When to take supplements

Healthy by Nature radio show this week: One of our favorite guests, Fred Pescatore, MD will answer listener questions about whatever is on their mind. Sometime during the hour we will also talk to David McMahon, founder of Cardiol about the small trial we did on lowering cholesterol naturally. (By the way, first time buyers can try Cardiol for just the cost of shipping. LINKClick here to find podcasts, show archives and ways to listen nationwide. Call with questions at 1-800-281-8255.
One thing that often creates confusion in nutrition articles and even research reports is that too often a nutrient is studied all by itself. That mimicks the way pharmaceutical drugs are tested, but, nutrients don’t work alone-they team up to get the work done.

Example: Antioxidants work as a team or chain reaction to detoxify harmful free radicals. If you take large amounts of a single antioxidant, the process might stall at a particular spot in the chain for lack of a nutrient to which to hand off the hot potato. Not only does the detoxification stop, there can even be a buildup of half-baked metabolites that may have a negative effect.

Example: If you take just one supplement, you can fill up the body’s transportation facilities and make it hard for another nutrient to be absorbed and delivered to cells. For instance, if you take 100 mg of vitamin B6 (perhaps for monthly fluid retention) but do not supplement the other B’s, you might end up with signs of deficiency of another B-something like cracks at the corners of the mouth which is a symptom of low B2.

Example: We talk a lot about the health benefits of Vitamin D and for good reason. It is hard to think of a health condition that isn’t improved by having sufficient Vitamin D. While the sun is nature’s source of D, for a whole bunch of reasons (including fear of skin cancer), most of us just don’t get enough and must supplement. Who would have thought that the kind of fat in your diet would make a difference in how effective your Vitamin D supplements are? A recent study showed that subjects (who all took the same dosage of D) acquired better or worse levels of D depending on the types of fat they ate. Those that ate more polyunsaturated fats (e.g. safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower seed oil, and from processed foods) had lower levels of vitamin D. Those who ate more monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil and macadamia nut oil) had higher levels of D. LINK (Since the body makes Vitamin D from another kind of fat, cholesterol, I had been guessing that there might be a problem if you cut cholesterol containing foods like egg yolks out of the diet. Turns out, there is a concern, at least with drugs that lower cholesterol. LINK)

Listener Question
Q: When should I take my supplements?

A: In most cases, with meals. The discussion above provides a clue-with a meal you get a whole range of nutrients. Also, all the digestive juices are flowing and the food supplies a buffering effect or softer landing for the pills. LINK  Supplements that dissolve in your mouth (like sub-linguals) can be taken any time. If your supplements give you an energy boost, then either take them with lunch or eat dinner early. Exceptions to the “with food” rule include:

Probiotics. You want them to sneak past stomach acid so that the bacteria are not dissolved.

Single amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks of protein. Therefore, if you want a special effect from one of them (e.g. mood elevation from L-tryptophan), it is better if that amino doesn’t have to compete with the others contained in the protein part of a meal.

Systemic enzymes. Wobenzym is the best example. It gets absorbed and used to clear out gunk from the blood stream and cells if taken on an empty stomach. If taken with a meal, the enzymes would instead help digest the meal.

Herbs. Varies.

BOTTOM LINE: Read the directions and when in doubt, take with food.

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My first book : Natural Alternatives to Nexium, Maalox, Tagamet, Prilosec & Other Acid Blockers. Subtitle: What to Use to Relieve Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and Gastric Ailments.

My latest book: Aloe Vera-Modern Science Sheds Light on an Ancient Herbal Remedy

The information contained in this newsletter has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The contents are for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Copyright 2011 Martie Whittekin, CCN

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