What You Should Know About Supplements

There are a few things everybody should know about supplements. First, multivitamins are a great way to ensure all dietary gaps are being filled. Second, women especially, need to understand how to take calcium supplements for maximum absorption. It’s also important to be able to distinguish between natural and synthetic vitamins. Finally, it’s important to know what to avoid. 


Unfortunately, not everybody can eat four servings of organic fruit every day. Taking a multivitamin is a great way to ensure one is getting the recommended daily value of vitamins and minerals. The vitamin aisle can be a little overwhelming, but there is no need to go overboard. Any vitamins with more than 100 percent of recommended daily values can be avoided. In addition, it is also a great idea to break the vitamin in half. Take the vitamin pieces at two different times each day. This increases absorption. 


What many women don’t know is that calcium alone isn’t going to help bone density. Calcium should be taken in combination with magnesium and vitamin D for maximum absorption. The magnesium actually helps to prevent negative side effects associated with calcium supplementation. 

Average Calcium Supplementation Dose

• 600 mg of Calcium

• 400 mg of Magnesium

• 1,000 IU of Vitamin D

This supplement should always be taken with a glass of water. Calcium can actually block absorption of some prescription medications and dietary supplements. It is important to take it at least two hours after a meal or multivitamin. 

Natural vs. Synthetic 

Many people choose synthetic supplements over natural supplements due to the cost. When possible, natural supplements should be purchased. Absorption levels are typically much higher with natural supplements. It may not be immediately apparent that a supplement is natural. Make sure to read supplement labels carefully. Often, the natural form will be a little more expensive than the synthetic version. Ultimately, the natural choice is a more cost-effective option due to the higher absorption rates. There is no reason to buy supplements, if they aren’t being properly utilized. 

Supplements to Ask Your Doctor About

Not every supplement in the health store is a safe choice. Outside of common vitamins and minerals, supplements can get pretty complicated. It is critical to consult one’s doctor before taking one of the below listed supplements. 

1. St. John’s wort

There are a number of prescription medications that are known to interact with St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort can interfere with autoimmune deficiency drugs, contraceptive prescriptions, cancer treatment drugs and even drugs for organ transplant patients.

2. Ginseng

People who have diabetes should avoid taking Ginseng as a supplement. If they absolutely must take it, they should speak with their primary care physician first. Ginseng can actually lower blood sugar levels and, it can interfere with certain diabetes medications. In addition, it can also act as a stimulant. 

3. Ginkgo

People who are at risk for bleeding disorders should take great care to avoid Ginkgo. Ginkgo can actually increase bleeding in patients who are taking antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications. Ginkgo can also interfere with blood sugar levels. Finally, it can also interact with certain psychiatric medications. 

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