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When is the best time to take your supplements?

By David Coory

When I was asked to cover this topic I wasn’t too confident that I could come up with meaningful results as we are all so different. What works well for one person, can have the opposite effect on another.

Take our Optimum Health Triple Pack (CAA - Multi, Bone Health and CoQ10-Omega 3) for instance – for myself, taking CAA - Multi and Bone Health capsules with my evening meal works well and gives me a good night’s sleep, but if I take my CoQ10-Omega 3 at night, it can keep me awake. Yet, one of my sisters found the opposite effect.

Anyway, I went off to look at the studies to see what I could find. As expected, I found conflicting opinions all over the place; take on an empty stomach, take with a meal, take before bed, don’t combine with this or that supplement and no studies to back them up.

I’m probably just as guilty myself of basing my own recommendations on experience, logical assumptions, hearsay and others opinions, but there’s little scientific evidence to rely on.

I could not find much else in the way of reliable information about supplement timing and strongly encourage you to experiment for yourself.

See how well you feel half an hour after taking a supplement. Be wary of any supplement that causes a rise in your heart rate, or causes digestive upset, but give it a fair trial.

However, there were some general agreements:

  1. First, remember to take your supplements – it’s best to use a weekly capsule or pill case and leave it somewhere where you will see it every day. Remembering to actually take your supplements is more important than when you take them, a supplement you have forgotten to take can’t help you.
  2. Take calcium at night as it promotes a good sleep.
  3. If taking high dosages of vitamin C, take in divided doses three times a day. Our body can generally only absorb 200mg at any one time unless we’re seriously deficient.
  4. Both vitamin B6 and magnesium can act as brain stimulants and keep us awake at night. However taking calcium at the same time can help counteract magnesium’s stimulating effect. Many are surprised to hear that magnesium has this insomnia effect, as it’s generally regarded as a sleep aid. However, the insomnia effect is well documented and I’ve experienced it myself. Too much magnesium at night can be an unsuspected cause of insomnia – if this happens, it is best to take it in the morning or at midday.
  5. The main role of our stomach acid is to break down protein and kill bacteria. After passing through our stomach, absorption of nutrients then takes place over the next 33 hours for men and 47 hours for women, in our non-acid, 7 metre (20 ft) length of our small intestine and in our 1.5 metre (5 ft) long, large intestine. During this process, all nutrients from our food or supplements have to be converted to a liquid, either by dissolving, fermentation or probiotic action. This is necessary so they can seep through our intestinal walls into our blood stream. So, as you can imagine, the timing of taking a supplement is not all that critical.
  6. When taking probiotics as a supplement, we should be aware that these are living bacteria, so any contact with stomach acid will generally kill all but the most hardy acidophilus probiotics. So it’s essential that probiotics are fully protected from stomach acid until they enter the non-acidic environment of our small and large intestines. This is not easy to achieve and is why Health House have gone to the expense of a ‘capsule within a capsule’ technology – a system that works very well.
  7. Be particularly wary of any supplement that consistently interferes with your sleep. If it does, try taking it earlier in the day. If it still gives you trouble after a week of persistence, it’s unlikely to be doing you any good. I cannot stress the great importance of sleep. If we are to enjoy good health, or heal from poor health, sound sleep is the number one requirement – absolutely second to none. I’d go so far to say, after 30 years of feedback from my book readers and customer’s health issues, that unless we can achieve regular, deep sleep, it doesn’t matter much what we take, it won’t do us much good. It’s only during deep sleep that our body heals itself.