Should We Take Our Supplements With or Without Food?

aa-8.jpgAlthough most anti-aging supplements can be taken any time, some have special requirements, and others might make us feel a little queasy unless we eat something first.

If you’re like most people, taking your once-daily, regular mealtime and occasional special-time supplements can be a bit of a pain. Trying to remember what should be taken with or without food is an annoyance.

The solution is a quick guide to when to take the most common supplements for maximum benefit and minimum discomfort, with a little background info tossed in for good measure.

When to Take Anti-Aging Supplements

  • Hydrochloric acid supplements and Betaine hydrochloride should be consumed immediately before a meal. As we get older, we produce less of this essential digestive juice, and we all can benefit from a little extra to help us get the most out of our foods. On an empty stomach, it can actually start to burn — natural because it’s stomach acid — but a little food right away solves this.
  • Digestive enzymes such as bromelain, or any of the enzymes derived from pineapple, papaya and many other sources, work fine on an empty stomach, although most container directions suggest taking it with a meal — after all, they’re intended to digest protein, prevent gas and bloating, and aid the breakdown of our food into a digestible form. But when used to help reduce inflammation, they should be taken in between meals on an empty stomach. Otherwise, they’ll use themselves up as digestive enzymes instead of working their way to the inflammation.
  • Probiotics, the supplements that contain helpful bacteria like those found in yogurt, are best consumed on an empty stomach. Acidophilus and the dozen or more other probiotics available help maintain a healthy intestinal environment. They are especially beneficial, even necessary, for replacing the intestinal flora that prescription antibiotics rapidly kill off. Probiotics are a great treatment for a Candida yeast overgrowth, which also depletes our natural supply.

Vitamins are not all the same, but as part of an anti-aging program they are absolutely essential. Some are water soluble, others a fat soluble, and the rest don’t care one way or the other.

  • Vitamins A, D and E are fat-soluble vitamins, so they’re all best taken with a meal that includes at least some fat or oil. Some people find that taking these vitamins with just a glass of whole milk does the job — but don’t use skim because it doesn’t have the needed fat.
  • B Complex vitamins can cause some stomach upset, so it’s not a bad idea to take them with at least a snack. Most are water soluble, so anything really greasy will interfere with absorption. If you are taking folic acid or B12 (cyanocobalimin) separately, its best to take them on an empty stomach. When part of your B complex, though, they’re fine with the light snack.
  • Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that many people concerned with anti-aging rely on at the first signs of a cold, flu or infection as well as its antioxidant properties. Vitamin C is acidic, but even taken on an empty stomach with lots of water doesn’t upset most tummies. Non-acidic forms of the vitamin are available as supplements, which can guarantee there’s no stomach or digestive upset.
  • Iron supplements alone to treat anemia are best on an empty stomach, and not in combination with other supplements, especially vitamin E and calcium. The small amounts of iron in most multivitamin-mineral pills is ok with a snack.
  • Bioflavonoids, more correctly called flavonoids, are substances derived from plants that many people take as supplements. These are best taken on an empty stomach. Flavonoids are known for antioxidant activity, but research now shows that their health benefits against cancer and heart disease are the result of the body’s rejection of them as foreign substances, triggering a response that attacks other unwanted substances such as cancer cells.
  • Phytochemicals, like flavonoids, are another group of plant-derived chemicals best taken on an empty stomach. Phytochemicals have been used for thousands of years for their therapeutic benefits, but today, instead of having to eat the actual plant, or a tea made from it, science has found ways to extract a few of them into pills. We have lots to look forward to, because there are thousands and thousands of potentially therapeutic phytochemicals, and only a tiny fraction have been fully researched.

Once we have these basics down, we can continue to comfortably pursue our day without worrying whether we did it right or wrong, knowing we’re getting the most from our vites. And it’s also good to know we don’t have to suffer an upset or painful stomach from our anti-aging supplements — at our age, we’ve probably got all the aches and pains we can take!

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