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Tips on How to Take Your Vitamins - Part II
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director

In Part I of this article, we covered how to take vitamins and probiotics. This month, we will cover minerals and other supplements.

Regarding minerals, most are best with food to avoid GI upset. Don't take with a high fiber meal or supplement because fiber binds minerals, especially iron. Take iron with vitamin C (or vitamin C–rich foods) for enhanced absorption, and not with dairy products, eggs, spinach, coffee, tea, and calcium supplements because they impair absorption.

Magnesium is best taken in divided doses, but if you can only take it once, be sure it's at night to enhance relaxation and prevent cramps or restless legs. Zinc can cause nausea, so take with food. This also applies to zinc lozenges, which should be used every few hours to treat a sore throat. Calcium should be dosed at least twice daily, away from iron, and best with meals or hydrochloric acid (HCl) pills. Stomach acid and HCl help release calcium from the constituent it is bound to, thereby releasing it and making it bioavailable to the bones. Strontium also strengthens bones, but should not be taken with calcium as they compete for absorption.

Fish oil can be difficult to digest, so take with a meal multiple times a day and, if you have problems with the oil "repeating" and leaving you with a fishy flavor, add lipase, the fat-focused enzyme. CoQ10 is also fat-soluble and can benefit from being taken with food; preferably in the earlier part of the day to boost your energy.

There can be confusion about enzymes, but the general rule is to take them with meals to help digest your food. For a systemic anti-inflammatory effect to alleviate joint and muscle pain, take enteric-coated enzymes on an empty stomach so that they break down inflammatory proteins instead of your food. If I did not cover a supplement you use and are curious about, call a wellness educator and we'll be happy to help.

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