Doing this may keep you awake all night. Also, don’t try to “make up” for the vitamins you missed the day before. Taking too many vitamins or higher dosages will not be beneficial. In fact, it may make you sick.
4. If you are taking a sports enhancement supplement, make sure that you take it as directed. Some sports supplements need to be taken before or after a workout in order to be effective.
5. Make sure that you are not taking vitamins that conflict with each other. When taking several different vitamins at the same time, they can actually cancel each other out; making both of them null and void. For example, taking too much extra zinc can zap the positive effects of any copper you might be taking.
6. Make sure you store your vitamins properly. Keep them out of direct sunlight and fluorescent lighting. Too much exposure to sunlight depletes the vitamins of their nutrients, making them ineffective. Also, store supplements at the right temperature. Vitamins that have been exposed to too much heat and cold also lose their potency. Check the label. If the temperature of your refrigerator is right to store the supplements you have, then this is the best place to store them.
7. Never mix vitamins together in the same bottle. They can merge into each other, possibly forming unknown substances.
8. Always check the expiration date. Vitamins and supplements have a long shelf life, but once that is over, throw them out.
9. Don’t take large doses of any vitamin thinking that it will have more of an effect. In some cases, people will take large doses of vitamin C, B-complex, and E for serious illnesses, but this should be done under the care of a doctor. Don’t try to experiment on your own to cure a serious illness with vitamins and supplements. Also, vitamins in large doses can be poisonous and even fatal.
10. Don’t use vitamins as a substitute for taking medication or going to the doctor. Vitamin and supplements are incredible healers and prevent many illnesses; but if you have a serious medical condition, you should always try to get to a doctor first. The medical miracles that you hear about concerning vitamins and supplements are true in some cases, but like the labels say, “results may vary.” Don’t assume that your medical condition is like anyone else’s or that it can be solved by taking vitamins and supplements alone.
Remember vitamins are most helpful for preventing illness and maintaining overall health, but they are not a cure-all. A sensible diet, moderate exercise and routine checkups are still strongly recommended to achieve maximum health.