April 2008

Vol 7 - No. 10
 

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Health and Fitness | April 2008

 


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When to Take Your Vitamins  

BY JOANN BALLY CSCS
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Now you've got all those little bottles of vitamins. What do you do with them? Take with meals, between meals? Alone, with others? You may have heard conflicting advice. And no, you shouldn't cop out by choosing a product just because you only have to take one pill. Read on, for some light cast on this common dilemma.  

 

Multi-Vitamins 

Take your multi-vitamin with a meal. The pill stays in the stomach longer and there's more time for it to break down. You should have a little fat in the meal to help absorption of the fat soluble vitamins: A or beta carotene, D, E, and K. This is also true if you're taking any of these separately.

 

 

Calcium 

For calcium, calcium carbonate, the most common, should be taken with meals. Calcium citrate can be taken with or between meals. Spread out your dosage over the day, taking no more than 500 mg at a time, as you may not be able to absorb more. Don't take your supplement with wheat bran cereal, because wheat bran can impede calcium absorption. You need Vitamin D for calcium to be absorbed, and most people should probably supplement to reach the D requirement. Calcium also impedes iron absorption, so if you need an iron supplement, don't take it with calcium. If you're taking prescription medication, don't take it within 30 minutes of your supplement to prevent interference of one with the other.

 

 

Vitamin C 

Take half your vitamin C with breakfast and half with dinner. Chewable C may damage tooth enamel. If you supplement, do not take more than the RDA for minerals. Be careful with the fat soluble vitamins, which can stay in your system and build up. Water soluble vitamins, B-complex and C, are excreted in excess, up to a certain point, so don't overdose there either. The Bs work together, so don't just take large doses of one. (Large doses of niacin to control cholesterol are considered pharmaceutical and need to be taken under a doctor's supervision.)

 

With a good diet, the average person can, theoretically, get all the vitamins they need, except for Vitamin E, which is found mostly in fats. Most people, however, do not get the RDA of folic acid from diet. People over 50 should take extra B12, as decreasing stomach acid may make it difficult to get from food. Strict vegetarians also should take supplemental B12, as it is not found in plant foods. Primitive peoples got plenty of nutrients from their food, but they are thought to have consumed 5000-8000 calories a day. If your activity level does not support a diet of at least 2000 calories/day, it will be very difficult to get all the nutrients you need from diet alone.

 

If your supplement has USP on the label, it is certified to meet standards for dissolving. If it doesn't, you can put it in a cup of white vinegar. It should dissolve 75% in half an hour. (Those pictures you may have seen of a whole, undissolved vitamin pill in someone's stomach are suspect, especially since there is usually an implication that only one brand really dissolves.) Expensive vitamins do not necessarily dissolve better or are absorbed better than inexpensive ones. Timed-release and chelated supplements have not been proven to be better absorbed.

 

Most natural and synthetic vitamins are chemically identical. The exception is Vitamin E. Although most of the studies showing beneficial effects of Vitamin E were done with the synthetic version, the natural is more potent. Natural Vitamin E is more expensive, but you can take less (about half) for the same effect. Natural calcium, from dolomite or oyster shell, has some danger of contamination, so synthetic versions may be safer. The citrate type dissolves more readily, although it is less concentrated so you have to take more pills.

 

For most people, supplementing with an amount equal to the RDA of common vitamins and minerals is good insurance against a less-than-perfect diet. If you need more guidance on what to take for your own situation, consult with a Registered Dietician. 

[Copyright H & F]

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Multi-certified Professional Trainer, Joann Bally, CSCS is also a writer and editor on fitness subjects, having published articles in several periodicals both offline & online and now has published her second book. She is also a feature writer & editor for HEALTHandFITNESS.com.

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