Vitamins and minerals can be beneficial to your overall health. But what are dietary supplements, exactly, and when is the best time to take them? Before deciding whether to take a supplement, talk to your physician. They can help you achieve the ideal balance between the foods and nutrients you personally need. Read on to learn how vitamins, minerals and supplements can help improve your overall health.
What Are Dietary Supplements?
The term “dietary supplement” describes a diverse category of nutrition-rich products you consume to support good health. Dietary supplements contain ingredients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes; they are often marketed as tablets, capsules, gelcaps, powders and more. Examples of such nutrients are folic acid for women who are pregnant and vitamin D for adults and children with limited sun exposure.
According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” consuming one or more dietary supplements may be beneficial when a person doesn’t receive the recommended amount of nutrients from foods. However, there is no actual data to support that it will keep your brain healthy or reduce your chances of chronic disease. Too much can be detrimental to your health, but some groups — such as older people, vegetarians, vegans, those with metabolism deficiencies and pregnant women — could benefit more than others.
Are Vitamins and Supplements Safe?
Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe before they go to market. If a product contains a new ingredient, companies must notify the FDA about that ingredient before they market it. The FDA will only review (not approve) it for safety, not effectiveness.
Additionally, manufacturers must produce dietary supplements in a quality manner and ensure that they don’t contain contaminants or impurities. They must also follow current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) and labeling regulations.
The Best Time To Take Vitamins
The best time to take vitamins depends on the type you are taking. Your healthcare provider will be able to work with you to determine a schedule that works best for you and maximizes the absorption and effectiveness of the supplements you are taking.
Keep in mind that not every vitamin breaks down in your body the same way. For that reason, it’s important to know if you are taking your vitamin at a time of day that will give you the most benefit. Here is a breakdown of when you should take the most common dietary supplements:
- Prenatal vitamins should be taken on an empty stomach or right before you go to bed if you feel nauseous in the morning.
- Fat-soluble vitamins — vitamins A, K, E and D — are optimal at dinnertime.
- Water-soluble vitamins — vitamin C, all B vitamins and folate — absorb best on an empty stomach.
- Magnesium works best when taken before bed.
Talk with physicians at your nearby Valleywise Community Health Center to learn more about what dietary supplements are or call 1 (833) VLLYWSE to schedule an appointment.